Calorie Counters - Calories VS "Feeling Full"




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punkrocksong
05-04-2013, 09:43 AM
I've been successfully losing weight each week by counting calories, eating balanced meals, and exercising, but I had something a little scary happen yesterday and I'm not sure what I should do.

Like so many of you, I've been a little confused about how to use my calories, how many I should eat, should I cycle them, is it a big deal if I go over? I found I was kind of naturally cycling them - eating the most on Saturdays and working down throughout the week...but ultimately I decided that I would slow down until I'm full.

Yesterday at work I felt really dizzy and ravenously hungry and I was completely miserable. I got home and I looked at the data and without realizing it I had only eaten about 800 calories each day. On any particular day I had felt full at the time, but by last night I felt like I could eat a horse - I restrained myself to streamed broccoli, pinapple streaks, and a piece of skinless roasted chicken...and one solitary corn bread muffin - but that still only put me at 1100 for the day.

Yes I want to lose weight, but I know I can't maintain eating 800 calories a day forever...and it's very unhealthy! So should I still get as close to the 1600 a day and eat even when I'm not all that hungry or should I just continue to eat until I'm full? I originally thought counting calories would be so much easier...but I'm finding it just as frustrating as any other "diet" plan.


Tuscany
05-04-2013, 09:55 AM
I'm no expert, but here are my suggestions. First, except in unusual circumstances, you should always eat at least 1,200 calories per day. Now, there are days when I'm really busy and just not hungry, and on those days I might slip below 1,200...but those days are (and should be) few and far between.

As for how many calories to eat, it will depend on your age, activity level, etc. But I would calculate your target calories per day such that you lose about 1 to 2 lbs per week (i.e., no more than that). I can't say whether 1,600 is or is not the right number in your case.

As for eating when you're not hungry and eating to feel full, etc...I plan my meals in advance. If I'm not hungry, I don't keep eating, just for the sake of eating. I stop when I feel satisfied. If doing that happens to put me under my target calories for the day, so be it (that's rarely the case). On the other hand, if after eating my planned meal, I still feel hungry, I tend to drink some more water, which tends to make me feel more "full".

dstalksalot
05-04-2013, 11:19 AM
You should be eating closer to 2000-2400 on average a day at your height and weight. As you lose decrease your calories slowly. Try eating more nuts, avocado, protein.

You were dizzy and hungry because your body needs more food. Increase your cals and work on slow and steady changes. Ones you can maintain for life.


luckymommy
05-04-2013, 12:06 PM
I don't think 800 calories is enough on a regular basis. However, once in a while, if you're really not hungry, I don't think it's a big deal. If you think about it, people used to hunt for food and there wasn't always food around for people to consume.

I also think you should add healthy fats to your diet since they're full of nutrition and are calorie dense. Raw olive oil in your salad, nuts/seeds (peanuts are the worst choice), avocado, wild salmon and even some dark chocolate (a little bit that is more than 70% cocoa).

Calorie cycling is good too. Experiment with what works. Maybe for a few weeks you could make your calorie goal about 2,000 a day on average. Then have some high days and some low days to keep your body guessing. Try to avoid things that are full of sodium and processed. Instead, have lots of veggies, protein and some fruit.

I'm rambling. Sorry! ;) I guess my feeling is that if you are having this episode of not feeling well and being ravenous that means that your body is too deprived of proper nutrition and calories.

Vex
05-04-2013, 12:18 PM
This is why logging your food is so important for calorie counters, especially in the beginning. Just as you can get surprised that you've only eating 800 calories for the day, you can be equally surprised that you've eaten 3000.

I don't force myself to eat if I'm not hungry. If you have a day or two under calories, it's really no big deal. The same is true for going OVER calories. It's just that you don't want to be eating 800 calories consistently, nor do you want to be eating 3000 every single day of the month.

If you seem to be running really low on calories for the day, have a snack. It doesn't have to be a huge snack, just something like a granola bar or similar. If you find you've had had a couple of 800 days and start to feel just awful, make sure you "refeed" yourself. I've done this myself. Eat enough that makes you feel better. It's really about your overall average intake, and not necessarily every day's specific amount.

As for what calorie level you should be eating, I believe that you should be eating as much as you possibly can while still losing weight. If that's 1600, great. If it's more like 1200, that's fine too. However, the higher you start the better for a couple of reasons:

1. Eventually your weight loss will slow down as it does for most people. It's really hard to adjust downward if you're only eating 1200 a day to kick start your weight loss again.

2. It's harder to stick to 1200 calories a day than 1500 or 1600. Eat at a level that you can stick to for the long haul.

vdander24
05-04-2013, 01:05 PM
This is why logging your food is so important for calorie counters, especially in the beginning. Just as you can get surprised that you've only eating 800 calories for the day, you can be equally surprised that you've eaten 3000.

I don't force myself to eat if I'm not hungry. If you have a day or two under calories, it's really no big deal. The same is true for going OVER calories. It's just that you don't want to be eating 800 calories consistently, nor do you want to be eating 3000 every single day of the month.

If you seem to be running really low on calories for the day, have a snack. It doesn't have to be a huge snack, just something like a granola bar or similar. If you find you've had had a couple of 800 days and start to feel just awful, make sure you "refeed" yourself. I've done this myself. Eat enough that makes you feel better. It's really about your overall average intake, and not necessarily every day's specific amount.

I really think this is great advice. The only thing I could add is that being dizzy and ravenous, are usually pretty good warning signs that your body needs food . I agree with Vex, that good or bad, you shouldn't be surprised about your calories. Was the 800 calories intentional? If not, then maybe you could ease off on the limits for a week, and be really good about tracking and counting, so you can see where your body is at. Then you can adjust from there. I am only a few days in, so I am trying to remove the emotion from the equation and be clinical about this. I have a limit of 1800 calories, but at the moment, I am not really obsessed about staying under. I AM however obsessing about logging and recording,so that 1) I can learn about what my body has been doing, and 2) I can look at the information and come up with a more specific plan. The really great thing is that you are continuing to find ways to be successful rather than giving up so Congrats for that :-)

punkrocksong
05-05-2013, 01:01 AM
Thanks for the advice...and no the 800 way definitely not intentional - I had a really busy week and for once was thinking of something other than food. I went back and looked and I definitely need to eat more protein and fat. I also did a better job of planning my meals out for the week to make sure that I am in fact eating enough.

I did much better today...I came in around 1700 and felt like I had eaten a ridiculous amount of food compared to what I had been. I should have probably done a little more research, but it gets frustrating at times because everyone says something different. One person will say 2400, someone else says 1900, I looked into that myfitnesspal and it has me at 1800, my doctor suggested 1500, the dietician I spoke with over the phone suggested 1600, my best friend said she's been at 1300...it all gets to be so much information.

vdander24...you're absolutely right and right now I'm so grateful that I've been so diligent in keeping track of my food so I can figure out what's working and what isn't. And if it gets to the point where I need to eat something just so my body has some fuel then so be it. I know I don't want to feel like I did yesterday again.

I think I'm going to keep it around 1900 for a week or two and see where I am after that....again - thank you for taking the time to post!

dstalksalot
05-05-2013, 02:01 AM
^ it is a bit of trial and error. No one can say exactly where your sweet spot between losing and maintaining is. Good luck to you.!