Calories - Paleo, Low-Carb

- POSTED ON: Dec 20, 2012


I recently posted an article: Do Calories matter ... discussing this issue with regard to Low-Carb eating.  Here is a Paleo expert's recently stated viewpoint on whether or not Calories matter.

Low Carb and Paleo: My Thoughts Part 1
                    By Rob Wolf

Slowly I realized, both by experimentation and by really looking at the literature: CALORIES MATTERED MORE THAN CARBS FOR BODY-COMP.

I have to say this was a pretty big shake-up for me. I’d assumed one could eat as much fat as one desired and STILL get leaner. As I mentioned above, when I first started eating Low Carb, or more specifically, cyclic low carb (CLC) I was leaner than ever in my life. I know based on blood work and fat deposition that I had insulin resistance while vegan, and CLC helped with this immensely, but it was my new-found energy and activity level that drove my leanness, not an inability to store fat in the absence of significant insulin.

I think this is one of the most damaging messages that comes out of the Low Carb camp to this day, I was duped by this, so I’m not going to do what a lot of other recovered Low Carb writers do and make folks out to be idiots for still believing this…but, it is time to face facts. In every damn study it is clear that for fat loss we’d like adequate protein, and a calorie restriction scenario. Low Carb is fantastic for this in that one typically feels satisfied on high protein, moderate fat, loads of veggies. If one is insulin resistant, this approach can be nothing short of miraculous. HOWEVER! If one manages to cram enough cheese, olive oil and grass-fed butter down the pie-hole, this is in fact, a “mass gain” diet.

Low Carb is fantastic for the insulin resistant individual, as it addresses both glycemic load and satiety. But if one manages to bypass normal satiety mechanisms, or if one can find some combinations of highly palatable, but low-carb foods, it’s still a ticket to Fat Camp.

The insistence on the part of the Low Carb community in adhering to the “no insulin, no fat gain” dogma ends up discrediting the real therapeutic benefit of Low Carb and hurts us all. The insulin resistant, crack-addicted individual really benefits from Low Carb, I cannot say that sufficiently, and the ease with which people lose weight (fat) on these programs is remarkable, but insulin control takes a backseat to calorie reduction via highly satiating foods. This whole situation further damages the ability to push ketosis as a therapeutic treatment for everything from cancer to neurodegenerative disease.
It’s a tool folks, not an end-all-be-all.”

  ROBB WOLF is a former research biochemist and is regarded as one of the world's leading experts in Paleolithic nutrition.  He authored the best-selling book: The Paleo Solution (2010). Other books by him are: Practical Paleo (2012); Paleo Slow Cooking (2012); Paleo Comfort Foods (2011); Everyday Paleo (2011).

Wolf is a former California State Powerlifting Champion (565Lb Squat, 345lb Bench, 565lb Dead Lift) and a 6-0 amateur kickboxer. He coaches athletes at the highest levels of competition and consults with Olympians and world champions in MMA, motocross, rowing and triathlon.

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Existing Comments:

On Dec 20, 2012 TexArk wrote:
What I have discovered for myself is that I must eat very low calorie. As I have discussed here before, I am a post menopausal formerly obese woman. Even though I am nearly 5'7" tall, I cannot eat very many calories and it gets less as each year goes by. My latest research on myself is showing that I cannot eat over 1000 calories and lose any weight at all. I will actually gain at 1200! Your posts have been very encouraging to me because most people do not really believe this. What I have found for the best satiety and to avoid cravings is to do just what Robb Wolf is suggesting. I basically eat "Paleo", but I have never thought that calories did not matter. I do eat a lot of fat which keeps me satisfied and eat very low carb for the same reason. I try to get exercise, both cardio and resistance training, but I have never seen that it makes any difference in weight loss. I think it is important for other health reasons and maybe if I could put in more effort I might be able to add a few more bites of food to my day. ...but I do not intend to spend my life at a gym. Thanks again for sharing your reading with us at this spot and saving it in your archives.

On Dec 20, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             TexArk, thanks for your comment. The ability to have access to extensive nutritional personal programs like DietPower is a fairly recent situation, much like the internet ... even the convenience of personal home computers didn't become available until I was in my 40s. This situation makes a big difference in our ability to have long-term, detailed personal records of our food intake. The Internet gives us access to books and documents that were previously unavailable, and this also puts me in contact with many people and groups of people who are dealing with similar food/weight problems. Most people simply do not believe that a person can faithfully do one's best to eat low-calorie, carefully weighing, measureing and recording one's food and doing quite a lot of exercise as well... without achieving the Results that the EXPERTS tell us will always occur. Weight-loss maintenance for an older, reduced-obese female is the issue I'm personally dealing with. Since the "experts" don't seem to have much accurate knowledge about weight-maintenance at all, we find ourselves in relatively new territory. Part of my dieting hobby is to read and search and collect information and articles that might help shed some light on what might be true or helpful in this area.

On Dec 20, 2012 jethro wrote:
What a sobering comment by Mr. Wolf. Not even low carb can escape the fact that you need to reduce calories to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. However, I've always heard that low carb will improve your lipid profiles. I wonder how low is low carb to achieve this, since two days ago I had my blood sugar measured and had 109, not bad but not at the ideal range of 70-90. By the way Dr.Collins, you have the greatest diet website that I know about. Not only do you provide a lot of great information, you put it together so that it speaks for itself, like a CIS expert at a crime scene. Keep up the good work.

On Dec 20, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thanks Jethro for your very, very kind words.

On Dec 20, 2012 Karen925 wrote:
It has always been a mystery to me why those who knew their low carb counts fastidiously avoided knowing their calorie counts. Nutrition programs easily track both values. Along with those who did not want to know the calorie levels were a large subset that thought low carb (however that is defined which is not clear) meant any calorie level (and usually quite high from the copious amounts of coconut oil, butter, olive oil, or whatever the new fad is today). Low carb and low calorie fit nicely together. I think it is incredible that I have the ability to track my intakes, have access to information from a wide variety of views, and then synthesize this date to fit my body & life style. You are right that these tools did not exist only a few years ago. It is a small price to pay for wonderful health. I have enjoyed JUDDD/IF for over a year. It has helped me to maintain my 32% weight loss. Maintenance of 3 years will occur in April 2013. A small glimmer of hope was given from a cursory comment of an IF researcher who said that fats cells were reduced with IF. As we both know, this is very much against the grain with current thought. But I will choose to believe the thought, nonetheless. I do know I find it more tolerable and enjoyable to have higher days followed by lower days, than just somewhat lower days all the time. I have also found fasting to be beneficial in many ways, weight maintenance being only one. I will continue this pattern for the foreseeable future. I read all your posts and appreciate your clear thinking. I hope the holidays fill you and those you love with much joy.

On Dec 20, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Karen its good to hear from you, and I'm so very pleased to know that you are having good success with your maintenance, and that JUDDD and IF are working for you. Of course fat cells do SHRINK with weight-loss, but the evidence appears to be clear that the NUMBER of fat cells in one's body cannot be reduced, despite wishful thinking, no matter what hype is presented to the contrary. It would be nice for that to be true, but I find this claim similar to those claims such as: using special creams and lotions will erase stretch marks and/or cellulite or even wrinkles; and that (despite genetics) we can choose to lose body fat in whatever areas we choose... i.e. "spot reduction" as a result of specific exercises. Those things are popular Myths. Many changes to the body are irreversible, and all evidence indicates that after a fat cell splits in two, it can never again go back to being one cell, and every time any one fat cell dies, it is replaced by another.

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