Intuitive Eating vs. Tracking Calories

2

Replies

  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,821 Member
    IE led me right up to gaining all the weight I did, and partially back up again after covid hit and I quit tracking and working out like I had been.

    I almost never over stuffed myself, but I will remain hungry (not just enjoying the food, but actually hungry) for a good 30-60 minutes (or more - I often go to bed still feeling hungry) after I've finished a (weighed and measured and counted calories) meal/day. If I was to use IE, I would eat more than that....hence gaining the weight. Right now I am strictly calorie counting, and going through a challenge so working out more than normal, and I'm losing less than 1.5 lbs/week - which is right on point for where I have my calories set. I am hungry - actually hungry - most days.

    My appetite has never really adjusted to my overall lowered activity levels after getting a desk job and no longer having physical jobs. It is not a reliable litmus test for me. It worked just fine until I found myself with a desk job, and even 10 years later, it has never adjusted to a proper hunger level. I'm sure part of it was that for most of my life (well into my 30's) I was so active, the bigger issue was generally eating enough, not worrying about eating too much. If I did start to put on a couple pounds, I'd just cut back on the fast food and soda for a few weeks...now, sitting on my bum most of a day means I can only eat about 1/2 to 2/3 of the calories I used to consume. My brain/body/hunger has never fully accepted that as truth LOL.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,859 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Intuitive eating works if you naturally eat about your maintenance calorie level.

    It takes about 500 calories above maintenance for me to be satisfied so this method doesn’t work for me.

    That was the same level for me, reliably gained 1lb / week by eating to my hunger signals. That was when I was 30lbs heavier and with a desk job and not much opportunity for exercise.

    Now I'm lighter, more physically active (retired) and lots of time to exercise my maintenance calories are far higher and the gap between what I want to eat and actually need to eat has narrowed considerably. Without being mindful of my needs I'd probably gain at rate of 1lb / month instead.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    I've done both.
    Some of the things I like about intuitive eating:

    1) It is adaptive depending on your hunger. There are days where you are naturally more hungry and naturally less. If I am counting calories, I will 100% eat every single calorie because it is there. But that means on the hungrier days, I am just white knuckling through. With IE, you can adapt without the freak out of "oh no, I'm not eating enough!... or I'm eating too much!"

    2) I find that I, personally, focus on food less and therefore eat less.

    3) Not having to log big recipes, not weighing and measuring

    4) Not having to figure out overall calories vs workouts

    5) Being able to eat anything without logging and just having your fullness be the measure.

    6) I find that I am more sensitive to my body's needs for certain nutrients.

    Some of the things I dislike:

    1) It is not as reliable or accurate as calorie counting.

    2) The types of food you eat will dictate your hunger. Even if you continue eating because you are really hungry, you can consume too many calories.

    3) Food wastage- sometimes eating to hunger means you have more left over on your plate.

    4) Lack of food control- If you are having a meh day, it would be easier just the put things MFP and know exactly what your day looks like, no big decision making, rather than having to exercise control over hunger and be mindful. Sometimes you just don't feel like fighting.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 26,208 Member
    FWIW, I actually have found that my appetite seems to have declined (from obese Ann's level) after a period of time in maintenance . . . started noticing it around year 4.5, or thereabouts. 😆 (I assume that whether this happens or not, and when, is very individual.)

    That's nice, and a little helpful. But my 'problem' is pleasure-seeking, and the feeling of very-fullness isn't particularly unpleasant to me (as I know it is for some). Therefore, the effect of reduced appetite is mainly to limit the top end of indulgent days to around twice TDEE, rather than around three times TDEE. IOW, I'd still gain weight. When counting, I can better arrange my life as I choose (occasional very indulgent days intact) and still maintain my weight.

    That's tangent to any concept of "intuitive eating" of course. Framing the question as "counting vs. intuitive eating" potentially leaves out some territory.

    For me, the only issue is not simply an inability to eat intuitively (though I did have trouble with that in maintenance when I tried). Rather, for me, one significant issue is a lack of inclination or commitment to go that route. I might over-eat sometimes out of pleasure-seeking, and gain (likely); but I'd also be more anxious about overeating by accident, and anxiety is optional in my world, because I dislike emotional drama Really A Lot. Counting takes little time or energy, and addresses both of those pretty painlessly, for me.

    IMO, the best plans/strategies are personalized to an individual's preferences, strengths and limitations. Overcoming one's limitations or changing one's preferences is character building, but gotta choose the battles.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,871 Member
    lgfrie wrote: »
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Intuitive eating works if you naturally eat about your maintenance calorie level.

    It takes about 500 calories above maintenance for me to be satisfied so this method doesn’t work for me.

