Weight Loss Support - Undereating... anyone else have this problem?

06-25-2009, 06:34 PM
I've been calorie counting for 6 weeks now, have lost 17lbs so far, but I'm finding it hard to eat "up to" my 1200-1300 calories most days. I'm walking daily and doing a 2 mile express Leslie Sansone DVD which I put my all into and work up a sweat. I'm eating healthy food, lots of fruits/vegies, etc.. I'm at 793cals for today and I've already had my dinner.

I just don't seem to have much of an appetite since I've been cal counting.. And all my cravings for junk are long gone..

Think this is ok? Or should I be trying to find a way to get in more calories?

Thanks for any help... :)

06-25-2009, 06:39 PM
I'll be interested in what others have to say.
I'm having the same problem - eating healthy - but not quite enough.
I'm supposed to be eating 1200 -1600 cals. per day and some days I don't make 1200.
Today I only made 1140 and I'm done with the day.

06-25-2009, 06:47 PM
it is my understanding that you should. I know it seems odd to eat when you don't feel hungry, after all, it was uncontrolled eating that got us (me) here in the first place; but if you don't eat enough, your body gets anxious and thinks starvation's coming, and you find weight loss stalls. I lose at 1500, I stall at 1200, and I don't take the exercise you do.

I've read advice here suggesting adding nuts and dried fruit, for example, into meals, which will boost calories without adding bulk.

Mrs Snark
06-25-2009, 06:50 PM
If you are worried about it, have small, calorie-dense additions to get those cals up by a couple hundred. EVOO, raisins, nuts, nut butters, etc.. Only takes a small amount of those to bring your calories up to target.

I don't like to eat when I'm not hungry, but using those products with my regular meals is easy.

06-25-2009, 07:10 PM
A good way to work around this is to plan your eating each day--so that you can divide up your calories ahead of time and know what you'll be getting at each meal and snack. That way you won't end up with a big deficit at the end of the day. :)


06-25-2009, 07:31 PM
I have this problem too. I found that most of my calories were junk. Without it, I don't eat many calories. I think it is important to up your calories. That way when you stall later on in your weight loss, you can cut calories if you need too-- at least you have that option. As others have said, ad a little more olive oil when you cook, more nut butter, more dried fruit. Guacamole is a great snack too.

06-25-2009, 07:44 PM
I have this exact same problem. It's never stalled my weight loss, but I've fallen off the wagon EVERY time. Some days I would only get 500 calories, some days I might get 700, some days 1000, then on a binge day I would eat 3000 or more. Then I'd have a week full of binge days. That's why I'm still up here, hovering around 200lbs, looking down at my goal from a looooong way off.
Now I don't know if this is directly linked to my shortage of calories. I know that the common advice around here is to try to stay around 1200 calories, but everyone's body is different. This time around, I'm getting up around 1000 every day, sometimes going over, sometimes I get all 1700, but it varies from day to day and I'm losing at a nice rate. Not the 3 lbs a day I would lose when only eating 600 calories, but I'm glad for that, because I really really want to stick to it this time. But I totally understand how calorie counting can make you eat way under. When I start watching what I'm eating, I watch it very closely. It's as if, once I'm made aware of how many calories I'm actually consuming, I become hyperaware, and restrict more than I should without making any effort to do so.
It's mostly still a mystery to me :?:

06-25-2009, 07:57 PM
I can relate to this also.

I have crash dieted many a time (Bad I know, and absolutely not advertising it:() and lost a lot of weight (Eating mostly around 700-800cal) However whenever I did this I kept up high intensity exercise, which maybe kept my weight loss steady. I've just never seen my body hold onto weight because I've been undereating. Any reason for this?

Back to the original post though, adding some higher cal foods into your meals would benefit in the long run, you may find after a while only eating this amount leads you to feel very hungry and eat the wrong foods, or you just lack energy or even develop a complex to eating more calories, since you've lost weight in this way.

chicky viv
06-25-2009, 08:01 PM
I don't have that problem LOL. I try to keep it between 1200 to 1300 but I always end up eating about 1400~ish. It's always hard to eat healthy foods and still take up all of your calorie count. The best way is to make a list of healthy foods that has a good dose of calores. Try adding these foods into your diet:

Avocado - about 320 calories
Almonds - about 105 calories for 15
Olive Oil - 120 calories for 1 tbsp
Protein shake - 120 calories for whey protein and 90 for a cup of fat-free milk

06-25-2009, 08:06 PM
I've just never seen my body hold onto weight because I've been undereating. Any reason for this?

