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Low carb vs. calorie counting?

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Old 01-09-2011, 03:06 PM   #1
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Default Low carb vs. calorie counting?

Thoughts by people who have been doing this and loosing weight. Which is better? How do I found out how many calories I should be eating a day?
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:32 PM   #2
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Whichever one works best for you is the better one. I have tried low carb "dieting" but it wasn't for me. I was hungry all.the.time and craved carbs like crazy.

I like calorie counting b/c I can still eat all my favorite foods (in moderation, and I plan my day around it if I'm splurging on something high in calories/not so healthy).

It's hard to say exactly how many calories you need, but there are several sites that will give you an idea of your basal metabolic rate -- bmr. That's the number of calories you need a day just to essentially exist. Many go further and estimate how many calories, on average, you burn a day based on your level of activity. You can then get a ballpark of how much you should be eating -- a deficit of 500 calories a day will, in theory, help you lose 1 pound a week, a deficit of 1000 will, in theory, help you lose 2 pounds a week. Weight loss isn't linear, so it likely won't happen quite like that...

The BMR thing isn't 100% accurate, but can give you a good idea of where to start. Many people advise against eating fewer than 1200 calories a day, and many also advise to eat as many calories as you can and still lose weight. Hope that helps.
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:26 PM   #3
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I've done them both...successfully. So this is what I would say:

Low carb is a great way to help you to deal with cravings as it naturally diminishes your appetite. It also is nice perk that you really don't have to be near as strict with watching sodium as high protein, low carb diet works naturally as a diuretic. Fried foods, ribs, chicken skin, etc. and all while losing a ton of weight...what's more to say?

Ok...now the down side of low carb - it's unsustainable for many. AND...if you don't transition correctly (which very few people actually do), then you WILL gain back all the weight +

Calorie counting - I prefer this method as it teaches moderation right off the get-go! Additionally, you can have any food you like, you just have to watch your portions and monitor your daily calorie intake. If done correctly, I believe this is the most effective method long term.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:46 PM   #4
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I sort of do both. I use a calorie-controlled low- to moderate-carb exchange plan (with a 1500 minimum and a 2200 max).

I do find that I'm constantly having to reasses my carb level, because even moderate-carb levels tend to increase my appetite and the likelihood to go off plan. The more strict I am with carbs, the more calories I can eat and still lose weight. My experiments are still full of mistakes, but as long as I'm learning and making progress, I'm hanging in there.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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I like counting calories for the same reason as the others. I try to keep my carbs in check and keep most of the carbs I DO eat in the form of whole grains instead of super processed, i.e. brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice, sweet potatoes instead of russets, etc. That having been said, I also eat more carbs than I would like b/c I can't really afford to eat as many veg as I would like. I've lost weight just fine even with the carbs as long as I stay within my calories and make good choices. If I have to do carbs, then I make 'em count. (I don't like most canned or frozen veg, so I usually have a pile of spinach, which is the cheapest veg I can get usually. I just put it at the bottom under my carbs and protein and don't have cucumbers, herbs, peppers etc. In the summer, I can buy more fresh produce and I eat fewer carbs in general.)

I would suggest you pick some combination and then see how that works. Adjust it if you aren't losing enough weight. Don't expect miracles no matter what you pick.

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Old 01-09-2011, 07:52 PM   #6
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Likewise, I've been successful on both in the past.
1.Calorie counting is far more sustainable for a lifetime. As someone already pointed out, most people (me!) cannot transition properly with low carb.
2.When doing low carb I had odd heart palpitations that freaked me out.
3. On a low carb diet if you "cheat" and go off plan it can take many days to recover ie get back into ketosis. With calorie counting you just adjust your intake in susequent days if you happen to go off plan.
4. Meat is expensive and low carb dieting hurt my pocketbook!
5. With counting calories you don't have to cut out any foods. So I can still eat at friends houses or go out to dinner, I just make sensible choices. And there's way less explaining to do!

I calorie count and my carbs are all in thge form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains - no white foods. I don't specifically watch my carb amount but I do aim for high fibre.
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:01 PM   #7
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I watch my carb intake--actually, I aim for high protein, which ends up limiting my carb intake--but I, personally, could never be successful on any diet plan that didn't limit portions in some way. I simply love to eat too much, and can overeat anything.
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Old 01-10-2011, 04:45 AM   #8
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I've done both successfully for the last two years. My main focus is keeping down my carbs and the calories stay where it needs to be naturally. I mainly count calories to count the amount of carbs I'm eating.