    I've never tried to pin down what my natural caloric level to be reasonably "satisfied" would be, but I have taken days off where I then retrospectively added up the calories to see what the damage was - in which I was just eating normally, not shoving Haagen Dazs down my gullet but enjoying 3 nicely filling meals and a snack or two, a glass of wine, maybe having a meal out at a restaurant (pre covid), etc.

    Inevitably, each of the 5 or 6 times I did that post-game analysis my caloric intake totaled out to right around 3,300 calories, +/- 100 each time. Given that my TDEE is 2350, it seems I would gain 2 lbs/week just blindly eating to the point of being happy with my food (but not binging). I think this is why I need to count calories. And in fact I do tend to gain about 2 lbs/week when I'm not counting/logging/weighing. It goes back on a lot faster than it comes off.

    Same. My natural eating has me gaining 1 lb a week on average and it is very slow to come off. That’s not even binging or indulging in treats. What I described is just to satisfy my hunger. To lose weight I am mostly in a constant state of hunger which is uncomfortable.
  • saramelie77
    saramelie77 Posts: 50 Member
    "Intuitive eating" brought me all the way up to 253 pounds so, yeah.... No-go for me. I wish.
  • charmmeth
    charmmeth Posts: 936 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    My natural eating has me gaining 1 lb a week on average and it is very slow to come off. That’s not even binging or indulging in treats. What I described is just to satisfy my hunger. To lose weight I am mostly in a constant state of hunger which is uncomfortable.

    That realyl does sound uncomfortable and for me it would not be sustainable. You've been around for a long time, so I assume you have experimented unsuccessfully to find what low calorie foods might fill you up better?
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    I really really love the concept of IE and mindful eating (and think it's good to practice regardless of your method). However for me, as I've lost touch over the years due to overeating and overly restrictive eating, I feel I need to track. I look at it this way: I'm more of a top-down person when it comes to this: by focusing on the details of what and when I'm eating, I can then start to focus on how I feel when I'm eating, if I'm hungry, how long can I go feeling just a little bit hungry, eating slowly and mindfully, etc. I find this works for me.
  • LoveyChar
    LoveyChar Posts: 3,952 Member
    I spent most of my life on the thinner side and gained a small amount of weight five years ago, enough to barely bump me into overweight but it horrified me to feel fat and frumpy. I went into panic mode about the number on the scale, too, and a friend suggested this app after I told her how I had to lose a little weight. That is how I wound up here. I tracked for a few weeks, got on track, lost and stopped tracking and that was five years ago.

    My parents, also smaller people, don't calorie count. Some people don't have to. I ran a Marathon with my brother-in-law earlier this year and I asked him if he counted calories and macros and he looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language.

    Calorie counting brought me here, yes it did, but I stay for community because I like it!!!
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,871 Member
    charmmeth wrote: »
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    My natural eating has me gaining 1 lb a week on average and it is very slow to come off. That’s not even binging or indulging in treats. What I described is just to satisfy my hunger. To lose weight I am mostly in a constant state of hunger which is uncomfortable.

    That realyl does sound uncomfortable and for me it would not be sustainable. You've been around for a long time, so I assume you have experimented unsuccessfully to find what low calorie foods might fill you up better?


    Yeah that has been my struggle. It doesn’t seem to matter what combination of foods I eat. I do find carbs more filling and satisfying and eat higher carb now. Unfortunately, fats and protein don’t fill me up much.
  • Healthy_Body_46
    Healthy_Body_46 Posts: 17 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Intuitive eating works if you naturally eat about your maintenance calorie level.

    It takes about 500 calories above maintenance for me to be satisfied so this method doesn’t work for me.

    Same for me. I always found my whole life that if I eat how I want/feel (intuitively), I will eat too many calories and gain weight. My only solution was to count calories. Basically if I don't count the calories, I will put on weight. I tried so much but I think it's just how my brain is and in conjunction with the environment.

    Some people might be able to do it and eat intuitively and be fine and not gain weight (probably not the kinds of people on weight loss forums), but not me and I just kind of accept it now.
  • Fuzzipeg
    Fuzzipeg Posts: 2,267 Member
    Intuitive Eating would not work for me, I think I have too much "baggage". I'm using a very short lead at the moment. Breakfast is... Lunch is... Tea is.... No idea how long I can keep it up, the walks seem to have evaporated, its wet! I only want to remove this years stress creep.

    The article I read in the New Scientist some weeks ago was saying we have several appetites, 5 may be, protein dominates, fats I think was second carbs third, the others if I remember were associated with vitamins and minerals which were integral to achieving the other groups.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,871 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Intuitive eating works if you naturally eat about your maintenance calorie level.

