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Do you count calories?

Me, no but I'm starting to think twice when I get that extra blue cheese dressing on my salad.

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  1. No, but when clothes start getting a little tighter, I do portion out the starches a little more sparingly. :)

    1. I tried calorie counting for weight loss before I found low carb (didn't work), but I haven't done it since. I do try to be mindful of portion sizes when I find my weight drifting up, but usually cutting carbs is a better solution than worrying about portion sizes in general.

      1. I do weight watchers and have lost about 30 pounds. I'm at a point now where I don't track everything I eat, but having done it off and on for three years I have a pretty good idea of when I need to lay off the extra bites.

        1. Yep, when I'm on the wagon.

          I track them with MyFitnessPal.

          I'm much more disciplined when I track everything I eat, as well as how much I exercise.

          1. Yes, pretty much daily, on sparkpeople.com. Actually, on weekdays, I PRE-count my calories, and put it in my calorie tracker up to a week ahead of time. That way I don't have to think about what to eat on the day of, because my history has shown me I don't make good choices if I don' plan it out ahead of time. All of my homecooked recipes are built out in SP's recipe builder, it does the mathy stuff for me in terms of dividing up for servings etc.

            But, now that I've hit my goal weight, I get a little more lenient on weekends.. I usually do not count anything on Saturdays since that's usually SO and I's only day to spend together and we frequently do things out of the house (go to the bar, go to sporting events etc). I also count on Sundays as much as I can but I don't pre-plan. When we go out of town, I do not plan or track anything, I just try to eat mindfully.

            Maybe I'm a freak, but I rather enjoy calorie counting and putting it all in ahead of time while I'm meal planning. It's sorta like a puzzle, and I like numbers. I've been doing it over a year and I don't see myself stopping. I might if I got pregnant but that's about it :)

            11 Replies
            1. re: juliejulez

              I did that for a long time. I think just being that involved is helpful sometimes, for some people. Sit down and crunch the numbers to the nth. I'm a retired accountant so I'm a numbers guy anyway.

              1. re: juliejulez

                i so agree about the puzzles and numbers. i tend to wonk out on numbers and i take it as a challenge to cook up something good within my caloric limits.
                counting calories has been a great help to me for portion control. being able to see what a 4 oz piece of steak looks like and knowing it actually filled me up (along with veggies and some starch) is very empowering. another example is by starting with the smaller portion it turns out i am just as full as if i had eaten the larger portion . that means a 1/8 slice of a frozen pizza at 180 cal fills me up just as much as a quarter slice if i wait several minutes. i hope i am making sense here. :-)

                1. re: juliejulez

                  Actually, Julie, it's funny, but being a person who loosely calorie counts (I am not nearly as dedicated as you :) I even kept up my habits during my recent pregnancy. Helped me feel in control of my weight gain, and definitely helped me keep it right in the "healthy weight gain" range OB's like to see.
                  People remarked through my whole pregnancy that I looked great, and healthy, and I really think keeping my healthy habits intact helped tremendously.
                  I've seen too many friends let their weight gain spiral out of control solely due to the fact that they used pregnancy as an excuse to eat ANY and EVERY thing they craved!

                  1. re: ItalGreyHound

                    Yeah I had a friend who was rail thin before having a baby, because she never ate and exercised a lot... not healthy really, but was very thin. As soon as she got pregnant (on her honeymoon) she ballooned way up because she took it as an excuse to eat all the stuff she didn't eat for so many years... frozen pizzas, fried chicken, mac and cheese etc etc. She gained a ton of weight and then really struggled to take it off after the baby was born. She got pregnant a year later and did the same thing again so who knows if she'll ever get back to a healthy weight.

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      I definitely indulged in things I wouldn't normally have, but just tried to keep it all in check. Of course, speaking of calories (totally empty ones at that) it probably didn't hurt that I couldn't drink wine while I was pregnant, either! Helped widen the gap for some of those other milkshake/ice cream/french fry/thelistgoeson indulgences :)

                      1. re: ItalGreyHound

                        When I was pregnant I traded my Friday and Saturday night glasses of wine/cocktails for Dulce de Leche ice cream bars. I figure they still had less calories and I was getting calcium!

                      2. re: juliejulez

                        The question for me is...

                        Was the baby healthy? It's really all that matters, isn't it?
                        I've known a few woman, myself not included, who've watched their weight and exercised like they're manic while they're pregnant, and had tiny babies as a result. Their doctors begged them to knock it off but the mothers refused. They wanted their bodies perfect while pregnant...the kind you'd never know they were pregnant until they turn around and there's a small bump during their 3rd trimester.

