Is Calorie Counting the real reason for maintaining weight loss?

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Replies

  • Onesnap
    Onesnap Posts: 2,819 Member

    Maybe someone has a couple links. If not I'll see if I can dig them out tonight. It is scientifically validated with a statistically significant sample size. It's great for you that your experience is different from the norm.

    ETA: The lower calorie requirement was observed for people who had lost significant weight (>50 lb, maybe?) vs. people who simply "dieted before."

    The documentary is available to watch online for free: 'The Weight of the Nation' http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/

  • dubird
    dubird Posts: 1,849 Member
    edited December 2015
    I'm sure it's totally possible to maintain without counting and logging anymore. Though, that depends entirely on how you changed your eating habits I suppose.

    For me, I'll be logging for the rest of my life, or at least until I don't care anymore. I don't weigh or are concerned with perfect accuracy, but just the act of putting down what I eat, even if it's just a best guesstimate, helps me resist habit snacking, which was my big downfall. It's not perfect, but it's more a way for me to account to myself and keep an eye on where I'm at.
  • FitPhillygirl
    FitPhillygirl Posts: 7,124 Member
    Onesnap wrote: »

    Maybe someone has a couple links. If not I'll see if I can dig them out tonight. It is scientifically validated with a statistically significant sample size. It's great for you that your experience is different from the norm.

    ETA: The lower calorie requirement was observed for people who had lost significant weight (>50 lb, maybe?) vs. people who simply "dieted before."

    The documentary is available to watch online for free: 'The Weight of the Nation' http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/
    Hey thanks for the link. I'll check it out when I'm home tonight.
  • dubird
    dubird Posts: 1,849 Member
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    Why would my calories be less than someone who is the same height, age, and weight as myself? I disagree with this statement because I've actually maintained for almost 4 years eating more due to my high activity level. If I were to eat less at this point I'd be losing weight which is something I don't need to do.

    *need to remember to hit POST when I'm done typing*

    Someone your same age, height and weight won't have the same activity level or body composition as you. There's probably other factors with genetics or certain conditions that can make things different. We're all built differently. For example, someone my height, weight and age might have a much higher energy output. They'll need to eat more calories than I do because they burn more. Or they might have better muscle composition, which means what they eat will need to be different than me to maintain it. You can't compare yourself to others in your height/weight/age bracket and expect all of you to have the same nutritional needs. All you can do is get an estimate and learn how to apply it to yourself.
  • SuggaD
    SuggaD Posts: 1,369 Member
    I went many months without logging and did ok. I've decided to go back to logging however, and will do it for the foreseeable future. But I'm not strict with it, but I like seeing how I'm doing and keeping things in check.
  • jennifer_417
    jennifer_417 Posts: 12,346 Member
    I've no doubt that some people can maintain without continuing to count calories. In fact, many people do. But, not everyone can or even desires to.

    Honestly, however, your post has a few red flags. What specifically makes you think this time will be different? Are you going to implement specific strategies to keep you on track? What makes you think you won't experience the same fear of overeating this time?
  • FitPhillygirl
    FitPhillygirl Posts: 7,124 Member
    dubird wrote: »
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    Why would my calories be less than someone who is the same height, age, and weight as myself? I disagree with this statement because I've actually maintained for almost 4 years eating more due to my high activity level. If I were to eat less at this point I'd be losing weight which is something I don't need to do.

    *need to remember to hit POST when I'm done typing*

    Someone your same age, height and weight won't have the same activity level or body composition as you. There's probably other factors with genetics or certain conditions that can make things different. We're all built differently. For example, someone my height, weight and age might have a much higher energy output. They'll need to eat more calories than I do because they burn more. Or they might have better muscle composition, which means what they eat will need to be different than me to maintain it. You can't compare yourself to others in your height/weight/age bracket and expect all of you to have the same nutritional needs. All you can do is get an estimate and learn how to apply it to yourself.

    Thank you. This makes perfect sense. I do understand that everyone is different in their nutritional needs. However, I just didn't agree with the fact that I would have to eat less simply because I had to count calories in the past. It is reasonably possible that I might need more due to my activity level VS someone who didn't calorie count, but also isn't as active.
  • FitPhillygirl
    FitPhillygirl Posts: 7,124 Member
    edited December 2015
    I've no doubt that some people can maintain without continuing to count calories. In fact, many people do. But, not everyone can or even desires to.