This is the same with me... i've lost steadily since the day I started really... 6 weeks and the only time I stall is when it's my TOM and then I drop 2-3lbs right after... I went back over the last 6 weeks to see how many days I have actually hit the 1200 mark, and honestly, its been few & far between.

Thanks for the suggestions ladies.. I can't have nuts at all, but the dried fruit I could try..

06-25-2009, 09:14 PM
I think you should try adding in a few more servings of fruit/veggies (1 cup butternut squash = 80 calories!) or almonds, peanut butter, etc. Even if you're not necessarily stalling now, you're getting your body used to an unsustainable level of calories. Can you see yourself eating 800 calories/day for the rest of your life? A lot of maintainers on this board say that the way they eat now is almost exactly how they ate when they were losing, maybe an extra 100-200 cals/day or a treat meal once in a while, so it seems like the best way to lose weight is in a manner that you can sustain for the rest of your life. You also don't want to risk depriving your body of enough nutrients or making yourself susceptible to binging eventually, after your body realizes its not getting enough food.

06-25-2009, 09:34 PM
I've just never seen my body hold onto weight because I've been undereating. Any reason for this?

Well, if you eat really low, and exercise really a lot, then sure, you'll override any ability your body has to hold on to reserves. That's called starving. Never mind "starvation mode"--this is literally starving.

Here's the catch: You're not just losing fat, which is what you set out to do. The reason is that the brain can only use glucose as fuel, and it has number one priority. So--you haven't eaten and you're doing intense exercise. Your body is trying as hard as it can to hold on, but must feed the brain, and the only way to do that is to convert everything else, mostly protein, into glucose. So your muscles start to break down--also your organs--your bones--your hair may begin to fall out. Your period stops.

Please note that you can do permanent damage to your body this way.

Those folks who have fallen into this behavioral trap--you may want to seek counseling with a therapist who's trained in food issues. This is not a case where eating less and exercising more is a good thing--it's a path to disaster.


06-25-2009, 09:44 PM
Thank-you for your help ladies... I'm not eating that low on purpose, it just ends up that way kwim? Then at night I'm not hungry.. But I'm going to try really hard to up my cals... I really don't want to damage my body in any way, shape, or form.

06-25-2009, 10:00 PM
and exercise really a lot, then sure, you'll override any ability your body has to hold on to reserves.

Jay hit the nail on the head. For "starvation mode" there literally has to be zero exercise involved. An extremely sedentary lifestyle coupled with lower cal. Even though I was known to eat a candy bar and lots of other bad foods from time to time, most of the time the only thing I put into my body before 2 PM was 2 cups of coffee. Sometimes I would have a sandwich or something for lunch, usually peanut butter and jelly. Maybe 350 calories there? And A LOT of times after that coffee I wouldn't even eat until 4PM. If I did happen to wait that long, that 4PM meal would be like lunch and dinner all in one and I wouldn't eat anything else for the night and do it all over again the next day. And those meals are still the same meals I am cooking now, but miraculously losing weight with. Chicken, 2 veggies and bread. Or spaghetti, usually turkey for the meat. Sometimes rice with chicken. I figure with one of those meals, I was probably getting anywhere between 500-1000 calories. If you add in the sometimes PBJ, I didn't even hit 1400 some days. But this is how I was eating. With no exercise. Just laying around the house doing nothing. The weight just stalled.

I have noticed there has been a lot of confusion lately with the term starvation mode as opposed to actually starving. I don't really know who coined the term, I am supposing some fitness guru or possibly a scientist, who knows. But I think "reserve mode" would have been more befitting and would better explain it.

