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Does it matter WHAT you eat?

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Old 02-27-2011, 06:28 PM   #1
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Default Does it matter WHAT you eat?

For example, I know you can lose weight on a balanced plan with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and protein but can you also also lose weight eating 1400 calories of cheeseburgers?

The reason I ask is because both of my parents lost their jobs recently and I'm prepared to have to eat more of the food that they buy instead of my "extra" food. I'm on Atkins right now but they eat a very carby diet and if it would help my parents financially then I would be willing to do whatever I need to do to continue losing weight. I could always stay on Atkins and live off of cheese, eggs, and meat but that doesn't sound like anything sustainable and I'd probably get burnt out/sick of it.

I would probably have to eat more white carbs and sugar than I'd like. I'd probably eat stuff like full-fat milk, cheese, and condiments...eggs, white bread, peanut butter, oatmeal, salad, and whatever my parents make for dinner (usually stuff like chili or steak or burgers).

As long as I counted calories eating not-so-healthy would I still be able to lose weight or does your body not like to let go of the weight unless you're eating nutritiously?

Going off of Atkins is a last resort if we find ourselves in a tight spot. My mom will do anything in her power to to keep me on my WOE of choice because she knows how happy and successful I am. I was just wondering in case I find myself in this situation. I've been asking her about food stamps but right now she's having a hard time accepting that we need to use them (my mom is a very proud person, I know there's nothing wrong with having to use food stamps).
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:54 PM   #2
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For me, it makes a huge difference. If I eat high-carb, I'm starving all of the time, so hungry that it makes it nearly impossible to stay on plan.

However, there are a lot of great carb-conscious tips in the shoestring meals forum. I'd check there first.

Also there are some very good tips online and in books on frugal living. They aren't all Atkins friendly, but many of them are. With a little practice you can learn which meats, dairy, vegetables, fats, and less carby fruits are the cheapest.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:57 PM   #3
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Peanut butter, oatmeal, eggs, salads, full fat cheese and milk are part of a healthy diet. Counting the calories in them, and adding in whole grains and veggies when you can will keep you losing weight.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:14 PM   #4
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Seagirl, unfortunately they don't buy whole grains at all. All of the bread and pasta is white. I see a lot of people eating mostly low fat products, is it just because they're lower in calories so they can have more of them? The only vegetables they really eat are salad, corn, and green beans.

Like I said, it's probably not going to be an issue. My parents would sooner eat more low carb meals themselves than make me go off of my WOE. I just wanted to ask in case I'm ever in the position where I have to eat their food. Knowing that I can eat whatever just as long as I log the calories is comforting. They don't want to do a low carb plan and I have a 6 year old brother so we always have stuff like milk and peanut butter around.

When I was looking at other people's meal plans, I noticed that they ONLY eat low-fat and whole grains so I was thinking if I ate whole fat dairy and white grains I wouldn't be able to lose weight or something even if I tracked every calorie.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:20 PM   #5
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Yes, I think it's possible. If you do go off Atkins, be prepared for an initial gain as you restore your glycogen supply. It's not fat, but you'll likely see a small gain.

What you're describing doesn't sound too awful bad, but the problem is that it is likely to trigger cravings. That's one of the reasons diets like that don't work. But if you're looking at calories instead of the Atkins program, yes, I think it's possible.

I personally do eat mostly complex carbs, but I don't eat low fat. I buy regular cheese and eat regular ice cream, I just do so extremely sparingly. I also eat real sugar. I know most people swear by low fat dairy, but I just do the real thing in moderation.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:24 PM   #6
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If you google "Twinkie Diet" you can read the story about a Kansas State nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds in two months on a diet that was two thirds junk food. His premise was that calories eaten mattered more than nutritional value.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by msmarigold View Post
If you google "Twinkie Diet" you can read the story about a Kansas State nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds in two months on a diet that was two thirds junk food. His premise was that calories eaten mattered more than nutritional value.

For two months, I would agree. In the short-term calorie-restriction is all that is required for weight loss. If you cut calories enough, you'll lose weight (Even though I can eat 500 calories more on low-carb to lose the same amount of weight as on high-carb, I can also lose weight by cutting calories more drastically on a high carb diet. I just have to cut calories far more drastically, and I have to endure far worse hunger and worse flares of my pain, fatigue, and skin/autoimmune symptoms. But for weight loss - if I don't mind the other horrible stuff - all I need is the drastic calorie restriction).

