Weight Loss Support - Food groups and cals in vs cals out

Two threes are six
09-08-2011, 12:09 PM
As alluded to on my other thread, I have a query about food types and their role in the whole calories in vs calories out concept.

I firmly believe that if I eat less energy than I expend that I will lose weight. When I get to my desired weight, I expect to balance these calories requirements and maintain a steady weight, one I am happy with, and also, I hope, achieve a slim waist! And no more man boobs!

But in addition to the cals in and cals out idea, there are diets out there that woo people with the promised land of weight loss by the promotion of eating only this food type, or that type, and avoiding this that and the other. Typically, and one I am interested in right now, are sugars, which is a carb. I get that, I understand that.

But really, apart from the sugar I add to my cup of tea or coffee, and also add to my porridge oats, should I really be concerned with avoiding carbs? Ie, should I try to minimise pasta intake or mashed potatoes? I seem to do ok with a bit of it; it doesn't seem to hamper my past efforts*.

If the main thing about weight loss truly is about the whole cals in vs cals out, then why should it make much, if any difference, if I consumed or did not consume sugar in my tea?

Sorry if this is kind of repetitive stuff - I can imagine that others have asked the same question; I'm just trying to get a handle on some of the basic concepts of weight loss.

*my past efforts have been hampered by my own weakness in going back to old dietary ways.

09-08-2011, 12:18 PM
I think you have to do what works best with your body and your lifestyle.

For me I've had to treat sugar as an addiction. I really needed a detox period where I stopped eating sugar all together, before that dieting was never successful for me because I just couldn't eat sugar in moderation. Also lots of carbs contribute to me being hungry so it's not something that I can realistically eat a lot of. If I were just to purely calorie count and go for 1800 of anything I'd end up starving at the end of the day and would be at a high risk of binging/overeating/giving up my plan all together.

There others on here who do very well with eating just X number of calories per day, regardless of their food choices. Now, it can be that they might decide that certain foods are just not worth it because they are two high in calorie and they are left feeling hungry at the end of the day.

I think the best thing to do is look at your lifestyle. What foods can you do with out (that are high in calorie) what foods would you like to introduce that are low in calorie? What meals from your previous lifestyle can be kept but maybe with a few tweaks (like adding lots of veggies to a marinara sauce while cutting back on noodles)?

Nobody can answer these questions for you. I see a nutritionist and her job is not to rehaul my whole diet but rather help me to make changes that are healthier that fit in with my current diet.

RJ 1980
09-08-2011, 12:22 PM
There are some people on here who cannot lose weight unless they drastically cut down on carbs or sugar. I suppose it's the way their body is wired.
I'm like you, eating carbs has never hindered my ability to lose weight, so I don't limit it. However, I have found that carbs make me hungrier, so I try to have a good amount of protien with my carbs, to prevent later binges. But yes, I do frequently have rice and tortillas and pasta, mixed with chicken or shrimp and veggies. It's never slowed my progress.

09-08-2011, 12:25 PM
I agree with runningfromfat, it's all about what works for YOU.

For me, calorie counting works best because it allows me to eat whatever the **** I want in reasonable amounts. This means, yes, the "dreaded" fast food, pizza or restaurant food. There is NO way I would have succeeded on one of those diets that restricts the kind of foods one eats and it's one of the reasons I always put off losing weight until May of this year (I had already gotten down 8 pounds before I got serious).

I've lost 45 pounds counting calories and I plan to do this for the rest of my life. I feel it's sustainable to someone who enjoys food and doesn't want to give up "unhealthy" food.

Two threes are six
09-08-2011, 12:50 PM
I guess that I'm like many people in so far as I could do with being lighter for specific health reasons, as opposed to recognising that one 'should' fit into somewhere on the BMI (that's in UK, body mass index). We all know, or should know by know that these scales don't always accommodate every body shape/size/height.

In my case, I need to watch out for my heart, given that I have had a bypass (ten years ago), so I ought to be watching my intake of fats, particularly the saturated variety. This alone makes for having to be on-guard when eating, let alone actively trying to lose weight.

A second category that I think I fit into is one of self-perception. For about as long as I can remember, I have lived with the notion of having a big belly. Not that I did in reality, not as big as I was led to believe, but it certainly wasn't a six pack, ever! To this day I hide my torso if on holiday abroad somewhere sunny, always in fear that certain people (family) might make some comment.

I'd like to be able to remove my shirt and not receive 'tut-tutting' looks (if there are such things). So, yes, I'm somewhat vain, too. But number one reason for my weight loss is thatI would like to live a bit longer that otherwise might be expected.

