Given that it is important for me to maintain a healthy weight, and understanding how calories ultimately impact body weight, why don’t I count calories? The reason is simply that since I started consuming a healthy low carb diet, the pounds have never come back. I have had no reason to count calories.
Since I started limiting sweet and starchy carbs over 20 years ago, I no longer have cravings. My appetite is under control, and I eat until I am pleasantly full. Eating a diet rich in healthy protein, fats, and vegetables, I am not lacking nutrients, and I have adequate energy to handle the tasks of the day. I do not have an urge to overeat. I look forward to, and enjoy, the quantity of each meal and snack.
Out of curiosity, I recently computed my daily total of calories, fat, carbs, fiber, and protein. I was interested to discover how my numbers compare with recommended caloric guidelines for my weight and height. Could I be eating fewer calories than what is advised? Perhaps I have been eating more than the calories that correspond with my height and weight bracket? It would not seem to matter much either way. But, I was curious.
According to WEBMD, for my age at 5 foot 4 inches, my recommended calorie intake should be 1600 to 1800 calories. I spent a good part of a day calculating my totals in order to compare them to this recommendation. Not surprisingly, I discovered that I am naturally eating within this recommended framework. It is then no wonder that I am able to maintain my weight of 118 lbs. (Note: I take a 50 minute beach walk 5 to 7 days per week which, I believe, helps me to maintain at this level. I would likely gain 4 or 5 pounds if I did not walk.)
Over the past two decades, I have not counted calories. I pay attention to carbs, more than any other factor. I try to stay under 10 net carbs per meal to not wake the sleeping giant, insulin. This ogre is waiting to grab the sugars and starches I consume, converting them to glucose, and storing a good portion of them in my shrunken fat cells. (It is my understanding that the number of fat cells, once created, are with us for life.)
I also take fats and protein into consideration as I plan meals. I make sure that I have ample fat needed by my body for fuel. On a low carb diet, fat will not make me fat. If insulin is not released (signaled by carbs), the body cannot store fat. I also need enough protein, but not too much. Once the body utilizes the protein it needs, it actually turns the remainder into glucose to be stored as fat!
I calculated that on any given night, I consume…
- 1800 to 1900 calories
-165 grams of fat
- 30 grams of net carbs (carbs minus fiber)
– (a few nights a week - closer to 50 g of net carbs)
- 77 to 80 grams of protein
A few nights a week, I am able to splurge with my no-sugar-added blueberry sundae or some mixed nuts. These few deviations keep me happy and satisfied. Curiously, they do not end up on my hips.
I have seen a few articles recommending occasional controlled carb uploading. It may be beneficial if done in moderation. I will be doing a bit of research on this in the near future.
Here is an article with caloric guidelines:
For curiosity’s sake, here is a site to quickly calculate one’s own caloric needs. But, I would not count calories on a daily basis. It would be impossible to accurately keep track of this total daily for the rest of my life. Additionally, the carb cravings which arise from eating breads, sweets, and other high carb foods would quickly derail any serious intentions.
A ketogenic diet allows me to eat plenty of food. I am happy, satisfied, and confident in my plan.
Here are the basics of a typical ketogenic diet:
For a 2,000 calorie diet, this would translate to...
- 165 grams of fat
- 40 grams of carbohydrates
- 75 grams of protein
Here is an excellent article explaining the ketogenic diet.