06-25-2009, 10:19 PM
I want to go to there...
I exercise and am RAVENOUS ALL. THE. TIME. It is super-hard.
I have read that with alot of exercise, appetite naturally decreases. This is what Bikram Yoga Teachers go through during training. If you read their blogs, they completely lose their appetites about 1/3 of the way through their course. And they are doing alot of exercise.
The Instructors there are really really forceful with the students in training to make sure that they EAT so they can replenish their energy and nutrient levels. This is the most important thing for them.

So, you need to get enough food in to replenish your glycogen stores (for energy) and your nutrients. I'm not a calorie counter, so I don't know what you should do or if you should tweak your program. I'd watch the scales to see what happens.

ALSO, from my personal experience, you CAN go into starvation mode even IF you are exercising. I was on a doctor-supervised very low calorie diet. I was down to 452 calories a day. LITERALLY. 452 calories. I was also power-walking 7 miles a day (3.5 miles each way to the clinic and back), 5 days a week. And my weight loss STOPPED for a period of 6 weeks. 6 WEEKS!!! I stopped the program and upped my calories (and regained all the weight back :( ) So it CAN happen.


06-25-2009, 10:28 PM
Ms Niecy, the term "starvation mode" was coined in the mid 1940s with the release of the Minnesota Study -- a study designed to test the psychological and physiological effects of calorie restriction. |The participants were objectors to the war who decided to participate in the study. Wikipedia covers the study quite nicely:
and this is a really interesting article that interviews the participants, too:

Really interesting stuff!


06-25-2009, 10:31 PM

Just a little article I came across on the topic of "starvation mode".

06-25-2009, 10:44 PM
Hi there! I've seen this too. It is important to note, too, that the Minnesota Study was in reality a "mild to moderate" calorie restrictive diet, not a 200 calorie a day type of diet. And perhaps the most interesting results were behavioural rather than physiological. If I'm not mistaken, the behavioural results of the Minnesota study form some of the foundation for anorexia and bulemia disease studies and treatments today.

I still sure would love to know why my weight loss stopped for 6 weeks on 452 calories a day while exercising!!! And at that time, I still had 40 pounds of fat on me!!! And believe me, I was 100% on plan -- it was costing me $250 a WEEK for the diet plan (none of it was pre-packaged food; it was all homemade and fresh which I made from scratch after buying the groceries -- yup, meals NOT included in THIS plan...) and needles of B12 in the butt daily...And I was in a constant ketogenic state throughout!!! NEVER again...I learned my lesson...


06-25-2009, 11:43 PM
Robin, that pretty much sums it up. No exercise for me, lol. I won't lie about it or try to over-estimate it. I didn't move. I couldn't move. I was in pure agony.

I do have one teeny tiny problem with the article:

Now, it is possible that a medical condition, like hypothyroid could contribute to a slowed metabolism. However, if someone was to have a thyroid problem, it is easy to diagnose and can be easily treated. But, then we are right back to my points above and dealing with an energy balance issue.

Okay, I agree that it is easy to diagnose AND that it is more an issue of energy balance. A diagnosis can come from VERY simple tests. However, it is not easy to GET the diagnosis, nor the testing at times. There is so much controversy over the lab ranges, controlled study participants, meds, etc. I won't say I am even remotely well-versed with the nutrition/fitness area (trying though! lol), but I have been told by more than a couple of docs that I knew far more than them about the process of thyroid disease, go see a specialist. Ok, I did that. What I found was that most specialists (endocrinologists) do not recommend nor prescribe one of the two meds that I am on that contains the biologically active form of thyroid hormone (T3, long story). It takes most patients A LOT of doctor-shopping to find one who hasn't been brain-washed or courted by certain pharmaceutical companies and sometimes even the university in which they graduated. I got the meds I needed and some of the weight came off. Not all. The exercise and healthy eating has to take care of the rest.

But as Jay stated and the article you cited convey, "starvation mode" (or whatever you want to call it) literally has to have a component of no exercise.

