I know most people say "don't count calories" and I've posted a question on calories before, but here I go. Sorry, it's a bit long :D
Any of you every find calorie restriction to NOT work?!
I'm still in the process of trying to find out my body's trick to fat loss, and I ended up speaking to lady who owns a Crossfit box and went from 25% BF to 12% in about 10 weeks. I looked at her FitDay and her calories were low (around 1400-1600 a day) and she was LC...her whole thing started with a raw milk fast. I tried to mimic her eating for a few weeks but was always fighting myself to not go eat. In other words, I was starving. Since then I've gone back to eating normally. I cook every meal, everything is organic, hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed, raw, etc...nothing is processed, with the exception for the 1-2 times a week I have full fat Greek Yogurt or a high quality cheese. I will have a small glass of grassfed, non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized milk about 30-45 mins. or so after a workout (has that yummy cream top :D).
I'll have a glass of red wine a few nights a week...and being in college lets say I "go out" once a week , which means multiple drinks (which means vodka or tequila...occasionally an unflavored brown liquor... with soda water and lots of lime...so still no carb) But lets face it Pre-Med and working with our Football team leaves me sleepy...so going out usually means a glass or two of wine and an hour or two downtown.
I started tracking my intake again to see where I can improve:
Fat intake is usually like 120-150 g a day
Protein in usually between 95-120 g. a day
Carbs usually between 40 and 80 g a day
I usually end up between 2000 and 2500 calories daily. This amount usually keeps me comfortable...but I'm very often hungry even with this amount. When I read THE Primal Blueprint, Sisson made a sample daily menu for a grown woman (Cindy Korg I think? :P) and her "Menu" consisted of about 1700 calories if I recall correctly.
I've been told my intake is too much for a female...especially one who wants to lose fat (but not necessarily lose weight...Id be content 10 lbs. heavier if I had more muscle mass). I will do a 24 hour fast every 10 days or so and usually wont eat for 12-16 hours after my last meal (so if Im done at 9 PM the earliest I will eat is 9 AM...usually. Some days I have coffee with cream before class and will eat when I get home). I am highly active, so I know my calorie needs are higher (I Crossfit 5 xs a week [soon to add a few "two-a-days" in preparation for competition], ride my horse 3-4 days a week, walk the dog almost every day, and walk on campus every day). I will take Wednesdays and Sundays off(will make sure to walk the dog on these days) normally. On these off days I FEEL SO DEPRIVED...I could literally eat everything in sight.
Is the amount I'm eating adequate? Is what I consume too much to ever burn fat? Too little to build muscle?
Also, what is your intake? Macro-ratios? Etc.
Do you even care about your caloric intake?!
Currently I weigh between 152-155 lbs, at 28% body fat. I am a 5'6", 19 year old female...
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Firstly, why do you want to lose weight? Unless you are carrying a lot of abdominal fat, I'd say that you are a healthy weight. You have a BMI of 25 and 20-30% fat is a healthy level for a young woman.
For an active young woman doing cross-fit 5 days a week and horse riding a calorie intake of 2000-2500 seems reasonable to me. If your weight is stable then you are probably eating about the right amount.
How many calories someone takes in and how much they expend are quite hard to estimate accurately without obsessive levels of measuring foods. Don't worry to much about what other people eat or say you should eat, it is very individual.
A carb intake of 40-80 grams per day may be a bit low for someone of a normal weight doing so much exercise. Try eating some more carbs and some less fat. If you are cooking all your own food from good ingredients then I would stop worrying any more about ratios and grams. Just don't be afraid to eat more carb rich foods, try eating more sweet potatoes or similar.
If you seem to be eating enough and are still hungry I would do the following:
Rather than focus on weight loss and calories just focus on your appetite.
Think about what you eat and how. Notice what foods keep you full longer and what don't. Are larger meals better or more snacks? Maybe eat more vegetables? Play around with it all but starving yourself wont achieve anything in the long run.
As an example I find boiled potatoes very filling.
Or you could just stop worrying about it eat well, exercise well, be healthy and enjoy you life at college :)
I think your carb intake is low. You average around 150 g carb+protein combined which is the minimum healthy intake for a sedentary person; and you do CrossFit 5x per week. Your protein intake is optimal as is, so I would just add carbs. Vegetables don't count; add safe starches preferably, but sugary foods if necessary.
The most important key to body composition is minimizing omega-6 fat intake. So try to get your fat calories from seafood, red meats, and dairy. Don't get any vegetable oils except the tropical plant oils like coconut oil.
The next most important key is micronutrition. I would supplement to be well-nourished. Our recommendations are here: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=1066.
As Matthew suggests, the thing to focus on is not weight but appetite. As you add carbs, reduce omega-6, and improve micronutrition you should notice your appetite diminishing and your calorie needs being reduced. You want to find the nutrient mix that produces minimal appetite at minimal calorie intake. You should be able to fast easily and comfortably.
