Monday, 4 March 2013

The Calorie vs Carb Debate

Calorie vs Carb Debate

Any person who says they’re OK with the weight they are either has a model figure or is lying – perhaps to themselves as much as to others.  I don’t believe it’s because they have an incredibly high self-esteem.

Since I got married and moved into the Namib Desert in 1995, I have “successfully” mutated from a “model figure” to being borderline obese.  Today I sit here with a BMI of 31.  Clinically this means I am obese.  How I got here is definitely worth exploring and will definitely be the focus of a future blog post. 

Although I am now 44, I NOW WANT MY MODEL FIGURE BACK and am prepared to work VERY HARD for it. 

Most overweight and obese people, I have found, probably know more about the diets on offer as well as the published research than any thinner people and certainly more than some nutritionists, dieticians or doctors.  Hence I’m speaking to you…. Not the Model figures who have no idea what it’s like to be fat and really think that the only reason I’m fat is because I eat too much. 

Now ……………….. here comes the debate.  I will accept I eat too much but WHY is the question one must answer in order to stop eating too much! 

I have not actually read Gary Taubes’s books.  I have listened to him on Jimmy Moore’s podcasts, and watched him on Dr Oz, Larry King and Google.  He has the sexiest voice and a definite “eye candy” appearance.

From what I understand (I WILL read his books) – the problem is rather a “storage” problem, not an overeating problem.  Everything he says makes perfect sense, but yet, I have not seen empirical proof that the calorie in – calorie out hypothesis is no good.  I will accept that some people can eat more calories than others, but there does seem to be the bottom line – fat people eat more than thin people!  Now, whether they got fat because they eat more or whether they eat more because they are fat is actually at this stage of my discussion irrelevant. 

Low carb advocates will say that traditional diets work because while calories are being restricted automatically carbs are being restricted.  This I will accept, however, surely low carbers can accept that while carbs are being restricted, so too are calories? 
If it was not Gary Taubes, it was another low carb expert quoting “just because you don’t count calories, it does not mean that calories don’t count” – I think that was actually Dr Eric Westman from A New Atkins for a new You.

The reason I have started this blog, is because I do need help.  I cannot pertain to know all the answers.  If I did, I would not be sitting here at my desk with a BMI stating I am obese. 

I low carbed for 6 months last year. (2012)  I did not follow the “rules of induction” nor did I follow any other diet revolution to the T.  I followed the principle of high fat, low carb.  This means that for 6 months – actually closer to 7 - no grains at ALL touched my lips.  Very little fruit was eaten and I did watch my intake of yogurt and dairy.  With all this being said, I did not lose a whole lot of weight.  However,….. when I went back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) sad sad diet… I ballooned.  I put this down to one basic reason – my calorie count increased – why - for two reasons –

         1.  suddenly I was not only eating full fat yogurt and cream and nuts but also bread and       cereal and the pastries and doughnuts that slip in, oh, and the M&M’s……. bringing me to my second reason
         2.     my food addiction – a topic for another blog – came back. 

On 01 February this year, I started low carbing again.  Other than the one bowl of fruitsalad (when there was the choice between that, cake or me losing my sense of humour completely) and one glass of red wine, I have been really good.  Do I REALLY need to count carbs in order to be successful???

Low carb is tops because

   1.   one portion of food fills you up, thus not having the always hungry feeling and                        2. you lose the sugar craving which is what is causing you to eat way beyond your need

However, I am STILL obviously eating way beyond my need because I’m not losing weight! 

Exercise – another debatable point.  Gary Taubes says that exercise will increase your appetite.  This I can confirm from my own experience.  Yet, he goes to the gym.  I have read in my research that “high intensity interval training” is the way to go. 
Another whole debate between the advocates of the “fat burning zone” and the “high intensity advocates”.
As I have done many years in the “fat burning zone”, I have just started out at the Curves franchise which is a bit of an enigma, because they have the right machinery for the high intensity philosophy.  They advocate the 30 minute workout, but yet they advocate that you stay in your “fat burning zone” of 70% of max heart rate. 

I am hoping that through this blog we can not only get on the right track together, but we can also help each other, rather than just reading the book and still managing to fail.  This idea comes from Jimmy Moore’s N=1 experiment.  Let’s all do an N=1 experiment.

I want to commit the next 9 months to getting the body I want. 

Please help me.  Please leave comments, suggestions, ideas.  If you want me to try something, so long as its REAL FOOD and not poison – i.e. chemicals they sell as food – I am prepared to try anything.  I can weigh myself once a day or once a week – as per suggestions.  The results I can post immediately and as a community, let’s show our fellow friends, that we too can have “model figures” and be healthy and happy. 


  1. Well i have been on a weight loss mission since May 2012. At first i just went crazy with cardio and cut down on sugar (i too have a food adiction) and that helped alot in the beginning. I have never tried a diet nor will i. I have found that If you want to loose weight you must be prepared to make a life style change. This wont be temporary like any diet, it should be a life altering change to the way you treat your body and the way your mind sees things, if that makes sense. I personally have decide to start eating properly this year (and have been doing so for two months now). I have decided not to eat anything made in a factory, anything processed or anything white (like white bread or rice) So that means no pasta either. Instead i eat meat, fish, veggies, fruits and grains and even some dairy. I have tried extemely hard to cut out all sugar and chocolate etc but, of course i do slip up now and then. I am on this unforgiving way of eating because my body type is one of those where i struggle to loose weight. It seems like if i eat one chocolate it will show up on the case the next day. Haha. Eventhough I do weigh myself I don’t put much emphasis on it because a better indicator is body fat percentage
    I also jog about 5 km every second day or so. And if I am lazy I will do 3 km and throw in some high intensity interval training which does work.
    This way of eating coupled with jogging has made a huge difference to me. In 8 months I have lost 5 kg and toned up a lot. On my short body that makes a big difference. So try it and see if it helps. Also, if you go online you can find great receipes for nice treats that dont use sugar or flour or any of that bad stuff. And pinterest and tumblr(fit spo) are great places to find motivation and helpful hints.
    The other basic rules also apply like drink 3 litres of water a day, dont eat after 6pm, dont binge and eat 5 fruits and veggies per day and remember portion control and it takes 20 minutes for your body to realise you are full. Try also to eat your main meal at lunch. Love, respect and enjoy your body at all sizes. My mantra is: my stomach is not a trash can!
    Good luck

