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It just doesn't work that way...too few cals

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Old 05-19-2010, 10:00 AM   #1
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Default It just doesn't work that way...too few cals

I'm really frustrated because I keep seeing these threads pop up of people eating less than 1000 cals a day and are frustrated that they are losing very little to no weight. Is there a sticky we can develope to discourage this? I'm not even a fan of 1200 and really think that the red line should be 1400, but I completely understand that we are all different we all lose differently and 1200 is great for many people. But under 1000 cals...I'm sorry, I know it seems logical that if you go really low cal you'll lose faster, but it just doesn't work that way. I'm running late for work and I don't really have time to go into all the specifics, but someone help me out here...how do we spread the word? Can we get some links together to support this. It breaks my heart that people are tourturing them selves this way to lose weight...I would think that this low of a calorie range would really impead someone's success chances because it is just completely unsustainable. And of course I know that people have done it and been successful, but let's be honest it's just not healthy. Please help me spread this information in a more thoughful educated manor. Thanks!
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:55 AM   #2
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I think the majority know eating under 1000 cals is unhealthy, but they have a different drive behind their weight loss I guess.

I have gone through so many phases of 'dieting' and still do, where I eat about 750. I would never encourage it to anyone, but it's one of the issues I have to work through, in the same way people struggle with overeating, binge eating etc.

People don't necessarily eat low calorie because they believe they'll lose weight faster, I think for me it is the primarily a control thing.

If someone wants to eat 1000 calories it's up to them, and if they want to eat 3000, it's their choice too. Neither may be very healthy for their frame/lifestyle, but it's their decision.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:01 AM   #3
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It also drives me nuts when I see people going under 1200. It's a pet peeve of mine, actually, lol. I don't see it too much around here, but I use caloriecount.com to track calories, and I venture to the forums sometimes. It's very common there for young girls (and some not young, but there are a LOT of teenagers) that start threads about eating like 500cal/day. "Will I lose weight if I eat 500 cal everyday?" and "How can I stay under 1000 calories?" and "I'm eating 750 cal/day and I'm not losing, what's wrong?"

I just want to shake them and tell them they're being stupid. Tell them they're doing more harm than good, and will end up either malnourished with a host of health and emotional problems OR gaining the weight back and then some. It is not "trendy" or "cool" to starve yourself, it won't make you popular. However, I realize that it takes a more sensitive approach. These people have deep-rooted emotional issues if they're willing to starve themselves to lose weight; they're desperate for help. Either that, or they're just ignorant and don't know that it's unhealthy and counterproductive.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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I disagree with just one tiny thing...it is potentially sustainable to eat 1200 calories. Dipping below that I don't know how one can get their nutrients in. But it is possible to live happily on 1200 and not be hungry.

Now for SOME, no, it's not sustainable. I know a woman who exercises so she can eat more because it's unsustainable for her. For me...I'm not hungry on 1200 calories.

The key, which is your point, is nutritionally sound calories at a SUSTAINABLE amount that works....whatever that may be.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:10 AM   #5
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I was doing 1100 calories- but after recalculating how many calories I'd need at my weight if I were "active" I've decided to go up slightly to 1200 calories. This works perfectly fine for me- I'm totally satisfied at then end of the day and find ways to get my nutrients in. But this won't work for most. I admit, I've had under 1000 days...just because I get too busy and "forget" to eat- and by the time I realize it it's too late to eat (I don't eat for 3 hours before bedtime).

My co-worker, sometimes I want to throttle her. She'd been having 1 meal a day at 400 calories. YIKES! I explained to her that it wasn't going to help her...and I think she's started up-ing her calories, thankfully!