I drop my fat intake significantly and try to eat mostly protein & carbs 3-4 days a week. It's working to drop that last couple of pounds of belly fat.
Trade some of that fat for protein. Better satiety with protein than fat and a much better thermic effect (30% instead of 3%). Calorie counting is unsophisticated in general due to differences in satiety, diet-induced thermogenesis, etc. however if we're talking about net energy stored against net energy burned, of course that matters the most.
You'd have to be a big, burly dude to cut on that many calories a day.
Being healthy does not automatically equal being ripped. You are clearly super healthy.
Are you eating too much? You seem to be doing great at the things you love and have plenty of energy. So, no, your calorie intake is fine. Sometimes you're hungry, but then you often fast for extended periods. I fast too. You will be hungry sometimes when you fast. That's like 1/2 the point. http://cavemantoday.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/you-will-be-hungry/ So I don't think the hunger is a sign of anything other than literally not eating very often. If I pound 3,000 calories today or 6,000, if I fast for 24 hours, I will get hungry. It won't kill me, but it's not like I won't feel anything.
Are you eating too many calories to be on the cover of In Shape? I don't know, but probably. Like I said, you're super healthy, not metabolically or hormonally broken, you manage to maintain at way more calories than me without that much more activity, so your body is really to be envied. This means that if you eat fewer calories, you'll lose fat for sure, but you'll be hungry (though you can lessen this with a high protein intake etc.), and you'll have less energy for extreme workouts and if you do it for too long, you might mess up that lovely smooth running machine that is your current metabolism.
Eating healthy food makes you healthy. Health does not necessarily mean shredded, and vis versa. I had a friend who was a boxer, he was ripped to pieces, but when he was cutting, he got the hangry (hungry-angry) like nobody's business, because he ate nothing but lean protein, but he melted what little fat he had in about five seconds.
You might also try cycling your carbs, as a lot of athletes do, which tends to lessen the hangry somewhat (there are good threads on it here).
But, my real advice? Don't be hangry. Just be healthy. You're doing awesome stuff. You're in great shape. You're in college. You're active. You have a social life. Enjoy it. You don't need to have 12% bodyfat. You just don't. Plenty of gorgeous successful people go on to live happy productive lives with 29% bodyfat.
@bill It is so not true before paleo I was doing p90x eating 1500 calories figuring i would lose wight. I didn't lose any weight until my coach said eat more. I didn't start losing until i was eating almost 3000 calories. The body is much more complicated then calories in calories out.
On paleo I eat when I am hungry and i lose about 2lbs a week on average but I have no idea how much I eat now. I would guess based on listening to Robb Wolf podcast that michelle is over training and is stressed (she may no notice it.) Cortisol is probably the culprit in not losing fat not eating 2500 calories with that activity level.
Just my 2 cents.
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I'm in the same boat as Michelle -- in great shape but not ripped.
I latched onto the Paleo diet in Sept. 2010 and saw immediate results -- I dropped a few stubborn pounds to reach 10 or 11 percent body fat in only a few weeks.
Since then, I've made great strength and muscle gains, but remain at 10 or 11 percent body fat despite some intermittent fasting and paying closer attention to my caloric intake (~1800 on rest days, ~2800 on lift days).
I sleep about 9 hours a night, sometimes even 10 on the weekends.
As remarkable as this diet has been in the way I look, feel and perform, I'm beginning to think that reaching "ripped" status is reserved for the genetically gifted.
Not that people like Michelle or I will ever stop trying make the right tweaks here and there to attain "the look" :P.
That's a fair amount of alcohol. It may not be the calories, but the alcohol can interfere with liver function, which can mess with metabolism. I'd encourage research into what happens to bodies when alcohol gets into them.
No judgement, and if you're having fun, go for it. I'm just sayin', it's something that can affect metabolism.
For comparison: I'm 20, female, 5'5" and weigh 8 stone and 2 pounds. In the last week, according to Cronometer, I've averaged 1347 calories a day. The split is 45.7% calories from fat, 36.5% carbs and 17.8% protein. I've lost 4 pounds in the last week. I'm off college at the moment so I'm not that active and I've only done one kettlebell workout so far this week. To be honest though I don't find myself being that much hungrier when I've worked out. I don't eat much more during term time either (maybe 1600ish calories) and I workout three or four times a week and walk 4km to and from college every day. I should also point out that I don't go hungry. I had an 'eat everything day' this week where I was hungry all day and didn't seem to stop eating and I still only hit 1620 calories. I supposedly need 1923 calories a day to maintain my weight. I don't think that could be true. For most people a calorie restriction means a 500 calorie deficit a day, I don't think you're reaching that so I wouldn't say that calorie restriction isn't working for you.
