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A few newb questions (hunger signals, calorie counting, etc) for weight loss.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 29, 2012 at 5:02 PM

I've generally eaten low carbs ever since I started my weight loss journey. It just seemed more natural to me. But I have decided to take a dip into this paleo lifestyle. Although I agree with a more moderate consumption of carbs (100-150g) vs <50g, I'm open to trying it out. Once my finals are done on Monday I plan on going full paleo for 30 days.

I've been reading many posts throughout this forum and marksdailyapple to try to get an idea for a better approach to my diet and exercise routine as I continue my weight loss journey. And although I have a good grasp on the basics, it's the technicalities that kind of confuse me. The information is rather inconsistent when it comes to certain topics. Which is why I'm here to ask for a second opinion. I know it ultimately depends on me via n=1. But a second opinion from people who have more experience cannot hurt.

With that said, I'm 5'1; 145lbs; moderately active female. My goal weight is ~105-115lbs. I generally workout 5-6 days a week doing some type of cardio, as well as strength training on alternating days. My cardio workouts consisted of 60min high intensity elliptical. Between 7-9 on the perceived exertion scale. My strength training consists of ab workouts with a heavy medicine ball, squats, lunges, as well as isolated weight lifting machines (different muscle groups on different days), and an occasional workout video like 30DS or Insanity if I couldn't make it to the gym. Since easing more into paleo, I have cut the intensity of my workouts to a perceived exertion of 4-5 while increasing my duration to ~75-90min. Basically it feels like a hike in the park to me. I also mix in short bursts of really intense activity for 30 seconds a few times throughout my workout. Isn't this what I should be aiming for? Is 90min too much? This workout does not leave me exhausted. It makes me feel like I could workout for another couple of hours. On the other hand, my intense workouts left me feeling.. accomplished, I suppose. They drained me of my energy so it was easier for me to relax afterwards. I think I felt better? But I'm not sure if that's simply a mental thing. I don't know what's better, lower intensity or if I should go back to higher intensity?

As for my diet, I'm coming from a background of counting calories--most of my conventional knowledge is rooted in counting calories. It's a little hard for me to break away from that concept. I have been losing on 1700 calories a day, but recently have stalled despite exercising regularly and keeping to a relatively clean diet. I've been yo-yoing around the 140's. Whenever I get lower, I seem to spring back up to this weight. And although I am a little thinner right now than I was when I weighed less back in March, my body has still stayed relatively the same for a long time. While counting calories I have found out that I do not lose weight on 1500 calories.. I gain. My diet consists of lots of veggies, eggs, a little bit of dairy (milk, cheese yogurt.. I don't have dairy issues), meats, nuts, and about a serving of fruit (typically berries). I used to eat about 2/3cup of rolled oats in the morning and 1/2c-1c of grain or starch (potatoes or buckwheat). But have cut back to an occasional 1/3c oats or 1/2c sweet potato.

Which brings me to my next issue. Should I count calories or not? I have this mentality that if I don't count calories in order to eat enough then it will just be counter productive. Or what if 1700 calories is too much? I believe that energy in vs energy out does have an effect on weight. But it seems that the paleo community is split on this. Some think calories don't matter, while others do. Should I continue counting? Or should I stop and just eat until satiety even on days that I only eat <1200 calories a day? I feel like if I didn't keep track of it, and only ate when I'm hungry, then I would not be reaching my protein intake goals, and I definitely wouldn't be getting the recommended amount of high fat. Wouldn't this be counter productive...

This also ties into my next question. To eat or not to eat? I know the general opinion around here is to eat when you're hungry, and not eat when you're not hungry. But if I'm only eating like 800 calories a day... that can't possibly be healthy, ya know? I'm having trouble reading my hunger signals. I'm not ravenous anymore like I was on a high carb diet. I wake up not hungry. I can go half the day not being hungry. I only have a very subtle buzz in my head/emptyness in my stomach. But I don't perceive it as, "Okay, you're hungry you need food NOW". I could go on for a couple more hours before I actually make myself eat a meal. But I'm not low on energy. I'm not worn out or feel the need to nap. This aspect definitely confuses me a lot. My common sense tells me my body needs food and it's not healthy to be eating so little. I don't have an eating disorder. But I'm a bit worried that maybe my mind is suppressing my urge to eat even further when I should actually be eating? I can't really tell if I'm actually hungry or if I'm not. I've grown accustom to this "empty feeling" and slightly buzzed feeling because when I crash dieted a couple years ago I was so used to it. (On my 1700 calorie diet I made sure to eat regularly even if I wasn't really hungry. I ate until I was full, grazed on the leftovers as snacks throughout the day until my next meal). I wonder if this feeling is more of an adaptation to calorie restriction rather than a my metabolism being regulated. Should I aim to establish a regular eating pattern? Or should I just continue the way I am only eating when I strongly feel like eating?

