Calorie Counting & the Primal/Paleo Lifestyle

Hey guys,

I've been Primal for nearly 4 months now. I would just like to know your thoughts on calorie counting in line with your way of eating.

Having read both Robb and Mark's book and speaking to people at various levels of Primal/Paleo, the general consensus is that you do not need to count calories.

A general point for discussion guys... all opinions valued and respected...



  • kkarrolle
    kkarrolle Posts: 120 Member
    While not directly calorie counting, I am following the Primal guidelines for weight loss provided in the books. Work out calorie need based on bmr and activity requirements, deduct an amount for calorie deficit (for me that is 500 to 1000cal for weight loss)...from there work out protein (based on lean body mass) and carb requirements for weight loss (50gms to 100gms)..the remainder of calories to come from fats..from there determine fat gms required.

    As long as 80% to 90% of the time I am within 10% to 15% of my macro requirements I will be happy.

    So while not directly calorie counting, I will be keeping an eye on my intake via reviewing my macro nutrient intake.

    I aim to lose body fat while at least maintaining muscle. Muscle mass increase (by weight) would be good but am not sure if that can be done while in calorie deficit. Something to work out down the track.
  • CavewomanCoby
    CavewomanCoby Posts: 253 Member
    Thanks so much for the input :)
  • questionablemethods
    questionablemethods Posts: 2,174 Member
    I'm more interested in maintaining while not feeling shackled to my kitchen scale or to my food log (I tend to get a little obsessive about it and it is unhealthy). So, I've been keeping a food journal (in the notes section) just to remind me what I ate. I also do log my food "officially" about once a week--just to kinda keep me on track. But even then, I'm not SUPER anal about it. I try to keep my meals pretty simple anyway, but I'm not going to go to the hassel of constructing and logging elaborate recipes or worrying about how much coconut oil was actually absorbed by the meat I cooked in it, or whatever. I just log a 1/2 T of fat or whatever my guess is and consider it good.

    I also try to keep myself to no more than 3 meals and no between meal snacking (sometimes I am more successful than others). That helps me keep the calorie creep down.
  • demuralist
    demuralist Posts: 31 Member
    I did "straight" Primal for a couple of months and did not lose any weight. So I started tracking daily and counting calories and monitoring macronutrients and now I am losing weight. I combined Primal Blueprint with a book called "S.P.E.E.D. -Evidence Based Weight Loss".
  • jamk1446
    jamk1446 Posts: 5,577 Member
    I'm more interested in maintaining while not feeling shackled to my kitchen scale or to my food log (I tend to get a little obsessive about it and it is unhealthy). So, I've been keeping a food journal (in the notes section) just to remind me what I ate.

    Me too!

    I know the ideal situation is just to eat the right things until you are satisfied and the weight will come off and everything will be great. But some have skewed perceptions of portions, eating disorders, or have for years ignored/misunderstood/ not heard when their bodies are saying, "STOP! I've had enough!" They may not have a good internal sense of what's actually enough and what satisfied really feels like. In the beginning I had to weigh and measure and really learn to pay attention when I was actually getting full. Close tracking helped me see what was working, what wasn't, kept me honest, and helped me see daily, weekly, and monthly trends. Eventually, I was able to get away from that. I like continuing to use the notes section because it keeps me honest but I don't have to obsess over every calorie and macro gram.
  • tjnahm
    tjnahm Posts: 73 Member
    Yesterday marked 21 Weeks since my wife and I made our my lifestyle change.. In the beginning I logged everything I ate, tracked all calories, etc and it was horrifically boring and tedious. I hated it.

    Now that I have been living this way for almost 5 months, I am much better at knowing what foods to eat, how they affect me and my weight loss, and how the macro nutrients break down with the foods I eat. Now I don't bother logging calories unless I change something in my diet. For the most part, I will log calsories for about one week a month or so if I make a change in how I eat. Otherwise I eat when I am hungry (if not intermittent fasting) and stop when I am full.

    It has worked for me. :)
  • monkeydharma
    monkeydharma Posts: 599 Member
    I'm like most of the other commenters: if you don't have an eating disorder, it shouldn't be necessary to keep a diary. I look forward to that day - but it isn't here yet.

    My obesity is due mostly to binge eating. While eating Primally has quieted that down immensely, it hasn't eliminated it - binge eating also includes psychological and emotional factors. So - I weigh myself daily, and keep a diary. I need that daily accountability to keep me in line as I learn healthy eating habits - especially proportions of proteins to veggies, etc.

