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The "Right" Number of Calories

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Old 06-17-2008, 10:51 AM   #1
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Default The "Right" Number of Calories

Hey everyone-

I've been dieting off and on for the better part of three years. I've occasionally lost weight but never kept it off, because as soon as the "diet" was over I would revert to my old habits. Many of the diets I've tried (low-carb, South Beach) were difficult for me to maintain because I found them too restrictive in terms of food choice.

This time, I want to keep things simple. I want to eat healthy foods in healthy portions, but I don't want to make any food (healthy or not) strictly "off-limits." Psychologically, it just doesn't work for me - as soon as I tell myself I CAN'T have something, I want it so much more than I did to begin with. Then I binge. Which is not productive.

I've decided the best way to manage this sort of eating is by counting calories, which I've actually never done before. So I'm wondering: how many calories should I be eating each day in order to lose weight at a healthy rate? Right now I'm eating about 1300/day, but I'm about to start exercising again and am worried I might require more. Any advice from seasoned calorie-counters?

-Jaclyn
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:24 AM   #2
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I heartily agree with calorie counting!

threads here ... http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/calorie-counters-172/

How have you been doing on 1300 cals?

and here's a link to the Whole Foods threads.
http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/whole-foods-lifestyle-209/

Last edited by srmb60 : 06-17-2008 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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I feel okay. I just started a few days ago, so I don't know yet how it's going as far as weight loss. I'm hungry at night, but I find that if I budget some calories for an 8 P.M. snack, that takes care of it. I haven't been very physically active, though, so we'll see what happens when I get my butt in gear...
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:14 PM   #4
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If I were you I would probably go up to 1400 with the exercise. It gives you somewhere to go once the weight loss slows down. You can try using this to help you figure out what your general maintence might be right now. But remember everyone is different so you may have to play around with the calories to see what works best. And as you lose weight, you'll have to adjust accordingly.

http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-ca...dict-equation/
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:54 PM   #5
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I tend to use this to at least get me started with a baseline number of calories:
http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

I also used the calorie calculator on the Mayo Clinic website to see what the maintenance cals for my goal weight were.

From there I just sort of tweaked numbers until I hit something that seemed to be working. For me ... 5'4" and 165 lbs, 1500 cals gives me a nice bit of loss every week w/out being excessive.

Of course if I actually stuck to 1500, that would help too. The last few weeks have been a bit tough!

.
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Old 06-17-2008, 03:17 PM   #6
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I currently weigh-in at 162 and I've been going to Curves several times a week. I consider myself on program if I come in at 1500 calories or under. However, I don't try to hit 1500 exactly, so I usually tally around 1400. This has been working pretty well for me.

Forbidden foods don't work well for me either. For me, the fact that I *could* eat something makes it much easier to resist eating it. There are many many foods that I *choose* not to eat!
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Old 06-18-2008, 07:10 AM   #7
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Congratulations on the new approach, I'm sure you'll find that your results will be more long term with this attitude.

As for the calories, in the final analysis, I don't think it is actually possible to be so accurate as to add or subtract an amount as small as 100, there ae too many variables.

Whether you will need more energy or not when you start exercising will depend on how much exercise you do. After all, the point of the exercise is to increase the calorie deficit. Just make sure that you are not making yourself ill through shortage of nutrition.
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
I don't think it is actually possible to be so accurate as to add or subtract an amount as small as 100,
I disagree with this. There are quite a few people for whom an amount as small as 50 cals *does* make a difference. When you weight 200+, not so much. But the smaller you are (height/weight/etc) then the more tightly you have to manage your calories. Also some people are just very calorie-sensitive.

I'm fairly lucky that I can vary as much as 150 cals a day and still lose weight. I know that as I get closer to my goal, that might not be the case and I'll have to really watch much more carefully what I eat.

But it *is* possible ... on an individual level ... to track that closely and know what makes you lose and what doesn't.

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Old 06-18-2008, 05:01 PM   #9
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I tried the different calculations, and both suggest 1400-1600 calories for weight loss. I think I'll aim for 1500 (which is more than I have been eating) and adjust according to the results.

Thank you all for the resources and support! I'm so excited that I found this forum!
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Old 06-18-2008, 08:39 PM   #10
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I tend to think that differences of 100 calories are too small, also, unless it's a consistent difference. That means, a difference every day for X days. The reason is that small differences add up. If you are over 100 cals for 7 days, then you're over your plan 700 cals for the week.

All calorie counts are estimates, and there is no real way of knowing exactly. That said, for the most part estimates come close over time.

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Old 06-18-2008, 09:29 PM   #11
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I love Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating. It addresses the issue that our minds can't tell if we have consumed that extra 100 calories, but - as Jay pointed out - they DO add up.

I set an upper calorie limit, and I log my food and track my calories. I aim for about 1200 each day, but I allow myself to go as high as 1400. Some days I just feel like I need more food. I don't punish myself for this. It is a very real need. Other days, particularly if my activity level has been lower, I might only eat 1000-1100 calories. Which is also fine.
While I agree that restricting foods doesn't work for me (I agree- it will make me want it all the more), I do try my very best to make every calorie count. I have pretty much restricted simple carbs because of how they make me feel. Simple sugars are the worst. Those few seconds of taste bliss aren't worth the lethargy and yucky feelings that follow for hours afterward.
I never thought I would get to a place where I would rather have roasted veggies than chocolate ice cream, but - I really am in that place
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
All calorie counts are estimates, and there is no real way of knowing exactly. That said, for the most part estimates come close over time.
That was actually my next question - I'm looking up the caloric content of all the food I'm eating, and different online calorie counters give me different numbers. Does anyone know of a website that is easy to use, has a large database of foods, and "feels" accuate?
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:42 PM   #13
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Many people like fitday.com

But in some ways you have to estimate a lot. I see calorie counting as a way of portion control... I know sometimes the numbers are high and sometimes they're low but the important thing is ... can you figure out a level at which you can lose weight. That's really the issue.
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Old 06-19-2008, 02:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoChick View Post
I disagree with this. There are quite a few people for whom an amount as small as 50 cals *does* make a difference. When you weight 200+, not so much. But the smaller you are (height/weight/etc) then the more tightly you have to manage your calories. Also some people are just very calorie-sensitive.
Oh I agree, but my point is how do you know exactly how many calories you have eaten? Half a dozen eggs in the same box will all have different calories, that's nature for you. When you're down to the level of eating 50 calories less (or more) each day I don't think it can be measured accurately because of the variables. As has been illustrated in this thread, not only do the foods themselves vary in consistency, but so do the various sources of data.

I think the best way to utilise calorie counting is - as Heather says - to use them to teach yourself the right levels for you to lose weight. After a short time you may find that you stop counting calories because you have trained yourself to know what effect foods have on your weight.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:02 PM   #15
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I'm having good results (6 lbs in two weeks) with 1,200 calories/day plus 6 days/week of moderate (30-45 min) exercise.
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