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-   -   tracking calories? is it important? (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3353)

Mandy LaGreca 11-13-2008 07:15 PM

tracking calories? is it important?
So how important is it to track calories? I may go ahead and buy Fitday PC, but I wanted to see what you guys think, as Ive always found it cumbersome, esp all that weighing of veggies, since I eat such a variety of them, and go crazy trying to weigh my portions!

Steven Low 11-13-2008 08:27 PM

edit: nevermind. Listen to Emily :)

Consider starting up a nutrition log here to keep yourself accountable (other people will help ya).

Emily Mattes 11-13-2008 09:00 PM

The short answer: Yes if you have a healthy relationship with food. No if you don't, because it will probably backfire on you.

The long answer:

It really depends on how your weight-loss and performance goals are going, and how susceptible you are to going crazy on tracking them.

First of all, if eating clean without careful weighing-and-measuring is not getting you the results you want, then it is a good idea to track and measure just to see what needs tweaking.

However, it takes a certain sort of mindset to be able to do this without getting too OCD and obsessive, and for the vast majority of fitness-minded, healthy women I would not advocate weighing and measuring simply because a lot of women in that category are close enough to body-image and eating disorders as it is without the added pressure. I am sure there are physically active women out there who are perfectly happy about their bodies whether they're at 13%, 18%, or 24% body fat and just like tweaking carb, fat, and protein percentages to observe the resultant effects on performance and body composition. But I would say these women are maybe 5% of the population. The rest of us go kind of nutters.

It follows from there that if you have had ANY experience with ANY eating disorder, whether it be bulimia, anorexia, binging, anything, and you are not significantly overweight, do NOT weigh and measure until you have been better for at least a few years. Your psychological well-being is far, far more important than dropping a few pounds, and I have observed enough healthy people on forums burn themselves out tracking and measuring to recommend anybody with a past history of compulsively tracking foods or going through binging-restricting periods to do it unless they are absolutely sure a healthy relationship with food has been re-established.

If you do have a history of binging, bulimia, whatever, you are close enough to the disorder that weighing-and-measuring is not a good idea, and you really want to drop some weight, then first make sure you are totally Paleo. I am guessing for the vast majority of healthy people, if their diet is completely Paleo and they're exercising regularly they are probably going to reach a pretty healthy weight for their size unless they're drinking olive oil and eating nut butters like they were going out of style. I mean, they're not going to be fitness-model body fat percentages, but you are going to be at a healthy, normal weight. That said, if after this you're still unhappy with your body fat, use the 2/3-1/3 rule of thumb: Two-thirds of the plate is covered with green, leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach, etc) with some non-green, non-starchy vegetables mixed in (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc). The last one-third is protein. Then mix some fat in, whether it's sprinkling nuts and olive oil over the top, cooking the protein in fat, or eating a very fatty piece of meat. Add more or less fat depending on how weight loss is going--err on the side of too much and cut down slowly.

If you think you'll be OK with W&M, I wouldn't bother with weighing and measuring green vegetables. Tomatoes, carrots, squash, and other vegetables that are a little more calorie and carb heavy, go ahead and approximate the amount you're eating. But the difference between eating one, two, and four cups of spinach is so negligible that unless you're on a serious crash diet it's not worth including and you don't want to discourage yourself from eating such terrifically healthy foods by worrying about the little bit of calories they're providing.

Finally, you know you can use Fitday for free online, right? There are also plenty of other free calorie-counting online programs out there, so unless you really want it on your computer itself you shouldn't have to pay for anything.

(Also, I say all this as a woman who has had past experience with eating disorders and has subsequently done quite a bit of research on the topic, so I hope I do not come off as condescending or talking out of my ass.)

Craig Brown 11-13-2008 10:04 PM

Emily, that rocked. That should get re-posted somewhere more public.


Jane Michel 11-14-2008 12:57 AM

+1 for EMily

Susie Rosenberg 11-14-2008 03:23 AM


Jay Cohen 11-14-2008 04:44 AM


Don't buy it; try the On Online version for awhile.