Oh, and while I think about it, I do like a drink (alcohol) and I do too much of it; it's something I'd like to see the back of, and I shudder to think how many calories I have consumed for absolutely no benefit!

09-08-2011, 12:53 PM
It doesn't make a difference. Low carb is really popular right now and it can affect some health issues. If you don't have those issues, then eat however you want.

I think health, fitness, and weight loss are really separate issues. They affect each other, but they don't all the same solutions, but people lump them together and often confuse them. You can eat healthy and not lose weight, you can get fit and still be fat, and you can get thin and still be unhealthy and unfit.

In my opinion, there are probably health reasons for not adding the sugar to the coffee and oats, but I still do it anyway. That doesn't mean you can't lose weight that way. And like the other posters have said, you need to do what works for you. For me, if the teaspoon of sugar in my oatmeal makes my 200 calorie breakfast bearable, it's worth it.

09-08-2011, 01:14 PM
A calorie is a calorie as far as I am concerned. Sure, my goal is health AND weight loss so I focus my calories on fruits veggies and lean meats. I do eat carbs as well but I try to avoid white flour and processed sugar (high-fructose corn syrup). Also, you can eat a greater volume of food if it is the healthy kind. A 300 calorie turkey sandwhich for lunch is going to keep me feeling full longer then a 300 calorie cupcake.

April Snow
09-08-2011, 01:25 PM
For me, the biggest difference with doing a very low carb plan has been how easy it is to stick with. I started on May 22 and have been on plan every day since then. I don't think I could ever had said that any time I was calorie counting/WW, etc. - there was always some reason I found to justify going off plan "just for today" and "it's ok, I'm still going to track these extra calories."

But now, I am not even tempted to go off plan. For me, I think it's a few different factors - I don't experience physical cravings for food. I suspect it's related to keeping my blood sugar levels more stable but don't ask me for scientific proof of that! lol! And the other main factor is that wth eating my limited menu of lean proteins, low/no fat dairy and veggies, I spend far less time thinking about food, preparing food, eating food, weighing measuring and tracking food. Now it's "I'm hungry, so I eat something" and then I move on. As I posted in another thread, I enjoy the food that I eat, but eating is not entertainment any more.

Now granted, I am not at goal yet, and I do not know exactly what will happen when I do get there and start to integrate some of the currently prohibited foods. But I think that my relationship with food is changing enough that I will have a different out look even once I eat a more varied diet.

I'm not saying that any of this specifically applies to you. But I would ask the question whether you think that eating these foods may be part of the process where your "my past efforts have been hampered by my own weakness in going back to old dietary ways." Things like pasta and potatoes are something that many people find hard to eat in moderation. If you are telling yourself that it's fine because you can eat those foods and lose weight, do they turn into a slippery slope where you start thinking "oh, it's fine if I have another helping" which turns into another and another? It's not that these foods are necessarily bad but if they are part of what makes you go back to your old habits, then they may be a red light food for you, at least when you are trying to actively focus on weight loss.

Two threes are six
09-08-2011, 01:41 PM
Well, it's a perfectly good question - and one that I can't answer! But it looks like it could be something to watch out for.

Thinking about it, it's not extra roast potatoes that I find that tempting (my OH never makes them like I used to!), but it could well be cooking too much fresh spaghetti and munching through that despite being overfull.

09-08-2011, 01:59 PM
I answered this q on your other thread, ha. But I've noticed for me, the extra sugar or white bread or pasta tends to satisfy my hunger less, and packs higher calories (and can affect my water retention). It's a balance, I won't say I never eat pasta or sugar, but that's why I try to keep them low. I find high fiber foods, yams, apples, veggies, are lower calorie and more filling.

09-08-2011, 02:08 PM
I'm in the "a calorie is a calorie" camp, although I do eat very healthily. Sugar is not something you want to be swimming in, especially if once you start you can't stop (true for some people, not all). As for spaghetti, have you tried carefully measuring your portion before you cook it, and maybe making the sauce something nice and filling? Or switching to wholewheat pasta (fusilli tends to be the best)? I've had similar problems with the moreishness of pasta, and these have pretty much solved them for me.

09-08-2011, 02:22 PM
I think for some people it really matters. Good examples have already been said, but I also think that the type of calories you eat can have an effect on how much water your body holds onto. If I eat 1500 calories of whatever one week, I might drop 2lbs that week. If I eat 1500 calories another with watching my carbs, I might drop 3. It might not all be fat, but those cells are probably going to let go of water easier than when I'm eating a lot more carbs. From experience I really think that's how my body works. Everyone has to really pay attention to what their own body is telling them and do what works best for them.

