Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Counting calories on paleo

So here is another post about my general thoughts on weight loss and what has worked for me. Not much to update you on in my "real" life situation. My weight has held steady around 127 (never thought I'd be able to say that), my job most likely starts next week, Chris is still traveling and I miss him, but I am getting life stuff done and hanging out with friends. So pretty stable and standard kind of stuff going on around here!!

So onto my post about something that's been on my mind a while.

I lost weight originally by counting calories, writing everything down in a book and trying to stay around or under 1600 calories... this was after college for me, so about 8 years ago-ish.

I stuck with this practice for years. It took over a year to get most of the weight off and then I continued to do it to make sure I wouldn't regain. Got down to low 130s, even saw 131 on the scale for a few weeks.... was feeling pretty hot :) Then I kind of fell in love with Chris.... heh...

About the time I started dating Chris, really after I moved in with him, I completely abandoned calorie counting. By the time we had been dating for a year and a half, I had almost made my way back up to 150 (this is early fall of 2011). SCARED.

I downloaded an app on the iPhone, started counting calories again, lost about ten pounds over the course of 3-4 months.

But, then I went paleo and lost another 10 pounds in a little over a month. I was still counting calories at this point, but was eating a little more than normal on paleo than I had pre-paleo. I was also eating TONS of food, because my main foods were now fruits and vegetables.

In the past with calorie-counting, I would put a portion of food on my plate that I knew the calories and I would eat it all.... I would never NOT eat my alloted calories.

Now, with paleo, I often do not finish my plate of food, even though I technically can eat it and have the calories for it. It's just too much bulk for my stomach! I get full easier... I stop eating because I am full (which I didn't used to do on paleo.... before paleo, I would eat a pint of ice cream whether or not I was super full haha.. oy).

Sooooo.... why am I still calorie counting?

I am scared not to. Even though, with paleo, I feel I have learned to eat moderately and eat for fuel (not purely pleasure.. though my food IS yummy).. I am scared if I don't monitor myself, I will start over-eating again.

I am scared I might fall into bad habits, disguising them as paleo.... like eating tons of coconut milk icecream or lots of dark chocolate or piles of macadamia nuts or something!

I feel like I just don't trust myself yet. I am not ready to let calorie-counting go.

So many proponents of paleo say you don't need to count calories on paleo. Many things I've read say it is even a little counter-paleo. They just want you to eat good, whole foods that are not harmful to your body and then everything will kind of even out for you.

There is this article: Counting calories on paleo. One of the quotes that stand out the most is:

"Calorie counting can be very useful if you’re trying to lose weight. But so can the Paleo diet. Here’s my philosophy on counting calories while you’re on the Paleo diet: The main reasons that people have weight issues are that they 1) have unbalanced blood sugar so they have sugar cravings all the time (and indulge them), and 2) people are over-consuming fluffy foods like grains, legumes and refined sugars. The Paleo diet, and in particular, Paleo Plan, help solve those issues."

I do think this is true.... On paleo, I naturally have more and better energy, I naturally feel full and stop eating, I have lost most of my cravings for non-food junk. I feel like my blood sugar is naturally stabilized.... no white-bread to spike it up in the morning, no reason to go searching for more carby-junk to keep it up. My blood pressure is GREAT. I have even had better muscle growth on paleo than ever before (probably all the protein!!).

But there IS that disordered part of me. I just can't go back to last year... clothes not fitting, feeling uncomfortable, having trouble climbing mountains or running. I can't go back and I need to learn to trust myself before I let go of the safety of calorie-counting.

It is a struggle. I don't LIKE counting calories. It is time consuming and a little socially awkward at times. But I want to be healthy above all things.... so I am going to stay the course I am on for now: paleo eating, clean eating, exercise, good sleep and counting calories.

Maybe I will be ready for a change in the future?

:) Peace, friends!


  1. I would think by now that you, like me, are in kind of a food routine where you know from experience what the calorie count is on the foods you eat most frequently. Like when I food-journaled for a month or so at the beginning of the year to see if my mental numbers were in line with reality (it was pretty much spot-on...I guessed I was eating 1600-1800 cals/day and every day for a month -- without my TRYING to stay in that range or manipulate my food to meet it; I just ate what I would normally eat -- every day fell between 1300-2000 with most around 1600). I jotted down a list of foods I ate all the time and the calorie counts for each one on the inside cover of my journal and I went back to measuring protein just to make sure I wasn't underestimating how much chicken was on my salad. I definitely think calories, even though they are all GOOD calories, have a place in Paleo. Your body's going to use what it can but it doesn't need four avocados in a day (which I could eat) or 4 cups of walnuts (which I could easily graze on ALLLLLL day) so there is some need to be aware of calories but not nearly as much need to track every single one like there is when you're eating processed, non-nutritive crap. If you eat reasonable portions of Paleo food when you're hungry, you are very unlikely to overeat, IMO... :)

  2. You have really done a great job of not only eating Paleo but eating it WELL, which is, in my opionion, hard to do. When I first started paleo, I really went for the high fat food options which was obviously not helpful for losing weight. If I had been tracking my calories, perhaps I would have seen that and put on the breaks on my nut intake sooner.

    I think there is a place for calorie counting with Paleo, especially when we are still in the weight loss phase of it. I'm really working at doing it right this time (really limiting the dried and regular fruit & nuts)focusing on lots of protein and veggies- if I don't see a loss this week then I'm right back to strict measuring and tracking.