    As my sig shows, I'm one-third of the way to the end of my journey. After that, I look forward to eating right, and not tracking every thing - or at least only spot checking on occasion. But until then, I keep my diary - to keep me on the straight and narrow! ;)
  • immacookie
    immacookie Posts: 7,424 Member
    I also fall into the category of several others above... I have tried the whole "eating until I'm satisfied" thing and my brain just doesn't seem to understand that yet (I have dieted for over 20 years now). So I gained weight.

    I have now recently started back to logging all my foods and seeing where I'm at with carbs/etc. so hopefully this will get me back on track and be the tool I need to get healthy (and hopefully my brain and satiety signals will follow someday).
  • CourtneyA1
    CourtneyA1 Posts: 10 Member
    Been primal for 10 months. I've done ok, but my weight loss had really slowed down. I started tracking food on MFP and staying in my BMR range, and I've lost 2 lbs in 10 days. I think the tracking has highlighted the little stuff that crept back in to my diet.
  • allana3uk
    allana3uk Posts: 28 Member
    I was just wondering if there were any other primal/paleo people using MFP! How timely.

    I have dreadful portion control so I will be wedded to my kitchen scale and MFP for the foreseeable. I don't find it particularly restrictive and I don't worry if I'm a little above my calories on occasion. I mainly want to make sure my macronutrient ratios are okay. So far it's working... 25lb since the beginning of October.
  • sethandjane
    sethandjane Posts: 74 Member
    Sorry for my tardiness in responding to this topic...

    Due to my OCD-obsessiveness, while I aim for eating Primal/Paleo 80% of the time, I too keep the food diary on MFP for the same reasons as others have said - it helps hold myself accountable if the "yucky" stuff starts creeping back in. For battling infertility, my doctor had me around 40-50 carbs a day for the better part of the last year, so I liked that I was able to keep track of those using the food diary as well.

    While I am wholeheartedly behind the Primal/Paleo concept, I'm not sure if the weight would have come off as quickly (then steadily) as it did if my calories would have been higher (despite eating the way I should).
  • blissmanifesto
    Since I went Paleo around October 2011, I've lost about 5 lbs, but lately I've plateau'd. That's why I joined MFP. It's not so much about tracking calories as it is about tracking carbs, I believe. But now I'll have more accurate data to look over and I believe that will be a very useful thing. I still want to lose about 11 pounds to reach my goal; the last pounds are the hardest, they say. I guess I will find out this year!
  • chammich
    chammich Posts: 104 Member
    If I don't track what I am eating with Paleo I will not lose. MFP helps me from eating way too much.
  • ganesha303
    ganesha303 Posts: 257 Member
    I log all my eating. It is so quick and easy to do here on MFP, and I am really committed to resistance training program. Though I do not sweat over calories so much, I am very interested in my protein and carb intake.
  • mehaugen
    mehaugen Posts: 210 Member
    The nice thing about eating Primal is that I noticed that as long as I stuck to eating the right things in the right amounts, I could enter my food AFTER I ate it, and still don't usually go over. I still weigh my food as I prepare it, but only so I can enter it correctly, not to figure out how much I can eat (except for really calorically heavy things like coconut milk and almond butter). Also, I think the trick to getting the right portions is just to use really small plates and bowls, because those are usually the right amount I should eat.
  • nanodot
    nanodot Posts: 154 Member
    I count Carbs primarily, and Calories secondarily. Usually the calories fall in around 1300-1900 automatically if I am eating healthy food and under 100 carbs.

    Logging really does some wonderful things for you.

    It keeps you accountable and committed.

    It helps me not overeat the "snack" Paleo foods - I know I can eat a handful of walnuts, not a half-cup of them!

    It teaches you what is in your food - I now have dozens of foods memorized well enough to eat at a restaurant without a disaster; and I have reduced or eliminated a lot of foods with surprising macros. Who knew that particular beef sausage had 15 carbs? Bananas are 30 carbs each? etc... You have to learn this stuff if you want to control your carbs.

    Someday, on maintenance, i won't log as much. Right now I am committed to keeping my carbs between 20-100, so I log everything.
  • sweet110
    sweet110 Posts: 332 Member
    I'm with the majority, so far. I "keep an eye" on calories. I'm not strict...if I'm hungry, I eat. But keeping an eye on things helps me to make better choices (will I really stop at 1/4 cup of nuts? Or am I better off having a small meal, instead?).

    And, frankly, although I love primal...I'm not 100% primal all the time. So that 5-10% of the time when I eat SAD fare, its good to keep track of those foods as well. To make sure they stay in the 5-10% range.