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TOPIC: THE answers to THE questions

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February 21, 2008 8:23 AM
OK, this will be long. Please read it if you are confused. Disclaimer: I am not a dietician or a doctor, just a successful loser and maintainer, who has consulted both doctors and dieticians.

Question #1:

Should I eat all my calories?

Yes. MFP is already figuring a deficit for you to lose weight. This deficit is based on what you need to eat based on your everyday activity, not counting exercise. In the end, it's all about "net calories" (you can view yours under reports)

Example: you need to eat 2,000 calories to maintain your current weight (random number)
MFP will tell you to eat 1,500 to lose one pound per week (500x7=3500=one pound loss).

Let's say you exercise, and burn 500 additional calories.
UH-OH, now you are at a 1,000 calorie a day deficit. You need 2,000 calories to maintian, are already restricted to 1500, so now your net calories are a 1,000 a day. This is starvation central. Your body, which is very good at keeping you alive, will store and save calories. You WILL stop losing weight. You WILL want to throw your scale out the window.

Eat your exercise calories. At least eat most of them.

Question #2:
I'm eating 1200 calories, I feel like crap and I'm not losing weight. What gives?

Answer:
Run, don't walk, to "tools" and use the BMR calculator. Please, please, please, eat at least your BMR calories every day. You might lose weight more slowly, but you will still lose, and you will not longer feel a sudden urge to fall over every time you do, well, anything.

Question #3:
I'm doing "everything right" and the scale won't move.

Answer #1: The scale is the devil. Step away from the scale. Buy a tape measure, notice how your clothes are (probably) fitting better. Muscle is more dense than fat, and takes up less space on your body. More muscle on your body will make the scale freeze or (gasp) move upward.

Answer #2: You're not being honest. In order for this to work, you must record every morsel of food that goes in your body. Also, if you ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes and barely break a sweat and can still chatter on your cell phone (OK, that's my personal gym pet peeve) then you're probably not working "vigorously". Don't overestimate your exercise calories. (this was a big mistake I made in the past.)

Answer #3: Your body might be re-adjusting. How you feel is the most important mark of progress. It's very easy to fixate on numbers, but feeling better really should be its own reward.

Question #4:
So, if I'm eating my exercise calories, what's the point of exercise?

Answer: (warning: extremely opinionated answer ahead)
You don't. You can lose weight through diet alone. But, then you will be skinny and flabby. Is a model skinnier than me? OH, YES! Is she healthier than me? probably NOT. She couldn't survive the hour-long spin class that I take three times a week. Trust me. Her skin is a mess, she smokes, and she looks like crap in person. (this is a generalization. I don't hate models, but this is their lifestyle. . .I used to be a "dresser" at shows, and I saw a lot of "behind the scenes" stuff.

Does that help? Please say it does.flowerforyou
February 21, 2008 8:26 AM
sorry. . .one more:

Bonus round:

Do diet pills work?

Answer:

NO.
February 21, 2008 8:32 AM
Thanks! I wish we could some how keep a link to this post up on the site all the time so all the new people could see it when they come on. It explains a lot. I followed this advice and upped my calories and exercise and I started losing again after being on a plateau for a month. Listen to viviakay! She knows what she talking about! smile
February 21, 2008 8:39 AM
I was skeptical about those exercise calories when I first joined MFP, but I've learned to eat my exercise calories and have been surprised by losses I didn't think I'd have.

Thanks for the great post, viviakay!
February 21, 2008 8:41 AM
Good work Viv.

We can keep it up, I'll personally bump it every time it starts to get stale. I have requested Sticky posts, Mike hasn't responded yet to it, but I'm sure he will eventually, until then, I say we bump this once or twice a day. So the Newbies can read it!
February 21, 2008 8:41 AM
"Run, don't walk, to "tools" and use the BMR calculator. Please, please, please, eat at least your BMR calories every day. You might lose weight more slowly, but you will still lose, and you will not longer feel a sudden urge to fall over every time you do, well, anything. " viviakay

One more question about this-
Isn't the BMR the number of calories you need to maintain without exercise, not lose? If so, then if we add our exercise calories back in we will still just be maintaining-no? Or, did you mean that we shouldn't fall below this number as a gross caloric intake?

