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How do you know if you are eating too little of calories? I need some advice..


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Apart from the obvious - weakness etc.... I mean I try to stick to 1200 Calories a day, I work out about 4 or 5 days a week. I am not over weight - I am 5 3 and 122lbs but I am trying to tone and maybe shed a few lbs.
I would typically either go for a 3 mile run in the morning before work or I would go and do some cardio and toning class at the gym, sometimes id do both morning and evening workouts. I may be toning a bit (but not much) but I just dont seem to be able to shed any lbs. i do know muscle weighs more already. But then I also know that if you are not giving your body enough food, it holds onto it more. My usual daily is about 15% fat 60% carbs(but mainly fruit carbs) and 25/30% protein. I have no idea whether to stick to this 1200 cals or am I meant to increase/decrease it to see results? I would appreciate any knowledge.

43 Replies (last)

@dietwarrior - just so you know, we can't tell which post you hit "reply on" so your responses are a little confusing. Use the quote function, or id the poster or post# that you are replying to.

Original Post by dietwarrior:

This depends on your body. I am following the Zone diet which calls for 30%. Fat makes you satiated and I am from the Mediterranian region so this diet is native to me.

However, low fat diet makes sense and if you can keep it at 10 -15% this is the best, but don't think that not eating fat burns fat. You need to eat fat to burn it.

You need to be careful with this. Your body, especially your brain and other organs, NEED fat to function and stay healthy. It's not fat that makes you fat (unless you're eating too much, then your arteries and stuff become unhealthy and you will prob gain weight too...) SO make sure your fat intake is AT LEAST 20% of your total daily calories. Make sure you are getting enough fiber and also, eat fruit but don't go overboard. Eat enough to get the proper vitamins and minerals your body will need for the day, but the rest is just fruit sugars. There's a lot of speculation about the different types of sugars and how the body breaks each type of molecule down during digestion, but I've come to the conclusion that unless you need it, your body won't put it to good use. SOmetimes too much of a good thing is more damaging then you'd think. I know from personal experience, but hey, every body is different.

 

I am 5'8" and weigh about 177 at the moment(I recently lost 8 pounds). I WAS down to 165 last September after losing 60 pounds almost 2 years ago(had to stop eating gluten and dairy because I discovered I am intolerant to both). Last September I switched from working at a restaurant as a hostess, to an office job. Despite watching what I ate and taking Cardio kickboxing and Weightloss bootcamp classes 5 days a week, I still put on 15 pounds! It's was and still is driving me crazy. Now, I have an insanely large bone structure, and most people don't believe me when I tell them how much I weigh, because I look like I would weigh less than that...

Recently I bought the Exerspy (like the BodyBugg but BETTER) and it has allowed me to track how many calories I burn every day, how many steps I take and how I sleep at night (so I wear it 24/7 except for when I shower and stuff). I realized that I had been burning over 3000 calories a day (because I naturally have a high metabolism plus all the exercise I was doing, despite sitting a lot for work) but I was only consuming about 1500 calories and on average only 30g of fat (only half of what I should have been getting), meaning my deficit was 1500 per day!!!! I should have been losing 3 pounds or more per week at that rate, but I GAINED...I don't get it LOL

The only thing I could use to explain the weight gain is that I up'ed my protein intake and did a lot more resistance training and weight lifting. My body is stronger now. I naturally have a lot of muscle so I'm sad that I built more over the last year but now I just need to lose some of the fat on top of the muscles to slim down. I do a lot of cardio and do some weights, although the weights I know I don't do enough of. 

