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Am I possibly not eating enough?

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Old 01-28-2014, 01:12 PM   #1
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Default Am I possibly not eating enough?

I started my lifestyle change on January 6, 2014, weighing in at a whopping 314 pounds. I was completely disgusted with that number (a number I've never seen in my life) and haven't looked back since. Yesterday marked three weeks since I started. I've been very dedicated, using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and tracking everything I put in my mouth. I've been "calorie-cycling" where I go up and down every day on my calories, hoping to rev up my metabolism. I've eaten as low as 1300/1400 and as high as 1900. But for the most part, I'm averaging about 1500 daily. Also, since day one, I've been exercising almost daily (about 6 times a week with one rest day). I go to a Zumba class once a week (in which I burn about 700 cals during the hour), and when I'm not doing that I do Zumba DVDs at home, Biggest Loser last chance workout, Just Dance on the wii, or walking a couple miles when it's not frigid outside. Considering my height, weight, and age (26), could I possibly not be eating enough? I've lost 12 pounds so far (which I know is great and I'm very excited about!) but this last week I barely lost a pound. With staying on track completely and all of the calories I'm burning, I was a little discouraged. My grandmother did pass away at the beginning of my weight loss journey and did make it very hard to stick to my diet due to being so upset, but I still never went much over my goal of 1700 calories or slacked off. I know when I first started using My Fitness Pal, it said I should eat like 2,000 or something but I changed it to 1700 (although like I said I change my calorie intake daily, especially considering how hard I work out that day). Is it really possible that I'm not eating enough and could lose more if I eat more? I feel like I know what I'm doing sometimes (you tend to feel like a flippin' expert when you've basically been on a diet since you were 12), but then I really wonder if I'm doing it right. Any insight?
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:22 PM   #2
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Also, I should add that I have PCOS and insulin resistance, and due to this and a disappointing week with the scale, I have decided to try lowering my carbs. Do you think that could also be a culprit and hopefully help me on the scale next week?
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:48 PM   #3
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sparkleNshine - geez, you have a great smile!

First off, I'm very sorry to hear about your grandmother, but I'm also super impressed with your progress so far!

So, a few things right off the bat - calorie cycling is a great tool, but also a pretty challenging one. The stuff I've read indicates that some people are better off with a larger discrepancy between 'high' and 'low' days, and it's also sometimes more effective to do several days in a row of each. So, for example, 1,200kcal for 3 days, and then 2,500kcal for 2 days (which gives an average of ~1,700kcal). Then back again. Not sure if that helps, but maybe something fun to play with.

The second thing I can absolutely recommend is to make sure you pair up your 'high' days with your most active workouts (probably your Zumba class, as opposed to a nice walk outside). An even more sophisticated tweak would be to also cycle your carbs - if you eat the majority of your carbohydrates in the meal following your physical activity for the day, you are most likely to use the energy to replenish muscle glycogen, as opposed to possibly converting a bit to fat storage. There was a study a few years ago that showed having 2 'restriction' days (60% of average kcal, <50g carbs) a week (AKA 5:2) accomplishes the same thing as following a constant ketogenic diet. But this is all getting pretty complicated, so I tend to just focus on most of my carbs after exercise.

I try not to stress out too much about macronutrient ratios, but personally I tend to do better with a good bit of protein in my diet every day (I like ~g protein/kg of lean mass, to aim for). Plus, if you're increasing your physical activity, you might even start to put on a bit of extra muscle (which is a GOOD THING! ) - protein is pretty important for that process. I've come to really enjoy strength training, so that might be something you could choose to explore in the future, if you're interested.

Just quickly plugging your info into a few calculators, I'd guess that you probably 'maintain' at ~3,000kcal a day, and can start to lose well at ~2,500kcal a day - so with an average of 2,000kcal you're probably realistically looking at ~1.5lbs lost every week. That's ideally fat loss, but not necessarily weight loss. It's possible, yes, that 1,700kcal is just a hair too low to aim for - you want to make sure you keep up enough energy to do those great workouts you're talking about! Maybe a cycle of 1,400kcal/2,800kcal? The idea of cycling is to 'trick' your body into thinking it's not being deprived - so you want to make sure your 'high' days are high enough to keep your 'body brain' happy, so to speak.