The long-term problem is finding a sustainable plan - that is indeed, the tricky part. I wonder how long the nutrition professor would have been able to maintain the weight loss (and his health) on an indefinite version of his junk food diet.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:39 PM   #8
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I actually feel a low fat diet is a disaster diet. You have to get calories from somewhere and they are carbs, protein and fat. Carbs make me hungry, carbs cause me blood sugar issues, carbs (simple carbs) are just a quick fix for the body. Protein is good and needed, but too much of it is hard on the liver. We weren't meant to eat super heavy protein diets. Fat, is left and guess what? Fat is easier for the body to process and less harmful to the liver and other organs. Now, of course, fat is not all created equally, but nuts, vegetable oils, avocados, are great. And then carbs from beans, quinoa, vegetables are great, slow to breakdown carbs.

I eat what my family eats for dinner - I just eliminate the carb and eat more veggies. And frozen veggies are pretty cheap, so you can get those to replace the rice at dinner or the bread on cheeseburgers.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:04 PM   #9
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Yes, you can lose weight no matter what you eat if you cut calories - msmarigold's example is spot on. But don't confusing losing weight with getting healthier. I think that your health will suffer if you starting eating refined carbohydrates again and less fat/protein. If I were you I would try to introduce my parents to whole-grain products and a greater variety of vegetables.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:11 PM   #10
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This reminds me of an article I read of a teacher that wanted to do an experiment to show his students its not what you eat but how much. All he ate was 1200 calories of junk food Twinkies, cookies, ect..I cant remember how long he did this for but he lost 27lbs or something crazy like that. Not the healthiest but possible.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:41 PM   #11
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I try to get them to eat healthier but I haven't really succeeded, lol. Usually we just make mostly separate meals or we'll switch out ingredients...like lasagna, but she makes the sauce homemade with no sugar added tomato sauce and I have zucchini instead of noodles. This can get kinda costly though since she's making two lasagnas and a lot of the time we don't even finish all of either of them.

I wonder if it would work to make 1/2 of the lasagna with noodles and 1/2 with zucchini...that way everyone wins. Hm, that gave me an idea.

Anyway, I love eating lots of vegetables and protein and healthy fat and I wouldn't be very happy if I had to be fighting cravings and eating simple carbs again. It was just a "just in case" question I was curious about.
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:00 PM   #12
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Technically, you will lose weight as long as you cut your caloric intake below the amount of calories you burn. That's why the "twinkie diet" worked for that guy.

I calorie-count and I've definitely noticed a qualitative difference in my plan even though there's been no quantitative difference since Christmas dinner (1500 calories every day). You may have trouble with cravings or hunger if you're just eating smaller portions of super-high-carb stuff that you digest quickly.

As for full-fat cheese and milk and such, I am a HUGE fan of small portions of the real thing over big portions of these dairy products with the fat removed. The flavor is in the fat, and you may find (as I have) that half an ounce of real honest-to-goodness sharp cheddar sates you far more than two ounces of non-fat processed cheese product. Milk and peanut butter are good for you--you just eat them in moderation and alongside other stuff that provides the bulk that these calorie-dense foods don't.

For family meals, maybe you can focus on foods that require a little more individual assembly--homemade pizzas, for instance, or tacos/fajitas that get put together at the table. That way you could have yours with lots of vegetables and little cheese while others were going heavier on the denser stuff. The lasagna you're describing could definitely be lightened up with 1/2 zucchini; another thing that could work is leaving the topmost sprinkling of cheese off of your portion as it bakes. The steak and burgers you describe are good choices, too, depending on your portions and on your condiments.

Not every household is going to swap over to 100% whole grains. We still have some "white stuff" in our household too because my husband likes it. I eat it occasionally, but I just change up proportions--eating an open-faced sandwich with one slice of bread and plenty of extra greenery, for instance, or eating half a cup of rice with my red beans instead of the two cups or so I used to snarf down.