Considering we are roughly the same age/height I would say your calorie intake is a bit high. Since your hunger seems to be a problem I would suggest that maybe there's a problem with leptin/insulin resistance? I don't really know enough about those things to say. However I used to have a hard time going more than a few hours without food. Reading "Mastering Leptin" sorted that out. Maybe look at that? Here's what Jack Kruse says about leptin, maybe follow his rules. Also something else I always recommend to people trying to lose weight is the iphone app pichealthy. It's a photo food diary, it makes a HUGE difference. I thought I was eating a pretty good diet when I started using it but it quickly became obvious I wasn't really! I've never been able to lose weight without it, definitely my secret weapon when it comes to weight loss!
As always, YMMV. In my SAD-and-YOYO past, I tried counting calories (high-protein, low fat) and even 1500 was too few so I quit counting. 1000 calories per day was the norm then and that amount would have me on a binge within a week so I ate as little as I could but did't count and sometimes even lost weight in the short term.
One of the things that attracted me to ancestral eating was Mark Sisson's claim that I wouldn't be expected to count calories. At 8 months in, I haven't counted at all.
So far, so terrific but as you may already know I'm only about halfway in my fat loss so anything could happen as I continue. Based on accumulated expertise from past diets I'd give a rough estimate of 2000-2500 calories on many days and as little as 1000 on days when I'm not hungry. The best part is feeling free to eat more or less based on how I feel and what I do.
I don't think 2000-2500 calories is too much for you especially with the amount of exercise you do. I think it's probably enough to burn fat, but not to gain muscle (as you'd need to gain weight for that). That said, I'm no expert here so perhaps I'm wrong. I do think that most women underestimate how much they should eat though, which results in a surpressedd/adapted metabolism (so they maintain on less)
Personally, calories in/out have always been about right with me. I struggle with binging but even then my calorie estimates have been relatively accurate. I once kept a spreadsheet which calculated my daily "net" and cumulative calories (based on a basic daily burn of 1800, plus extra activities - even walking). When I had reached about 7500-8000 cumulative excess calories, I had gained a kg. When I lost some weight, it was all right on spot as well as long as the weighing was first thing in the morning with nothing too "bloating" eaten the night before.
My personal Experience is that calories definitely DO matter, I tried to eat more fat and started by adding coconut oil, about 2-3 tbs a day and true I did still eat starches and 'some' gluten free grains, but even when I was highly active I still piled on 3 kg in a very short amount of time... And it was fat not muscle I've since been able to lose weight with calorie restriction, usually 1500 a day with Plenty of exercise, and paleo only foods The moral of the story is everyone is different?
I'm reading Gary Taubes' Why We Get Fat book and the last 40 pages have been talking about how Calories-In/Calories-Out doesn't matter.
I know other PaleoHackers know more than I do about him, but I find his stuff both interesting and believable so far.
Want to lose fat? Eat more fat! :)
I also worked at a CrossFit gym and we had many people not losing weight due to not eating enough. With the right balance of food and exercise they lost weight.
I just started eating really strict Paleo. I found that the portion control from the Whole 9 Whole 30 guide helps. The first few days I was tracking my food and targeting at least 1700 calories a day minimum. This was more of an effort on Paleo then I thought it would be (If I wasn't tracking I would consume 1300 or so). I have lost 5 lbs in 3 weeks doing this and have not started back on exercise yet but will this month.
I intentionally dropped exercise when I started paleo after reading a neurosurgeons report which basically said it makes the transition from carb dependence much harder if you are exercising. He suggested 2 weeks with no exercise (walking is fine), 2 weeks with weights, then a transition back to a normal workout routine.
I have had more success with this then when I tried to do Paleo while doing Crossfit. Of course I have the intent to return but I wanted my diet dialed in first.
Well, since your doing CF 5x/week. How has your progress been? Seriously?
How much has your 1RM on pullups, pushups, deadlifts, and squats gone up over the last 4,8,12 weeks?
If you went up significantly then its safe to say that your muscle mass increased and your bodyfat went down, making the scale utterly useless.
It looks like your diet is fine, both in calories and macros. That makes me think there's some other area that is holding you back. How are your hormones- birth control pills or other hormonal wackiness? Also, you train a LOT, and this is coming from someone who trains a lot. Sleep? What steps do you take to manage and reduce stress?
"Any of you every find calorie restriction to NOT work?!"
Oh yes, there are plenty of PaleoHackers on here who defy the laws of biology, physiology, thermodynamics and physics on a daily basis.
There are people on here who have fasted for 10 straight days on nothing but water, green tea, and coffee, and claim to have not lost a single pound of scale weight.
If in doubt, run in circles, scream AND shout!!
Calorie Restriction works 100% of the time. Period.