I upped my calorie intake to 1700-1800 cal per day from 1500 and I've lost 2 or 3 pounds! Before that I was at a plateau for like 2 months! I have been battling with sodium and sugar recently. I find that when I don't bring my own food to work and eat out for lunch, my sodium intake especially goes WAY UP. At one point last week the scale said I was down to 175 but the last 4 days or so I have been eating out or bringing more processed foods with me, which I realized later were high in sodium. I have been "bloated" ever since (scale says I'm back up to 179/180. NOT POSSIBLE for that to be my real weight. I would have had to over eat by 7000 calories!!!). SO I am going to watch sodium like a hawk now! lol. I know it makes a big difference, inside and out. Anyway, enough blabbling from me. Just eat enough calories and stay active. Your heart will be healthier. Put as many unprocessed whole foods you can into your body when you eat and drink plenty of water.... watch your salt and sugars and EAT ENOUGH FATS!! Stay away from foods High in cholesterol and saturated fats. Eat however Almonds, pistachios, avocados, lean meats like chicken, fish and shellfish, and I swear by limiting your dairy and bread/gluten intake. Don't worry about calcium on a low dairy or non-dairy diet: if you are eating a well balanced diet full of veggies, especially dark leafy greens and colorful veggies, you will get plenty of calcium not to mention the fiber! :-) If you still don't think you're getting quite enough calcium, take a daily calcium WITH magnesium supplement to help. That's all for now, and good luck!

 

Post deleted
Original Post by amethystgirl:

@dietwarrior - just so you know, we can't tell which post you hit "reply on" so your responses are a little confusing. Use the quote function, or id the poster or post# that you are replying to.

 Ok, sorry about it, I was doing in in text only browser, now I am at home, so it is much easier to use. I can see the confusion.

Original Post by maryanne1207:

Apart from the obvious - weakness etc.... I mean I try to stick to 1200 Calories a day, I work out about 4 or 5 days a week. I am not over weight - I am 5 3 and 122lbs but I am trying to tone and maybe shed a few lbs.
I would typically either go for a 3 mile run in the morning before work or I would go and do some cardio and toning class at the gym, sometimes id do both morning and evening workouts. I may be toning a bit (but not much) but I just dont seem to be able to shed any lbs. i do know muscle weighs more already. But then I also know that if you are not giving your body enough food, it holds onto it more. My usual daily is about 15% fat 60% carbs(but mainly fruit carbs) and 25/30% protein. I have no idea whether to stick to this 1200 cals or am I meant to increase/decrease it to see results? I would appreciate any knowledge.

 

 

Your body may start to give you clues- I get an eye twitch and a headache on days that I have not eaten enough. I will sometimes work out a little longer but not eat any more than usual, and I pay for it. You can try to increase your calories by 100-200 and see what happens. It wont hurt you if the calories are from healthy sources, and it is unlikely you will suddenly pile on pounds by doing that either. Log in your weight daily for a while to get an idea what the trend is so you are not stressing over some water weight or something.

I didn't read other replies yet (shame on me), so sorry if it is redundant!

 

Original Post by dietwarrior:

Diet to lose fat and when you are done start exercising to firm up (then you will gain weight but it will be in a muscle). With trying to do both, people end up skinny fat.

No, skinny fat is what you get when you diet without exercise, you lose all your muscle. In my opinion you should do weight training the whole way through, because it will shape your body, or worst case scenario you keep your muscle and lose only fat. As opposed to losing fat and muscle and ending up just looking like a smaller version of yourself. 

You can't tone if there's no muscle there to start with, and dieting by itself will burn a lot of your muscle. 

Wow for someone who's working out, that's way too little. I think if you're working out you should have at least 1,800 because you're burning off so much so it's almost like you're having 1,200

Original Post by rosielena17:

 

 Despite watching what I ate and taking Cardio kickboxing and Weightloss bootcamp classes 5 days a week, I still put on 15 pounds! It's was and still is driving me crazy. Now, I have an insanely large bone structure, and most people don't believe me when I tell them how much I weigh, because I look like I would weigh less than that...

 Don't worry about calcium on a low dairy or non-dairy diet: if you are eating a well balanced diet full of veggies, especially dark leafy greens and colorful veggies, you will get plenty of calcium not to mention the fiber! :-) If you still don't think you're getting quite enough calcium, take a daily calcium WITH magnesium supplement to help. That's all for now, and good luck!

