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Dangers of undereating?

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Old 10-13-2007, 09:21 PM   #1
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Default Dangers of undereating?

For about two months I've been eating about 1000 calories per day and feeling just fine, not faint or crabby or hungry. Sometimes I go over that, but it's a rare day when I actually reach 2000 calories. I know this is usually not medically reccomended unless a patient is severely morbidly obese, but do you know if it will have any ill effects long term if there seem to be none short term? I've lost 20 pounds with diet and exercise, so clearly it's worked so far, but should I change my eating habits for the future?
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Old 10-13-2007, 09:53 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your 21 lb. loss!!

Some things to think about:

If you're not getting enough nutrients in those 1,000 calories, you could be harming yourself.

If people stop losing before reaching their goal, the usual response is to lower calories and increase workout duration and/or intensity. If you're at 1,000 calories already, going lower wouldn't be feasible.

One reason to eat as many calories as possible and still lose is that when you go to maintain, you don't want to have to maintain on 1,000 calories for the rest of your life.

If you're really not hungry on most days, then something you could do is eat 1,000 calories one day, then eat more the next, and do a kind of high/low thing, making sure that you get the proper nutrition and a good balance of calories for the week.

Remember that it's not a race. Once you get to your goal, maintenance looks just like what you've been doing except you eat a couple hundred more calories per day. So many people think that once they get to their goal, they can go back and eat like "normal" people. Unfortunately, that's not true, and is probably the reason that most people who lose weight gain it back plus more. It's a sobering statistic, but one that you can overcome. Check out the maintainers forum to see how the successful maintainers do it. It's really helpful to start thinking about maintaining while you're still losing.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck!!
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Old 10-14-2007, 03:28 AM   #3
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My Vet put me on 1100 a day. So, as long as you are eating waht you need to eat to stay healthy..but I agree with Sheila, higher is better when it comes to losing weight.

BTW I couldn't maintain the 1100 I was light headed and feeling gross all day long. I just went about 85% fat free, and about 50% sugar free and I am trying to eat less, over all.
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:12 PM   #4
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I have recently begun counting calories and eating healthier. I am amazed at how few calories I actually eat a day on my new healthy eating plan. Because I eat more fiber, more veggies, more fresh foods and no candy, fast foods, and the like I am only eating about 900-1200 calories a day. However, I too am only 5'3". I do walk every day, a lot infact but I haven't made it to the point where I am ready to do heavy cardio or weight training yet. I have dropped 10 pounds in the last few weeks and have loads more energy. I rarely am hungry. But I still feel guilty about not eating enough because everything I read is higher than that.
Does anybody know a chart or whatever that lists based on your height, body type and activity level how many calories as a general guide you should be eating a day to lose weight, maintain, etc? I know it is all in trial and error, but as far as my health goes, I think the less error the better.
I've pretty much even after a couple of weeks come to terms with the fact that I will have to eat like this the rest of my life. Sure there will be times where I do eat that piece of cake or have fast food, but it cannot be every day like I was doing there.
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:03 AM   #5
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If you go to the calorie counters section, there is a F.A.Q. section on calorie counting.

There are a few problems that can happen with eating too low calorie:


The first thing that should be explained is that the more you weigh, the more calories your body burns each day doing everyday activities. If a 150 pound woman, and a 250 pound woman both walk a mile, the 250 pound woman burns more calories doing this, because she is carrying 100 extra pounds the whole way with her.

This is the reason that you should not start out a calorie counting plan eating 900-1200 a day. You should start out eating the highest amount that you can (while losing 1-2 pounds per week) because when your weight loss plateaus after 20, 30, 50 pounds...then you want to have some calories to play with.

For instance, if you start out at 250 pounds and find that you can lose 2 pounds a week eating 1800 calories a day, then that is what you should be doing. After you lose 20, 30, or whatever pounds-you might find that your weight loss slows down or stops. This is because you are now carrying less weight-so you are carrying around less when you walk through the store, go up the stairs, etc. each day. At this time, drop the calories down a bit to maybe 1700, or 1600 if needed. You can also increase your exercise a bit-either in length, or intensity. This will get things going again.

You will find that as you near goal, because you have less to lose now-that it will slow down. The last 10-20 pounds come off the slowest. You don't want to start out at 900-1200 calories, and then have nowhere to go to (other than anorexia...) when your weight loss stops down the road. Your body will have gotten accustomed to an extremely low calorie level way too early in the game, and you are going to have trouble losing later on.


***

Another thing that can happen with a too low calorie diet, is simple:malnutrition. You cannot live on 900-1000 calories a day, for an extended period of time, and not suffer health consequences. It is very hard, and you have to be pretty diligent, to get in your nutritional needs at 1200 calories a day (which is why most low calorie diets don't recommend that you go below that level for long periods of time.) At 1200 calories a day, to get in all the protein, fiber, fat, calcium, etc. that you need each day-you have to be very, very strict. No 100 calorie packs, etc. or you are going to be missing nutrients.

Sometimes very small, petite women DO have to go to 1000 calories a day-but this is only when they are trying to lose the last 5-15 pounds. It isn't for the whole journey!

After a few months of not enough nutrients-there will be side effects such as brittle hair and nails, drab looking skin, etc. and sometimes there can even be medical issues as well from losing weight too quickly. (gallstones, etc...)

So, even if there are no bad effects at this moment-health, appearance, and having trouble getting to goal because you have slowed your metabolism in the process are future concerns.