    It takes about 500 calories above maintenance for me to be satisfied so this method doesn’t work for me.

    Same for me. I always found my whole life that if I eat how I want/feel (intuitively), I will eat too many calories and gain weight. My only solution was to count calories. Basically if I don't count the calories, I will put on weight. I tried so much but I think it's just how my brain is and in conjunction with the environment.

    Some people might be able to do it and eat intuitively and be fine and not gain weight (probably not the kinds of people on weight loss forums), but not me and I just kind of accept it now.

    Insightful! I have found that I am very sensitive to a calorie deficit. When I’m in a deficit, no matter what foods I eat, my hunger ramps up.

    The good thing is that over the years calorie counting has gotten easier and I have gotten better at it. I was much less accurate before when I used cups instead of grams. I dont see it as a chore now.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    niklong wrote: »
    Does anyone have experience with both? If so, what are your thoughts? For about 10 months I've been working with an IE coach. But I keep having the urge to go back to tracking calories. Just trying to decide what's best for me.

    Have you ever tried paying attention to your finances, versus intuitive spending?
  • Healthy_Body_46
    Healthy_Body_46 Posts: 17 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Intuitive eating works if you naturally eat about your maintenance calorie level.

    It takes about 500 calories above maintenance for me to be satisfied so this method doesn’t work for me.

    Same for me. I always found my whole life that if I eat how I want/feel (intuitively), I will eat too many calories and gain weight. My only solution was to count calories. Basically if I don't count the calories, I will put on weight. I tried so much but I think it's just how my brain is and in conjunction with the environment.

    Some people might be able to do it and eat intuitively and be fine and not gain weight (probably not the kinds of people on weight loss forums), but not me and I just kind of accept it now.

    Insightful! I have found that I am very sensitive to a calorie deficit. When I’m in a deficit, no matter what foods I eat, my hunger ramps up.

    The good thing is that over the years calorie counting has gotten easier and I have gotten better at it. I was much less accurate before when I used cups instead of grams. I dont see it as a chore now.

    Exactly yeah, it becomes a lot easier and easier to control diet with experience and learning. Now I can pretty much just look at a food or dish and with reasonable enough accuracy estimate the calories and that helps a lot. Whenever I try to cut corners with this it tends to lead to weight gain, even if I do daily sport and eat healthy foods.
  • MelanieCN77
    MelanieCN77 Posts: 4,053 Member
    Echoing what has previously been said about it working in maintenance, but only after the education of controlled counting and successful loss as teaching tools. It’s still counting, really, just a matter of degree of detail.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 6,891 Member
    *peeks in*

    I had a second one.

    I was only going for half but I'm a completist... and they were really good.

    At least I fought my intuition when it wanted to go for the brownies and apple fritters a client brought. :)
  • jdhcm2006
    jdhcm2006 Posts: 2,295 Member
    breefoshee wrote: »
    I've done both.
    Some of the things I like about intuitive eating:

    1) It is adaptive depending on your hunger. There are days where you are naturally more hungry and naturally less. If I am counting calories, I will 100% eat every single calorie because it is there. But that means on the hungrier days, I am just white knuckling through. With IE, you can adapt without the freak out of "oh no, I'm not eating enough!... or I'm eating too much!"

    2) I find that I, personally, focus on food less and therefore eat less.

    3) Not having to log big recipes, not weighing and measuring

    4) Not having to figure out overall calories vs workouts

    5) Being able to eat anything without logging and just having your fullness be the measure.

    6) I find that I am more sensitive to my body's needs for certain nutrients.

    Some of the things I dislike:

    1) It is not as reliable or accurate as calorie counting.

    2) The types of food you eat will dictate your hunger. Even if you continue eating because you are really hungry, you can consume too many calories.

    3) Food wastage- sometimes eating to hunger means you have more left over on your plate.

    4) Lack of food control- If you are having a meh day, it would be easier just the put things MFP and know exactly what your day looks like, no big decision making, rather than having to exercise control over hunger and be mindful. Sometimes you just don't feel like fighting.

    I try to do both and this has been my experience as well. I want the calorie counting to make sure that I don’t go overboard but IE helps me to not feel the need to eat everything I measured out and put on my plate. I didn’t experience the food waste bc I would just save it for later.

    I like IE bc it helps me really pay attention to what my body is telling me but is it easy to gain weight on IE, yes. IE is supposed to help your body get you to the weight it feels most comfortable at which might not be the healthiest. The biggest IE cue I took away was paying attention to hunger cues. That’s been a big help for me.

    Abbey Sharp is a good tool to look into regarding IE.

    I have found that the calorie counting and intuitive eating together have overall helped me but I need them both, I can’t do one without the other. I think the two go extremely well together, but that’s my experience.