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How Low Do I Have To Go?

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Old 10-01-2013, 06:10 PM   #1
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Default How Low Do I Have To Go?

Hi everybody,

I am a middle-aged woman who, ideally, should lose 100 pounds. I would describe my activity level as light. I have been eating better (not perfectly) for the past year. My current daily calorie level is 1900 (down from about 3000). Still, I've only lost 10 pounds over the past year. I want to lose 100 pounds over the next year, but am worried about how low I have to go calorie-wise. If I dropped now to, say, 1500 daily, would I have anywhere to go in several months? One can't go below 1200 calories or so, right? Should I increase my activity and maybe drop down now to, say, 1700? Do any people here have experience in stalling at what seems to me a relatively low level of calories for somebody 100 pounds overweight? I guess what I am really asking is, do I need to substantially lower daily calories and move my lazy ***? Thanks for any advice.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:21 PM   #2
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Couple things: Calculate your bmr: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ and reduce gradually from there.

Secondly, are you 100 percent sure you're accurately tracking your calories? I'm not being a b****h, but that's a huge issue for A LOT OF US. We think we know are portions and we really don't. I would get a food scale and weigh for a week. You may be surprised.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:34 PM   #3
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The right calorie level is one where you don't feel hungry. I've seen some diets suggest 1800 for people over 200 pounds ... if you don't get hungry there you might try to go even lower ... but 1200 is the limit.

Radiojane is right, it's easy to underestimate servings so make sure your portions are what you think they are. Scales are much more accurate then measuring cups. The first thing I do when my weight loss stalls is double check and make sure I'm not adding extra calories ... and usually I am!

As you lose weight, exercise will help rev your metabolism so that may see more attractive.

Finally, 10 pounds lost and maintained is a pretty great accomplishment so pat yourself on the back for that!!!
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:07 AM   #4
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I had to reduce calories to around 1100-1200, add 30 min exercise daily, and go low carb to see the scale and inches move. I lost between 1-2 lbs/week using this method, but am a slow looser. I know I can loose some weight eating normal carbs and around 2000 calories, but I need to be very active throughout the day.

1 lb equals 3500 calories. So, you need to create a significant deficit to really see the scale move quickly. With 10 lbs lost, you may underestimate your daily intake (I second Radiojane on this) or have a slow metabolism. This may happen when your thyroids are underactive or due to hormonal changes.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:05 AM   #5
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I would suggest a food scale and measuring cups and spoons if you're not already using this because it's really easy to overestimate calories, a factor that becomes more important when you're already on the higher end of weightloss calories. You should be losing at 1900 calories- slowly yes but it should be happening. It will probably be worth it to increase your activity if you want to stay at your current number of calories as well as to tighten up your eating and weigh and measure everything carefully for at least a week to make sure you're correct about your intake. Reducing your calories a bit may also be worthwhile. Stick to it, it will happen.
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:29 PM   #6
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I agree that a food scale will help you rule out or control for "calorie creep."

Beware of food labels. I've found that you cannot rely on the number of servings or the volume measurement for products. "About 2" or even "2" can mean anything from 1.3 to 2.8 and 1/2 cup can be closer to 1/4 or nearly 3/4.

Use the gram weight (because that's what the calorie labs use).

Another possible explanation for the lack of weight loss is that you're burning fewer calories compared to when you were eating 50% more.

About four years ago, my husband and I adopted a very fat cat. We thought slimming her down would be easy. We switched her to a calorie-reduced cat food. She lost a little weight, but not much. The less we fed her, the more she slept and the less she moved.

Our experience with our cat made me realize that my own weight loss experience is much like my cat's. The less I eat, the less energy I have to do anything - even stay awake. Even my body temperature drops (suggesting that my metabolic rate is dropping as well). Symptoms of hypothyroidism begin to show (Since beginning my current weight loss journey, I have lost most of my eyebrows and my hair is thinning and hairline is receding).

My doctor referred me to an endocrinologist and I was diagnosed with Metabolic syndrome (including insulin resistance which has inched into the diabetic range) and borderline hypothyroid (not quite severe enough for medication).

The less I eat, the less energy I have and the more my body shuts down. Even immunity starts to dysfunction.

Several months ago I started experimenting with increasing my calorie restriction further. My weight loss results have been mixed AND I've had a uti in February and a kidney infection last month (I haven't had a uti in fifteen or more years). I've also had a flare of seb derm impetigo (the worst in four years) and the most severe and prolonged flare of fibromyalgia (also the worst in more than four years).


Not everyone experiences metabolic "shut down" at the same calorie level or to the degree I do (heck a younger me didn't react like this), so I can't tell you how low is too low.

From the research it's even unclear whether everyone experiences metabolic decline at all. It may come only to some, or only at a certain age, or only after a certain amount or duration of calorie restriction.

I have found that the fewer carbs I eat, the more calories I can eat to lose or maintain my weight. Low-carb also helps me eat less, because I'm less hungry.

My doctor has warned me not to go "too low" but I find it difficult to find my low-carb sweet-spot. Low enough to manage hunger and lose weight consistently but high enough to avoid low-blood sugar, fatigue, headaches (my body, because of the blood sugar issues never gets over "induction flu." Two weeks, five weeks, doesn't matter - too low carb makes me feel horrible.

You're going to have to experiment with calories (and possibly carbs, maybe even fat) to find out how your body reacts. The more variables you log, the more patterns you'll find. I would recommend a food scale and a "write every bite" strategy. Logging sleep, energy level, and physical activity would be a good start. If you have any health or pain issues, I'd recommend documenting those as well.
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Old 10-03-2013, 04:24 PM   #7
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Well are you losing at 1900? I'd diffently get a scale, even a dollar store one will work to start. And measure everything. Even veggies. Track everything you put in your mouth. Then you can really see if you are at 1900 cal.

