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TOPIC: Weight gain from not eating enough and exercising too much.

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October 21, 2011 5:27 AM
Can someone explain WHY you gain weight when you exercise too much and don't eat enough? I have a friend who is doing just that. She's working out for an hour a day, burning 500 calories and eating around 1100 a day, so only netting 600. She just called me in tears because she gained 3lbs since monday and wants to know why. I don't have the answer, so I thought I'd ask you fine folks!

If anyone can explain this please do so I can let her know why she is gaining and if it's fat or not. SHe's also drinking about a gallon of water a day and doing a low carb diet if that helps.

I told her she needs to eat more, or back off the exercise but I don't quite know why.

Thanks so much everyone!
October 21, 2011 5:32 AM
I'm interested hearing some opinions on this too.
Edited by poustotah On October 21, 2011 5:33 AM
October 21, 2011 5:33 AM
Either its water or the numbers are wrong, she cant gain weight on a defecit like that, trash yourself sure but not put on fat.

Outside possibility, shes not 3ft tall is she?
October 21, 2011 5:34 AM
Her body is rebelling against starvation and therefore has slowed down it's metabolism and is holding on to fat as a source of energy.
October 21, 2011 5:34 AM
I don't think that it's so much you "gain" weight in a case like that but that you don't lose it at all because your body is holding on to it for dear life. All that working out is likely building muscle on a very sluggish metabolism (due to too few cals) and she's likely holding on to water as well. I'll never get why people treat their bodies like crap and expect it to provide miracles. Like any abusive relationship, eventually something gives lol.
Edited by awkwwward On October 21, 2011 5:35 AM
October 21, 2011 5:34 AM
If she didnt eat a 10,500 calorie excess she did not gain fat.

Anything happening like that is primarily down to water more often than not.
October 21, 2011 5:36 AM
I have a friend and the same thing is happening to her. I can't explain it either, only what I've read on here - you have to eat your exercise calories. I just took it as a good thing and eat them and didn't really look into the why. I am sure it's on here somewhere. Maybe it's the quality of food she's eating?
October 21, 2011 5:37 AM
I am no expert but could it be that she is building muscle from the work outs and also it might be fluid retention. I was doing the low carb diet and drinking heaps and found that i was putting on weight. It was only when I started to introduce a bit more carbs and walking lots and drinking only when I was thirsty that my weight started to come down. Tell her not to give up but let her body readjust and then it will all happen. Ask her also to measure herself because that will give her a better indication if she is truly toning up if she is losing inches/cm.
Hope this helps.
October 21, 2011 5:37 AM
One hour of working out isn't a lot. She is just not eating enough to make up for the calories; in other words she is starving herself of the nutrition she needs to even fucntion properly. So the body is storing everything she eats as fat.
Sometimes less is not more.
October 21, 2011 5:38 AM
To me it seems that she is putting her body into starvation mode and her body is holding onto all the calories it can get. This is natural for everyones body. What she needs to do is up her calorie intake to about 1200 depending on her height and weight. (I am 5'2" 160lbs age 22 and this is my intake) Then she needs to workout at least 3 times a week (which it seems like she is doing) for at least 30 minutes.

Drink lots of water! lots and lots of water! This will flush the sodium from her body and help her lose any water weight.

She should drop pounds soon enough. This is what I have been doing and I am down 7 pounds!

I am not sure where I found this information but I read somewhere that eating 1200 is the lowest a female should go with calories before your body is in starvation mode. And without exercise and eating 1200 even you can still lose weight. Ill have to look for the website on this....
October 21, 2011 5:39 AM
Per MyFitnessPal:

"Not only is it difficult to receive adequate nutrition at these calorie levels, but you could also be putting your body into starvation mode. Starvation mode lowers your metabolism and makes weight loss more difficult. We suggest increasing your calorie consumption to 1,200 calories per day minimum."

I hope this helps...