Anddd a quick question about carb intake. I easily eat 1-2cups of veggies with every single meal. This easily adds up to 100g of carbs a day from veggies alone. Should I cut back drastically if I want to go VLC? Or am I fine eating that amount? I don't really get full unless I incorporate a lot of raw veggies into each meal.

I know this is ridiculously long and newbish. I thank you for taking the time to read this and respond! I understand there really is no "right" or "wrong" answer to any of these questions. But I'd love to take all of your opinions into consideration to formulate a plan for myself based off of your experiences to find what works for me. :)

93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on June 29, 2012
at 11:42 PM

That sounds good to me :)

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 07:47 PM

Thanks for the reply! The veggies I eat are: mushrooms, sweet peppers (these are a staple), cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, I go through a bag of spinach within like 3 days, kale, herbs (dill/cilantro), onions, arugula, garlic, occasionally tomatoes. But no I don't subtract fiber. I use caloriecount.com to track so IDK if it does it automatically or not. As for dairy, it's a small amount. 1/2c milk each morning, with a tbspn heavy cream/creamer, 10-20g butter a day, and occasionally ~8oz greek yogurt. So ~15g-25g of carbs from dairy.

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 06:00 PM

Thank you for your input! I guess with the calorie thing I'm more worried about not eating enough and having it be counterproductive rather than eating too much.

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:55 PM

I hardly have time to myself these days so I look forward to my workout sessions! They are "me" time to unwind and use up any pent up energy or frustrations. I just spend two hours at the end of my day to devote to the gym time (includes driving time, stretching, getting ready, etc). I've tried doing 30min of intense exercise before. It left me unsatisfied as if it was incomplete. So I try to do more. The rest of my day consists of a desk job and school = lots of sitting. So yeah. It just makes me feel better. Thank you for your input! :)

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:48 PM

It's not the satiety that I have a problem with. I recognize when I'm full just fine and don't push past my limit. It's recognizing when I'm hungry that's the problem. Most days I eat a 3-egg omelet with keilbasa, butter, and 1-2cups of veggies. Or alternate with 1-2oz nuts, greek yogurt, berries, and occasionally 1/3c cooked oats. Thank you for your input! :)

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4 Answers

1
Aacabe21bcb2c8a5a15717d60447c1f4

(144)

on June 29, 2012
at 07:20 PM

Should I continue counting? Or should I stop and just eat until satiety even on days that I only eat <1200 calories a day? I feel like if I didn't keep track of it, and only ate when I'm hungry, then I would not be reaching my protein intake goals, and I definitely wouldn't be getting the recommended amount of high fat.

The best strategy is to prioritize protein. You can stop eating for the day IF you have hit your protein goals and don't feel hungry anymore. Fat is great for tastiness and satiety, but I wouldn't sweat it if you don't hit your "fat goals" for the day... after all your body has plenty of its own fat to consume. Just keep the starchy carbs low.

I easily eat 1-2cups of veggies with every single meal. This easily adds up to 100g of carbs a day from veggies alone.

Bullshit. Are you subtracting fiber from that number? You should be, since your body doesn't absorb fiber-carbs. Paleo is BASED on crunchy veggies. Go crazy with those! They have the nutrients your body needs and they will help you feel full! If the carbs are really too high focus on eating low-carb things like salad greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cucumbers rather than starchy veg like carrots, beets, sweet potatoes.

I would be careful about dairy and nuts, those have more carbs than you might think and they can be stalling for weight loss. Also not the best representation of paleo. Make sure you are getting enough meat and eggs.

Once my finals are done on Monday I plan on going full paleo for 30 days.