 

 I don't understand what you mean when you say "Now, I have an insanely large bone structure". If someone is small boned and 130 but they put on 150 pounds, they are still small boned, only now they weigh 280. I'm an x-ray tech and I hear people say they are big boned but when I take x-rays and they are the same as average weight people, they have often times have smaller bones than the average person.

The other thing is, and this is not common knowledge, there is a brand new literature out on a study done, showing that taking calcium supplament increases a women chances of heart disease by 30%. This is only taken in the pill form, when fortified in foods it does not cause in increase in risk factors. Also, this does not include when taken with Vit D as well for absorption, only when taken alone.

Good luck in your journey!

Original Post by laur3nmae:

Original Post by dietwarrior:

Diet to lose fat and when you are done start exercising to firm up (then you will gain weight but it will be in a muscle). With trying to do both, people end up skinny fat.

No, skinny fat is what you get when you diet without exercise, you lose all your muscle. In my opinion you should do weight training the whole way through, because it will shape your body, or worst case scenario you keep your muscle and lose only fat. As opposed to losing fat and muscle and ending up just looking like a smaller version of yourself. 

You can't tone if there's no muscle there to start with, and dieting by itself will burn a lot of your muscle. 

 Also, if yo do to much cardio (like long distance runners) you get skinny fat.

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by rosielena17:

 

 Despite watching what I ate and taking Cardio kickboxing and Weightloss bootcamp classes 5 days a week, I still put on 15 pounds! It's was and still is driving me crazy. Now, I have an insanely large bone structure, and most people don't believe me when I tell them how much I weigh, because I look like I would weigh less than that...

 Don't worry about calcium on a low dairy or non-dairy diet: if you are eating a well balanced diet full of veggies, especially dark leafy greens and colorful veggies, you will get plenty of calcium not to mention the fiber! :-) If you still don't think you're getting quite enough calcium, take a daily calcium WITH magnesium supplement to help. That's all for now, and good luck!

 

 I don't understand what you mean when you say "Now, I have an insanely large bone structure". If someone is small boned and 130 but they put on 150 pounds, they are still small boned, only now they weigh 280. I'm an x-ray tech and I hear people say they are big boned but when I take x-rays and they are the same as average weight people, they have often times have smaller bones than the average person.

The other thing is, and this is not common knowledge, there is a brand new literature out on a study done, showing that taking calcium supplament increases a women chances of heart disease by 30%. This is only taken in the pill form, when fortified in foods it does not cause in increase in risk factors. Also, this does not include when taken with Vit D as well for absorption, only when taken alone.

Good luck in your journey!

There supposedly a few ways to determine if you have a larger bone structure. One way I have measured is this: Take your arm (either one, doesnt matter) and hold it straight out in front of you, palm facing upward (parallel to the floor). Next, bend your arm to a 90 degree angle. Then take a ruler and measure the distance between the two bones on each side of your elbow. the distance across determines your bone structure.

Also, trust me I have struggled with my weight for a long time and I have NEVER looked the amount I actually weigh. For my height, if I weigh in at the top end of the weight recommendation I almost look too thin. I have a lot of muscle so much that I almost played football in Middle school and probably would have in High school but my dad said no. LOL.

And about the calcium supplements- there are so many different ones out there. I wouldn't make a decision not to take them based on one study that probably wasn't controlled enough, not to mention that our society consumes an ungodly amount of chemicals, hormones and processed ingredients in our foods. It is no wonder everything and anything is "Studies show" to be bad for us. I personally don't get enough Calcium in my diet, and I know this because I measure everything I eat. Therefore I am also careful about how many supplements I take and the % of each that are in them. I only would recommend people take supplements if they KNOW what they are lacking and how much to take to make their levels normal.

