Calorie Counters - How many calories are people having each day.

Helen ready to lose
02-28-2010, 11:40 PM
I am having trouble figuring out how many calories I need to lose weight. I lost 20 pounds on a high protein, very low carb diet. I have reached a plateau and I am burnt out on the plan. In the past I always lost weight best by counting calories and sticking at right around 1200 calories so I decided to switch to counting calories. That way I can also have a more balanced diet. This last week I wasn't very hungry and was eating around 1,000 calories and I didn't lose anything. I notice some people are doing much higher calorie counts. I also want to start zigzagging. Would appreciate some advice and any tips. Also, should I be counting anything other than calories, for example, protein, sugar, carbs? I am 56 and haven't been very active other than swimming aerobics 3 hours a week. I do know I need to get more exercise.

03-01-2010, 12:09 AM
I really like the calorie calculator at freedieting.

03-01-2010, 01:28 AM
Ditto freedieting, 1200 is way too low for you depending on your activity level. Less is not more when it comes to calorie counting.

03-01-2010, 08:29 AM
I like the calculator at freedieting, also. It even works out a zigzagging schedule for you.

I've found that my personal "sweet spot" is 100 cal less/day than recommended for me, where I'm losing 1.5-2lbs/week. I'm eating between 1300-1600 cal/day on a zig zag schedule

03-01-2010, 09:22 AM
Wow, cool website Babygrant. That was easy!

Lori Bell
03-01-2010, 10:44 AM
Ditto freedieting, 1200 is way too low for you depending on your activity level. Less is not more when it comes to calorie counting.

I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. (And the one above) If you are 54 years old, (Postmenopausal?) and only get 3 hours of low impact excercise a week, 1200 calories is not too all, as long as they are all healthy calories and not 1200 calories worth of chips and ice cream. Eating more calories does not make you lose weight faster, it makes you lose weight slower, and in most cases gain weight. I gained up to 333 pounds by eating too many calories...(and being a couch potato and drinking to much booze).

Starvation mode is something that happens to anorexics, the elderly and starving little children, not 199 pound women.

You need to give 1200 calories more than just a week, especially since you just came off of a very low carb diet. Low carb diets keep you less hydrated, therefore you retain less water in your body. Adding carbohydrates will hydrate your body, so you will naturally gain some water weight. You probably didn't lose any weight because any fat you lost is masked by a little additional fluid retention. Give it another week, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

03-01-2010, 12:10 PM
Are you able to reconstruct the calories you have been eating on the high protein/lo carb plan? Sometimes I think we can get very valuable information by not necessarily changing anything right away, but by documenting what we have been doing. If you were losing eating 1800 cal of high protein/lo carb, then I might suggest 1400 or so now that you've plateaued.

It's generally recommended to be careful about going under 1200 calories a day as it can be challenging to get enough nutrition. I'm of the school where I think it is just as important to eat enough of the right foods as it is to not eat too much food.

How long have you been on your plateau?

As you can see, different things work for different people, so the best thing is to figure out what your body needs to lose while meeting your needs.

Helen ready to lose
03-01-2010, 12:29 PM
WOW! Thank you all so much! You have given me lots of great ideas. I am going to start by going to freedieting's website and reconstructing the calories I was taking in on the low carb plan. Why didn't I think of that! I am also going to zigzag and re read all these posts again as there is so much great information. You are all great!

03-01-2010, 01:07 PM
I eat around 1200 a day and have lost 22 lbs in 1 1/2 months. I am 35 postmenopausal. Had a total hysterectomy 10 years ago. I am not super active therefor my body requires less calories. I am functioning great at 1200 calories. If you eat a healthy 1200 calories...lots of fresh fruit, veggies, milk and protein. Watch your fat grams and carbs. I think that if you give it a couple of weeks you will see a difference.

03-01-2010, 01:09 PM
I use the Loseit app on my iPod Touch. You give your goal weight and how many pounds you want to loose each week. To get to my goal at 2 pounds a week, it said I should eat 1443. If you include your workouts it will recommend that you eat more. I don't include my workouts because I eat plenty unless I t's a real intense workout. If I feel hungry I may eat extra calories depending on the time of day. If it doesn't kick in til later in the evening I go to sleep.

Happy hunting!!

Lori Bell
03-01-2010, 01:10 PM
With all due respect, Lori, ncuneo, freedieting, and the rest in here are all right. 1200 calories is too little for someone who is 199. Carbohydrates do not automatically hydrate the body (veggies & fruits being the exception to this). And starvation mode DOES happen to everyone, not just the elderly, anorexics, and small children. I wish I could post some links to articles that would disprove each of your statements but I have to make a few more posts before I can do that. Research shows that we lose more pounds more effectively when we eat more, not less.