In the end, you've got to do what you're body can do. One good starting point is to have 4 400 calorie meals a day, making your intake 1600 cals. I have had bouts of anorexia in the past- but now I can't imagine ever going there again!
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CorinneIrene View Post

My co-worker, sometimes I want to throttle her. She'd been having 1 meal a day at 400 calories. YIKES! I explained to her that it wasn't going to help her...and I think she's started up-ing her calories, thankfully!
My girlfriend is on a 800 calorie medically supervised diet. I think that's ridiculous and unhealthy. But I'm supporting her. She's only allowed to be on it 12 weeks and I think she's doing 6.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:25 AM   #7
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I've had a few days under 1000, but they were unintentional. It's weird, sometimes I feel like I'm eating more than I actually am. I'm an eyeball calorie counter and I tend to overestimate apparently. I'll get home and calculate a little more officially and sometimes I realize that I didn't eat enough.

If it's intentional, it's dangerous for sure.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:35 AM   #8
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So long as doctors support medically supervised vlcd's, I think it's probably inappropriate to lecture folks too intensely on vlcd's.

Personally, I think they tend to set up a person for failure (they did me). The body's brain and body physiology fight starvation. When a person on such a vlcd does eat, they're more prone to binge eating (and not just for psychological reasons). Then the person feels guilt and shame for losing control.

All that being said, no amount of admonishment helps people "see the light" when it comes to this and other dangerous dieting practices. In fact, I think overlecturing actually makes the situation worse. There's a dark side to human nature when it comes to warnings. I've seen it over and over with weight loss, warnings about diets that are dangerous, can actually attract people to them (oooh, if it's that risky, it must work killer fast).

Anyone who's here very long, will notice that almost no one is on a diet under 1200 calories. They also will see people discuss this topic as it's being done in this thread (it crops up often enough as a topic, that I don't think a sticky is probably necessary, but the mods will decide that).

I think the fact that it isn't often discussed, and is so often actively discouraged (almost anyone who eats less than 1800 calories will receive advice at some point that they're eating too little), is about all that anyone can or should do.

There are thousands of ways to lose weight, and I think we've got to be very careful about "spreading the news" about methods we think are unhealthy. It's taken me almost 40 years of dieting to find a weight loss method that works for me (low-carb), and one of the reasons it took me so long to try it, is because "everyone knows" how unhealthy low-carb diets are.

It makes ME want to shout from the rooftops that low-carb is THE way to lose way - but I could be wrong. Maybe it only works for some people. Maybe it's healthy for some people, and unhealthy for others. It would be just as irresponsible for me to shout out "it's healthy," than for all the others who've shouted out "it's not."
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:45 AM   #9
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I've been trying to plan how I'm going to maintain a healthy weight when I make it to goal, and at 5'2" and 135 pounds, my BMR is going to be around 1300 calories. Right now, I'm losing on 1500 calories a day, but when I get closer to goal, I'm going to have to drop my calories to around 1200. Short women need fewer calories normally, so it makes some sense that our calories to lose weight will be lower than the average height women. I've found though that if I eat only healthy food, then I don't need as much and I don't get hungry. I don't believe that there is an across-the-board amount of calories that everyone should eat in order to lose weight. I've had some people tell me that everyone should eat 1500 cals to lose, but at goal, I could GAIN eating that many calories.

I do agree that going under 1000 calories is potentially harmful, but going under 1000 calories on the rare day that you just don't feel like eating isn't going to do permanent damage either. I believe that if you're not hungry, don't eat, but when you are hungry, eat healthy.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:02 PM   #10
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I think this is the basically the same issue as the "It's My Metabolism" thread. "It's my metabolism."

There is no specific number of calories that works for everyone, maximum or minimum. Personally, I cringe every time the advice is given to raise calories, which happens all the time. I would not lose weight, and would likely gain, if I were consistently eating in the 1600-2000 calories range that works for many people.