Try not to stress too much over the scale, and maybe consider using a tape measure instead. I like to weigh once a month, and use clothes/tape measure to figure out my progress for the weekly update - but that's just me.

Also, personally, I always really struggle with calorie counting because I'm so bad at estimating. It might be worth weighing your food for a 'high' and 'low' day each, just to check in that your estimates are reasonably accurate.

You're right, there is a classic issue of 'restriction contradiction', dictating that over time our bodies can adapt to new stresses, and stop losing weight at the same rate - which is what I'm assuming you're asking about, when you say 'not eating enough'. However, you're pretty early on in your weight loss journey, so if I had to guess I'd say that your metabolism hasn't 'adjusted down' yet.

If that is a concern though, I know some people have success with 'taking a break' from dieting 1 week out of every 7-8 (ie. once every two months). Where you eat at 'maintenance' calories (for your current weight, not starting weight) instead of trying to lose for the week- this helps give your body a break, and 'reset' itself, so to speak. Something to consider for the future, maybe.

I'm not a doctor/dietitian/fitness professional or anything - I just read too much. Please make sure to do your own research, and make good safe decisions for YOU.

It looks like you're doing really well! Keep going babe

Last edited by Defining : 01-28-2014 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:42 PM   #4
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Defining has said a lot of great stuff. The short answer is yes, you can eat too little, and by the numbers I'd say you are. I'm in the 370's eating about 2500 calories per day and losing almost five pounds per week. There are metabolic calculators available online if you want to have a better estimate for how much you should be eating, but I'd say 2000-2200 calories per day would be best for you.

Of course that said I actually haven't been trying to stick to a calorie range, just eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full... but it works out to about 2500 daily right now.
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:05 PM   #5
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Greetings from a fellow 5'11'-er. In my experience, weight loss is never linear. No matter what plan you're on, you'll have some weeks where you lose only paltry amounts, if anything. 1,500 calories has always been my magic number for weight loss, from age 16 to my most recent effort at age 54. (I'm now 57 and maintaining.)

Starvation mode is largely a myth. Metabolism will always slow down while you're in a caloric deficit, but not to the point that you can't lose any weight. Just carry on the way you're doing and measure your success over months, not single weeks.

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Old 01-28-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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One important thing to remember is that this is a very long journey. Don't start changing your plans based on 1 week, 22 days into your journey. Or even 222 days into your journey. The scale can go up despite our best efforts.
It may be that you need to up your calories, but then just settle in for a while and let yourself be so dedicated to your plan that it starts to bore you how regular it is.
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:56 PM   #7
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I recently went through a similar thing! I lost 12 pounds in my first two weeks, and than only 1 pound in my third. I took a look at my food intake and it was noticeably less in my third week than my first two. This week I have started eating a little more and I've already noticed a difference; I'm losing weight at about the same rate as the first two weeks. I'm not tracking calories so I couldn't give you my numbers, but so far in my experience I can eat too little to lose weight.

As for reducing carbs, this has been my most recent life style change and it has been infinitely more successful than anything else I've tried before. The results have been really motivating, hopefully it works out for you too if you give it a shot
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:39 PM   #8
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Hi SparklenShine Welcome! It looks like you've been a member for a while but don't have many posts, hope you don't mind me welcoming you.

A lot of other people know way more about this than me, but something occurred to me that I haven't seen anyone mention yet. Many times I've heard that when people change they way they eat, they often lose a lot of water weight at first. Water weighs 8.33 lbs a gallon, so 2 cups of liquid is about a pound. That's really quite a bit! 12 pounds of weight loss in 2 weeks seems like a whole lot. Maybe a good amount of that was water, and maybe your body is adjusting to your new way of eating now so no more water weight is coming off and it isn't skewing your numbers anymore.

I know this didn't answer your question and maybe I'm completely wrong in my theory, but just wanted to share Anyone who knows I'm wrong, please speak up, I definitely don't want to spread misinformation!