                        I work out religiously, and hard, and keep track of my calories but during my pregnancy I thought only of the health of my child I was carrying. Dieting wasn't in the cards for me.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Yes her kids were healthy... although the 2nd one came 2 weeks early (just this week!). You don't need to "diet" while pregnant, but sitting around eating junk food like frozen pizzas and fried foods all the time like she was isn't really a great idea either. She even said that she was using being pregnant as an excuse to eat all the unhealthy stuff she never did before.

                          1. re: juliejulez

                            When I gave up all wine, alcohol, chocolate and anything with caffeine in it for nine months, oh and sushi and raw fish and all the other foods on that list that I adore...

                            I sure didn't think twice about having an extra helping of mashed potatoes or rice or any of my other favorite foods that I normally watch calories with. I ate lots of salads and healthy things through those wonderful months but having an

                            extra icecream wasn't a problem for me.
                            All I could think about was having a well-developed, to term, healthy baby and food, and the amount, wasn't something I focused on.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              When I get pregnant, that's what I plan on doing... pretty much continue to eat like I normally do (whole unprocessed foods, fruits & veggies, etc), just larger portions, and maybe a few extra treats that strike my fancy (like dessert, which I don't normally do). I definitely won't use it as an excuse to have a food free for all... I figure if I wouldn't feed my kid something once he/she is actually out, then I shouldn't be eating it when I'm pregnant either.

                              Then again, all that might change once I'm actually pregnant... I may end up stuffing my face with cheeseburgers if that's the only thing I end up wanting to eat LOL! But, I don't plan on it.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                I am currently 8 months pregnant. I am definitely one of those on the smaller side that hasn't gained a whole pile of weight. I haven't had the desire to "stuff my face" which has me a bit perplexed as to how some women gain a whole bunch of weight while pregnant.

                                I do watch what I eat- obviously no alcohol, raw fish, raw oysters, organ meats or canned tuna which has meant that I have had to switch up my usual diet a lot.

                                I tend to eat more salads with protein, greek yogurt and fresh fruits. For me, I have to continuously remind myself to eat more.

                                Eating a lot of garbage food while pregnant puts you at risk for gestational diabetes and too much weight is just as bad as too little for premature labor.

                    2. No, but I work out hard and don't have any issues with my weight going up or down. I did for awhile just to see what I was eating but it got to be a hassle.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Hobbert

                        Same for me... Mostly out of curiosity and to see how much protein, calcium, etc. I was eating. I am convinced I each about 10% more calories than predicted to maintain my weight.

                        1. re: firecooked

                          Yep, that was my motivation. I think I naturally gravitate to eating the amount that maintains my weight. I generally keep an eye on fat and salt and stuff. As in, I don't get my day's calories from ice cream unfortunately :) But the minutiae of it all is just too time consuming to keep up with regularly. I admire those who do.

                        1. I don't worry about calories but I do track my food to count carbs/fat/protein. As long as I keep my carbs under a certain level and my fat over a certain level the weight drops off effortlessly and I get leaner and leaner. My calories seem to fall between 1500-1800 a day naturally, which seems totally acceptable for me.

                          1. No. Absolutely not.

                            Which is why I am a short, fat middle aged man, instead of being a short middle aged man.

                            1. I do because I'm an avid weightlifter and mostly to track macronutrients but calories as well. I use Livestrong Daily Plate and love it.

                              1. Not calories per se but I do track my food intake. I use Sparks too as I love it's recipe function. I do so much home cooking it gives me a good gauge of my home cooked meals.

                                I am definitely aware of my calories in vs calories out. I can comfortably eat in the low to mid 2k range to maintain my weight but if I slow down my work outs or increase my calories I can feel it in my clothes. Sparks keeps me honest.

                                1. Much admiration to those who count their calories..

                                  1. Not as a regime, but I do pay attention to the information about calories per serving (for what that's worth) and calories from fat when at the supermarket.

                                    1. Yes, as well as macro splits.

                                      But never when eating out, the guesstimating would be pointless.

                                      1. Yes, especially when I'm gearing up for an event like a oly-tri or a marathon.

                                        1. I don't track, but I am mindful of my daily intake for sure.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. Have for years. Have lost fifty pounds (and kept them off), one hundred to go. I use Lose It! online, which I find very convenient.