If you are, try knocking off 100 cal for a week and then if not happy with results knock off another 100. Continue until happy with the week's loss. I use shape up app and had set my activity to low. It had me start around 1600 and lowered my cal as I lost weight -to about 1490. I have since increase my activity levels at beginning of sept and recently had to update and activity level because my weght loss had stalled. I put it at normal and now have about 1600 cal to eat again. The first day I gained a half pound but lost it and another the next day. Oddly enough sometimes we actually don't eat enough to lose weight.
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Old 10-04-2013, 01:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiojane View Post
Couple things: Calculate your bmr: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ and reduce gradually from there.

Secondly, are you 100 percent sure you're accurately tracking your calories? I'm not being a b****h, but that's a huge issue for A LOT OF US. We think we know are portions and we really don't. I would get a food scale and weigh for a week. You may be surprised.
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radiojane View Post
Couple things: Calculate your bmr: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ and reduce gradually from there.

Secondly, are you 100 percent sure you're accurately tracking your calories? I'm not being a b****h, but that's a huge issue for A LOT OF US. We think we know are portions and we really don't. I would get a food scale and weigh for a week. You may be surprised.
This plus 100000000! I used to eat out a lot thinking I was eating healthy. Grilled this and steamed that. I recently looked up the nutritional charts at these restaurants and was astounded by the calories and fat!!! Now I know why I was gaining so much weight! A food scale is about $6 but they are priceless in your weight loss journey! I love mine and it's very worth it. Plus update us and let us know how you are doing.
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:39 AM   #10
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Define "middle-aged". LOL! I'm 49 and my teenage daughter reminded me that I can no longer consider myself as middle aged anymore.

I can tell you that I no longer lose as quickly as I used to and 1900 calories would be about a 1/2 - 1 lb a week for me. When I lost a large amount of weight a few years ago, I lost around 2-3 lbs at 1500-1600 calories a day. And, this is if I'm eating clean...no white bread, white pasta, white rice and nothing with added/hidden sugars. Basically, I eat whole foods and no processed foods. I've found that what I eat matters as much as the total calories I eat. I can eat 1200 calories a day of processed foods and not lose a single pound! This is why Weight Watchers didn't work well when I tried it. I opted to use all of their packaged foods for my plan because it was easy and I don't like to cook. I didn't have the same results as my friends did on WW even when I stayed within my points. Whole foods work best. It's amazing how quickly I've learned to get creative in the kitchen and make foods that are delicious! Necessity is definitely the mother of invention.
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Old 10-06-2013, 05:33 PM   #11
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Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful replies. The parts about a food scale and metabolism really struck me. I may have been kidding myself, calorie-wise. Really, what I've been doing the past year or so is "normal eating." It just seemed psychologically and physically milder than a diet per se. I want to turn lighter, healthy living into a lifestyle. But this pace is too slow. I truly hope I don't have to drop as low as you, Lolo. I can't see me being happy at 1100 or 1200 calories. I'm built like Brunhilde! But another part of me thinks I'll just have to handle significant discomfort to lose this 100 pounds in, say, a year. Again, thanks to you so much and I hope you all had a good day and week!*g*
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:55 PM   #12
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Well, here's my 2 worth: You will most certainly have to go WAY below 1900 calories if you want to lose 100 pounds in a year, especially with little or no activity involved.

You didn't say how old you are, so I'm calling you 55. If that's even close, your only need 2070 calories a day to maintain your current weight (at a sedentary level according to the BMR calculator I like.) You need just 1550 to maintain 150 pounds. My thought is you might want to try about 1500 calories a day and see how it goes. That's going to be your maintenance calories anyway - might as well get used to it. At 1900 a day, you're only working on a deficit of 170 calories a day. With no activity, it's going to take forever to lose 100 pounds. The math on that works out to a pound about every 21 days, by the way - in a perfect diet world, and it isn't perfect - so 10 pounds a year seems reasonable. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you said you wanted to lose 100 pounds in a year. Time for drastic changes, I think.

I think your goal is perfectly attainable. But you have to be dedicated to really making changes - both in activity levels and in calories consumed. I'm speaking from experience here. We can't expect to have huge (and dramatic) losses without huge (and dramatic) changes. I know it seems like going from 3000 calories to 1900 was huge. I guess it is, really, but at 3000 you were most likely gaining weight and at 1900 you were slowly losing. So we know that 1900 allows you to lose slowly. Many people would be OK with that. Not gaining is good, too. But you'll have to tighten things up a bit if you want to lose 8 pounds a month for the next 12 months. That takes dedication and sticking to a sensible diet of 1200 calories or so should allow you to get there.

My starting stats are close to yours. I was just a couple months shy of 60 when I started losing. That might be older than you, but I like to think of it as middle age! I'm 5-7" tall and started out just over 250 pounds. I started exercising (5 - 6 days a week while I was losing, 3 - 4 days a week now) and consistently ate about 1200 calories, almost none of which came from white carbs like rice, potatoes, bread, and pasta. That was my most difficult obstacle, because not only am I Italian and make one heck of a marinara sauce, but a bowl of soup was an excuse to eat half a loaf of crusty bread covered in butter in the old days. Other than that, I didn't follow any set diet. Just cut way back on portion size, limited (severely) all non-nutritional food, and almost never drank any calories.

I have to assume you have a pretty good feel for what you've been doing this past year. It's been working - just not a quickly as you'd like. My suggestion under those circumstances would be to step up the exercise and cut back on portions until you lose at a rate more in line with what you want.

Good luck!

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I lost 93 pounds by Oct 1, 2011 and am holding there for now. We'll see what happens.
New goal: To maintain at about 160 Final Goal: To decide if I need to lose more
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