Weight Loss
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Am I eating enough?


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This is my first forum post, so apologies if this topic has already been done to death and/or is annoying. If so, just kindly tell me to zip it and I'll be on my way.

Anyway, here's the breakdown:

  • 23 year old female, 5'6", 170 lb.
  • ~35 minutes of cardio every day plus lots of walking, trying to expand it to 60 minutes of cardio every day
  • eating between 1,200 and 1,300 calories a day

According to the BMR calculation which I've somehow only found out about today, I'm not getting enough calories. However, I'm pretty strict about my intake. I don't binge and the only times I go over my daily goal are when I have no choice (eating out with friends, family occasion) and it happens rarely.

I've been monitoring my calories for nearly two months now and exercising daily for a month. Since starting... I haven't actually lost any weight. However, I've noticed an increase in strength/endurance, clothes fit looser, and I'm pretty sure I've just been losing fat and replacing it with muscle. That's why I haven't even thought of this as a problem until now. So... is it a problem at all, then?

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You weigh more than me and I eat 600-800 calories more than you a day, and I am losing about 2 pounds a week. Yes, I am a male, which changes things a bit, but the point is, you should be eating more. Also, the more you exercise, the more calories you need. So don't increase your cardio if you are doing it to lose more weight. That is kind of pointless, since your deficit from working out should always be around 500, give or take. 

I'd say you'd be safe increasing your calories to 1400-1500 a day. However, it depends how much you are trying to lose. This site gives a pretty good estimate. But keep in mind that the extreme setting may cause problems later on, if you want to get to a very low body fat percentage.

http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calc ulator.htm

You are under-eating.

At your weight you should be eating over 2,000 calories, even if you are trying to lose weight.

I agree that she should be eating more, but I'm not sure where you are getting "over 2000" - what activity level are you basing that on?

Original Post by amethystgirl:

I agree that she should be eating more, but I'm not sure where you are getting "over 2000" - what activity level are you basing that on?

she says she already exercises for 35 mins a day and wants to build to 60. Assuming a mid-level intensity, I would say she burns 400-600 calories in an hour. Her BMR is surely over 1,500 (I don't calculate people's BMRs for them, they can do it themselves). So with those guess-timates I arrive at a figure slightly over 2,000. And since I usually guess-timate to the lower range of things, I assume she actually burns more than that so eating right around 2,000 should be fine for her.

Yeah, but she could safely be at a 1000 calorie deficit. I think 1500 is okay, personally. Even if her BMR is 2000, plus the let's say 500 calories burned from exercise, that's about 2500. 1,500 calories would be a 1000 deficit. That is of course the extreme. I wouldn't go lower than that, and if she increase to 60 minutes, she would need to compensate. 

Original Post by dannyc249:

Yeah, but she could safely be at a 1000 calorie deficit. I think 1500 is okay, personally. Even if her BMR is 2000, plus the let's say 500 calories burned from exercise, that's about 2500. 1,500 calories would be a 900 deficit. That is of course the extreme. I wouldn't go lower than that, and if she increase to 60 minutes, she would need to compensate. 

deficits larger than 300 or so are a recipe for disaster. One of the reasons over 90 % of people who lose weight gain it all back and then some.

Yeah, well, if I lost my weight at a deficit of 300 calories, it would have taken me 6 years to lose my weight. I think that's a little absurd. There is nothing wrong with a 1000 calorie deficit if you change your body composition either before or after the weight loss, and if you return to maintenance and don't binge after. I'd also love to know where you pulled that 90 percent statistic out of your ass. And there are tons of reason people regain the weight, number one being discipline and binge eating, not the deficit having been over 300.  If you return to maintenance, you won't gain weight.

I do believe I said "one of the reasons". Not sure how familiar you are with grammar and syntax but maybe you should re-visit your middle school English books.

 

As for the statistics that I "pull out of my ass", here is ONE simple link. They report that 83% of the dieters they examined gained back MORE weight than the original weight they were at. I could give you more but you rub me the the wrong way with your caustic comments so I won't waste my time with you.

 

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/Dieting- Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832.aspx

I would eat more, like 1600 calories and pick up some weights.  You aren't too far from a healthy weight, so if you weight train, you can preserve your more of your muscle mass as you lose fat.  Losing weight without weight training means you lose significant muscle mass along with fat, typically a 1:3 ratio, respectively.  With the weight training, you lose mostly fat, and won't need to lose as many pounds to get to a healthy size.

Thank you, everyone! I'll definitely increase my daily goal to ~1,500 for now and look into weight training and see where that takes me. Maybe I'll add a weight training routine to my workout instead of adding on cardio. However, as a psychology student, I actually have access to the article in question in an above comment. In the discussion, the authors admitted to the following:

Although the findings reported so far give a bleak picture of the outcomes of diets, there are four reasons why the actual effectiveness of diets is even worse. First, the studies have very low follow-up rates, and this is especially true for the longer term follow-ups. Second, many of the participants in these studies self-reported their weight over the phone or by mail. Third, most of the studies confound effects of the diet with effects of exercise. Fourth, a substantial percentage of participants in these studies have been on other diets since the studied diet ended. Each of these methodological problems biases the studies toward showing more effective maintenance of the lost weight. We will briefly consider each of these problems for the 14 studies in which individuals were followed for four or more years after the diet ended.

Nine of the 14 studies with long-term follow-ups did not report information on the exercise habits of participants (see Table 1). Of the 5 studies that did report on exercise, 3 found that participants who exercised regularly maintained significantly greater weight loss than participants who did not exercise.

This paper was about dieting as simply the restriction of calories, so it's no wonder that most participants bounced back. I've been there myself in the past -- trying to eat less but not exercising, giving up, eating more, and gaining it all back -- but the big difference here is that I've committed myself to a daily exercise routine. I do acknowledge that a large calorie deficit is dangerous, but I'll give it a try and see how it goes. Either way, it'll be better than the 1,200 calories I've been sticking to up until now.

Given the OP's starting weight, I'd say that a 500-cal deficit is certainly reasonable.

I started with close to her stats (a few years older) and found 1500 was a good target for me back when I was doing only cardio, a little higher once I started lifting heavy. I've been maintaining my goal weight for almost 4 years now.

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