Good Luck smile
October 21, 2011 5:42 AM
I always explain the same way... if you lost your job you wouldn't run out and spend all your money. Your body is no different. If you're limited on calorie "income", your body holds on to what it has for future use.
It's as simple as that!
Earn more calorie income and the body doesn't mind spending more.
October 21, 2011 5:43 AM
I understand the starvation mode stuff, but what I don't get do anorexic people lose weight then??
October 21, 2011 5:43 AM
She should not, for one thing eat below 1200..that is a minimum for her body to even be able to sustain itself in just DAILY normal activities. She should be eating back at least most of her exercise calories as she needs to replace the calories used up by the EXTRA calories she's burning by exercise.
When you don't eat enough, your body's metabolism slows down. For it to burn efficiently and lose weight, she needs to eat enough and spread it out through the day (5-6 times a day to eat..meals and snacks). In this way the metabolism burns constantly, beginning with a good breakfast...
Every one should eat in this way: for breakfast eat like a king..for lunch eat like a prince..and for dinner eat like a pauper...(with a small snack in between each).
She is more than likely holding on to water retention because of possible high sodium intake..if she's eating a lot of processed diet foods, it is high in sodium...tell her to ck her sodium intake and to drink more fluid to flush her body....
Edited by muitobem On October 21, 2011 5:46 AM
October 21, 2011 5:43 AM
That kind of fluctuation is not fat. And she's not gaining 3 lbs. from a net of 600 calories per day (2400 calories total, less than a lb., in that past 4 days), that ridiculous. It takes longer than 4 days for the body to react to severe calorie depletion and show an appreciable change It's more likely excess fluid retention (monthly hormones are killer) and perhaps some stool (if she hasn't had a bowel movement in a few happens!). There is also the issue that perhaps she mis-weighed herself 4 days ago. And she could also be wildly underestimating her intake and/or overestimating her workout calories.

Tell her to stop crying, make sure she is accurately counting calories and increase her intake to a reasonable level. If she has such an overwhelming reaction to weight fluctuations, she should not weigh herself so often.
October 21, 2011 5:46 AM
Starvation mode = "makes weight loss more difficult" doesnt stop or reverse weight loss and takes a long time to kick in

Muscle = it takes a lot of hard work and eating right to develop new muscle, 3lbs of new muscle is fantastic going for a month of serious training

Water = 3 pints and you just gained 3lbs, retaining water is a likely candidate.

Numbers = Simply getting it wrong, portion control etc, underestimating food eaten and overestimating exercise calories burned, another likely candidate.

my 2p worth.
October 21, 2011 5:47 AM

I understand the starvation mode stuff, but what I don't get do anorexic people lose weight then??

Starvation mode doesn't negate severe calorie depletion all together. It just slows it down. People DO lose weight when under severe calorie depletion. People DO die from it as well.
October 21, 2011 5:47 AM

Can someone explain WHY you gain weight when you exercise too much and don't eat enough?

You don't. At least not weight in fat.
How long has your friend been doing this, and how accurate are these numbers?
How often does she weigh herself?
Is this a new development of suddenly 3 pounds in a week? If so, it may be a different scale, water retention, weighed before a bowel movement, TOM, etc, etc....
Does she track sodium? A lot of low-calorie foods can be insanely high in sodium, causing bloating and water retention like crazy (i.e. pickles).

Also, to address 'starvation mode'...
That is a mode that is challenging to get into. If she's routinely eating far too few calories for about a month (or at least 21 days) then her body MAY begin going into starvation mode. Exercise actually helps prevent this because your metabolism is naturally increased.
As someone who has been in starvation mode, though, it takes a lot of effort to get to that point, and it's fairly easy to snap out of (physically... mentally may be another ordeal).
October 21, 2011 5:48 AM

I understand the starvation mode stuff, but what I don't get do anorexic people lose weight then??