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Old 10-15-2007, 12:56 PM   #6
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I fully understand what you are saying, and I agree. I am still in the early stages of my diet, and I am trying to figure out what works. And also, I do not have a kitchen scale so everything has been measuring from volume and guessing. So my calories could be infact higher than I realize. I will write down my food intake from yesterday. Please feel free to critique it. This is average eating for me, except I don't usually eat that much cheese
Breakfast
1 cup kashi go lean cereal with 1/3 cup rice milk (heart healthy rice dream plain flavor) Approx 180 calories
snack: Dr. Kracker seeded spelt flatbread with one fat free Kraft cheese slice : 150 calories

Lunch: two slices of food for life sprouted whole grain bread with 1/4 cup fat free organic cottage cheese and slices of cucumber. approx: 250 calories

snack: 100 calorie pack dessert

Dinner: Boca burger on one slice whole grain bread with one cup steamed veggies (broc, cauli, peas, etc.) mixed with one light laughing cow cheese and garlic herb seasoning. approx: 215

snack: one small pear: approx 100 calories
total calories: 975

When I look at the calorie count, it seems so low but when I think about yesterday, it seemed like I was eating a fair amount of food every few hours. I wasn't hungry once yesterday. While I did eat a fair amount of bread and cheese yesterday, it was all relatively healthy.
I try to eat organic whole foods as much as I can afford, and beyond that I eat as much fruit and veggies I can cram down my throat. I just don't want to do any serious damage by eating too little.
Oh, and yesterdays exersize was a 45 minute stroll/ hike around the park and a 25 minute walk around the neighborhood. Probably about a total of 2-3 miles.
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:34 PM   #7
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You could eat a lot more veggies (a few slices of cucumber and one cup of veggies really isn't very much), some additional fruit and better protein sources. Also, I don't see any healthy oils--you'll have problems if you don't get in some healthy oils. I, too, eat fat-free stuff, but I add in avocados, fatty fish, occasionally nuts, and one tsp. of olive oil mixed in with my fat-free dressing (that way I control the amount of oil). Peanut butter is a trigger for me, but to boost your calories and add in good oil and some protein, put some peanut butter on your bread instead of cheese.

If you replace the 100 calorie pack with more fruit and veggies, you'll get more nutrition for your calories. Also, 1/3 cup of rice milk isn't much calcium (I'm assuming rice milk has calcium?). Hopefully, you're taking supplements like a multivitamin and calcium. At your weight and exercising 45 minutes, you should be eating quite a bit more than you are. If you feel like you can't eat more food, make the food you eat calorie-dense (like peanut butter and nuts). A kitchen scale is quite helpful, although most of the foods you mentioned come with labels.
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Old 10-15-2007, 08:43 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tips, I make my own salad dressing with olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, and lemon juice so I do get a bit of fat there. I also LOVE avacados and have them on most of my salads. I can't eat most nuts because they make my mouth kind of swell up but I do occasionally eat pine nuts.
I take multivitamins, lemme check the bottle its called every woman's once daily made by new chapter organics. And I also take calcium. I have ever since I was a kid and I figured out I was lactose intollerant. I can eat cheese though, just no milk or ice cream.
I will definently make a point to add more foods with fats into my diet. I think you are right that is what I am lacking. Off to buy more avacados and pesto!
oh, can you think of other good fats? I like olives, avacados, and different oils, but I'd like to be able to change it up a bit. Would putting flax seed on my cereal be good?
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:18 PM   #9
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nuts are a great source of "good fat" (and that includes nut butters like peanut butter), as is salmon.
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:20 PM   #10
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tiger
It is very easy to buy lactate ( brand name ) milk these days. You can have your dairy and it won't bother you. My daughter has to have it. They also make lactose free ice cream, think Byers sells it. My daughter loves it. Aphil is right, the doc has me between 1200 and 1400 but really wants me up at 1400. I don't really count calories but fit day is great to see what is going on.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:03 AM   #11
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Kati, your vet put you on an 1100 cal. diet?
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Old 10-16-2007, 11:05 AM   #12
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Gail, I wondered about the "Vet" comment also..lol But didnt want to say anything...
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Old 10-16-2007, 01:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shy Moment View Post
tiger
It is very easy to buy lactate ( brand name ) milk these days. You can have your dairy and it won't bother you. My daughter has to have it. They also make lactose free ice cream, think Byers sells it. My daughter loves it. Aphil is right, the doc has me between 1200 and 1400 but really wants me up at 1400. I don't really count calories but fit day is great to see what is going on.

I really don't like the taste of milk anyway. I have never been able to sit and drink just a plain glass of milk. I haven't tried the lactose free icecream, I'll have to give that a go some day.
And I also noticed the vet comment, wasn't quite sure about that one either...

I love sashimi, but I don't care for cooked fish. Or maybe I just suck at cooking it. I can't eat nuts, any other suggestions?
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Old 10-16-2007, 01:29 PM   #14
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I can't drink milk, either, so I completely understand! I can do flavored yogurt, and cheese if it is on something (I never eat it plain...) but I just hate milk with a passion. I honestly think I stopped drinking milk at toddlerhood!

I drink soymilk most of the time...if I have to use milk in a recipe I use skim, because there is less taste to it-less of the creaminess/filmy mouth stuff that makes me dislike the milk so much.
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Old 10-16-2007, 07:56 PM   #15
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yes, how it coats your mouth and ugh! I have asthma which is also triggered by milk/ dairy products. That's how I figured out I was lactose intollerant. When I was a kid, I had serious asthma problems and my doctor said no milk until my cough cleared up. I used to get stomach aches in the mornings after eating breakfast (cereal with milk) , and they totally went away after that. I don't have really terrible problems with milk, just stomach cramps, bloating and gas :P.
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