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Old 01-05-2012, 11:28 AM   #1
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Default carbs or calories?

Just curious... why do you think low carb diets are more successful than low calorie?

Also, when counting carbs do you also count calories? If so, how many do you try and stay under?
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:57 PM   #2
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When I eat low calorie, my hunger is really strong so I cave and binge. When I eat low carb, I'm just not that hungry and eventually most of my cravings go away. It makes it manageable to eat less for a long period of time.

The trouble for me with low carb is getting in the habit in the first place. It's so painful for me to go through the carb flu. I hate it. And social situations are hard. Like when they bring in pizzas for a lunch meeting and I'm the only one that brought my own food.

When I first adjust to low carb, I only count carbs (I do total carbs since I follow the primal blueprint). Once I'm used to that, I start counting calories. I don't think you really have to unless you find that you're not losing weight on low carb alone. I actually count calories to make sure I'm getting enough calories because I'm not that hungry on low carb.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:53 AM   #3
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I've done both, low carb and counted calories at different periods of my life. For me, I've found that I cannot do low carb for an indefinite period of time and have the variety of foods that I enjoy when I'm counting calories. I have better success at counting calories just because it isn't restrictive. I believe that it is a better lifestyle change (for me) as I don't consider it a 'diet'. My calorie intake per day is between 1500-1600 calories when I exercise. The days i don't exercise I try to keep it within a 1200-1300 calorie range. Saying this, I've stressed that this works for me. Other people have had major success with low carb. I encourage you to find the strategy that works for you and move forward in reaching your goal!
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:54 PM   #4
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Atkins started out in his first book saying that it was not necessary to count calories, but in a later addition remarked that one couldn't gorge and expect to lose weight. Other low carb proponents have used the same idea, but they are all basing the idea of not counting calories on the fact that if your carb intake is low enough to cause ketosis, your appetite is naturally going diminish and calorie counting is not really an issue.

This may be true for those with a small amount of weight to lose and do not have any food or eating issues. A person with the tendency to binge can easily find low carb foods to binge on (raising my hand here). Pork rinds and sour cream replaced my chips and dip, bowls of whipped cream replaced ice cream, and don't get me started on the savoury roasted nuts that I ate by the handfuls and of course, hard booze is low carb....sigh.

While I don't gain any weight no matter how much I eat if my carbs are around 20g, I won't lose either if the calories are above 1500. I lose best on 1200 and 20g. This may be due to my age and changing needs, I would have starved on this when I was younger and more active. So I do count both carbs and calories. I use a diet software and weigh all my foods on a food scale, I can watch for the ratios of fat, carbs and protein to see what is optimal for me.

Low carb (besides all the health benefits) does help keep my appetite and cravings in check. However, I have many years of binge behaviours under my belt and those don't dissappear because I am low carbing. I still have to work on my mindset, triggers, and reactions too. If one really hates counting calories, low carb is usually the easiest to find a balance with.
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Old 01-19-2012, 01:40 PM   #5
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I literally spent years doing following the "conventional" dieting advice of my doctors. Eat less, move more - low fat with plenty of fruits, veg and whole grains. What I discovered was that if I didn't cut my calories to less than 1000 a day I wouldn't lose weight. If I cut it to between 1200 and 1400 I could probably maintain - or gain very slowly. Anything more than that and I packed on the pounds.

I was discouraged and unable to maintain the necessary reduced calorie count for an extended period of time so I would invariably just give up and go back to eating whatever/whenever.


What I have discovered through this journey is that, for me, carbs really do seem to matter far more than calories. On a standard diet to lose weight I had to keep my calories at less than 1000 and work out daily. On the low carb diet my calorie intake averages between 1500 and 2200 calories a day and for the first 7 months I didn't exercise much at all and still managed to lose about 50 pounds in that time frame.

I know that calories matter but in my body it seems that the source of those calories matter even more.
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Old 01-19-2012, 03:04 PM   #6
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Although I've never really been heavy, I've never really been able to lose the little extra padding I had. I went vegetarian, vegan, tried Body for Life, counted calories... nothing worked.

Low carb is the only thing that has worked for me to start shedding weight. And I find it really does curb my appetite. I used to have terrible cravings when I tried to keep my calories low... really just cravings so bad I had to succumb.