    Honestly, however, your post has a few red flags. What specifically makes you think this time will be different? Are you going to implement specific strategies to keep you on track? What makes you think you won't experience the same fear of overeating this time?

    Not sure how this time will be different other than I plan on eating more and not worry about it. Also, from reading other posts in here, it seems like a good idea to have a Weight range instead of the one set number that I go by now. I think + or - 5 pounds sounds good at this point. Because of my Celiacs disease I don't eat a lot of high calorie foods like cakes and pies, so I've been eating more ice cream to help prevent weight loss. I guess if I did start losing and had to track again, it won't be that bad since many others here do it everyday and seem to not be bothered by it. I would just like to maintain on my own at this point, that's all.
  • scrittrice
    scrittrice Posts: 345 Member
    In a similar thread, someone once said that once they hit maintenance they began practicing "lazy logging." That's more or less what I do, unless I hit the ceiling of my range. Then I get stricter for a little while. I'd do the same thing if I hit the bottom of my range by accident, but I've been maintaining for a year now and that's never happened, and I kind of doubt it ever will.
  • EmBurney
    EmBurney Posts: 7 Member
    rankinsect wrote: »
    nxd10 wrote: »
    Since logging in MFP almost never stops me from eating things I was going to anyway, and I'm always under, I am pretty sure I could maintain without logging.

    I do the reverse - I don't log what I eat, I eat what I log. I use MFP as a way to plan my next day's meals out and then I just eat what I planned. So in that sense, I have no idea what I would otherwise be eating - MFP is my meal planner.

    I also do this daily!
    Not only has it saved so much time and decreased on the spot meal planning in which I'd normally over-eat; it's also taught me to stick to routine and pay closer attention to my macros.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    Regarding why there may be a difference in energy expenditure between someone who has dieted down vs someone of equal stats who hasn't -- it's something termed "Adaptive Thermogensis" and it's precisely the difference in energy output that isn't accounted for by changes in body mass.

    Yes many people can learn how to maintain without logging. But at the same time I also believe that many people attempt it by not logging and then fail at it and assume that this means they can't do it, whereas a more accurate statement could be they just haven't learned how to do it yet.

    In some ways it's a skill/learned behavior.
  • lyndefisher
    lyndefisher Posts: 54 Member
    I have lost 45 lbs and don't plan on packing it on again. Needless to say, I will probably track forever! LOL It works for me...
  • rankinsect
    rankinsect Posts: 2,238 Member
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    However, I just didn't agree with the fact that I would have to eat less simply because I had to count calories in the past.

    It is possible.

    The main reason for this is in how the body actually metabolizes food. Your mitochondria extract energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrate through the Krebs cycle and use this to create an electrochemical proton gradient (essentially, they pump hydrogen ions across a membrane). Then they extract energy from this gradient (hydrogen moves back the other way through special ion channels) to add a phosphate to ADP or creatinine to form ATP or CP.

    However, this process isn't perfectly efficient. Mitochondia are "leaky" in that the H+ ions can move backwards across the membrane without going through the ion channels that are coupled to ATP synthesis. This dissipates energy as heat instead of storing it as fuel for the cell. Brown adipose tissue does this a lot, and has special uncoupling proteins that increase the "leakiness" of the mitochondria in order to raise your body temperature at the cost of less efficient metabolism (they are called uncoupling proteins because they uncouple the Krebs cycle from ATP synthesis).

    During weight loss, some of this activity decreases, and mitochondria become more efficient at converting energy into ATP, with less heat produced. This means your body temperature drops a bit, your body tries to conserve heat via other methods such as changing your circulation to keep more of your blood near your body's core compared to near the skin, and you gain more usable energy out of each calorie you eat. These metabolic changes in mitochondrial efficiency can persist even after weight loss ends - this is what the phrase "adaptive thermogenesis" means.

    According to one study, the difference can be about 250-300 calories per day.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    I plan/track my meals, mostly because I live alone and it helps me have a varied diet without wasting food, and I weigh certain foods, but I don't count calories anymore. I learnt from 18 months of MFPing how much I need of everything, so I know that if I stick to the plan, I'm always in the ballpark, even without counting. I weigh every day and see the weight creep up if I sneak in items, and that it goes down again when I adhere strictly.