I must be a freak of nature then. (As well as several ex-morbidly obese members here at 3FC) I lost 190 pounds eating approx 1200 calories a day. My doctor is thrilled with my blood work and over all health. I NEVER, not once, had a plateau...definitely did not starve, and have minimal excess skin.
Each person is different, but if overweight people could routinely go into starvation mode, from low calorie diets the lap-band would be taken off the market and bariatric surgeons would be jobless don't ya think? ;)

AS far as carbohydrates hydrating your body, PLEASE do a little more research. Carbohydrates act like a sponge. They don't necessarily create the extra fluid in your body, they attach to H2O on the molecular level from other fluids you consume..such as drinking water.

Haven't you heard a million times here at 3FC about people gaining 5 pounds in a day after a sugar binge? What do you suppose causes that?

ETA: Oh and as far as The Biggest Loser contestants you mentioned, please remember they work out up to 6 hard hours a day. Helen here has stated she does swim aerobics, (Which is considered low impact) for 3 hours a WEEK.

03-01-2010, 01:12 PM
Everyone is different. I didn't see a budge in my scale until I started increasing my calories and keeping them consistent at the suggestion of a RD. It's working beautifully.

Trial and error is the only way to really know what works for each individual.

03-01-2010, 02:08 PM
I am of the school of thought that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. You can lose weight at 1200 calories a day, but I don't think you should if you can help it. Sure, I lost a lot of weight on 1200 calories a day. So many times that I am back up to nearly 300 lbs LOL

This current time has been more moderate, with a higher caloric intake, more reasonable goals, and with more of a moderate mindset and slower weight loss. I have been so successful that I even stopped counting calories of any kind of a couple months and while I didn't lose, I didn't gain either. To me, that is a success.

For most people, extreme calorie reduction is not a realistic goal that will prove long-term success...but then, I am of the mindset (along with many many healthcare professionals) that losing 5 lbs a month is healthier than losing 20 in a month.

Of course, everyone is individual and your results will vary.

03-01-2010, 02:19 PM
Once again, we arrive at the same conclusion - no one knows our bodies better than we know them ourselves.

I am, by all accounts, somewhat of a calorie-burning anomaly. I'm in my 20's, extremely active (1-2 hours of cardio and weight lifting, 5-6 days a week), and *gain* weight if I go over 1600 calories a day. This is just the facts of being me. If I want to lose, I do need to go down to the 1200-1300 range. Most people in their 20's, at my weight, with my level of activity would not have to go that low, but I do. That doesn't mean it's wrong for them to eat more, it just means that it ISN'T wrong for me to eat what I eat, because that's what my body requires to lose and maintain a near-healthy weight.

But again, I'm an anomaly. I wore a Heart Rate Monitor for 3 months straight, recording my daily burn each day. It indicated that I was burning between 3500 and 4000 calories each day I exercised, with 2000-2500 if I didn't do much more than housecleaning. Believing I was starving myself and thus not losing weight, I went ahead and upped my calories to 1800 based on those numbers from the heart rate monitor...nope, gained weight. I'm not "average", and those numbers (as well as the numbers on all of those calculators) are based on the average.

This subject always gets so heated, and I must admit that as someone who has tried to eat more and only experienced gains, I can understand's frustrating to have people tell you that you can and should be eating more for maintenance, when you know from experience you can't. I get frustrated enough thinking about how much extra food an extra 300 calories a day would bring me, you know? People telling me that I *should* be able to eat that much without gaining weight, even when I know from personal experimentation that I can't, almost serves to "rub it in" a bit.

This is why we're all Experiments of One. You have to find a calorie level that is right for you. As long as your doctor is happy, you're happy, and your weight is where you want it to be, you're doing OK, IMO.

03-01-2010, 02:45 PM
Once again, we arrive at the same conclusion - no one knows our bodies better than we know them ourselves.

I totally agree.

Lori lost weight on a 1200 calorie diet, her doctor is happy with all of her tests, she feels wonderful....why is she getting attacked? She is one of the maintainers who's story I read when I want to be motivated. I could see if she was promoting an 800 calorie a day diet with 4 hours of cardio a day....but what she is promoting is 1200 calories of healthy whole foods. Nothing wrong with that.

What works for one person doesn't work for another. I am eating between 1500 and 1900 calories a day. I feel good. I figure I might as well base my calories on the higher end for now because once I lose weight I'm going to have to bump them down anyways!

03-01-2010, 03:08 PM
Lori- for what it's worth, I totally agree with you. If I upped my calorie intake, I would start gaining weight right away. I'm small now so I eat 1050 to lose weight fast after a binge and 1200 to maintain. I am very active and walk 3 mi. everyday.

03-01-2010, 03:54 PM
What I think we can all agree on is that you want to start at the highest calories that YOU can and still lose weight at a healthy pace. This way you have room to move should you need to drop your calories later down the line when your body begins to require less. If you start at 1000-1200 at 199 there is almost no where to go. Also losing at higher cals will allow your maitenance calories to be higher as well. When you drop your calories too low for too long your metabolism slows down to a point of no repair and you are unable to increase those calories without gaining or adding significant activity. As you can see from the responses you have to do what is right for YOU. Good luck!

03-01-2010, 05:46 PM
We are all experiements of 1 and I think Helen has a great plan to look at what she has been eating and tweak from there.