                                            I also weigh myself daily and record weight at EatWatch. The program calculates a weighted average of the weight, picking the trend out of the daily ups and downs (which can fluctuate four or five pounds, depending on what I've been eating or eliminating). If I pay attention to the average rather than the daily weight, I'm less likely to become discouraged when my weight jumps. I know it's temporary, so am less tempted to say "To heck with this useless diet" and binge on junk food.

                                            1 Reply
                                              1. No I don't count calories but I do use visual cues all the time. The size of the plate or bowl, size of my palm, no more than three fingers, no bigger than a fist if I'm going to be sampling a good deal of food over the course of a week. If I'm on my own (no meals out, no dinner invites, no traveling) then I do pretty well but if I'm indulging ('cause who wants to say no thank you) I watch the portion size and make sure I am doing something to get my heart rate up during the day.

                                                1. Not strictly, but I do look at nutrition labels and portion sizes so I do know roughly how much I consume a day. That said, I do know that there's a fair amount of error involved so if I was calorie counting I'd usually take the number I compiled and add 20-30% to get a more accurate result.

                                                  1. Depends.
                                                    If I am on an all-out full-scale diet/workout effort I do try to keep a food diary to watch what I'm really eating and amounts. During those time I use a scale and weigh my portions and track everything on www.fitday.com. When I'm not in diet mode I don't strictly count, but I do try to be aware of how much I'm eating. If I'm not running a lot it can definitely creep up on me and screw with my health. That said... special events, special restaurants... screw it! Life's too short not to enjoy it!

                                                    1. No. I eat whatever Id like. I do so in moderation. If you open my fridge you will find heavy cream, 1/2&1/2, whole milk, butter,sour cream, Dukes mayo, lots of cheese and eggs, bacon etc.

                                                      I am 5'21/2" and weigh in at somewhere between 120 and 124. You don't have to clean up your plate. If you get the extra blue cheese, you can budget for it. I only eat when I am hungry, no mindless snacking. That is what works for me.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                        I also eat only full fat products and a lot of them but I still log the calories. I don't think counting calories should be automatically associated with a diet of just low fat/low carb/low calorie foods.

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                          Agreed. I still eat stuff like that too. The only low/non-fat dairy item I eat is 0% greek yogurt, and that's because I prefer it over the full fat version. I don't eat eggs, but again, that's just because I don't like them, not because I think they're bad. In fact, I wish I liked them because they're a good source of protein. Thinking you have to eat "diet food", or "be on a diet" at all is why so many people fail with losing weight and keeping it off.

                                                      2. No, nothing that formal. But I do measure amounts of things like rice, cereal and pasta. I have only 1/2 cup of each per serving and limit myself to 2 starches a day. Usually morning cereal and evening rice or pasta.

                                                        I try to be very strict during my week meals, and I don't count anything on the weekends.

                                                        I've lost 50 pounds over a year ago, and I am trying to maintain it. It's tough sometimes. :)


                                                        1. I don't actually count, but I do pay attention and I definitely don't deprive myself. If my pants start feeling tight, I'll cut back on my cheddar and Triscuit habit.

                                                          1. No, but I do try to (on average) make healthy choices about eating, and keeping some types of food to treat status. I will check labels, though, so I can calibrate a particular type of food - sometimes you can be surprised at just how many calories are in a particular food.

                                                            Recently, I've been trying to limit sweet drinks. I live in a hot climate, and you can pack on a lot of calories in a day keeping cool and hydrated. So I have a Soda Stream at home and in the office, and unsweetened ice tea in the fridge.

                                                            1. Yes, religiously. Sometimes I hate it but I can't help it. I try to only 'watch what I eat' when I'm on vacation, but any other time there is a strict calorie restriction.

                                                              1. That velvety creamy dressing with nice tangy chunks of blue catching up to you BC??? It always happens when certain things take soooo good! I don't count calories but, I do weight myself on Mondays (to see how bad I was over the weekend), Wednesdays (to see if I'm braking even from the weekend) and Fridays (to see if my effort on the treadmill helped at all) before I get a patty melt and a side salad with blue cheese dressing! What a wonderful rut to be in!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: treb

                                                                  You make blue cheese dressing sound so dang good!

                                                                  Work out daily but one of my smart ass friends commented on the amount of dressing I put on my salad and that it equated to 3 days of calories..

                                                                  Just got me thinking if most people count calories..

                                                                  I never weigh myself..the jean test is all I need.
                                                                  ; )

                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                    Does your friend do the same for say... Thousand Island? Ah yes... The Test, the ultimate female measurement tool!

                                                                2. I have been counting calories for several years now. I want to say March, 2007, but my records don't go back that far because of a computer crash so I'm not really sure. I lost about 135 # with more than half of that in the first 8 months or so; the rest took a lot longer. About a year ago, I put about 12 # back on deliberately because I just looked too gaunt.