Low carb eating, on the other hand, leaves me very satiated even on smaller portions and (probably) fewer calories overall. When I do get super super hungry because I missed a meal, I don't immediately reach for a cookie or piece of bread, either. The hunger is great, yeah, but it's not a MUST-EAT-NOW hunger. It's manageable. Wish I had a better way to describe it.

I was prediabetic, so your mileage may vary. I am very certain I was carb sensitive.
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Old 02-01-2012, 11:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by futureskinnygirl10 View Post
Just curious... why do you think low carb diets are more successful than low calorie?

Also, when counting carbs do you also count calories? If so, how many do you try and stay under?
Here is why low carb works. Your body uses carbs as its primary source of energy. On a low-carb diet, your body uses up these carbs and then moves to the fat stores for energy. This is called ketosis. That is why you lose fat on a low-carb diet, and why they are so successful. If you are smart about how you add the carbs back into your diet (by following a program, not just starting to eat pizza and pasta the day after you've reached your goal), then you will be able to maintain the weight with smart eating habits and moderate exercise. If you are on a low calorie diet, you need to maintain the same level of exercise and the low calorie intake in order to maintain your weight, or else you will gain it back. Low-carb isn't easy, but it is very good for you and helps you to develop eating habits that you need in order to maintain your weight. Watching your sugar and carb intake on ANY diet is important.
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Old 02-02-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lkander2 View Post
Here is why low carb works. Your body uses carbs as its primary source of energy. On a low-carb diet, your body uses up these carbs and then moves to the fat stores for energy. This is called ketosis. That is why you lose fat on a low-carb diet, and why they are so successful. If you are smart about how you add the carbs back into your diet (by following a program, not just starting to eat pizza and pasta the day after you've reached your goal), then you will be able to maintain the weight with smart eating habits and moderate exercise. If you are on a low calorie diet, you need to maintain the same level of exercise and the low calorie intake in order to maintain your weight, or else you will gain it back. Low-carb isn't easy, but it is very good for you and helps you to develop eating habits that you need in order to maintain your weight. Watching your sugar and carb intake on ANY diet is important.
It's more than that though.

The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than what you intake, including low-carb. This is evident.

The benefit of low-carb is that blood sugar is constant once the body switches into ketosis. Since protein, fat, and sugar alcohols don't really impact serum glucose, they're okay to eat in virtual "unlimited" quantities - but "unlimited" is not necessarily true. Your body reworks itself to maintain stable blood-glucose and insulin levels.

This is important because insulin controls hunger signals. A drop in insulin leads to a drop in leptin and an increase in ghrelin (there are other players involved, these are just the main ones). This triggers hunger and cravings. But in a low-carb diet, the glucose levels are constant, which means the insulin levels are constant, which means hunger is suppressed. This is why the first few days of Atkins are very rough, but once your body is in ketosis, you don't have a desire to eat that much. This leads to a decrease in caloric intake. There is little evidence to support the claim that diets such as Atkins have a net increase in metabolism.

If you eat 10,000 calories in beef daily, you're going to gain weight. The idea behind it is that you won't want to eat 10,000 calories in beef.

On the low calorie side of things, you don't have stable insulin levels, which leads to cravings which is the fall for most of us. Hunger is controlled by eating low-calorie, but filling foots (vegetables mainly).

If you lose all of your weight, you can maintain it without staying on a low carb diet, but you'll never be able to return to your eating habits which got you fat in the first place. You won't have to be on a continual diet, just a normal 2000 calorie diet.

Last edited by emmveepee : 02-02-2012 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by emmveepee View Post
It's more than that though.

The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than what you intake, including low-carb. This is evident.

The benefit of low-carb is that blood sugar is constant once the body switches into ketosis. Since protein, fat, and sugar alcohols don't really impact serum glucose, they're okay to eat in virtual "unlimited" quantities - but "unlimited" is not necessarily true. Your body reworks itself to maintain stable blood-glucose and insulin levels.

This is important because insulin controls hunger signals. A drop in insulin leads to a drop in leptin and an increase in ghrelin (there are other players involved, these are just the main ones). This triggers hunger and cravings. But in a low-carb diet, the glucose levels are constant, which means the insulin levels are constant, which means hunger is suppressed. This is why the first few days of Atkins are very rough, but once your body is in ketosis, you don't have a desire to eat that much. This leads to a decrease in caloric intake. There is little evidence to support the claim that diets such as Atkins have a net increase in metabolism.

