Dieting is almost synonymous with counting calories. Almost every dieting recommendation that I’ve ever heard required it–so much is the case that children know to talk about calories before even learning the definition.
…Asking someone for the definition used to be a smart-ass way to provoke a conversation.
Counting Calories is effective…Dogma.
But how useful is the whole calorie counting complex for people like me?
I needed to lose almost 150lbs….fast.
My health conditions, time, pain…all closing in on me and every single calorie focused diet was unsuccessful.
What did I find? What is my relationship with Calories now that I’ve lost 95lbs in 2 years with Keto and Fasting?
Calorie counting is like a fine tuning adjustment when you need more acceleration.
It’s simple but there is a darkside when the emotion of wanting to lose weight catches up with the limited knowledge of calorie restriction.
Calorie counters will sometimes get aggressive by only focusing on what they can cut rather than what their bodies need.
To put this into the engine analogy, if counting calories is a fine-tuning mechanism, these counters will starve the engine of fuel or air until it overheats and shuts down.
Meanwhile, all that was needed for acceleration was to open the throttle.
But the human body isn’t an engine; it’s a complex organism–made of other complex organisms.
Our bodies are closer to gardens than motorcycles.
Counting carbs was immediately effective for losing large amounts of weight and even they authorities who do not approve of Keto and Intermittent Fasting still recommend low carb diets—which require counting carbs.
Calories are important and even after losing the weight, I now have to optimize my intake in order to fine tune my diet to its best.
There are points of too few or too much;
I once limited my caloric intake to aproximately 500 calories–while working out;
That was the month that I couldn’t lose a pound–after months of explosive weightloss.
Apparently too few calories in a diet can put the body into starvation mode where it retains as much as possible–while tying up energy expenditure.
The old idea of simply taking in less and expending more needs a reworking and serious clarification.
For people of normal health, more harm has come from this misconception than Keto or Fasting.
-A person needs to learn more about their metabolism and their resting and operating rates.
-Having to measure everything can be a serious pain in the ass.
-A diet which has a low probability of success when eyeballed is fragile;
If it cannot be eyeballed and work, it’s too complicated.
This post is not to bastardize calorie counting or worse tracking our diets.
I’ve even found a way to make my daily Keto totally compliant with calorie restrictions—and implementing that is my next step going forward.
In the end, a diet should be tracked using easy metrics which are readily available on packaging, fair enough.
That said, the lack of focus on nutrition and establishing that perfect (albeit temporary) balance of macros to consume is a sad killer of any diet.
I give my body the fuel which works best, disregarding my palate, and that’s why it rewards me—funny enough, none of that fuel has been “diet food”.
The hungrier I’m left after eating, the more likely I’ll be munching with total disregard.
The feeling of hunger is only one strong dimension of insatiety which eventually gives your diet a cold shower.
Low calorie diets left me feeling hungry and weak.
Overall, I respect Calorie Counting, not as a panacea, but a tool to optomize my diet.
Right now I’m recovering from a total dietary relapse in 2021–after losing 95lbs.
I’ve attempted a dozen times to get back onto the routine and continue my progress.
At the time, I had litterally 9lbs left before I would hit my target of 175lbs….but I got complacent.
Having the ability to control my weight–with routine or willpower–led me to abuse that power and think that I could binge on junk foods like ice cream, chocolate milk, fast food, caramels, cookies and in quantities which made me sick.
I would hate to say that I have a character flaw behind my weight gain; An Endocrinologist told me that my hormones were against me (specifically lower testosterone levels) and my lower back injury (Spondylolisthesis) makes it tough for me to exercise.
I did my best over the summer to get out of the house every day; After restoring 2 of my old bicycles, I started biking every day–something I haven’t done in almost 20 years. In addition, I started fishing again–which became an extreme obsession with me out fishing 3 times a week while talking about it incessantly. In retrospect, being on a boat 3 days a week wasn’t the best use of my time and physically made me feel horrible–especially my back.
Still, I made “high hook” so often that I developed a reputation for wiping the floor with over-complacent fishermen. There’s nothing like rediscovering an old passion.
Inspite of those efforts, I have not been the most responsible–offsetting my mental pain with binges on sensory goods.