Kira, I have no idea or at least anything I can logically come up with as to why your weight stalled. I never want to take the route that Jeff (the probably well-meaning, nice guy who wrote the article that Robin cited) by saying "hey, you are either lying about your intake or lying about your output" even though it does happen. As in my case (of course the thyroid could have been the only cause, but I doubt it) I am not sure why I am now eating more than I did before yet losing weight. Maybe we can say the exercise has a lot to do with it. But: I was eating 1200 calories or lower a day, give or take with no exercise yet not losing weight. I am now eating on average 1450-1480 (something like that) calories a day and burning maybe 500 if you go by my bike and treadmill read-out. But it is probably more like around 350. So if you subtract the 350 from 1450, that leaves about 1100. Right around back to where I started???? It is not making sense, very confusing, but it sure is interesting!

06-25-2009, 11:59 PM
I'll tell you, at $1000 a MONTH for the diet plan, I couldn't afford to NOT succeed. And my experience was actually quite common at the clinic, which was surprising to me. So, for whatever reason, and regardless of the contradictory research and multitudes of articles out there, I personally believe that unless I get adequate calories while exercising, my weight loss will slow drastically.

What is really interesting to me is that I was on Medifast for a while. That program SPECIFICALLY states that you need to LIMIT your exercise while on its very low calorie meal plan, or else your weight loss will SLOW (45 minutes a day, moderate activity). Now, I know it is a commercial plan and I know that plans will tell you anything, but I just find it interesting that this is their recommendation and they make it based on their experience and feedback from their clients. And on their online forum boards, there are TONS of posts about people who exercise beyond the intensity and duration recommended by the plan and whose weight loss slows drastically. Go figure! I never slowed down on that plan but I made sure I DIDN'T exercise at all!!! Which meant I was on a diet, not changing my lifestyle. Which is why I regained all the weight :(

So NOW, I am changing my lifestyle. For me, my path chosen involves making sure I have enough calories IN to continue to lose weight while incorporating exercise. And if my weight loss slows, I tend to ease up on the exercise or up my intake. I know. Completely based on superstition. Not based in science. Not based in logic. Kind of nutty, actually. And the maintainers who have been successful with a different path have every right to confront this anecdotal evidence based on their experience and knowledge base. But it seems to work for me. And this time around, I'm down 71 pounds as of today during my time on WW without a plateau!
And if you do the math, I eat 25 WW points a day on average (well within my limits, which is approximately 1400 calories a day including my Flex points) and I do Hot Yoga for 90 minutes each and every day. And I lose on average just over 1 pound a week (I'm steady at 5 lbs a month. I've never lost more than that.). Seriously. I would have expected 3 pounds a week based on the numbers, but weight loss just isn't mathematical.

I guess it is like those hockey playoff rituals the players have -- you know, they don't shave during the playoffs so their luck isn't broken! No science involved but they all do it!!!

Whatever works for you is the best.



06-26-2009, 12:12 AM
I personally believe that unless I get adequate calories while exercising, my weight loss will slow drastically.

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the same holds true for me. But I have to do both. No low cal/no exercise, no high cal/exercise. Apparently, it has to be low to moderate cal/exercise for me.

06-26-2009, 03:32 AM
Wow, Kira, that's almost scary to hear! I can't imagine living on 452 calories, much less doing it and NOT losing weight. :(

06-26-2009, 06:57 AM
Wow, Kira, that's almost scary to hear! I can't imagine living on 452 calories, much less doing it and NOT losing weight. :(

Never mind arguing starvation mode/no starvation mode, I must be totally naive, because I never even knew that any one out there could charge so much money for providing so little - in every sense of the word.

Kira my love - what were you thinking ;)? I'm glad that little *experiment* only lasted 6 weeks. And if that is what propelled you to do it "right" this time - well then I guess it was there for a reason. :hug:

I can't help myself - those folks at the clinic - should be shot or put in jail. Or both. Or something. Anything. Lots of thing in fact. Someone - do something to them. ;)

06-26-2009, 07:11 AM
Yeah... Some doctor that was... Needs to have his license yanked...

Just curious, Kira--was the 7-mile walk to and from the clinic part of the program?

I'm just an experiment of one, but I can tell you that from my experience, 1100 net calories when physically fit works differently from 1100 net calories when sedentary and obese.

The main thing is patience. Trying to create too big a deficit, not eating enough, exercising too much--most people tend to do these things in an effort to lose fast. It is better by far to make these changes slowly and in a healthy way.