    Calorie balance is what keeps your weight stable, calorie counting is just a tool to ensure calorie balance. There are lots of other tools one can use, as others have pointed out, and I really do believe that being mindful and honest about one's intake (and outtake, if that's a word, lol) is the key to maintaining weight long term.

    When you stumble in your crutches, it's time to throw them away ;)
  • Pawsforme
    Pawsforme Posts: 645 Member
    I think that I will probably at least loosely log and track calories forever. The main reason being that I have hypothyroidism, and I'm always hypervigilant for signs and symptoms that my medication needs adjusting. Weight gain w/o a calorie surplus can be one of those signs. And the only way I know of to keep tabs on that with some degree of certainty is to log.
  • Zinka61
    Zinka61 Posts: 481 Member
    When I was young, I lost weight and kept it off- and then some- without tracking or ever giving my diet a thought. Now that I'm older, I suddenly found I needed to lose weight again, lost it, and am struggling to maintain even *with* tracking. So I don't think there is one answer for everyone. I don't know why it's different for me now, but I need to find a different approach than when I was young...or find my old approach!
  • nxd10
    nxd10 Posts: 4,563 Member
    edited December 2015
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    nxd10 wrote: »
    Since logging in MFP almost never stops me from eating things I was going to anyway, and I'm always under, I am pretty sure I could maintain without logging. (I've been maintaining 4 years.) But it's a habit and it helps keep me mindful. And I still learn things are more or fewer calories than I thought.

    Strikes me that December is the worst time not to log though. Too many oddball things to eat. January is a more stable month. Why not start then?

    I have Celiacs disease so I can't eat most of the high calorie foods that tend to be the cause of holiday weight gain. I plan on continuing to weigh in one a week, so I can make adjustments early if need be. Congrats on maintaining for 4 years. I'll be at that myself in 2 months. :)

    My husband and son don't have celiac (my sister-in-law does) but are extremely gluten sensitive and the whole family does gluten/dairy/egg free. It does cut down the calories. My son doesn't have a big appetite and is chronically ill from migraines (which hopefully the diet will enventually help). So he's had to really work to keep his blood sugar high enough to not trigger headaches.

    Congrats on maintaining for such a long time! (I weigh every day but only so I don't worry about oddball fluctuations - it makes it easier to see what's really going on and not worry about that one bad day.)
  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,344 Member
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    Or can everyone maintain lost weight without ever tracking food again? After reading some very good articles recently about why calorie counting isn't necessary, I have decided to give up calorie counting for the whole month of December and see if this is true or not. Thanks to Weightwatchers and MFP, I haven't gained any weight back that I lost for a few years now. I've tried to stop tracking in the past but always ended up losing weight. I believe this was due to actually not eating enough out of fear that I would end up gaining weight because I wasn't calorie counting. So in the end I went right back to calorie counting again. However, this time will hopefully be different and I will eat enough so I don't lose weight and never have to Track again.

    For all those who are maintaining. Have you given up Tracking for good or just on a trial basis? Were you still able to maintain without tracking? Thanks for sharing your experiences. :)


    Eileen

    I think everyone has the capability to maintain or even lose without logging or counting calories, but they have to have a decent idea of the calorie counts of foods, understand nutrition reasonably well, etc. And really if a person just gets on a scale now and then they can adjust where needed.

    I lost over half my current loss without logging anything in terms of food, or for that matter even getting on a scale other than at the doctors office. But staying at maintenance might be harder in the respect, since it needs to be more precise in a way. It's easy to eat at a deficit if you have discipline really.

    I actually joined MFP to track my nutrition more than calories. I knew I could lose weight without it, but at times also suspected that nutrition deficiencies might happen when I was exercising a lot and eating light.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,988 Member
    Look at it this way...people who log or otherwise keep a food diary are very much a minority...there are millions upon millions of people who are able to manage their weight without logging in a food diary.
  • JenniferIsLosingIt
    JenniferIsLosingIt Posts: 595 Member
    Eileen_S wrote: »
    I stopped counting for a year and stayed within my 6 lb window. I still count occasionally when I am chasing a fitness goal, but I learned some pretty good habits that I think I will be able to maintain for life.

    This is a good idea. Maybe if I set a weight window, I won't be so worried about gaining because of not Tracking.

    Seems like a smart approach to me. :)