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Old 08-16-2013, 10:56 AM   #1
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Question The ever controversial 1200 cals

So I've lost 30 lbs in roughly 5 months. Hurray

But my fitness pal put me at 1280 cals, which has been working. And it gives me a bonus for the cals burned through exercise, which is awesome. I seldom eat my calories back.

Some days I feel fairly fatigued. And super hungry. So I eat when my body tells me it needs it. Even if it means going over my cals.

Anyone think that listening to your body is a good rule of thumb, or should I be refraining from eating on those days? Or is it possible that I'm tired and ravenous because I'm throwing myself in starvation mode?

I just don't want to lose all this weight and then have it thrown back on because I'm not doing it right...ugh ugh ugh...

any advice?

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Old 08-16-2013, 11:58 AM   #2
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You are doing it exactly the same way that I did it. Eating carefully, listening to your body for cues when you need to eat more, and working out. I'd say, don't tinker with it if it's working for you.

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Old 08-16-2013, 12:09 PM   #3
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I'd say that on days you are super hungry go over your calories if you feel the need, just don't do it with junk. Concentrate on lean proteins, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats.

But if you are just a little hungry stick to your calories. Some hunger is going to be normal between meals etc because of the calorie deficit.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:34 PM   #4
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It's no controversial if you are educated on the subject. There is no caloric floor that one must never go under. It is an arbitrary number without context. Either your body's nutrient needs are being met or they aren't. The needs of a sedentary 4'9" female are far different from and active 6'6" male for example.

If you want to eat more, eat more. Your body isn't going into "starvation mode" though. You may want to experiment with the kinds of foods you're eating a bit to see what satiates you more. Most people, for example, find that protein and fat satiate far more than carbs.

Personally, I'm a fan of "diet breaks" where you eat at maintinence for a while but some people do better by just putting their head down and grinding it out.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:01 PM   #5
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Eating what your body tells you it needs got you overweight in the first place. How could you think it could make you thin? If you are overly hungry and tired, you are probably eating too many carbs and not enough protein. Carbs cause fatigue after an hour and protein keeps you feeling sated the longest, followed by fat and then carbs.

Plan nutritious meals, work out some every day and you won't be tired and hungry.

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Old 08-17-2013, 01:00 PM   #6
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Keeping a detailed health journal can help tremendously in finding your own best calorie and carb window. If you log food, sleep, mood, energy level, and symptoms like headaches, illnesses and digestive issues.... you can start to see patterns.

Starvation mode is largely myth (there's a grain of truth to the myth, but it doesn't work the way people tend to believe).

Regardless, your health journal will tell you what you need to know. Do you get blinding headaches when your carbs or calories are below a certain point (I do). Do you become depressed, angry, irritable, fatigued and lethargic below (or above) a certain calorie level? In what calorie/carb range do the benefits outweigh the unpleasant effects.

You may find that your range is wider or narrower than someone else's. You'll also find that your window may change based on a thousand potential factors.

If you don't want to keep a journal, you can still discover patterns, you'll just miss some of the more complex or subtle patterns. It doesn't have to be rocket science, just normal trial and error.
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Old 08-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #7
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Tired and a little hungry, especially in the evening, are perfectly normal on a diet. I get grumpy too.

If I don't feel particularly hungry and tired then I start maintaining. It's as simple as that for me.

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Old 08-18-2013, 12:57 AM   #8
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*Waves* to another Nebraska resident!

1200 isn't a magic number, it's just a generalization/average.

We are all different, and as Kaplods says, a journal is epic, in this journey!

A journal/blog or however you choose to keep track, gives you the feedback you need to assess and correct.

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a calorie range. Say, 1200/day, but allow yourself say 1000-2000 flex calories/week, to be used as you see fit. However, they don't carry over, you have to start new once a week.

This gives you flexibility in your plan. You can use them if needed, or not. This type of plan also allows you some flexibility for things like weddings, birthday parties, just hungry, the impromptu lunch, holidays and so on.