If you sustain a very low calorie diet then your body will use any fat/tissue/muscle available. generally anorexic people starve themselves (and possibly over exercise) for a long time to get to the anorexic 'look' that you are probably thinking about.
October 21, 2011 5:49 AM

I understand the starvation mode stuff, but what I don't get do anorexic people lose weight then??

Anorexic people lose weight by going past the bit of starvation mode where your body holds onto everything it can. They just starve themselves completely. Your body can only adapt so much to a reduced calorie intake - if you stop putting fuel in your mouth, it will eventually burn off everything it can, including muscle.
October 21, 2011 5:49 AM

I understand the starvation mode stuff, but what I don't get do anorexic people lose weight then??

Eventually even in starvation you will lose weight (It's physically impossible to not lose weight in that sort of deficit over a good length of time), however the weight loss will be much slower and quite unhealthy.
October 21, 2011 5:58 AM
I am living proof of what has happened here. I literally tae about 1000 calories a day and was doing 1-2 hours of cardion and weights 5 times a week. I couldn't understand why the scales werent moving. I was eating very nutritiously but not enough. For the last 10 days i have increased my calorie intake and have slightly decreased my exercise.

The result, i have started to lose. I have't got that much to shift but it seems it is going. Also, i used to feel permenantly hungry and it felt like torture. That was when i was more inclined to 'pick'.

Now, i feel full of energy and it has made such a difference to my mood- also the slight loss has lifted this. Def think i was in starvation mode before and clinging onto fat.
October 21, 2011 6:15 AM
Body is like a camel storing water for a long journey ahead, if the body thinks its not geting enough kcals it will store fats/carbs as fat for when it thinks it will need them for energy, i can lose more weight eatiin 3k kcals a day than i can eating 1800k kcals it took me years to figure out that i was actually under eating and overtraining. hope this helps:)
Edited by mrdee555 On October 21, 2011 6:16 AM
October 21, 2011 10:43 AM
If your friend is suddenly doing a lot of exercise that she hasn't done for a while she probably has muscle inflamation and resultant water retention, also as you become fitter your muscles will also be able to hang onto more glycogen ready for another session of exercise, and glycogen is stored with water in muscles. Tell her to keep exercising, but increase her calories as she will get very run down.
October 21, 2011 10:54 AM
OMG when I see some of the responses I just shake my head.
On my weighloss journey I have had a few times when I have gained one or two pounds and did NOTHING understandable to explain it. In anyones weightloss journey when following your program faithfully expect stalls, plateaus and yes that includes small gains. I exercised and pushed myself daily... and i was from 600-1200 calories depending on my docs orders at specific times.I wasn't going into starvation mode LOL was under a doctors care all the time eating as I should. It was explained to me as this.....

"Our bodies use glycogen for short term energy storage. Glycogen is not very soluble, but it is stored in our muscles for quick energy -- one pound of glycogen requires 4 lbs of water to keep it soluble, and the average glycogen storage capacity is about 2 lbs. So, when you are not getting in enough food, your body turns first to stored glycogen, which is easy to break down for energy. And when you use up 2 lbs of glycogen, you also lose 8 lbs of water that was used to store it -- voila -- the "easy" 10 lbs that most people lose in the first week of a diet.
As you stay in caloric deficit, however, your body starts to realize that this is not a short term problem. You start mobilizing fat from your adipose tissue and burning fat for energy. But your body also realizes that fat can't be used for short bursts of energy -- like, to outrun a sabertooth tiger. So, it starts converting some of the fat into glycogen, and rebuilding the glycogen stores. And as it puts back the 2 lbs of glycogen into the muscle, 8 lbs of water has to be stored with it to keep it soluble. So, even though you might still be LOSING energy content to your body, your weight will not go down or you might even GAIN for a while as you retain water to dissolve the glycogen that is being reformed and stored."

So as far as I am concerned if the scales stall or they go up a tad I keep doing what I do and it does come off. KEEP TO YOUR PROGRAM and weight will come off... it has for me lol and I am NOT in starvation mode for eating less than 1200 cal. that is a myth.


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