06-26-2009, 12:45 PM
Hey all! The clinic in question actually has an ad on this site :lol:

What was I thinking? Well, I'd been to WW and got down from 212 lbs to 158 lbs, but "took a break" and gained right up to 244 lbs. I went back to WW and got down to 221 lbs but it took FOREVER. I was desperate. I wanted to lose the weight once and for all and FAST. I'd been on WW before and thought that 1/2 to 1 1/2 lbs per week (which is historically my pattern) was too slow. I fooled myself to think that I could lose the weight and THEN focus on healthy eating. An MD ran this program, so I thought it had credibility. I followed a pattern that I had followed for pretty much my whole life prior, from the Stillman Diet at age 12 (!) to the Grapefruit Diet to, well, pretty much every plan out there. I was looking for the quick fix that would work forever.

As for the walk, it actually WASN'T part of the diet plan at first. The diet plan was a very low calorie diet that had some carbs but mostly proteins and water. We had long, LONG lists of OK foods and forbidden foods. We had to write down what we ate and have it checked every day at the clinic. We had to bring in pee samples EVERY DAY and have them checked for ketosis levels. And if you weren't in ketosis at a moderate to high level, food groups would be eliminated.
My typical day was:
6 egg whites, 2 tbsps diced tomatos , mushrooms, onions
1 apple, 1 slice bread, 1 tsp fat free cream cheese
salad with mushrooms onions and 2 sprays fat-free dressing
3 oz chicken breast, 1 cup green beans or broccoli or caulliflour

That's it. That's all. At the end, I wasn't allowed the fruit anymore because I wasn't losing weight fast enough. They also eliminated the bread and the cream cheese. And tomatoes. And the green beans. And the fat-free dressing.

At that point, I stopped losing weight. And there were NO more food groups to eliminate. I discussed this with the MD in charge, and she said to up the exercise. I decided to walk to and from the clinic, 3.5 miles each way. It just about killed me. Because I was upping the exercise, she allowed me one apple a day. I was so HAPPY!! I'd eat this apple on my walk home because I was feeling really, really faint after just a mile. So, at this point, my typical day was:

6 egg whites, mushrooms, onions
green salad with mushrooms, onions, no dressing
1 apple
3 oz tuna packed in water, 1 cup boiled broccoli

At that point I thought THIS IS CRAZY!! How many calories am I REALLY eating? When I did the actual calorie count, it came to a whopping 452 calories per day averaged over 14 days. I brought this point up to the nurse and said that the program claims 900 calories a day, so where were my missing 448 calories? And she said that the needle of vitamin B12 gave me the rest of the calories!!! Which was ridiculous. After THAT I was summoned to a conference between the MD in charge, the nurse and myself, and was told that my attitude sucked and that my compliance was poor!!! I held it together until the meeting was over, but I cried the entire way home (between bites of my apple! :lol:) because DARN IT, I WAS compliant! I HAD DONE EVERYTHING that was asked! I was in ketosis EVERY SINGLE VISIT -- I never had a non-positive urine test for ketone bodies! I was paying $50 a visit without results!!! And clearly it was ALL MY FAULT. It was CRAZY!!! And crazy-MAKING. And my A$$ hurt from all the needles.

So, at that point, I left the diet, at 171 lbs. The clinic has a no-refund policy for pre-paid plans. I didn't even have the energy to fight for the $500 left on my program. I lost that too. And without the skills to manage food, I regained 30 of the 50 lbs I lost to 201 lbs, back up to just slightly lower than where I was when I started, in a matter of WEEKS.

So I got desperate again! I didn't want to regain it ALL!! I had to do SOMETHING FAST, RIGHT NOW!! I paniced. I then went to Medifast!!! I lost the same 30 lbs quite quickly, but again, couldn't sustain the diet. I didn't exercise AT ALL on that program, and didn't plateau. But I made darn sure that I was completely sedentary. I got down to 171 lbs, went on vacation, and kept with the vacation all the way back UP , but this time, again to my pre-Medifast weight plus 1 pound. PANIC!!! I had to reassess WHAT THE HECK I WAS DOING. Do I EVER learn??? :rofl: And this cycling between severe dieting and essentially binging clearly wasn't productive, nor healthy, nor effective in the long run. I decided that I had to address my LIFESTYLE, and not just the numbers on the scale. These quick plans taught me NOTHING about how to manage food for the rest of my life, and I sure wasn't in any great shakes cardiovascularly.