Like many said, though, I think it depends on the individual. For me, I can't do just a calorie counting approach without counting carbs because the carbs makes me crave more food and I can't control my appetite at all. I feel like I'm fighting myself all the time. When I eat low carbs, I naturally eat at equilibrium and so I don't have to fight myself allt he time.
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Old 01-10-2011, 06:32 AM   #9
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I too have tried both in the past, however, on low carb I was not successful. I must have the pancreas from **** or something, LOL. I was tired all the time, literally had to drag myself around. I hated the fact that when I went into grocery stores the question was, "what can I have for dinner" not "what do I want for dinner". I lost some weight, but had to give it up due to being so darn tired, that when I did give it up I binged on carbs like crazy. Now I do try to get most of my carbs from whole natural sources, but I don't get the hungry all the time if I don't like most do. I get to eat what I want, just count the calories, which makes more sense to me long term, as well.
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Old 01-10-2011, 07:43 AM   #10
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I thought going low carb...a.k.a low on grain would be impossible to do...until I was diagnosed with Celiac...lol....now I have no choice.

I haven't had any bread products, and I am feeling absolutely wonderful! It feels like my weight is coming a lot easier as well. I count each calorie, use my kitchen scale for fatty items, like cheese or meat. I also stay under 60 g of fat each day.

I walk 4 miles 5 times per week at 4.3-4.5mph; yep I really get my body moving.

I lost 6 pounds in 9 days. Upto that point I was not counting my calories, even tho I was pasta and bread free, and walked...but I was packing in 2200 calories per day.

I don't know if my wheat allergy was holding me back or making me gain weight (I was lazy as well, and eating too many fatty foods). But as far as I can tell, this low carb option is really working for me. I do eat 10-15 servings of mostly veggies and some fruit per day. -- I pre cut all veggies in containers, that way I can throw an omlette together super fast in the morning, or nice big salad for lunch. I also keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge.
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:14 AM   #11
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I've done both, but feel that calorie counting is easier for me. I did carb counting about 7 years ago. With carb-counting, I got tired of being restricted to certain foods, so I stopped and gained all the weight back...plus fifty pounds...yikes! Emotional eating took over!

With calorie counting, I don't have to restrict what I can eat as long as I do it in moderation and fit it into my daily intake somehow. For example, I knew on Saturday that I was going to watch a movie and I wanted to have some air-popped popcorn with two tablespoons of butter, so I added up how many calories it would be and then made sure I adjusted the rest of my day's calories accordingly.
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:32 AM   #12
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I did SBD, but it found it ultimately unsustainable. With unsustainability came a regain of 30 pounds plus a few friends. Now I calorie count with an emphasis on whole foods which naturally lends itself to complex carbs rather than refined carbs. I wouldn't say I do LOW carbs but just lowER carbs. This works well for me, just as well as SBD did.
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #13
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I'm going to answer the "how do I find out how many calories" question because I didn't see anyone offer a link or anything (apologies if I missed it).

Freediet.com will let you put your height, current weight, and age in and give you an estimate of what you need. I recently hit the 170s and had to reassess my needs. It will also give you a calorie cycling profile which is where you go up and down a couple days a week.

As to which is better, IMO, that's up to you. If you love carbs or have a fairly limited budget, calorie counting is probably the better option. If you have unlimited funds and don't mind giving up the carbs or don't even normally eat them, go for low carb. I just found low carb to be very expensive.
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Old 01-10-2011, 01:17 PM   #14
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I, like kaplods, do a mix of both. I watch my calories, but also my carbs. Carbs (in high-moderate to large amounts) and I do not get along, but I really don't think I could do a technical low carb diet like Atkins or such. You could try a mixture, or try both at separate times. You'll have to do the trial and error thing to see what works for your body.
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Old 01-10-2011, 01:57 PM   #15
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I have found, with calorie counting, that to really stay full, you can only eat so many carbs/types of carbs. I don't carb count, per se, but I do watch them b/c I have type 1 diabetes and am on an insulin pump. I have to beware of how many carbs I'm eating to ensure that I'm taking the right amount of insulin.
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