Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 12, 2013 at 4:02 AM

counting calories on paleo necessary for weight loss?

what are your thoughts? people are giving me mixed thoughts.

some people say it isn't.

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on March 12, 2013
at 04:21 AM

it helps to establish a baseline intuition about food:calorie relationship, that's all. once you know how many calories this or that has per eyeballed portion AND your total daily expenditure of calories, you are pretty much golden forever. without that understanding, you'll be forever spitting into the wind. try myfitnesspal.com, it helped me. my .02...

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on March 12, 2013
at 04:26 AM

Well i'd say for most people the answer is no. BUT...

Different things work for different people, you have to figure out what works best for you.

If you don't know how much you are eating and how much you need to eat to lose weight in the form of cals/carbs/fats/protein, then it could be good to try it for a week or so to get an idea of what amount and ratio of foods you are currently eating.

Then you might even like to keep doing it to use as a guideline, if it doesn't trigger any eating disorder type behavior (cal counting does in lots of women, especially).

On the other hand if you find it really annoying, time consuming, it's not something you want to do, or you have a history with getting too obsessed with the numbers/binge eating when you go over-bored etc, I wouldn't bother with it.

But in general I think it really is different for everyone, that's why you are getting mixed results when you ask people.

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on March 12, 2013
at 04:29 AM

imo, for weight loss, you need to average a calorie deficit over time.

now whether you need to count calories or not will likely vary from person to person. however if you find that you are not losing any weight, then it would be a worthwhile exercise to track calories.

you may like to look at some of the previous questions on this topic,

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on March 12, 2013
at 04:30 AM

Most people gain bodyfat as a result of years of eating refined foods with calories crammed into every nook. Simply reverting to a diet comprised of a diverse selection of whole foods (with any macronutrient ratio) should automatically result in weight loss. If satiety becomes an issue, increase the proportion that is red meat. It's quite a lot harder to overeat without refined ingredients or some kind of binging behavior.

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on March 12, 2013
at 06:06 AM

I find that counting calories is more helpful to keep me on track, since I realized I was eating waaay too many calories, and it was stalling my weightloss. I mean, how easy is it to eat a few spoonfulls of almond butter or a whole mess of salami? Way too easy, and it is a bunch of calories.

It is good to just track them for a solid week or so, just to know what ballpark you are in, so you can realize that your body does not need that half a jar of almond butter, even if it is better than SAD diet food (As I had to realize).

Once I started counting, I lost four pounds in a week, more than I have lost for most of my time paleo, but it does vary for everyone. It is worth a shot though. Get an app on your phone, I use Lose It, just to feel it out.

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on March 12, 2013
at 12:36 PM

If you are very overweight (40+ lb) just switching to nutrient dense foods will cause weight loss. Your body is starting off biochemically screwy, and the correction goes a long way. When I initially lost weight on paleo, I lost 30 lb eating 3000+ calories a day. (My body was STARVING for nutrition, and it got it! btw, I'm a 5'4" female).

If you are close to your goal weight (within 10-30 lb, depending on the person) you will have to start watching calories. Your hunger cues may naturally adjust and you may eat less. But if your hunger cues are off, you will need to track calories.

I do kind of a middle ground: I use a website called Cronometer.com to plan my week of meals. Then I just follow that, making sure if I eat something different I keep the amounts similar. That way I'm not counting every bite, but I have an idea of what I need to eat. I do often weigh food, esp if I haven't eaten it in a while, just to get my brain used to what a serving is.

FWIW, I think that counting calories can be a necessary evil in our time, mainly bc we have so much convenient food (even paleo) available. We don't have to run it down, kill it, clean it, pluck it, whatever. We don't have small famines to burn off that buffer of fat our bodies like to keep (especially women).

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on March 12, 2013
at 01:14 PM

I pick a random day of the week with a typical "menu" and track my calories and my ratios. I figure if I'm good on that day, I'm probably pretty close for the rest of the week. I find that keeps my focused but not obsessive since I have a very controlling personality that can tend to go to extremes.

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on March 12, 2013
at 01:41 PM

I have found that in general I am hitting my maintenance level of calories or just below it, and it is rare that I would get 3000kcals per day without actually focusing on increasing calories that day. Of course it depends on meal frequency, and so for someone who only eats two meals a day, by default I tend to be on the lower side of things.

I am currently counting my calories these next few month as I am trying to go from 76kg to 80kg. Since I am also increasing my activity levels to build lean body mass, I am having to increase overall calorie consumption. From experience if I don't check I tend to be eating less than is useful.

By default almost all healthy eating diets tend to generate a calorie deficit at first since you end up replacing high calorie foods with lower calorie vegetables and fruits. It seems that those who are coming from the point of health and performance (i.e. they are already fairly lean or have reached their body weight goal) it is about increasing certain foods or finding a better balance with tweaking up macronutrients: starchy-vegetables, fats.

With friends who have asked me to help them lose weight, simply by asking them to aim for 2 - 3 cups of starchy carbohydrate per day at most (with no candy, chocolate, etc), they end up consuming less calories then they were before. It happens on its own when you start to replace the bread/pasta/candy with vegetables. And of course protein and fat consumption increases in meals increasing satiety.

I may be wrong but I think that those who start eating 'paleo' or real food diets don't at first appear to be consuming the general ratio: 20% carbohydrates, 65% fat and 15% protein, but normally much lower in fat. I think it does take some effort to eat that percentage of fat unless you are purchasing some really good meats.

Good quality meats from UK supermarkets are generally still quite lean, and I am always adding more butter to my meals, or consuming a few more teaspoons of coconut oil throughout the day.

So basically I think that if you end up eating real foods, you will be by default in better energy balance and I think most likely maintenance or slightly under. This is of course useful or not depending on your goals.

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on March 12, 2013
at 02:57 PM

i'm 2-3 years into paleo and don't count. but being a life-long binge eater has damaged my natural ability to stop eating when satieted. some people will always have to count calories or become super active to lose and maintain weight loss.

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on March 12, 2013
at 04:36 PM

I did it. It helped me stay on track, but I am afraid I might have developed a bad habit. You see, I probably need to be doing it now in order to make sure I am getting enough calories. Speaking of which, I better go eat lunch.

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on March 12, 2013
at 05:24 PM

I think it depends on whether you've been eating a paleo diet for a while or if you're switching from a SAD diet or another way of eating, and also on your brain and personality. I went paleo from a pretty standard american diet and NEVER thought once about calories. I lost 27 pounds in 4 months without really trying. I added a little extra yoga and simple playful exercise like walking and snoeshowing, but didn't start crossfit until 3 months in to my paleo switch and that's more for muscle toning at this point.

I think it really depends on how you tick. Calorie counting to me feels restrictive and "Diet-like" - which isn't what Paleo is about. My favorite thing about the paleo lifestyle is that I eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm don't. I love that paleo is a way of life, not a diet or a quick fix or a fad. I never cut out fruit, but I do try to be sure I don't over-indulge in anything regularly. Your body will naturally respond to the way you're eating -- it will come to a healthy weight on its own if you're being smart (ie - not eating a pound of nuts everyday - which isn't recommended anyway). My two cents - hope it makes sense! :)



on March 12, 2013
at 09:25 AM

I think it's an important part of this type of diet


on March 12, 2013
at 06:50 AM

If you count your calories you are a way disciplined than any other workout any diet plan ,

In fact Weight loss is 70% dieting and 30% Exercise !!

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