    1. Hi,

      Even though I am on the low-carb track, I really enjoyed some of the things you had to say. I like that you are making a lifestyle change with no processed or white foods, have incorporated regular exercise, drink water, and are trying to remember that you need 20 minutes to feel full. I had the lapband back in 2008 and was unsuccessful at losing weight and keeping it off. However, one thing that has stuck is eating slowly and waiting for the 20 minute mark to decide if I need more food. Also, water is a big deal to us lap bandsters too. :-)


  2. Good for you for working on this. I think it is the hardest thing to do and the first thing to go out the window when life intervenes too! A good place to start is also with a physical from the doctor - give yourself some goals beyond what you see in your clothes size. Also, if you are really struggling, it's worthwhile to have your thyroid checked too.

  3. Read Gary Taubes' GCBC - trust me, it's worth the long read.

  4. I have gone from a high of 437lbs to my current weight of 229lbs in about seven years by following a low carb eating plan (Atkins to be exact). I am still losing, slowly as is considered more healthful, and I have been doing it without exercising.

    I eat a lot of fat - butter, olive oil, mayo, some coconut oil, moderate amounts of protein and very little carbs, usually less than 50 grams net per day.

    I get most of my carbs from vegetables like lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower - non-starchy vegetables, in other words. I limit my fruits to just high fiber berries like blackberries since I'm not much of a fruit eater anyway. I also eat nuts, usually in the form of nut meals/flours replacing grain based four in my baked goods.

    I avoid all grain products like pasta, bread and cereals, with the exception of a very high fiber, low net carb cracker. I also avoid potatoes, both white and sweet.

    In the beginning, I didn't count calories much although I averaged around 1,800 per day but after I lost about 150lbs, my weight loss stalled and reducing calories a bit seemed to get things moving again. I now take in about 1,500 per day. I don't have as much weight to carry around so I don't really need to consume as many calories as I used to.

    BTW, I have lost weight despite not exercising (partially because I'm disabled and partially because I'm just plain lazy). So for me at least, that dispels the "calories in, calories out" myth.

    If you're serious about giving low carb a try, I would recommend reading one of Dr Atkins' books, preferably one of the earlier revisions that he actually wrote. There are also quite a few low carb support forums on the internet - I'm a member of several and they offer a lot of info and support.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments. Well done for losing all that weight. Wow!!! Have read New Atkins for a New You and now am reading Gary Taubes. Keep up the good work and I will definitely look at my calorie intake as well.

  5. 1) How tall are you - how much do you currently weigh - what are you currently eating in an "average" day - how much/what type of exercise do you in an "average" week

    2) Have you had recent blood work done to check your hormone levels - are you going thru perimenapause

    3) What type/kinds of meat/fruits/vegetables are available in Namibia

    4) Most people lose weight on a low carb diet because they remove most/all of the processed crap from their diet - however - the initial weight loss is mostly water - so the transition to weight maintanence is the hard part

    5) Be very careful about following Jimmy Moore - per his last blood test he is peeing out protein and oxalate crystals - very unhealthy

    Good luck on your journey

    1. Charles, thank you for your questions.
      1. I am 174 cm, weigh 95 kgs. i am not counting carbs or calories, but average day looks like this:
      250 ml greek style yogurt plus 5 strawberries
      2 eggs, 2 rashers of bacon

      salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, paprikas, feta cheese, chicken stips, olives

      1 steak with mushroom and cream sauce and mixed frozen veg....

      exercise - walk the dogs 50 mins each day (2 x 20 to 30 mins)
      3 x per week at Curves.

      2. Yes, I am going through perimenopause, but no have no blood checks - am not on any medical aid and blood work is expensive and as i feel really healthy, have seen no need.

      3. we have all kinds of meats, fruits, veg. our meat is all grass fed/free range. vegetables and fruit are normally imported from a long way so i tend to go for the frozen veg and i eat very little fruit anyway.

      4. once i stop losing water, what is the answer to weight maintenance?

      5. Is peeing out protein and oxalate crystals very unhealthy or is this like "cholesterol causes heart disease.... oh wait, it doesn't"... ? just food for thought.

      I would appreciate some more guidelines if "Jimmy Moore" is not the answer. .....

  6. Hi, everyone.

    I LOVE the fact that I am getting all these wonderful comments. It is with forethought that I did not allow for moderation of comments before publication. I am a strong believer in free speech! However, IF anybody is going to insult someone and not give any reasons WHY, then I am going to delete the comments because they serve absolutely no purpose.

    I will not delete comments that suggest that Jimmy Moore or Gary Taubes or Dean Ornish or anybody else have it all wrong as long as it is backed up with some reasons why you have such a strong opinion that you need to be abusive.

    CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is the way to go, not name flinging....