09-08-2011, 02:56 PM
Yeah, I was just at another forum and EVERYONE was praising this low carb 6 meals a day diet thing.. I'm not saying it doesn't work but I've lost weight on a ''diet'' that is the EXACT opposite of that. I might do a few days of low carbing when I feel extra flabby and gross and get rid of the water weight but at the end of the day, I can't eat low carb for the rest of my life because I miss the foods I love, I feel lethargic and bored with life.. I think everyone has to find the easiest way they can lose and MAINTAIN what they've lost. It might look like diets are all different but at the end you just consume less calories than you burn and therefor you lose weight.

09-08-2011, 03:07 PM
Others have answered it very well.

Overall, you need to be doing whatever works for you. If it means limiting sugars and carbs, then that's the way. If it means that a calorie is a calorie, then that's the way.

For me, it just means that I need to measure my food (all of my foods), and to keep sweets & treats down to a serving size. I don't need to avoid them entirely in order to stay on plan and lose weight.

However, I don't think that most people, regardless of their plans, would benefit from dunking their head in sugar each day. Only because sugar (candies, sweets, etc) don't provide much in the way of vitamins and minerals.

In any case, up to the individual.

ETA: I wanted to add that I think the success of a plan requires a person to be able to comfortably live with it, and when they slip up that they are able to get back to it asap without hemming and hawing.

A person on any plan can accomplish those two things, but the plan has to be right for them to make it sustainable.

09-08-2011, 03:13 PM
I agree with others that the basic principle is "eat fewer calories than your body needs" - the rest are the strategies and tactics that make it easiest for you to do that, and those will be different for everyone.

I do not eat low-carb - a protein-enhanced breakfast cereal, lots and lots of fruit, a sandwich on multi-grain bread. However, I have found that accompaniments like potatoes, rice, and pasta are more calorie-dense than they are worth. I have found that I enjoy eating big, voluminous amounts of food, and that doing so helps me feel satisfied. So, if I'm trying to decide what to eat with my protein (say, fish) at dinner, given a choice between 1/2 cup of rice, or 2-3 heaping cups of vegetables roasted in a little olive oil, most of the time I'll choose the latter, and get an enormous pile of food for about the same number of calories.

The enormous pile of food helps me feel full and satisfied. And being full and satisfied helps keep me from overeating. So that's what works to make it easier for me to maintain my calorie deficit. These foods aren't forbidden to me, it's just that in making my food choices I usually find that eating something else works out better.

You may have to experiment a bit to find out what is most comfortable for you. Other people can give you ideas of strategies to try by telling you what works for them, but no one can tell you what is going to best fit your tastes, needs, and lifestyle.

09-08-2011, 03:32 PM
Calories in, calories out, does not mean that all calories are created equal. Often people take the phrase to mean that you will lose just as much weight on 1200 calories of snickers bars as on 1200 calories of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

What many people don't understand is that what you eat can affect the "calories out" part of the equation.

Some people seem to be more sensitive to the source of their calories than others.

I've found for example that (yes, even 100% on plan) that I lose more weight on 1500 calories of low-carb than 1500 calories of high-carb. The difference is fairly dramatic. To lose similar amounts of weight, within a similar time frame, I can either eat 1800 calories of low-carb or 1500 calories of high-carb.

On low-carb, I get to eat more volume and more calories and still get to lose as much or more weight, so for me, it's a no-brainer (especially since I'm incredibly hungry and craving-prone on high-carb).

I've been told my experience is impossible because of calories in, calories out.

That would only be true if the calories out, were a constant - but it's not. I don't know all of the reasons that I burn more calories on low-carb, but I do no a few. I was taking my temperature daily for my health symptom journal to try to discover patterns to my health issues. My body temperature is generally quite low, by more than a degree and sometimes even lower. I noticed that when I eat low-carb, my body temperature is much closer to normal. Until I started low-carb, my temperature never exceeded 98.0 degrees unless I was quite ill. Now my low-carb normal is about 98.0 to 98.2. On high-carb it returns to 97.2 - 97.4.

Maintaining body temperature, burns calories, and it's literally like "turning down the thermostat."

Other ways what I eat affects the calories out, is through fatigue. On very high-carb I'm so fatigued that I sleep more and move less. On extremely low-carb, I also experience fatigue, headaches, nausea and light-headedness. At my optimal carb level - moderately low-carb, I not only have more energy for activity and exercise, I enjoy it more.

Even if you have thyroid issues, diabetes, insulin resistance and other disorders that can slow your metabolism, you can't entirely escape calories in, calories out. It's physically impossible to gain weight if you're not eating or drinking. You still can't gain 3 lbs from 2 lbs of food (in fact, no one can gain more weight than the wieght of their food - because even a pound of fat over your calorie needs can only add a pound of fat (because fat contains 3500 calories).