The past 2 tries to get back on the diet were legit and failed in a few days;
This time, I’m in pain from the added 29lbs gained since almost hitting my target. Yesterday, I visited the doctor who more accurately weighed me in at 211lbs (deducting my clothes)–my BMI is above 31 again.
As of today, I’m back on the diet–full force–and I finished eating all 4 meals in 2.5hrs.
Here it goes again…I can do it.
In the beginning, it was simple…
I had become accustomed to fasting. I was narrowing my window of eating down to the preliminary starting point of 12pm for breakfast while eating many smaller meals until 8pm.
This was the priming; I had to acclimate myself to growing hungry, operating hungry, and even sleeping hungry.
However tough it seemed, this made the reward all that much sweeter; When the fast was finally broken, food tasted amazing, it was satisfying, and I was full….for a while.
This was when I realized that my diet still lacked structure.
The content of what I was eating had improved but I was filling up on the first few meals and would quit because I felt hungry until later when I would have that notable reoccurring hunger that is famous for ruining diets;
It was then I realized that for this diet to work, it wasn’t just the fasted moments which had to be a sacrifice but there were plenty of sacrificed within the eating window.
First, I had to start eating when my body needed it, not because I was hungry—that was difficult.
We grow up with the idea that we eat when were hungry and drink when were thirsty and in spite of this level of impulse, we still use words like “Breakfast” which literally imply a fast–but does the body reach a fasted state in just the small hours that were sleeping, consensus is no.
It takes roughly 12 hours to reach a fasted state and in the “normal” western pattern diet, even less time is allotted to time without food; people will often eat up until the point of going to sleep, maybe wake up for a snack, and after sleep, eat breakfast while they wait for lunch. Not enough does the average person experience prolonged hunger; and that constant stimulation is almost painful to break.
My solution was simple, eat to survive, not for pleasure.
The Plan: I would give myself the appropriate time without food and when time to break the fast, shove a healthy selection of meal into my face at reasonable intervals with a new found bias for larger portions over many meals—continuing to eat when feeling full.
My mentality was simple: Recognizing how food would not be available and that I needed to put it away while it was available and the beauty was, I would have a lot of time to digest–which my IBSD stomach loved.
The first few months of Keto, I was already fasting and my meals were simple;
Poached eggs over spinach with seasoning and sriracha, Venison sandwich on rye with fresh spinach tomato and sriracha mayo, and in the beginning, Keto oatmeal with peanut butter—yes, it exists.
Quickly, I added an egg protein shake with Almond Milk to the mix and I had 4 solid meals to eat within 12pm-8pm.
Somewhere along, food became a tool that I would build with and my diet as a system started to make sense: crap management, crap result.
In the first month, I shed a surprising amount of weight (25lbs) with little exercise. I was still in that glut of minimum motivation that I had been in before the diet. It was exciting and after years of many different diets—some costing a lot of money—I had found something that worked like I had only dreamed. What I didn’t realize was that this was water weight and the benefits were only diminishing from here—it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses but it was one hell of a start. I would have to readjust course and even begin working out. Also, what I didn’t realize was that in order to call my diet Keto compliant, I would have to reach full Ketosis.
However, I just was reaching “Semi-Ketosis” but this was surprisingly a good thing because it allowed me many of the benefits without incurring the dreaded “keto flu”.
Official diet: “Semi-Keto” with Intermittent fasting—8hr window to start, 4 meals per day.
At the current moment, I’ve gone from a total of 95lbs lost, down to 70lbs lost—I plan to document the next steps of recovery from my dietary relapse in 2021. At some point, I got complacent and assumed that I had reached maximum weight loss in addition to feeling like I can get rid of any weight that I put on. In 2021, I started to eat the worst garbage imaginable and gained an extra 26lbs that I’ve been just “regulating”.
Also, I plateaued at 95lbs lost and knew there was another 30lbs left to lose which now would require a serious effort to exercise. I actually like exercise but the pain from my back feels like hell and I gave up after at least doing the regimen for some months.
Going forward, my exercises will be more core focused to strengthen my back muscles and less on my upper body which after working hard, now is suitable enough–one goal met.
I’m not proud of myself for destroying a good thing–it may take the whole year to get this together; but the important thing is always getting back up after a failure.