"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Monday, March 28, 2011

No More Counting, and Other Atkins Musings

April 1st marks 14 months of 100% low-carb eating. As I've mentioned before, my Paleo/Primal journey originally began as yet another attempt (#234238432432 since 2004) at low-carb/Atkins that turned into the Cave(wo)man Lifestyle pretty early on and has completely changed my life. Following Paleo makes me feel so much better than Atkins ever did-- I'm not eating anything fake, I can actually eat fruit(!!), and I don't have to count carbs. From January 2004 to February 2010, I counted carbs... even when I was following the SAD. After that first time doing Atkins, however, carb-counting took over my life-- even now, I can probably tell you the carb-count of probably every food (and food product), and I still sometimes calculate how many carbs are in a certain meal. Old habits die hard, I suppose...

Atkins knew what he was talking about, of course-- weight loss/maintenance is carb-related. Does the magic number of 20 carbs (during the first phase) really matter, though? Eh, maybe, if you're on the SAD. Counting to twenty so many times certainly worked for me (and many others) during my SAD years, but I still feel much better (and healthier) eating many more carbs now.... because they're good carbs. Not all carbs are created equal-- one slice of bread is about 12 carbs, but so is one cup of strawberries (and one Oreo is about 22, yet so is one banana), which is why carb-counting can sometimes be a bit silly too. Speaking of fruits*, I obviously avoided them while on Atkins because they'll make you go over 20 carbs-- yet fruit is definitely a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.
*Note: if you're trying to lose weight, limit your fruit intake due to the high sugar-content in some of them. But if you're eating just to maintain a healthy weight, fruit is fantastic!

Atkins also lets you eat low-carb (henceforth LC) protein bars and shakes; LC versions of bread (and other bread products), ice cream, milk, and candy; and allows artificial sweeteners. None of that stuff is real! Legumes, grains, and other non-Paleo foods are also allowed (and, sometimes, encouraged), which makes no sense now. So it's okay to eat chemicals, but not fruits? I can eat twenty carbs of artificial crap, but I can't have an orange because god-forbid I go over the daily carb-count? Insanity!

I'm so glad I'm done with that.

The point I'm making here is that you don't need to count anything while eating Paleo/Primal. When all your food is real and healthy, it's completely unnecessary! What a relief! You will not gain weight if you follow the Paleo/Primal lifestyle.
Dieters are always so obsessed with carb and calorie counts that food consumption goes from "I'm eating this delicious salad" to "I'm eating X-amount of calories/carbs." My meals are so much more enjoyable now that I think of food as food and not a bunch of numbers.

And that is why this has become a permanent lifestyle.

Day 9 Update:
I'm wearing those jeans that were just a little too tight over a week ago!

Anyone else super pumped for this?:
Paleo Magazine!!!! So exciting!!!!!!

Quote of the Day:
"My patient population has a low recidivism rate, but if they haven't made up their minds that it is permanent, then of course, they will fail." -Dr. Robert Atkins

Awesome comparison chart (Atkins/LC vs. Paleo vs. Weston Price) from Weight Maven:

If you're starting out and need to carb-count, Mark Sisson's got you covered:


  1. Leigh, great post. I agree with everything you've said, but there is one thing I am confused about...

    According to Atkins, there will be a carb threshold that a person will not be able to cross. I've been eating low carb for over two years, and any time I go over 25-30 net carbs, I start gaining weight.

    How can I get to "eating as much (paleo) food as I want without counting carbs" if I gain on anything over 25-30?

    I would LOVE to stop counting carbs! Just for the record, I still have around 15 pounds of fat to lose to reach my goal.

  2. I should have mentioned that I eat no grains, no legumes, no dairy with the exception of maybe 1 Tbs. of grass-fed butter per day. I eat real, whole, fresh foods. I do not eat "products". I do not eat artificial sweeteners. I have several drops of liquid Stevia each day.

    In other words, I have been doing Atkins with a paleo/primal application.

  3. Great to hear from you, Rebecca!! Are you eating fruit, nuts, or seeds? These tend to be Paleo foods that cause some people to gain weight-- I know when I overeat them, I certainly gain!! If you stick to veggies and proteins (meat, eggs), you should be fine and A) won't gain, and B) won't have to count. Good luck!

  4. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Plan to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 23 Pounds in Just 21 Days!