Well, I looked at all the plans, and on January 2nd of this year, I chose to return to WW at 202 lbs, which had worked for me in the past, and decided to focus on the lifestyle COMPLETELY. The diet and exercise are PART of the lifestyle. But the scale numbers aren't the be-all and end-all of this program. I equate SUCCESS with being OP and exercising. I'm now back down to 173.5 lbs, and this has taken me 6 months. And I'm at my traditional PANIC weight!!! But this time, I intend to stay the course. To do something I've never done before, which is be PATIENT and to focus on the lifestyle, not the numbers.

And just as a side note, about 10 years ago I lost alot on WW. I went from 221 lbs to 158 lbs. I lost an average of 6 lbs a month. I stayed in my plan, and I exercised like crazy. My typical day at the end (before I thought that I "deserved to take a break" :rofl:) was 25 WW points. My exercise plan was this:
days 1-5: walk to and from work 3 miles each way (total 10 km walk) PLUS a daily run rotating between 5 km (easy day), 5 km (fartlek), 8 km (distance), 5 km (easy day), 5 km (fast) PLUS 1 hour aquafit class at the local Y in the evening.
day 6: long distance run (12-15km)
day 7: rest.

And with ALL that exercise and on 25 WW points, I averaged a 1.5 lb loss a week. And I was younger than when I was on Medifast.

On Medifast, some 8 years LATER and OLDER, on 900 calories a day, no exercise, I averaged a 3 lb per week loss.

Go figure...


ps. I have my ticker at 244 lbs because, darn it, I "earned" every single one of those pounds when I started this journey at my all-time high!!! Even though I have been on a number of plans, this HAS been a very long and frustrating path!!!

06-26-2009, 01:10 PM
They had an ad on THIS site? That's just sick, that they did that to you, Kira. No one deserves that. That is NOT HEALTHY. I don't think that their clinic should be advertised on 3FC at all, because it doesn't seem like anything that 3FC stands for, so to knowingly have such an ad up is going against its very principles. To have it up in naivity is one thing, but now that the truth is known...
I just can't believe you had to go through that. I'm so glad you're doing it the right way now. :hug: And I'm glad that you're okay.

06-26-2009, 01:38 PM
ive hadtrouble, past month, eating at all. For like a week, in the afternoon, i just felt sick after i'd eat. Just uncomfortable. I've gotten into the good habit of not grabbing things from the fridge, when i dont need to but its crossed over into when i do need to eat something. I kinda look at food and... well just dont want it, comsumed with guilt, even if i eat a salad wrap, think of the calories in that tortilla wrap, think how disgusting that lettuce is.. ah food has become an obsession, but instead of comsumig, i try to avoid it

06-26-2009, 01:45 PM
I can't believe you went through all of that! I'm so sorry.

I know what you mean about patience. That's what I'm struggling with right now. The days just don't pass by fast enough, I have to force myself to not check the scale like twice a day (what am I expecting? to suddenly drop 50 lbs? lol).

06-26-2009, 03:38 PM
I tend to get this thought in my head that... well, if I didn't eat as much that I would lose weight faster. I know I should be eating, but sometimes I just can't convince myself that some oatmeal, cereal, etc would make me feel better than not eating anything at all.
Sad, but true.

*Jinksie, I am right there with ya!

07-08-2009, 04:48 PM
I am experiencing the same thing....I made the wonderful mental switch that food is no longer my best friend but now I seem to view all food as my worst enemy :( I KNOW this is wrong and I KNOW when I skimp on calories overall during the day I am not following my weight loss plan correctly but that doesn't make it any easier. Thankfully my partner is very good at making sure my meals are supplemented with yogurt and fruits and additional calories but personally I just can't get away from analyzing everything I put in my mouth.