I've done this for a long time and it works great.

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Old 08-18-2013, 02:20 AM   #9
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I'm pretty much doing the same! Apart from a vacation blip (ahem) its kept me on track. I usually stick to about 1200 cals a day and when i'm really hungry i'll eat a bit more, as this was usually once or twice every few weeks i don't think it affected my weight loss, a steady 2-2.5 pounds a week. Word of caution though, i thought i would try a cheat meal once a week which degenerated into a whole day off plan and i don't think it worked very well for me.

If it's constant hunger look at what you are eating, if its once in a while i'd just allow a few hundred extra calories in but keep an eye on your weekly total. Good luck! Btw i find high fat low gi works for me, the volume of food is smaller but very satiating. Try out different food combos and see what works for you.
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:25 AM   #10
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The notion of "listening to your body" I find to be even more controversial. Here's the problem with listening to my body. My body tells me different things based on what I previously ate, and what I'm emotionally feeling. I don't trust my body to tell me what it needs unless I've been consistently giving it good things to eat. If I give it sugar, then my body immediately tells me to give it more sugar. If I give my body diet soda, then my body immediately tells me to give it potato chips. If I give my body wheat then it immediately tells me to give it sugar. As you can see, I don't trust what my body wants, I've been listening to what my body wants and it's gotten me to 200lbs.

Instead, I treat my body the way I treat my 2yr old son. I give it what it needs, not what it wants.

"If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist." - Geneen Roth
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:51 AM   #11
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While calories in vs. out is a big part, I'm a believer in what you eat plays a big part too.

I read these articles recently and I think they explain it pretty well:


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Old 08-18-2013, 12:06 PM   #12
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I don't know enough to comment scientifically on the 1,200 calorie discussion. I think there is wisdom in listening to our bodies, though. If you're extra hungry one day, I think it's fair to honour that. It might also help to keep track of when that happens, how often during a week or month, and what else happens around those times (sleep, hydration, exercise, stress, change of schedule, etc.). Given enough tracking, you might even be able to detect a pattern! For anyone worried about listening to their bodies, this really might be the way to go to make sure eating is happening from genuine physiological need rather than emotional whims, sleep-substitution, etc.

Congratulations on your progress so far!
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Old 08-18-2013, 03:16 PM   #13
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1200 is what i eat for dinner.......
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Old 08-18-2013, 03:56 PM   #14
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I keep track of my food through Myfitnesspal, as well, and also monitor how I'm feeling throughout the day: am I bored? am I stressed? Did I do extra exercise today? I think keeping a journal is very important because it allows you to track everything and see trends.

Through this I've learned that I'm less inclined to eat more on the days I work out, which is opposite than what a lot of people experience. I've also learned that on days where I eat at a "recommended" sodium level, I gain 1.5-3lbs of water weight even eating at a deficit, which tells me I'm sensitive to sodium. I've found that on my higher carb days I tend to stall, or sometimes gain. These are things I probably wouldn't be able to tell, at least not right away, if I didn't keep that journal.

I do listen to my body, and will eat when I am hungry (even if the app says I've gone over my calories). I try to aim for things that are lower in calorie and high in fiber/protein as I find those keep me satisfied longer. I like things like prunes, or a small bowl of salad greens with a tablespoon of fat free toasted sesame dressing with a pinch of crunchy oriental noodles, or even just some cold cooked chicken breast cut into small bites. They may not be the most conventional snacks, but if I'm going to go over my calories, I want it to be minimal and something that will be more healthy for me in the long run.
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Old 08-18-2013, 03:57 PM   #15
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I can't always trust my body's signals whereas my sister can. She eats when she's hungry and stops when she's not and it works really well for her. What I do instead is whenever I get hungry I will either have some low cal soup which I always have on hand or some veggies. If I'm no longer hungry then good, but if I'm still hungry I'll know that I'm just having a craving and it'll pass. I also notice that when I'm supposedly hungry but only want a specific item(usually something fried or creamy), it's not real hunger.
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