Haha it is so hard to eat well during finals. I feel ya. -5'2" 130 similar goal weight

93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on June 29, 2012
at 11:42 PM

That sounds good to me :)

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 07:47 PM

Thanks for the reply! The veggies I eat are: mushrooms, sweet peppers (these are a staple), cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, I go through a bag of spinach within like 3 days, kale, herbs (dill/cilantro), onions, arugula, garlic, occasionally tomatoes. But no I don't subtract fiber. I use caloriecount.com to track so IDK if it does it automatically or not. As for dairy, it's a small amount. 1/2c milk each morning, with a tbspn heavy cream/creamer, 10-20g butter a day, and occasionally ~8oz greek yogurt. So ~15g-25g of carbs from dairy.

1
F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:51 PM

"I also mix in short bursts of really intense activity for 30 seconds a few times throughout my workout. Isn't this what I should be aiming for? Is 90min too much?"

Yes, and yes. Most people can do 4-6 30 second sprints in half-an-hour, and that's plenty. You should be aiming for no more than 90 minutes a week and 3 sessions/week.

Some people can simply cut carbs, eat protein and fat to satiety, and lose fat. If you're not one of them, macro ratios and approximate total calories can be useful information to have. You might find that you need to lower carbs, and not overcompensate with protein and fat.

It's not that counting calories is "bad", per se. If you obsess over every calorie, it's almost certainly counterproductive.

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 06:00 PM

Thank you for your input! I guess with the calorie thing I'm more worried about not eating enough and having it be counterproductive rather than eating too much.

1
60af23519906aa54b742ffc17477c3d3

(1186)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:30 PM

First of all, I want to say that experimentation is the key to your own success. It would be great if there was a "one size fits all" manual for health, but we are all so different (mainly emotionally) that it is impossible to create such a thing. The only thing any of us can do is tell you what works for us.

Cardio: I would cut way back. 90 minutes takes an awfully long time. I would do 30mins of HIIT AFTER your weight training, and 30 minutes on non-weight training days. How do you find time to walk on a treadmill for that long? I would go mad.

I do count calories. If I let myself wander too much then I end up eating maintenance. Your body wants to keep itself with a little extra cushion, so you can't expect it to naturally tell you to lose weight. As for the hunger thing, it can come and go. Unless you're loosing too much weight, I would let your hunger be the guide as to when you eat, with the exception of meal timing before and after weight training. I am a hard gainer, so these two meals are key for stimulating muscle growth, rather than catabolism. Aside from that, we would need an example of your diet to delve further.

Carbs are personal preference. If they're coming from veggies, I say eat them. Your body will like it, especially on days you're training. The carbs I would avoid if you're trying to cut are starch (yams) and fruit. Berries are good pre-workout for some energy. But this is also a preference.

Hope this is somewhat helpful! Good luck and keep me posted on your progress.

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:55 PM

I hardly have time to myself these days so I look forward to my workout sessions! They are "me" time to unwind and use up any pent up energy or frustrations. I just spend two hours at the end of my day to devote to the gym time (includes driving time, stretching, getting ready, etc). I've tried doing 30min of intense exercise before. It left me unsatisfied as if it was incomplete. So I try to do more. The rest of my day consists of a desk job and school = lots of sitting. So yeah. It just makes me feel better. Thank you for your input! :)

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Should I continue counting? Or should I stop and just eat until satiety even on days that I only eat <1200 calories a day? ... Should I aim to establish a regular eating pattern? Or should I just continue the way I am only eating when I strongly feel like eating?

Count just for observation but try just eating to satiety for now. If you have no satiety signals, try a high protein breakfast and see if that helps, otherwise, try to exert a little moderation. I think a fairly regular eating pattern of 2 or 3 meals is better than snacking and grazing.

I don't know what's better, lower intensity or if I should go back to higher intensity?

I honestly think lower intensity for the daily cardio is better in which case you can do it for as long as you like. Once a week kill yourself on some sprints. Those work wonders. Once a week is plenty.

5ac204706f7ff410df779a23f551c57f

(66)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:48 PM

It's not the satiety that I have a problem with. I recognize when I'm full just fine and don't push past my limit. It's recognizing when I'm hungry that's the problem. Most days I eat a 3-egg omelet with keilbasa, butter, and 1-2cups of veggies. Or alternate with 1-2oz nuts, greek yogurt, berries, and occasionally 1/3c cooked oats. Thank you for your input! :)

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