If you eat 10,000 calories in beef daily, you're going to gain weight. The idea behind it is that you won't want to eat 10,000 calories in beef.

On the low calorie side of things, you don't have stable insulin levels, which leads to cravings which is the fall for most of us. Hunger is controlled by eating low-calorie, but filling foots (vegetables mainly).

If you lose all of your weight, you can maintain it without staying on a low carb diet, but you'll never be able to return to your eating habits which got you fat in the first place. You won't have to be on a continual diet, just a normal 2000 calorie diet.
Great info! I certainly didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't cut your calories too. But a low-calorie AND low-carb diet is very effective.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:32 AM   #10
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Where can I go to read about low carb diets & how to start?!
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:42 PM   #11
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<<If you are on a low calorie diet, you need to maintain the same level of exercise and the low calorie intake in order to maintain your weight>>

That's not quite true. People are generally able to eat more calories in maintenance than in weight-loss mode.

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Old 02-03-2012, 03:14 PM   #12
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A little more theory:

Your body needs glucose to survive. While most of your body can use fat for energy, your brain can only use GLUCOSE and KETONES for energy - not fat.

Blood sugar is very constant. If you measure blood-glucose right after a meal, and after 2 days of starvation, the level will be constant. Your body, mainly your liver, can convert fat to ketones. Fat contains a lot more energy than other molecules, but chemically only 1 ketone can come from a molecule of fat, the rest of the fat molecule is burned for body energy - this is ketosis. Dr. Atkins figured this gave a metabolic advantage, but there is some argument whether or not you increase metabolic rate during ketosis.

The other source of energy is protein. Your body can make glucose from amino acids, found in protein (Alanine, I believe). If you don't eat enough protein, your body will get it from muscle, this process is known as "wasting". So the protein that you eat manages your blood sugar, but doesn't spike it. A steady blood sugar = steady insulin levels = low appetite. This results in a very "satisfied" feeling - you really don't want to eat.

The trick is switching your body into ketosis is the hardest part of Atkins. This is when cravings are the worst, but you need to fight through it and it gets better. Think of it as coming off a drug, since the effects are very much the same. You can use low-carb snack bars to help curve it, but they'll delay your ketosis, which is why they're not recommended - but better than a Snickers. Your body stores glucose as glycogen, which usually takes 1-2 days to deplete. During this time you won't be burning fat, but you'll lose a lot of weight because glycogen holds a lot of water.

The absolute most important part of any diet is adherence. Low-Cal or Low-Carb have the same weight loss results (minus the added water weight in low-carb dieters). Whichever you can adhere to is the best diet for you. Adherence is especially importance in Atkins, since once you break ketosis, its a pain in the *** to get back into it. This can also be a good thing, since you know "cheating" is much more detrimental, you are less likely to do it.
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Old 02-03-2012, 03:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by LW12 View Post
Where can I go to read about low carb diets & how to start?!
Very simply, to get you started:

No more than 20 carbs/day, no cheating allowed. You can eat as much as you want, just no more than 20 carbs. Most of these carbs should come from veggies your first 2 weeks. Steaks, chicken, etc are all fine. No sweets (including fruits) or starches (breads, potatoes, rice).

Keep that going for as long as you need to lose weight. You'll be surprised how quickly the pounds fall off. The first few days will be hard, then the cravings go away. The diet only works if you don't cheat, if you cheat once, you set yourself back 2 weeks.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:40 AM   #14
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I wanted to make a clarification:
If you are restricting calories, most of your calories should come from fat, and the rest from protein. You need dietary fat to keep the fat metabolizing enzymes going. Fat packs a lot of energy per molecule compared to carbs or proteins, which is why most of your calories come from it.

Last edited by emmveepee : 02-07-2012 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:07 PM   #15
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I count calories, but i don't eat that little as much of you does, my range is between 1800-1850 every day. The problem with me and carbs is that i can eat with no problem my 1800 calories per day and still be hungry, with a low carb diet i have to force myself to eat the 1800. And i'm not talking about high IG cabs, but low IG carbs do give me the same hungry effects, even at 1800 cals

I do count my calories everyday, though. As someone posted before, calories are important to lose weight, we still need a deficit. Is easier in a low carb noy to eat enough, but calories does matter, not even Atkins (or any other writter or doctor) is above thermodynamic laws.
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