Calories in, calories . . . ooops! Where'd they go?

Michael left this interesting personal experience as a comment on the Wheat Belly Blog. It is a tale of weight gained with wheat and carbohydrate intake, weight lost with elimination . . . far out of proportion to calories.

After reading Good Calories Bad Calories and learning about Alfred Pennington and his patients losing weight on his diet at 3000 calories per day I tried losing weight while eating a clear caloric surplus. I had been on a primal diet à la Mark Sisson for a while so I was already lean (effortlessly, I don’t even do low carb anymore) so for those who want to try this keep in mind that your mileage may vary but here’s what I did:

I used the Harris-Benedict formula to calculate how many calories my body needs + the activity multiplier, it gave me 2500 calories. I’ve got some muscles but I’m not very active. 155 pounds.

I completely stopped working out (my average is one and a half 30 minutes session a week) and started eating a lot of little debbie cakes. From Monday to Friday I gained 6 pounds. Saturday I cut sugar to zero, reduced my physical activity to a minimum and ate as much as I could of chicken and coconut milk. I sat on the couch and watched movies all day long and overate protein & fat up to 3300 calories. Next morning I had lost 2 pounds. Next day, same thing; next morning, same result. I lost 4 pounds in a weekend even though I overate 1600 calories and didn’t do much physical activity.

800 calories surplus per day, maybe that’s too close. So I tried it again later with a 2000 calorie surplus in one day.

Day 1 I ate 5000 calories of mostly cakes and I gained 1 pound, the 2nd day 4500 calories of a similar menu and I gained almost 2 pounds, 3rd day I cut sugar to zero but I kept my calorie intake at 4500, I overate chicken, coconut & omelettes all day long and I reduced my activities to watching movies and playing video games. I had lost 2 pounds the next day at noon.

So either:

A) it was just water anyway

B) I’m a mutant who can violate the laws of physics when I don’t eat sugar

C) calories don’t matter as much as we believe and trying to willfully create a energy deficit may not be necessary to lose fat (unless you’re aiming for a single digit bodyfat %)

(And BTW I do lose weight when I try the calorie deficit method.)

I laughed when I read a comment from a blogger who wrote that losing 1 pound per day is “calorically impossible.” Some people have their heads stuck inside their theories’ butts.

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59 Responses to Calories in, calories . . . ooops! Where'd they go?

  1. John says:

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the weight you gained was water weight. You will gain weight on fat grams and protein grams, too; give it time.

    • Miriam says:

      Oh John, I’m so sorry, but I can’t just let this go. You don’t know what you’re talking about. WIthout plenty of carbs, it’s very difficult to gain weight with fat and protein.

      I and my roommate have been eating completely grain free for 4 months. When we started I was exercising 15-20 minutes a day on an elliptical and drinking plenty of water. I counted my calories and kept them to 1800-2000 per day. I weighed 285 pounds.

      I stopped exercising when we changed our diet. I stopped eating grains of all kinds, sugar of any type including fruit except for occasional berries, and any starchy vegetables (i.e., corn, potatoes, squashes, etc). I continued to drink plenty of water. I stopped counting calories, and I started eating very large quantities of steak, ground beef, bacon, chicken wings, butter, heavy cream, extra sharp cheddar, coconut oil and lamb. I save the fat from bacon to cook other things in. I shaved the entire side of sirloin I ordered, rendered the fat, and use it all the time for cooking. Once in a while I calcuate the total calorie count, just for information.

      This morning I weighed 210.7 pounds. Yesterday and the day before I weighed 212.3. The day before that it was 212.7. The day before that it was 214.9. I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in 5 days, which is pretty much on par with the weight loss rate I’ve experienced since I started out in mid-Oct at 285: 4.5 to 5 pounds a week. During these four months I have eaten everything from 800 calories a day (when I was very ill for two weeks with the flu) to 3000 calories a day when we feasted on leg of lamb. It makes NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL. No matter how much I eat of fat and protein, even way beyond what I should need according to calcuations–and for days at a time, I might add–I do not gain weight. I lose it. Except for times of monthly hormonal fluctuation, which can cause my weight to go up 2-3 pounds or down 5 for about three days, it goes steadily down. In fact, contrary to your hypothesis, when I was sedentary, sick and eating less than 1000 calories a day for nearly two weeks, I lost weight at a slower rate. When I realized how little I was eating and bumped it up to 1200 (while I was ill) I started losing faster again.

      My roommate has had exactly the same experience. She’s down 40 pounds in the same amount of time. She’s much closer to her ideal weight, so her weight loss has started to slow a bit, but she never gains. She stays steady for 3 or 4 days and then will drop a pound again, all while eating everything I’ve mentioned, plus copius amounts of eggs. The only carbs she gets are from strawberries, blueberries, some of the dairy, some leafy green vegetables, onion, garlic…stuff like that.

      Some of my family members have gotten on board and are trying this now too. They are experiencing the same thing.

      How much more time would you me to give it? When will I start seeing the weight gain from all this fat and protein?

      • Freida says:

        i just started eating wheat free and find this information wonderful and look forward to obtain the same results as you…i love meat…lol Oh my question was “what kind of heavy cream are you talking about?”

      • John says:

        It’s still calories- meats & fats just fill you and make you eat fewer than 2000 cals. When you add carbs back into your life (all Adkins people do), you’ll pile it on faster than you lost it + more. Good luck.

        • Pam says:

          John, why would you ever add wheat or those type of carbs back into your die?. When I eat wheat or processed type of foods my colon starts to bleed! I will never let wheat back into my body again!! BTW, endurance runners that have gone to just veggies, some fruit and meat, have found their body performs better than if they added the carbs that the FDA tells us to eat.

  2. Joe Martin says:

    I’ve been wheat-free for a month but my weight has gone up 8 lbs after going down about 4. I’m frustrated

    • Judy says:

      My daughter and I have been wheat-free for 6 weeks. We have both gained some weight (less than your 8 lbs.) We too are frustrated. We don’t feel bad, but were expecting the scales to go down, not up! We are doing it for health reasons, and not specifically for weight loss. But GAIN was not on the agenda!! Any thoughts out there?

      • Barbara in New Jersey says:

        You might want to found the carbs you are eating. 15 carbs per six hour period and a daily total of about 50 carbs is recommended. Drink at least half your body weight of water in ounces to help clear your system.

        Some medications interfere with weight loss. Sometimes underlying health issues surface. Mostly though it is just too many carbs. An internet search will provide the basic amount of carbs per food item. For example, an apple contains at least 25 carbs which is more than your meal allotment.