So tell me then, what is the alternative that the study suggests for women who KNOW they don't get enough calcium? I eat healthy fats, eat fish every other day, exercise daily... so does that mean because I take 1/2 the dose of calcium supplement I will get heart disease? Sounds kinda weird... What else am I supposed to do? Because I kid you not, without the supplement I take, I am LUCKY to consume 500mg from non-dairy food sources...

Do you have any recommendations on high calcium natural or whole food items that I can incorporate into my diet on a daily basis? That way I won't feel like I need a supplement to help me...

Original Post by rosielena17:

Original Post by moikki:

The other thing is, and this is not common knowledge, there is a brand new literature out on a study done, showing that taking calcium supplament increases a women chances of heart disease by 30%. This is only taken in the pill form, when fortified in foods it does not cause in increase in risk factors. Also, this does not include when taken with Vit D as well for absorption, only when taken alone.

Good luck in your journey!

And about the calcium supplements- there are so many different ones out there. I wouldn't make a decision not to take them based on one study that probably wasn't controlled enough, not to mention that our society consumes an ungodly amount of chemicals, hormones and processed ingredients in our foods. It is no wonder everything and anything is "Studies show" to be bad for us. I personally don't get enough Calcium in my diet, and I know this because I measure everything I eat. Therefore I am also careful about how many supplements I take and the % of each that are in them. I only would recommend people take supplements if they KNOW what they are lacking and how much to take to make their levels normal.

So tell me then, what is the alternative that the study suggests for women who KNOW they don't get enough calcium? I eat healthy fats, eat fish every other day, exercise daily... so does that mean because I take 1/2 the dose of calcium supplement I will get heart disease? Sounds kinda weird... What else am I supposed to do? Because I kid you not, without the supplement I take, I am LUCKY to consume 500mg from non-dairy food sources...

Do you have any recommendations on high calcium natural or whole food items that I can incorporate into my diet on a daily basis? That way I won't feel like I need a supplement to help me...

 Top 5 Non-Dairy Foods High in Calcium
1. Figs (four pieces contain 506 milligrams of calcium)
2. Sardines with bones (3 ounces contain 324 milligrams)
3. Soybeans (1 cup contains 261 milligrams)
4. Salmon with bones (3 ounces contain 181 milligrams)
5. Sesame Seeds (1 tablespoon contains 80 milligrams)

Top 3 Foods with Calcium (by Category)
Nuts
1. Sesame Seeds
2. Almonds
3. Walnuts

Fish/Shellfish
1. Sardines (with bones)
2. Salmon (with bones)
3. Oysters

Vegetables
1. Soybeans
2. Broccoli
3. Chick Peas

Fruits
1. Figs
2. Apricots
3. Oranges <!-- longtext end-->

http://www.examiner.com/healthy-trends-in-atl anta/taking-calcium-supplements-might-cause-h eart-attacks

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by rosielena17:

Original Post by moikki:

The other thing is, and this is not common knowledge, there is a brand new literature out on a study done, showing that taking calcium supplament increases a women chances of heart disease by 30%. This is only taken in the pill form, when fortified in foods it does not cause in increase in risk factors. Also, this does not include when taken with Vit D as well for absorption, only when taken alone.

Good luck in your journey!

And about the calcium supplements- there are so many different ones out there. I wouldn't make a decision not to take them based on one study that probably wasn't controlled enough, not to mention that our society consumes an ungodly amount of chemicals, hormones and processed ingredients in our foods. It is no wonder everything and anything is "Studies show" to be bad for us. I personally don't get enough Calcium in my diet, and I know this because I measure everything I eat. Therefore I am also careful about how many supplements I take and the % of each that are in them. I only would recommend people take supplements if they KNOW what they are lacking and how much to take to make their levels normal.

So tell me then, what is the alternative that the study suggests for women who KNOW they don't get enough calcium? I eat healthy fats, eat fish every other day, exercise daily... so does that mean because I take 1/2 the dose of calcium supplement I will get heart disease? Sounds kinda weird... What else am I supposed to do? Because I kid you not, without the supplement I take, I am LUCKY to consume 500mg from non-dairy food sources...