Thanks- sorry if I'm being dense!
February 21, 2008 8:43 AM
You have answered many questions that I have wondered about. BUT, I do have one other question. I am trying to develop the mentality of eating when hungry, not eating when not hungry. I mean, we should not stuff ourselves to the point of being sick lazy people. So, this has not happened very often but there have been 2 days that I just could not eat all of my calories. Some days, I am starving and I wish that I could eat more. Other days, like yesterday, I was starving in the morning. Could not get enough to eat, had lunch, still hungry, had two low calorie snacks and then I was not hungry. I forced myself to go ahead and eat at dinner time with the kids but I could not finish my dinner and I had already logged the calories. On top of not eating all the calories I had already logged, I had left over calories. But I was not hungry. I had another snack just to eat my calories and I still probably had 250-300 calories left over. What are you supposed to do? I mean, if your body was hungry and going into starvation mode wouldn't it tell you?
February 21, 2008 8:44 AM
QUOTE:

"Run, don't walk, to "tools" and use the BMR calculator. Please, please, please, eat at least your BMR calories every day. You might lose weight more slowly, but you will still lose, and you will not longer feel a sudden urge to fall over every time you do, well, anything. " viviakay

One more question about this-
Isn't the BMR the number of calories you need to maintain without exercise, not lose? If so, then if we add our exercise calories back in we will still just be maintaining-no? Or, did you mean that we shouldn't fall below this number as a gross caloric intake?

Thanks- sorry if I'm being dense!


The site automatically subtracts the amount of calories for you - so if you type in 1 pound a week = 500 calories a day, 1.5 pounds = 750 calories a day. If you follow the steps


If you do it manually, through the BMR calculator, then, yes, that would maintain. That is complete rest though. If I do NOTHING all day, I'll burn about 1400 calories. If I drive a car, walk to the bus stop, do some grocery shopping, I'll burn more.
February 21, 2008 8:45 AM
QUOTE:

Good work Viv.

We can keep it up, I'll personally bump it every time it starts to get stale. I have requested Sticky posts, Mike hasn't responded yet to it, but I'm sure he will eventually, until then, I say we bump this once or twice a day. So the Newbies can read it!

I'll help with the bumping.

~Joannaflowerforyou
February 21, 2008 8:47 AM
Yeah- I know that this site subtracts for the number of pounds you want to lose per week, but the BMR calculation, under 'Tools', doesn't ask for the number of pounds per week you want to lose... I'll scout around some more and see if I can answer my question. Thanks!
February 21, 2008 8:50 AM
QUOTE:

"Run, don't walk, to "tools" and use the BMR calculator. Please, please, please, eat at least your BMR calories every day. You might lose weight more slowly, but you will still lose, and you will not longer feel a sudden urge to fall over every time you do, well, anything. " viviakay

One more question about this-
Isn't the BMR the number of calories you need to maintain without exercise, not lose? If so, then if we add our exercise calories back in we will still just be maintaining-no? Or, did you mean that we shouldn't fall below this number as a gross caloric intake?

Thanks- sorry if I'm being dense!


BMR is how many calories your body burns just running itself. So basically if you stayed in bed all day. Now I'm pretty sure you dont. Even if you aren't exercising your normal daily activities will probably require another 1,500 calories minimum. 8 hours of office work at a desk requires about 1,000 calories! Showering for 45 minutes is 145 calories!

So you can see that even without exercising you would start to have a calorie deficit by just eating at your BMR. So when you exercise you would be even further in a deficit, which is why it's a good idea to try and eat some of those back. If you have never done it a truly suggest doing a daily activity calorie counter and seeing just how many calories you burn from normal daily activities.
  28564
February 21, 2008 8:51 AM
If I understand correctly, the BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories that our body would burn if it were laying in bed all day. When we tell the MFP tool that we want to lose 1 pound a week, it will subtract 500 calories a day from our BMR. So, if your BMR is 2000 and you want to lose 1 pound a week it will subract the 500 calories from your BMR. 1500 would be the amount of calories that you would need to eat in order to lose that pound. If you were to exercise for an hour and burn 500 calories, that would mean that your body was only getting 1000 of your needed 1500 calories since you just burned 500 of them. So, the calculator will add those calories back into your diet. If you eat the 500 calories it tells you to eat for exercising, it will take your calories back to 1500 which is what you were aiming for in the first place.