Basically, I think we all need to just give support to others as they figure out the right plan for themselves, but not judge and compare against our own plan because no one plan works for everyone.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:14 PM   #11
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Kuchik, you would not gain weight eating 1500 calories at your goal weight. If your BRM would be 1300 calories, that is the amount of calories needed to maintain your weight if you did nothing but lie in bed all day long. I am going to assume this is not how you live your life. If you lead a normal moderately active lifestyle (regular exercise 3 to 5 days a week) you would multiply your bmr x 1.5..and bingo..you are now at needing approx 1900 calories per day. DONT confuse yourself with BMR numbers. BMR is a baseline for doing absolutely NOTHING. Each movement you take outside of bed adds to this number.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
I'm not even a fan of 1200 and really think that the red line should be 1400,
Oh no, no, no... 1200 calories of HIGHLY nutritious food is MORE THAN ENOUGH to sustain many, many, many people - if not all. And yes, I've dipped below 1200 calories from time to time with no ill affects what so ever. NONE. These numbers are just * basic* averages. So that means that some people will do fine eating higher than that and some will do fine eating lower. It's up to US to figure that out. We can not rely on some *calculator* where you punch in some numbers, not from a genie, someone who's *been there, done that* dietitian, nutritionist or even a doctor. These are all guesstimates. It's up to us and individuals to figure it out through trial and error.

I too cringe when I hear to up your calories and I also cringe when I hear, that a *safe* rate of loss is 1 -2 lbs a week - so not true- for the super morbidly obese (& less than that too), it most certainly IS safe to lose at a higher rate, provided of course you're adhering to a healthy, nutritious diet.

You know, you do hear of the folks who are eating very little calories, but I'm fairly certain that the overwhelming majority find out pretty quickly that that is not sustainable and NOT the way to go. Sometimes you just need to figure it out on your own, though I DO understand the need to *let people know*, to so badly want to help them.

There are never any *definites* and it would not be our place to *lay down the law*.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:36 PM   #13
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Sometimes, we also forget that most people still do not calculate their calories properly (out of the population that actually tries!). While someone may claim to be eating only 1200 calories, I think often the reality is that they aren`t eating 1200 calories. Calories in, calories out, is a fairly simple process that is difficult to accurately measure in practice (generally, a weigh scale is required to make this truly accurate, as product labels and cooking methods can really vary). People in severe calorie restriction (medical supervised diets, eating disorders, prisoners) will lose weight at an alarming rate when eating too few calories. There is a lot of research about the validity of `starvation mode`- a great deal of medical journals and other literature have shown that it is not nearly as prevalent as people claim. I find it very difficult to believe that those who have a history of eating too much food can`t seem to lose weight on low calorie diets (that they calculate themselves) when medical science has shown that those who are forced into severe calorie restriction do not suffer from this so-called `starvation theory`.

The truth - a lot of people have bad math. And some people really can eat 1200 calories. I personally aim for 2500+ due to my exercise level and age, but there are some who really can eat 1200.

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Old 05-19-2010, 12:36 PM   #14
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BMR and maintenance calorie calculators aren't terribly accurate in my experience. I've used them for 35 years plus to try and estimate my loss rate. Heck, I used them before home computers were common, and you had to do them with pencil and paper.

They were fairly accurate (my results matched) when I started, but got less and less accurate with each new diet. It's one of the reasons I suspect that dieting can lower your metabolism. Even accounting for my activity level and age (I'm now in the sedentary category from my health problems) my numbers don't add up.

The calories BMR calculators spit out for me, are far too high. I gain weight at that calorie level - proving of course that my actual BMR must be much lower than the calculator estimates.

The only way to determine how many calories you can eat to lose or maintain weight, is to try it and see. I lose more weight, more comfortably (less hungry) on 1800 - 2000 calories of low-carb than on the same calories of higher carb). As a result, I'd also recommend people experiment with the proportion of fat/protein/carbohydrates as well as the calorie level.

The calculators can tell you what the average BMR is, but it can't tell you what your BMR is. It's not a bad tool to give you a starting point, but experimentation is really the only way you can find the right level for yourself.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:41 PM   #15
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I think alot of people who don't calorie count, don't really know how many calories they normally eat in a day. I remember when I did my first diet in High School, I was eating 1500 calories a day and it seemed like so much! I ended up only eating like 800 a day. But when I added up how many calories I had eaten before dieting it was 2000+...but I didn't know.

Now I'm at 1200 calories a day and it's plenty! I make sure I get enough proteins and vitamins and all that, I am never hungry and I eat plenty.
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