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TOPIC: Eating too few calories

 
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May 22, 2012 1:37 PM
I have tried work outs and even did Insanity before and never really lost any weight. It wasn't until I came to MFP that I realized I was probably eating too few calories and it was hindering my weight loss. Will it make that big of a difference if you arn't eating enough calories? I am eating what MFP recommends now and when I work out I can eat even more but I feel like I am eating too much to be losing weight! I am great when it comes to working out and I will push myself and burn a ton of calories but the whole calorie intake and food thing is where I have a problem. So basically my question is, does it actually hinder your weight loss that much if you don't eat your recommended calories?
  21636196
May 22, 2012 1:44 PM
It can over time. If you eat very low calories you will probably see some big losses at first. But if you keep doing it for a long time you could cause your metabolism to slow which could slow your weight loss.

Plus you will probably be hungry and tired, which could lead to binge eating. It's best to eat a little more and lose a little more slowly. That will give you the best chance at keeping it off once you hit your goal.
May 22, 2012 2:12 PM
Eating too few calories for prolonged periods of time (though research is now showing even a week is long enough) can send your body into "starvation mode". Basically when you deprive your body of the calories it needs your body thinks that food supply is limited so when it is fed it converts it directly to fat (your body's energy store). When you feed it frequently it slows the storage because more fuel is readily available.

So yes you will lose big because you body uses the original fat to sustain itself but then it will slow and you will see that you put on more weight when you start eating normally again. Your best bet is to eat multiple small meals throughout the day- also means you are less hungry because you aren't waiting for food
May 22, 2012 2:18 PM
I only know what I hear and from what the above posters said, that's what I too have heard.

Metabolism is key here. I hear it over and over again, eat small meals throughout the day. I now do that and I feel 10x better than ever before. I don't stuff myself at dinnertime and I sleep so much better. And eating little bit closer to bedtime and now I don't feel like I'm starving in bed. I changed my meals on MFP to Meal 1 - 5 and then "indulgences". It's been helpful for me!
  16330761
May 22, 2012 2:20 PM
Depends what you mean by "too few."
May 22, 2012 2:59 PM
scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/

I highly suggest you go to that website and figure out your BMR and TDEE. I'm no expert on it and still don't fully understand it. I started my weight loss last year and lost 50lbs but after staying at my current weight with no change for 3-4 months I joined MFP. I was only eating 1,200-1,400 calories and lost 2lbs but I would gain it and lose it right back. After doing a little more research I learned I wasn't eating nearly enough with the exercise amount I was doing. Soooooooooo long story short, you aren't eating enough.

I am now eating 2,477. My BMR is 1914 so I try to net that now every single day. I feel like I'm eating everything in sight and it's really messing with my head but supposedly it's the right thing to do so I'm waiting to see.
  19504700
May 22, 2012 3:03 PM
Certainly for me it makes a differeen I was younger and on Weight Watchers I was not losing and when my leader looked at my food intake she told me I was not eating enough. Also don't go totally fat free.
  18009048
May 23, 2012 8:50 AM
I can't seem to eat enough calories and I can definitely tell...my weight loss has plateued for a few weeks now. I'm fine until I add my workout, then when it calculates my complete day, it says that I am eating too few calories. I can't snack all throughout the day, either, because of my work schedule. Does anyone have any ideas for how to add more calories to your day?
May 23, 2012 9:26 AM
This is exactly my problem. I've been eating 1000 calories for months now and I had lost over 64 pounds from doing so. Now I haven't lost weight in weeks and I've been going to the gym too, so I had been worried. I heard that I need to be eating more and it's hard since I'm so used to only eating 1000, but if I want results I know I have to start eating more.
May 23, 2012 12:23 PM
QUOTE:

This is exactly my problem. I've been eating 1000 calories for months now and I had lost over 64 pounds from doing so. Now I haven't lost weight in weeks and I've been going to the gym too, so I had been worried. I heard that I need to be eating more and it's hard since I'm so used to only eating 1000, but if I want results I know I have to start eating more.


It's kind of like a game isn't it?! Sometimes I wish we could hook up to a diagnostic computer like a car to know where we need to fine tune our mechanics. laugh
  16330761
May 23, 2012 12:26 PM
It can do, yes.

Imo, if you're eating less that 80% of your TDEE per day, you're probably setting yourself up for some metabolic adjustments that could turn into prolonged weight loss plateaus after a few months.
May 23, 2012 12:28 PM
From one of my old posts from a similar topic:

OK. I'm gonna give this a shot. I am an avid lifelong athlete. I have never been overweight, however, I used to eat too few calories (without knowing it), and a couple years ago, I actually GAINED weight bc of having slowed my metabolism to the point that every little extra treat I ate caused a weight gain, even though overall my calories were too low. THIS DOES HAPPEN.

It is also the reason so many fat people stay fat. They restrict their calories so low, slow their metabolisms, binge (even a little), gain weight, restrict more . . . . and so on and so on. But they are still fat.

It is also the reason most people can't lose that last 10-20 lbs. For real.

1. MFP has a deficit built in. Let's say you're trying to lose 1 lb/ week. That is a 500/day deficit from your BMR (the amount of calories your body needs to complete basic functions.

2. You exercise and burn 500 calories. Now you are at a 1000 deficit. If you eat back those 500 exercise calories, you refuel your body and you still have a 500 deficit for that 1 lb loss. If you DON'T eat back those calories, you have too little fuel. This is bad. This is too much of a deficit for basic functions. If you do this for a long time, you will STOP LOSING WEIGHT. Why? bc your metabolism will slow down -- it's like a brownout--not quite enough electricity to make the whole city (your body) run, so it has to slow down some things. You will probably start being tired a lot, your skin and hair might start to look worse, and you might even gain weight. But you might NOT be hungry -- your body is getting used to fewer calories. That's bad.