Do you have any recommendations on high calcium natural or whole food items that I can incorporate into my diet on a daily basis? That way I won't feel like I need a supplement to help me...

 Top 5 Non-Dairy Foods High in Calcium
1. Figs (four pieces contain 506 milligrams of calcium)
2. Sardines with bones (3 ounces contain 324 milligrams)
3. Soybeans (1 cup contains 261 milligrams)
4. Salmon with bones (3 ounces contain 181 milligrams)
5. Sesame Seeds (1 tablespoon contains 80 milligrams)

Top 3 Foods with Calcium (by Category)
Nuts
1. Sesame Seeds
2. Almonds
3. Walnuts

Fish/Shellfish
1. Sardines (with bones)
2. Salmon (with bones)
3. Oysters

Vegetables
1. Soybeans
2. Broccoli
3. Chick Peas

Fruits
1. Figs
2. Apricots
3. Oranges <!-- longtext end-->

http://www.examiner.com/healthy-trends-in-atl anta/taking-calcium-supplements-might-cause-h eart-attacks

Thank you so much Moikki. I appreciate it. :-)

If you want to tone your body, it's better to increase the percentage of protein intake and lower your carb intake. and if your target isn't losing some weight you're better keep your calories intake around 1500-1800 by adding some protein into your meal.

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by laur3nmae:

Original Post by dietwarrior:

Diet to lose fat and when you are done start exercising to firm up (then you will gain weight but it will be in a muscle). With trying to do both, people end up skinny fat.

No, skinny fat is what you get when you diet without exercise, you lose all your muscle. In my opinion you should do weight training the whole way through, because it will shape your body, or worst case scenario you keep your muscle and lose only fat. As opposed to losing fat and muscle and ending up just looking like a smaller version of yourself. 

You can't tone if there's no muscle there to start with, and dieting by itself will burn a lot of your muscle. 

 Also, if yo do to much cardio (like long distance runners) you get skinny fat.

 

 

When you say "too much cardio" how much do you mean?

Currently I like to run 25 min on a treadmill at about 6.5 mph (slowing down when i'm tired, speeding up when I feel like I can take it), 10 minutes on the bike, and 13 minutes on the elliptical. I do this about 5-6 times a week, with one full day of resting. I then lift machine weights 3-4 times a week, making sure if I'm sore to wait it out another day. Do this seem like a reasonable thing to do? 

I feel as though I am hitting a plateau, although I just started this routine less than 2 weeks ago. Should I increase my calorie intake? (my stats are female, 20 yrs, barely 5'2, 113-115 lbs, eating about 1300 on days I dont exercise as much) I have a small frame and most of my weight is fat unfortunately, and right around my stomach. I am trying to lose weight as I know my "apple" shaped body can put me at risk for health concerns down the road. 

Does anyone have any tips? I've been trying to lose weight for about 1 month and 3/4.

I also meant to write, my Starting Weight was somewhere around 124....

Original Post by katieliz89:

I also meant to write, my Starting Weight was somewhere around 124....

 Hi Katie,

I'm no expert but, How much do you eat on WO days, which sounds like is most days? It sounds like you routine is good but at what intensity are you  WO. If you are working out at a high intensity vs. moderate or low (I'm talking cardio) that makes a difference in the length of time you should be doing it, what is your HR at most of the time? And I would ask an instructor if 5 days of cardio is necessary, I think I might cut it down to 4 and spend that 5th day focusing on weights or yoga & Pilates, they are so good for the core and strength and the mind. Just FYI, using CC's calorie target, I entered your HT., Wt., Age, activity level, put that you want to maintain your wt. (which is a good wt.), and it recommends 1900 cal/day. When you rbody isn't getting what it need it start holding on to everything it gets and stores it as fat. I realize it may not make much sense to you but you should be able to lose weight if you start eating more, & make sure yo gat your healthy fat from avacado, nuts, olive oil & such. It essential for your body to function properly and absorb nutrients.