Best of luck to you and your folks; being out of work is tough. Here's hoping they find something even better in their work futures soon.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:56 AM   #13
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I'm a bit in a similar situation (parent out of work), but I don't follow Atkins. I haven't been able to buy everything for salads or fish weekly like I used to. I've been filling up on higher fiber carbs like oatmeal and beans (in chili and soups).

I say this alot... but coupons help alot, even just the printable ones you find online and find a store that doubles and buy things when they are on sale.. I've been able to get free or very cheap canned tomatoes, beans, greek yogurts, canned soups, whole wheat pastas. Just to throw in, there are some good healthier pastas out... Barilla Smart Taste, Rozoni Smart Taste and Garden Delight pastas are fortified with extras, fiber, protein, etc and don't taste 'whole wheaty' at all... That's just in case if you do have to go off Atkins you don't have to go completely to the white pasta.

That said...people said you might have to deal with cravings, but I tell ya instead of craving junk food, there are actually times now I crave a salad or a piece of salmon with some veggies!
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Old 02-28-2011, 01:27 AM   #14
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In the long run yes it matters what food you are putting into your body obviously, but you can lose weight eating ANYTHING! If you are your caloric budget in fruit and veggies or if you ate it in chips and cookies it's still the same amount of calories. You would "feel" better having eaten the fruits and veggies, but calorie wise it doesn't matter what you are eating!
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:19 AM   #15
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If you are your caloric budget in fruit and veggies or if you ate it in chips and cookies it's still the same amount of calories. You would "feel" better having eaten the fruits and veggies, but calorie wise it doesn't matter what you are eating!
I know I'm arguing a technicality, but I have to point out that this isn't always true. Calorie-wise and amount of weight lost-wise it can make a difference where the calories come from.

"A calorie is a calorie," isn't always true for everyone. While it is true that to lose weight you have to take in fewer calories than you burn, many people find that "all calories are not created equal." The type of calories (at least for some people) can influence the "burn" part of the equation. If you compare metabolism to a furnace, the type of fuel you use can affect the efficiency of the furnace. Not all fuels burn at the same rate.

For most of my life, I would have argued that 1500 calories of anything (junk, low-fat, high-carb, low-carb) would yeild the exact same weight loss. I only learned otherwise by accident - and then proved it with a careful experiment (repeated a few times, because I didn't believe it).

Initially, when I noticed that I lost weight more rapidly and more consistently on low-carb, I assumed that I lost more on low-carb than higher-carb just because I was less hungry and therefore eating fewer calories (and that would have been reason enough to stick with low-carb), but with meticulous food journaling, I discovered that I do not lose equally well on 1500 of low-carb as on 1500 of high-carb (which is what I would have predicted).

Instead I found that there's at least a 300 - 500 calorie discrepancy. To lose equally well on low-carb, I have to cut calories more than I have to on low-cal. 1600 - 1800 calories of low-carb yields about the same weight loss as 1200-1500 calories of low-carb.

That doesn't mean you can't lose weight on any type of food, but it does mean that "a calorie is a calorie" is an oversimplification (at least for some of us). To lose the same amount of weight, you may have to cut calories more drastically on one food plan, than you would on another.


It's worth experimenting though, because if a certain WOE allows you to burn more calories than another, it makes sense to choose the one that gives you an advantage. If 1200 calories of high-carb yields the same wieght loss as 1500-1800 calories of low-carb, why wouldn't you choose the low-carb (especially if it also controls hunger better). For me, it's a no-brainer. Low-carb wins, because I can eat more and lose more.

I don't know that everyone experiences this. It seemed to me that when I was younger, the difference wasn't so pronounced (I assumed that I burned about equally on 1500 calories, no matter where those 1500 came from, and I don't remember receiving any evidence to the contrary), but I never gave low-carb diets much of a chance (always thinking them unhealthy).

If I had wanted to stick to a 1200 calorie high-carb diet, I could have. I still would have lost weight (though I'd be hungrier). So in that way, you can lose weight on any style of eating, even if yo do burn calories better on on some plans. No matter how you want to eat, you can keep cutting calories until you begin losing, but if you lose better on one WOE than another, experimenting to find that WOE is a good thing.
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