That's when you start to gain weight. Let's say you're running along, eating 1200 calories a day, and exercising 400 calories a day, so net is 800. You're losing, you think this is great. You keep doing it, but after a while you stop losing. hmmmmm. One weekend you go out to a special event and have a slice of pizza and a beer. 1 slice of pizza and 1 beer. So you ate maybe 2000 calories that day and exercised off 400, so net 1600. BOOM! You gain 3 lbs! What?!

Next, you freak out and restrict yourself down to 1000 calories a day and work out extra hard, burning 500 calories. Great, netting 500 now. You don't lose any weight, but you sure feel tired. Better get some red bull.

Are you getting the picture?

EDIT: When you work out, you need fuel. Food is fuel. If you don't eat back those exercise calories, you will not only have a big calorie deficit, you will have an ENERGY deficit. Remember, the calorie deficit for weight loss is built in when you use MFP. Exercising basically earns you more calories because you must refuel.
--

There are many people who will tell you not to eat exercise calories. Before you take their advice, you might want to see whether they are at goal, have EVER been at goal, or have ever been able to maintain at goal. If anyone says to you 'THE LAST TIME I LOST WEIGHT", just stop listening right there.

Ask some athletes whether or not they replenish their bodies with food equal to the calories they burn. Ask people who are fit and have achieved and maintained a healthy weight for some years. Don't ask people who count walking across a parking lot as exercise.

Here's an interesting case study about how to stay fat while consuming only 700 calories a day. Take a moment, you'll be glad you did:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/3047-700-calories-a-day-and-not-losing

blessings.
November 28, 2012 4:34 PM
I may be guilty of some of this stuff... my typical net calories are about 1300, and I've not lost an ounce in about 8 months - actually gained a few recently. (I'm 5'7" 151 lbs). I also do boatloads of cardio - cycle to work daily, play racquetball (hard!) 5 days a week. Typical burns between 600-1000 cals/day.

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that it would be better to gain a little muscle than lose that last bit of fat around my middle.

I'm going to try to up my cals to 1800, and see how it goes. Perhaps my metabolism is "wounded". Seems hard to believe, 'cause I feel great, have plenty of stamina, I sleep well, and the doctor loves my blood chemistry.

Let's see how this goes... add some strength training, remove some cardio, increase calories. Seems counter-intuitive to me... The paper cited by sleepytexan highlights my psychology a bit... I've worked so hard to lose the weight I have, I don't want to undo my efforts!
  2330587
November 29, 2012 5:26 AM
I think that is the current problem i am facing now. i went from consistently getting above my calories count by 200 to 300 to now struggling to make up the 100 to 200 deficit. I have lost a total of 7kg in 6 weeks but the scale has not moved for the past week. I have also adopted a very active lifestyle including swimming, cycling, and martial arts 4 to 6 times a week.

I have started to eat very healthy with lots of vegetable, no oil, very little fats (mostly from yogurt and milk), and fruits such as apples and plums and almost no white carbs such as rice, potatoes, etc.

The problem is these fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and makes it me very full at each meal. Should I then be looking to incorporate carbs or some fried stuff into my diet to make up the shortfall?
May 13, 2013 9:34 AM
Thank you! I am new to this way of losing weight. Previously I have tried 'diets' that have only helped for a while. For the last month I have been calorie counting and exercising with MFP and doing great. I have been less and less hungry and have rarely been consuming the full 1200 calories recommended for me. All of a sudden I gain 2 lbs and today I have no energy and am back to craving food. (I haven't had any cravings for weeks).

After reading your post this all makes so much more sense to me now. Thank you! Thank you!

Ultimately I just want to be healthy and hope to lose some lbs along the way. I see now that 'starving' my body is not going to achieve either goal.

Your post was most helpful.
May 13, 2013 9:45 AM
Are you looking for weight loss .... or FAT loss?

If you are exercising in part to maintain muscle (while dieting) .... then you should be eating enough calories to preserve existing muscle. Losing weight too fast results in more muscle loss than losing weight at a moderate pace.
June 6, 2013 7:36 AM
im in the same boat for a year and a half ive been eating 1200 calories and im down 74 lbs , in december i started getting sick over and over and then my wii broke (i use wii fit as im in an area thats cold most of the year and doesnt work well with my asthma) well im finally back to working out as i had gone up something like 7 lbs and im not budging weightloss wise. granted ive only been working out again for 4 days but im wondering if 1200 isnt enough now (i went from 240 something to now back up to 170) but im scared to eat more than 1200 cause then for some reason the scale goes up rapidly so im kinda in a spot myself here
June 6, 2013 8:06 AM
QUOTE:

I can't seem to eat enough calories and I can definitely tell...my weight loss has plateued for a few weeks now. I'm fine until I add my workout, then when it calculates my complete day, it says that I am eating too few calories. I can't snack all throughout the day, either, because of my work schedule. Does anyone have any ideas for how to add more calories to your day?


Calorie dense foods - healthy fats .... nuts, nut butters, olive oil, avocado, and (not a "healthy" fat ...but certainly ok) .... cheese. These foods have really small portion sizes.


Re: eating too few calories. Losing weight at a moderate pace helps to preserve muscle mass. Losing too fast can result in a higher % of muscle to fat (loss) than you would like. Muscle is easier to maintain than it is to get back.

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