I eat around 1400-1500 on days I'm working on. I am not doing cardio at extreme intensities, my heart rate is generally around 170 +/- about 5 at any given time, and generally slightly lower when I'm on the bike. I'm a bit nervous to start eating an extreme amount more as I have worked really hard in the past (almost) 2 months.

And for the Calorie target, I used light activity as when I go to the gym (I haven't been going lately, as I have a pretty bad cold), as this is generally the only activity I have all day long. What did you use as level of activity? With my Goal Weight being 105, I do not specify my Goal Date and with light activity, they recommend a minor 1200 cal, and with moderate activity (to be reached by January 25th 2011), they recommend 1655 calories. I know you need to take into consideration your BMR and all kinds of things when..... 

So, I'm not trying to argue, I'm just trying to find the best possible way to go about doing this! I appreciate your input :)

Original Post by katieliz89:

I eat around 1400-1500 on days I'm working on. I am not doing cardio at extreme intensities, my heart rate is generally around 170 +/- about 5 at any given time, and generally slightly lower when I'm on the bike. I'm a bit nervous to start eating an extreme amount more as I have worked really hard in the past (almost) 2 months.

And for the Calorie target, I used light activity as when I go to the gym (I haven't been going lately, as I have a pretty bad cold), as this is generally the only activity I have all day long. What did you use as level of activity? With my Goal Weight being 105, I do not specify my Goal Date and with light activity, they recommend a minor 1200 cal, and with moderate activity (to be reached by January 25th 2011), they recommend 1655 calories. I know you need to take into consideration your BMR and all kinds of things when..... 

So, I'm not trying to argue, I'm just trying to find the best possible way to go about doing this! I appreciate your input :)

 No worries, not taken as an arguement~ Anyway, when I enter in all your stats in calorie target it gives me 1465 with a goal date of 1/5/11 on moderate activity, I'm not sure why they came out different. I think as thin as you really are and as much as you WO this is reasonable even for the days your not at the gym. So it would seem like your pretty close to target. However, 170 is very high, this HR is generally only recommended for sprints & intervals because your allowing it to come down within a few minutes. If your looking to increase your indurance you would want it around 160 most of the time, but if what you seek is burning fat, then your target HR is 140-145. To burn fat & not just calories you should be able to carry on a conversation with the person next to you. I know this seems odd but scientist have explained it well. I wish I had that knowledge in my early 20's, haha.

Also, do make sure to keep up the weight lifting (very important), and  if I didn't mention it last time, I would do that cardio routine 4 days a week and focus on other things such as the weight or even yoga or Pilates on the other day or two- that's just what I would do. Oh, and be sure to get enough protein!

Original Post by katieliz89:

Original Post by moikki:

 Also, if yo do to much cardio (like long distance runners) you get skinny fat.

When you say "too much cardio" how much do you mean?

If I didn't answer this question in my other replies, what happens is that when you are doing an excess of cardio, as long distance runners do, they break down muscle tissue because they don't have enough calories with the right amounts of protein & carbs to last then through there runs. You continue to burn even after you've quit WO once you've been at cardio more than 15-20 minutes. So if your intention is to tone up, doing tones of cardio alone is not the answer. Sure you could do cardio first for awhile and later incorperate weight lifting. But really I think most experts agree doing both together is a healthier approach. So you are building muscle with weights and burning fat with cardio, but, you need to keep the HR at 140-145 for this, otherwise you risk cancelling out the weight lifting and burning muscle with the excess of calories your burning. So then, to go along with the idea of burning fat and building muscle it is recommended that you have the proper amount of carbs, protein, and healthy fat. This very so greatly in recommendations and I usually consume more protein than what CC recommends. I'm not sure how your recommendations would very from mine, if you go analysis and click on Calorie Count Recommended Values (edit) immediately under the date that should be of help. What it comes down to is that you really have to take alot of time to do research and figure out what is right for your body to achieve the goals your after, strengthen the body & the mind!!

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