That is the impression that I got, at least. smile
February 21, 2008 8:51 AM
WOW, that is VERY helpful. thanks for all of your insights. I want to make sure I do everything correctly for a healthy weightloss.
I ran into this problem yesterday by not eating my exercise calories. I ran below my 1200 calorie goal and the I figured this was ok. Boy, I guess I was wrong! I even got a message when recording my food into the diary for the day that I was below in calorie intake, but it was too late in the evening to catchup.

Today is a new day and I am more knowledgeable today than yesterday. thanks everyone! happy
February 21, 2008 8:54 AM
QUOTE:

If I understand correctly, the BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories that our body would burn if it were laying in bed all day. When we tell the MFP tool that we want to lose 1 pound a week, it will subtract 500 calories a day from our BMR. So, if your BMR is 2000 and you want to lose 1 pound a week it will subract the 500 calories from your BMR. 1500 would be the amount of calories that you would need to eat in order to lose that pound. If you were to exercise for an hour and burn 500 calories, that would mean that your body was only getting 1000 of your needed 1500 calories since you just burned 500 of them. So, the calculator will add those calories back into your diet. If you eat the 500 calories it tells you to eat for exercising, it will take your calories back to 1500 which is what you were aiming for in the first place.

That is the impression that I got, at least. smile


Great!!! That's right. I just got confused about eating the BMR calorie calculation- which you don't want to do. You want to eat the calories that MFP has calculated for you BASED on your BMR, and the number of pounds you want to lose per week- which is what I have been trying to do.
February 21, 2008 8:58 AM
thank you for the extremely helpful post!!!!

flowerforyou flowerforyou flowerforyou
  28966
February 21, 2008 9:05 AM
This comes at a perfect time for me. I'll definitely help with the 'bumping' as it is very informative. I opted to weigh once a month, but decided every two weeks might be better because if I'm doing something wrong then I don't want to wait a month to find out. Today is actually 3 weeks, but close enough. I've lost 2 pounds on the scale since Feb 1. The site says I'll lose 12 pounds in 5 weeks, but I don't see that happening. So, several things are going to happen. One, I enrolled in an insurance program today and plan to go in for a physical when I get accepted, which will be the first of March. Two, I am going to do signifigantly less exercise. I'm so addicted to it right now that I go into the minus on net calories by a hundred or more. This is a case where less could be better. 40 minutes of cardio will burn 600 calories for me and 40 minutes with the tapes I do for weights burns 242. I do cardio 6 days a week, and the weights every other day. So I'll balance that in someway. My BMR says 1266, so I'll look at my eating plan again and see if I can improve it over the next 2 weeks. On the plus side, the scale went down, I feel stronger and those Gap jeans fit well. So, I'm doing something right.
February 21, 2008 9:05 AM
RIGHT ON, SISTER!!!
Well said.
happy
  28791
February 21, 2008 9:09 AM
Just want to clear up something with BMR.
BMR is not the same as Maintain calories. Maintain calories are what your body needs to keep the same weight during a normal day, and are what you subtract from to loose weight, BMR is the absolute minimum number of calories the human body needs to function normally if you didn't use any muscles at all all day.

So

- Subracting calories from your normal Maintain calories is good for loosing weight.

- Subtracting calories from BMR causes malnutrition and is dangerous (this is what causes you to be sluggish, have headaches,...etc) Even approaching BMR calories while keeping up a normal, active schedule is dangerous, please stay above this level.
February 21, 2008 9:14 AM
[

BMR is how many calories your body burns just running itself. So basically if you stayed in bed all day. Now I'm pretty sure you dont. Even if you aren't exercising your normal daily activities will probably require another 1,500 calories minimum. 8 hours of office work at a desk requires about 1,000 calories! Showering for 45 minutes is 145 calories!

