Weight Loss Support - Is it possible to eat too little if you never feel hungry??

03-29-2009, 07:17 PM
Here's my dilemma. My weight loss seems stalled. I don't normally count calories because I eat healthy food that I prepare myself and try to eat reasonable portions. If I feel hungry outside of meals, then I have a snack.

So I figure I'm probably only eating what I need -- hence no need to keep close count.

But since I'm stalled, I thought maybe I am eating too much without being aware, so I decided to count calories for the day. It's 6:00pm, dinner's in the oven, and I'm only at 575 calories so far for the day. I did a quick calculation on what I expect to eat for dinner, and that only adds 449 calories for a total of 1024 for the day! I haven't been hungry, I'm not depriving myself. But maybe this is why I'm not losing weight?

Back to my question: is it possible to eat too little, even though you don't feel hungry?

(From an exertion standpoint, I ran 1.5 miles, walked .75 miles, and did 20 min. on the elliptical).

In case it helps, here is what I've eaten today:

Coffee with whole milk (97 cal)
Oat bran hot cereal with nuts, cinnamon & honey added (187 cal)

Crab meat salad (70 cal) (this had 1/4 carrot, 1/4 onion, 1/2 stalk celery mixed with 1/2 tbs mayo and 1/2 can crab meat)
big rice cake (45 cal)
d'anjou pear (96 cal)
slice of low fat cheese (50 cal)

1/2 carrot (13 cal)
6 cherry tomatoes (18 cal)

Dinner (planned):
1/4 lb barbequed pork (267 cal) (this is lean pork roasted in a hoisin / soy sauce)
hot & sour slaw (182 cal) (amounts to 1/4 head cabbage + other veggies stir fried)

TOTAL: 1024

03-29-2009, 07:26 PM
Yes, it's definitely possible. Especially if your body gets used to eating that amount. For a couple of weeks, I was living on 500 - 600 calories a day and I was not hungry at all. I was obviously not eating enough, but I wasn't hungry. My stomach got used to that amount and veggies and fish are filling so that was that. An extra glass of milk will get those calories up, as will nuts. Some things that were recommended to me by the wonderful ppl on here, as well as my nutritionist.

03-29-2009, 08:41 PM
newleaf, I think cammie's absolutely right - there's a point with calorie restriction where your metabolism goes to sleep on you. Bumping up the intake for a bit should wake it up again. It must be a pain in the fanny to eat when you don't feel like it, especially since it's so counterintuitive to weight loss. :)

03-29-2009, 08:42 PM
I've had a similar experience a couple of years ago. I started eating healthily and in portions that I thought were adequate. I lost a bit of weight (around 15 lbs) and then it stalled and stalled and stalled. I finally gave up and regained all the weight. It wasn't until recently that I found this website and had a chat with my doctor that I realized I was starving myself.

Currently, I'm pushing myself to eat at least 1200 calories a day. If I exercise heavily I add 200-300 extra calories. So far I'm fine but it's early days yet.


03-29-2009, 11:11 PM
It's very possible for your hunger cues to be misleading. When I eat too many carbs, especially refined carbs I'm hungry no matter how much I eat. If I eat very low-carb, hunger disappears completely. My husband will notice before I will, because I'll become irritable and he'll ask, "how long has it been since you've eaten?"

I know a lot of people swear by mindful eating, but if you don't have reliable or strong hunger cues, sometimes counting or otherwise keeping track is the best option.

03-30-2009, 01:06 AM
when you find out that you're not meeting the bare minimum of 1,200 calories to lose weight in a safe, healthy manner-- have a high caloric snack on hand like nuts or something that you can include in your last meal of the day :)

03-30-2009, 10:45 AM
Thanks for your input, everyone! I ended up eating a serving of Trader Joe's low fat ginger cat cookies along with a cup of tea with whole milk and honey and came in at 1197 for the day. Normally I would have had just black tea and no cookies and based on how much I actually ate at dinner, I would have ended up at 1029.

I guess I need to keep an eye on this for the next few days and see if it's generally the trend that I eat too few calories...

03-30-2009, 12:58 PM
I'm not sure I would eat cookies just to increase my total calories. The big reason for minimum calories is because it's very hard to get enough nutrients at less than 1200 calories.

03-30-2009, 01:12 PM
I agree with JulieJ08. It would be better to increase your calories by eating larger portions of vegetables and protein-containing foods, maybe some extra complex carbs.


03-30-2009, 01:20 PM
And ... I certainly wouldn't worry about one day. These things have a habit of evening themselves out over time.

At the risk of hijacking a thread ... I'd suppose that many meal plans ... intuitive eating, portion control, low carb, restricted fats etc ... could be under 1200 cals each day easily????

03-30-2009, 01:41 PM
I really don't think that a little treat of cookies will hurt me, especially since I generally eat a very healthy diet containing an abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and lean meat ;-) Also, I checked the cookies before eating them; they contained 2g of protein.

03-30-2009, 01:56 PM
I don't mean that the cookies would hurt you. Just that I wouldn't use needing more calories/nutrition as a reason for having them. Have them in the same frequency/amount as you feel appropriate with treats. But by nutrients, I wasn't primarily meaning macronutrient grams (carb, fat, protein), but all the vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants and phytonutrients in plants and grains. Fiber too.

BTW, how long have you been stalled and does that mean no loss, 1/2# per week, or what? People use the terms to mean widely different things.

03-30-2009, 02:22 PM
I've been stalled for two weeks, meaning that I've been fluctuating within the same 1.5lbs (ie, up .5, down .5, up .7, down .3, etc).

Re: fiber, I didn't put this in my food count, but I do also take multiple chewable fiber tablets each day so I'm probably okay there, take 1 multivitamin, and take 1 Omega-3 fatty acid capsule.

And I hear you re: nutrition and totally agree (hence [what I consider to be] very healthy eating). The frequency that I have had treats in the last two months is twice, now three times with the 120 cal. cookies last night.

03-30-2009, 04:22 PM
One thing that struck me with your plan is that it seems to me like you can easily add more fruits and vegetables to it, and that will probably not only bump up your calories a bit, but also your fiber and other nutrients.

Not sure how long you've been eating like this, but it does seem to me that you are burning way more calories than you are eating, in which case your body will go into conservation mode and not lose any weight. It may be a good idea to keep track of your actual caloric intake for a few days to see where you are at and that way you'll know if you need to make it a point of bumping your intake a bit.
Good luck!