Calorie counting is a pain in the butt.
It really is – have you ever tried it? I have, and for me it was time-consuming, tedious and a source of self judgment (unless I had a really “good” day). You no longer eat food; you eat calories and tabulate them in your head while you eat them, instead of enjoying your food.
On the other hand, though, calorie counting can be very useful if you’re trying to lose weight. But so can the Paleo diet. Here’s my philosophy on counting calories while you’re on the Paleo diet: The main reasons that people have weight issues are that they 1) have unbalanced blood sugar so they have sugar cravings all the time (and indulge them), and 2) people are over-consuming fluffy foods like grains, legumes and refined sugars. The Paleo diet, and in particular, Paleo Plan, help solve those issues. Because you’re eating breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner every day and each is complete with high quality protein, fats and carbohydrates, your blood sugar doesn’t have a chance to spike or plummet. That means fewer sugar cravings. And because the diet doesn’t include grains, legumes or refined sugars, there’s no fluff to over-consume.
So try the plan first.
What I suggest is that if you’re doing Paleo Plan and you’re trying to lose weight, start off by following the plan and NOT counting calories. If you aren’t losing weight after a few weeks, before you go blaming the stupid Paleo Plan for not helping you, get really honest with yourself about whether or not you actually followed the plan. It’s easy to sneak in some chips here, some cookies or cake there, a beer every night, etc.
If you look over your diet and you find that you’ve been pretty diligent about sticking with it and you’re STILL not losing weight, then check in with how your body feels about how much you’re eating. For instance, if you’re feeling weak throughout the day, like you don’t have enough fuel in your system, then you’re not getting enough food (or you may be detoxing if it’s the first week or so of the diet). Sometimes not eating enough can put your body into starvation mode, so it holds onto fat for reserves (just in case you don’t eat for a while). It’s an evolutionary thing. On the contrary, if you’re feeling stuffed like you do on Thanksgiving day every time you eat, then you’re obviously eating too much. Adjust your portions as necessary.
Alright, if you REALLY want to know the nitty gritty details about your diet, here’s the calorie counting part:
Go to www.fitday.com or www.myfitnesspal.com and get a free account. Enter in your statistics and your weight loss goals and it will tell you how many calories you should be eating per day. Then enter in your Paleo Plan meals to one of the programs for a few days and see if you’re on target with your calories. You can also enter in your workouts to see how many calories you burned. Those programs are sometimes a bit off in their calculations for your daily calorie needs (they’re sometimes too low) because they’re assuming you’ll be eating a lot more carbs than you do on this diet. More carbs equal less weight loss.
I think it’s a good idea for anyone to know how many calories they’re eating on average. However, the scale and the calorie counting can get pretty addictive for people, and that’s not always a healthy thing. In general, listen to your body’s needs for calories and enjoy your food. Beyond that, use the tools above to get more precise.
Anyone have any experiences with calorie counting on Paleo?