When I first started learning about low carb and before I actually started on it, I found it hard to accept the idea that counting calories was unnecessary. In the past I had successfully (but temporarily) lost weight using the ‘orthodox method’ of low-fat-calorie-reduced dieting plus exercise (as advised by the so-called experts). I became highly proficient at counting calories but it was all ultimately useless because no matter how carefully one counts eventually the low calorie intake becomes unsustainable.
I like what Dr Fung writes about this in his recent book, ‘The Obesity Code’. He describes the ‘expert’s advice to lose weight by eating less and exercising more as a cruel hoax: “
“Caloric reduction is a harsh and bitter disappointment. Yet all the ’experts’ still agree that caloric reduction is the key to lasting weight loss. When you don’t lose weight they say, ‘It’s your fault. You are gluttons. You are sloths. You didn’t try hard enough. You didn’t want it badly enough’. There’s a dirty little secret that nobody is willing to admit: The low-fat, low calorie diet has already been proven to fail. This is the cruel hoax. Eating less does not result in lasting weight loss.
It is cruel because so many of us have believed it. It is cruel because all of our ‘trusted health sources’ tell us it is true. It is cruel because when it fails, we blame ourselves"
I wish that I had had the benefit of Dr Fung’s advice many years ago but his book is recent and I only read it 2 months ago. But this paragraph sure as hell resonated with me when I read it because it sums up my personal experience so precisely – as also illustrated by this chart of 34 years of weight history and failed diets:
Current Photo: May 2016
Still, when I embarked on low-carb I decided to continue counting calories, not in order to restrict them but in order to monitor what I was doing in case the weight loss I was trying to achieve did not happen or became unsustainable as per my past experience.
Of course I carefully reduced carbohydrate intake and then ate sufficient fat and protein to reach satiation. (Although I have not adhered to a calorie limit I don’t believe you can be successful on low carb by continually eating extra fat and protein to the point of overindulgence).
What I discovered by doing this has been interesting. Initially I found that I was consuming around 1900 kcal/d and this was quite sufficient to avoid any hunger pangs and snacking tendencies. But as my weight started to drop I discovered that my appetite was increasing. At first this worried me because I thought it was some kind of ‘semi-starvation’ response and that it would stall any further weight loss. However, that turned out not to be the case. My weight continued to drop even though my energy intake continued to increase. To date the total weight reduction has been 27% (207 to 151 lbs) while calorie intake has increased by around 11% (from 1900 to ~2100 kcal/d) as shown in the following chart:
My weight loss on low carb has felt effortless compared to the misery of previous low-fat calorie reduced diets. After almost one year I have reached a weight which I am very happy with. The following chart compares my 2006 weight loss effort with the current low carb weight loss, which appears to be more stable by the way it reduces more slowly after 200 days. But I guess time will tell.