So you can see that even without exercising you would start to have a calorie deficit by just eating at your BMR. So when you exercise you would be even further in a deficit, which is why it's a good idea to try and eat some of those back. If you have never done it a truly suggest doing a daily activity calorie counter and seeing just how many calories you burn from normal daily activities.


Unfortunately I don't have the site to refer to but I located a site that allowed me to enter all the things I did in a day; including walking up and down stairs, grocery shopping, laundry, vacuuming, playing with children, doing dishes, taking out the trash, etc. You clicked all the things you do in a day and it estimated the number of calories you used. I don't remember mine but it added up because I have so many stairs in my house. If you can find that you might want to try it and I'll look for it.
February 21, 2008 9:15 AM
QUOTE:

You have answered many questions that I have wondered about. BUT, I do have one other question. I am trying to develop the mentality of eating when hungry, not eating when not hungry. I mean, we should not stuff ourselves to the point of being sick lazy people. So, this has not happened very often but there have been 2 days that I just could not eat all of my calories. Some days, I am starving and I wish that I could eat more. Other days, like yesterday, I was starving in the morning. Could not get enough to eat, had lunch, still hungry, had two low calorie snacks and then I was not hungry. I forced myself to go ahead and eat at dinner time with the kids but I could not finish my dinner and I had already logged the calories. On top of not eating all the calories I had already logged, I had left over calories. But I was not hungry. I had another snack just to eat my calories and I still probably had 250-300 calories left over. What are you supposed to do? I mean, if your body was hungry and going into starvation mode wouldn't it tell you?


I was having the same issue where I did not want to eat my exercise calories or even all of my allotted calories. In fact i didnt for about 3 months and continued to lose weight. Then about a month ago I stopped losing and even gained a pound which as we all know is "just wrong" . I deceded to take the advice on here and eat all of my calories allotted plus most of my exercise calories. I immediately lost 4 pounds last week and so far 3 pounds this week my official weigh in is still 3 days away. So the eating my calories worked. I thought for sure that the so called starvation mode wouldn't affect me because I have so much weight to lose. But it did.

As far as stuffing myself, I really feared that also . As part of my weight loss/lifestyle change is recognizing what my body is telling me and I did not want to force myself to eat when not hungry. What I did is start spreading my calories out more evenly during the day. A bigger breakfast than before more frequent snacking, on fresh fruit etc. A smaller dinner and a dessert later in the night. So basically it is the 5-6 meals a day as reccommended. I still feel like I am overeating sometimes but it is working so I have to assume that I am still learning my body and how to respond to what it wants. Yry it see if it works for you.
  11822
February 21, 2008 9:16 AM
Oh yes prior to eating all of my calories the most i lost in a week was about 4 pounds, So far I am on track for 2 weeks in a row of 4 pound losses.
  11822
February 21, 2008 9:25 AM
bigsmile From another one on maintenance.....how many times have we repeated this in one way or another and people just don't believe us?wink smile
February 21, 2008 9:51 AM
Bless you, Viv and others for contributing to this topic. It was greatly needed.

Also, consider this a *bump* wink

Great job, everyone!
flowerforyou
February 21, 2008 10:00 AM
QUOTE:

Just want to clear up something with BMR.
BMR is not the same as Maintain calories. Maintain calories are what your body needs to keep the same weight during a normal day, and are what you subtract from to loose weight, BMR is the absolute minimum number of calories the human body needs to function normally if you didn't use any muscles at all all day.

So

- Subracting calories from your normal Maintain calories is good for loosing weight.

- Subtracting calories from BMR causes malnutrition and is dangerous (this is what causes you to be sluggish, have headaches,...etc) Even approaching BMR calories while keeping up a normal, active schedule is dangerous, please stay above this level.


Great explanantion banks!

Here is a site that will calculate your daily calories needed to MAINTAIN your weight.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598
  28564
February 21, 2008 10:00 AM
Excellent info!! Thanks for taking the time to put this all together! heart heart

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