I don't believe I was as sensitive to calorie source when I was younger. I did seem to lose about the same weight on 1500 calories, no matter where the calories came from (but I didn't really give low-carb dieting much of a trial, because I always thought it was unhealthy until my doctor recommended it for my IR and eventual diabetes).

However, I think there has always been a hunger difference. When I did try low-carb as a young person, I was amazed at the lack of hunger - but it was accompanied by such horrible symptoms like the headaches and nausea that I never considered sticking with it (which is too bad, if I had done Atkins as written and had moved up the carb levels, I would have found my optimal carb level. Instead I only ever tried no-carb dieting or carb-free-for-all dieting).

The only way anyone can find out the diet that works best for them - not just for weight loss speed, but for optimal health and well-being, is to experiment.

Before criticising other people's diets though, consider that maybe they have experimented and have found what works best for them. I have to admit that I have criticised many people in the past for eating "too low carb) when their diets were higher in carb than the one I'm currently on.

It took a very long time for me to accept that my current level is right for me (and in fact, I probably should go a little lower in carb, but I still can't wrap my head around it being healthy to do so).

Even just ten years ago, I would never have imagined defending low-carb eating. It's the ultimate irony that lower-carb is the only WOE that I've ever lost this much weigh and have had long-term success with. In many ways, I had to prove myself wrong, to get where I am.

It's too bad I didn't have a more open mind 10, 20, 30, years ago. Or hadn't been more willing to experiment to find out what worked for me. I didn't do those kind of experiments because I assumed that all calories were equal, and that calories in, calories meant that calories out was a constant I had no control over.

09-09-2011, 12:49 AM
For me it is simple, and I'm probably restating what everyone else has said. I eat x number of calories a day, but some foods just leave me hungry and make it hard to stay within that limit. Generally, I restrict carbs because they don't fulfill me. If I'm feeling ravenous, I eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables to fill my stomach with fewer calories. Protein bars are the easiest way for me to stave off hunger when I'm on the go. I don't pay as much attention to balancing out my diet as I should, but those are the things I pay attention to most when it comes to losing weight. They're just tricks, I guess...

09-09-2011, 02:45 AM
But in addition to the cals in and cals out idea, there are diets out there that woo people with the promised land of weight loss by the promotion of eating only this food type, or that type, and avoiding this that and the other. Typically, and one I am interested in right now, are sugars, which is a carb. I get that, I understand that.

If the main thing about weight loss truly is about the whole cals in vs cals out, then why should it make much, if any difference, if I consumed or did not consume sugar in my tea?

If you have rules which restrict the kinds of foods one can eat or the times in which they can eat or the color of the foods they can eat or whatever rules you have than you restrict intake which restricts calories and you lose weight. The reason you lost weight was that you restricted calories not because you didn't eat something.

The important thing is protein. With protein being sufficient for the vast majority it won't matter where carbs and fats fall so long as calories are less than the body requires than the body will make up the difference by burning fat.

So no - it doesn't matter if you have tea in your sugar or not.

Having said that - as many in this thread have pointed out - while calories rule the day there are a variety of reasons you might want to avoid one group of food or another. Sugar is a great example but it is better stated to avoid processed sugar because fruit tends to be very filling due to the fiber and fructose.

The big thng to avoid in my opinion is processed food except in small quanties.

09-09-2011, 12:58 PM
A calorie isn't a calorie because it takes more calories to digest protein followed by fat and then carbs take the least so if you eat too many carbs, it will affect your weight loss. The body requires certain nutrients and if it doesn't get them, it will hold onto weight.

09-09-2011, 01:07 PM
The body requires certain nutrients and if it doesn't get them, it will hold onto weight.

All the starving people around the world wish this were true.

09-09-2011, 01:25 PM
A calorie isn't a calorie because it takes more calories to digest protein followed by fat and then carbs take the least so if you eat too many carbs, it will affect your weight loss. The body requires certain nutrients and if it doesn't get them, it will hold onto weight.

While I know that low-carb diets are often met with success, this isn't true for all. I eat carbs, quite a lot probably and I still lose weight. It's not as if this is happening slowly either, I'm losing on average 2.1 pounds a week.

A calorie is a calorie, you just have to decide whether you'd rather have those calories in unhealthy food or healthy food (or perhaps a mix!) I know I feel better when I have healthy, non-processed food. I can still lose weight when I have 1200 calories of junk (and I have) but I FEEL physically sick. I'd rather eat 1200 calories of healthy food and FEEL great.

Just look at this nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds eating twinkies (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.html)! Crazy, but he wanted to prove that it was about calories in vs calories out.