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TOPIC: Long time eating too few calories

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June 25, 2012 1:59 PM
Anyone here eat very low calories for too long and start to gain weight? I'd like to hear if anyone was able to lose once they increased and what exactly happened (gain first, then lose?). I've been eating too little for a long time and have increased my calories once I started on MFP, but probably not enough. My weight goes up and down about a pound, but I have had NO weight loss for over 2 months of tracking everything.

I know a lot of people say eat more to lose weight, but I haven't heard of anyone's experience who has been eating too little for a very long time.

June 25, 2012 5:55 PM
I spent about a year really trying to limit my calories but had a lot of trouble losing weight. I weight about 135 last summer then went through a divorce. For a couple of weeks I was really stressed, didn't eat much and started running. I dropped almost 20 pounds fairly quickly and after the divorce was over with I continued working out obsessively and was probably only eating about 1200 to 1400 calories a day (I didn't keep track but I generally had cereal for breakfast, apple/peanut butter for lunch and a small dinner). After a few months this started to get hard to maintain... I was tired of spending all day at the gym and ended up eating more. I eventually gained back almost 10 pounds that I'd lost and fluctuated a lot because I would try to be strict about eating during the week but then go overboard on the weekends or only eat small breakfast and lunches then eat too much at dinner.

I started doing P90X about 6 weeks ago and read through their nutrition plan to figure out how many calories I should be eating.... it said 1800 and I was shocked! I'd always thought that I had to eat less to lose but I was starting to realize that this plan wasn't working for me. So, I went on the nutrition plan at 1800 per day but was also doing an extra hour of cardio a day in addition to the workouts... I was burning 800-1000 calories a day as opposed to the 600 they account for in the nutrition plan. Reading through some of the posts on MFP I came across this calculator ( that said, based on my exercise level, I should be eating 2300 calories a day just to maintain my weight. I was pretty skeptical about it but knew that my eating habits hadn't been healthy for quite some time so I decided to try a metabolism reset... eating at my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) for a while and then making a 15% reduction to lose weight. When I first upped my calories I did feel a little bloated and got really discouraged, feeling like I was moving in the wrong direction. After a few days, though, my metabolism kicked in and started using the fuel I was giving it instead of just storing everything away. I am now eating about 2300 calories per day and haven't experienced those fluctuations in weight like I was used to... I even feel like I'm losing fat! I've only been following this increased calories plan for a few weeks (and only just started eating at my TDEE a few days ago) but I feel great.

I'm no expert but based on what I've read here and elsewhere, I would suggest maybe calculating your TDEE (use the "gain muscle, lose fat" option on the calculator I provided the link for) and eat that many calories for a few weeks so your metabolism starts working the way it should. If you're still eating too few calories it'd probably be best to work your way up to that number because it will probably seem really high... try increasing your intake by 100 to 200 calories every few days until you reach your TDEE and stick to it for at least 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, see how you feel and (if weight loss is your goal) do a 15% calorie reduction to start losing weight.

Like I said, I'm still in the process of trying this for myself but I feel positive about it and hope that it works!
June 25, 2012 6:52 PM
Dieting for a long time can do weird things to your hormone levels, making it hard to lose weight. This is why many find it beneficial to incorporate "refeed" days into their diets. If you've been at the diet for a long time and not seeing results, you may want to eat at your TDEE for a while. And don't try to do a low-carb diet during this time. Carbs are key to getting your hormone levels regular. This, of course, is assuming that you're not miscalculating anything.

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