                                                                  Low carb diets, Atkins, and the Cambridge liquid diet years ago - that's about all I had tried before and they did nothing for me, so I'm really sold on calorie counting.

                                                                  I use CalorieCount.com, SparkPeople, Livestrong, whatever comes up when I Google on a food that I don't have in my own, off-line database. I have splurge days about once every 7 or 8 days, sometimes a little sooner, sometimes a lot farther apart. That seems to work better for me than trying to eat 'exactly' the right amount of calories every day which leads to a little creeping gain.

                                                                  It's really a matter of education or re-education, identifying bad eating habits, bad attitudes about food, excuses I give myself to eat when I'm not really hungry, etc. There were years and years of those bad habits, et. al., and they're hard to break, but it's worked very well and my health has improved dramatically, other than the fact I still keep getting older every year.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: brucesw

                                                                    Did you just watch portions & calorie count or did you work out too? And if you did work out, what method did you use. That's a good deal of weight to lose, congrats!

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      No formal exercise program. I was in no kind of shape to do much exercising in the beginning and anyway, losing weight and toning up are two different goals. I just wanted to lose weight and then decide what to do. As the pounds dropped off I took up walking, sometimes as much as two hours a day, and did/still do all my own yardwork and gardening, etc., which at certain times of the year burns a lot of calories. I went very heavily with just fruit and vegetable dishes for the first few months, very little meat and virtually no sweets; I cut out almost all bread and all pasta, potatoes and rice.

                                                                      1. re: brucesw

                                                                        Good for you, I really admire folks who find their own way of getting healthy. The choice really does come down to finding what works best for each individual so it becomes a life plan not just a goal to lose numbers.

                                                                        The older I get the more I need to move in order to stay fit and feel light. I bike, walk, swim and lift weights now. But it took me 10 years to work up to that routine.

                                                                  2. I do, but I rely more on counting macros than on calories. For example, I try to reach about 130 grams of protein per day, 130 grams of carbs and 30-75 grams of fat a day depending on my workout schedule. I am more worried about this than about how many overall calories I consume. On days that I am doing a more intense workout, or focusing on my lower body, I eat more carbs to fuel muscle recovery as well as my workout beforehand. However, when I have a cheat meal, I just indulge and don't worry about my macros as much.

                                                                    1. No. I don't eat junk and I watch portion sizes. Walk a lot, too. I have no desire to scrutinize every bite I eat.

                                                                      1. I don't count calories, I just tightly control carbs. But that's not to say that I'm not conscientious about the amount of food I'm eating and added calories I can do without.

                                                                        I eat til I'm no longer hungry, never full or stuffed.

                                                                        I should note, though, that for years I tracked every single crumb I ate, and macronutrient breakdowns to find my best levels and results. For months, I actually weighed and measured it all, too, and found I'd been overestimating my intake for a long time, I'd been eating less than I thought all along.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          Not calories, but carbs. I'm a type 1 diabetic so I have to count carbs to know how much insulin to take. Sometimes I splurge, but usually I try to keep my overall carb intake the same each day. It doesn't really detract from my eating pleasure since good control keeps me healthy and able to enjoy my food.

                                                                          1. re: Kalivs

                                                                            I am type 2, tightly controlled by diet alone, so I feel ya. I have been very low carb dieting for about 15 years.

                                                                        2. Yes, I count and I'm very careful.

                                                                          1. Never have, never will. If I want to eat more of something, I just add more exercise into my day. Life's too short to turn the joy of eating into a stressful, guilt-ridden chore.

                                                                            1. I don't actually "count" but I have a general idea of how many calories I have consumed during the day. I tend to focus my eating on getting in all of my food groups/nutrients.

                                                                              I definitely won't waste "calories" by eating something I'm not enjoying or just because it's there.

                                                                              I actually know people who diet all week and then go on "benders" on the weekend, which disturbs me a bit.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                "I actually know people who diet all week and then go on "benders" on the weekend, which disturbs me a bit."

                                                                                For people who are eating low calorie, a weekend or a day off on a bit of a bender is an oft recommended strategy for keeping metabolism from staying as low as it does during restricted food intake. Depends how low they go all week, but it can help.

                                                                                But there are benders and then there are BENDERS.

                                                                              2. I don't count calories but have been following Weight Watchers so I am tracking what I eat. Most "normal" days I plan out what will eat, I bring my breakfast and lunch to work. I like to save my points for dinner.