While calorie tracking is always somewhat useful, I find the macro nutrient breakdown, very, very helpful, as I tend to limit carbs, but want to insure that I meet fat/protein goals. With out some method of counting or tracking, I'd just be guessing.

Good Luck

Mandy LaGreca 11-14-2008 05:29 AM

I have a history of bulimia, bingeing and anorexia. That is why I am weary of W&M in the first place. by the way, THANKYOU Emily.

Tell me more about the Paleo diet. Where do I get comprehensive info, and I hope I dont have to google it b/c there is so much conflicting advice on the web. I need a good book.

What about whey protein shakes? I would assume a no-no on Paleo diet.

From my experience, i used to do the Fat Flush diet, which always yielded good results, but it was so damn difficult to stick too, mainly due to the amount of food being so little. 8-10oz protein, 2 tbsp flax oil, unlimited veggies and 2 fruits. WIth a little moer food though, I would be able to stick to it, as I love eating like that, felt so clean.

Mandy LaGreca 11-14-2008 05:35 AM


Originally Posted by Steven Low (Post 43195)
edit: nevermind. Listen to Emily :)

Consider starting up a nutrition log here to keep yourself accountable (other people will help ya).

Ok I will do that, didnt know I could do that here.
Thanks for offering. :-)

Emily Mattes 11-14-2008 07:30 AM

Thanks, I am glad I can help!

As for the Paleo Diet, it is fairly simple. In the very strictest sense, it is no dairy, no sugars (not including honey), no grains, no legumes (no peanut butter, alas). That means no bread, no milk, no cheese, no sugar in your coffee, no lentils, no beans, etc. Most everything else--fruits, vegetables, protein, nuts, non-trans-fats, are OK. Honey is also OK, but go easy on it as it will spike your blood sugar. You can approach the diet with varying degrees of strictness. For example, I eat some hard cheeses as my boyfriend can't give them up, and I would rather tear the heart from my chest than give up peanut butter forever. Some people only eat lean meats, others are OK with fattier meats if they come from grass-fed animals, and others are OK with fatty meats, period. Other people go stricter, eliminating high-glycemic vegetables and fruits like carrots, mangoes, and bananas.

Loren Cordain is the man who really started the movement, so check out his book "The Paleo Diet," though recognize that many people use their own modifications on the eat/do-not-eat lists based on what is feasible for them to give up. Recognize that eliminating sugars and gains is pretty key, though. He also has a book called "The Paleo Diet for Athletes," but that is aimed towards serious endurance athletes who do need to ingest something high-glycemic over the course of their races. Unless you are doing serious endurance work, the book probably doesn't apply.

Within the first week or two of eliminating grains and sugars you'll probably feel like crap. Headaches, low energy, crankiness, serious carb cravings. For some unlucky people this lasts as long as a month. This is normal, it's your body withdrawing from carbs.

Finally, the benefits of Paleo are not all-or-nothing. If you eliminate 80% of the grains from the diet, you will get 80% of the results, not 0%. So be realistic about what you're taking in, but go easy on yourself if you cheat.

There are a TON of great Paleo recipes online, by the way. At it's heart it's cooking vegetables and meats really well, but there are cool things people do with almond flour and other nut flours that are still Paleo but approximate breads and things so you can keep having sandwiches and whatnot.

Oh, and as for whey protein powder, that is not technically Paleo. I suggest looking for recipes for "meat cookies" for quick protein snacks.

EDIT: The Paleo Diet is also more of a "lifestyle" diet than a weight-loss diet. By eliminating grains, sugars, and legumes and upping the intake of vegetables and healthy foods it aims to create a healthier person, not just a skinnier person. Through following its prescriptions you're naturally going to be eating a high-fat, medium-protein, low-to-medium carb diet, which is why people almost universally lose weight on it unless they are taking in a LOT of extra fat.

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