Also, SparklenShine, it sounds like we're kind of similar. I have PCOS and insulin resistance as well. If you want, you can send me a PM and we can chat about whatever
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:25 PM   #9
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The excitement and determination of starting th weight loss journey seems to make most people, myself especially, get pretty OVERZEALOUS at the beginning! Avoid burning out by not eating too little at first, and working out excessively. It's a long road and it can't really be rushed, no matter how much we want to!!
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:16 PM   #10
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Sounds to me like you're doing everything right. If what you're doing is sustainable than I suggest you just continue. A few bits of information ...

Calorie cycling does nothing for your metabolism and is unnecessary. Do it if you want but it is not speeding up your fat loss.

You are probably not burning 700 calories doing an hour of Zumba. You might be but estimating calories burned during a workout is challenging even if you're wearing a heart rate monitor. My point? Don't worry about exercise calories. Exercise for your health and because it makes you feel and look good.

Getting to your question it is unlikely in an extreme way that your fat loss has stalled due to to few calories. Your body has a large supply of energy right now and you can easily survive on 1500 calories on average for a long, long time to come. Starvation mode is a myth. The challenge is fat loss is challenging to measure short term so we measure our weight. Weight loss is not linear day to day or week to week.

Good luck!
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:38 AM   #11
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Default re:

I agree with everything John said.

I can tell you from experience that even if you are strictly following your plan, a multitude of things can affect what the scale says from week to week, such as how hydrated you are, recent salt intake, or the color of the sky that day.

If you weight daily or weekly, there are going to be weeks where the reason why the number on the scale says what it does makes no sense. The important thing is to keep going. If you see no, or very little loss over a greater period of time, then it might be time to revisit your calories.

What's the number of calories that you should eat to lose weight? That is different for everyone and changes over time. I like to follow the idea that it should be the highest amount of calories you can eat while still losing weight at a rate you're satisfied with - and STICK with for a long period of time. 1700 seems like a reasonable place to start. You can adjust it if you feel you need to over the next few months.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:22 PM   #12
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Totally normal and in my experience disappointing weighins increased as I continued losing (so I found weight loss to be a bit of a mental game in that sense to just know that the number reflects a lot of factors). I would only think about it if you are like this for a few weeks or more.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:18 PM   #13
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Lots of great information shared so far. I just thought I'd add that you have to take hormonal times into consideration too. A lot of women retain water when they ovulate and when they have their period. I've noticed a pattern for myself over the month and I've learned not to freak out or let myself get discouraged during those weeks I know I'm hormonal if weight loss slows down, stops or I even gain a little.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:40 AM   #14
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Thank you all so much for your much appreciated advice! Ever since utilizing MFP, I have noticed just how much sodium I am consuming each day...it's ridiculous! Also, it has been that time of the month for me, and it was the day I weighed in, so that could be one factor. I have to say though, in the beginning I didn't use MFP. I just ate cleaner and ate when I was truly hungry. When I started counting and restricting my calories is when the weight loss seemed to really slow down. I still wonder if upping my calories a little would help. I've tried to raise it to 1900 but the highest I've went (because I was full) was 1800. Last night I only got to 1600. I think I'm going to stop eating when I'm full. And if that's low calories for the day, a little higher, then I'll just deal. thanks again everyone!
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparkleNshine View Post
Thank you all so much for your much appreciated advice! Ever since utilizing MFP, I have noticed just how much sodium I am consuming each day...it's ridiculous! Also, it has been that time of the month for me, and it was the day I weighed in, so that could be one factor. I have to say though, in the beginning I didn't use MFP. I just ate cleaner and ate when I was truly hungry. When I started counting and restricting my calories is when the weight loss seemed to really slow down. I still wonder if upping my calories a little would help. I've tried to raise it to 1900 but the highest I've went (because I was full) was 1800. Last night I only got to 1600. I think I'm going to stop eating when I'm full. And if that's low calories for the day, a little higher, then I'll just deal. thanks again everyone!
I'm a logging addict, and sometimes I'm just curious about what I'm eating. So I'll eat when hungry, stop when full, and not restrict but still log my foods sometimes so I can get an idea of what I'm eating. Eating without logging truly is wonderful though, because you can maybe have a bite or two of something and not worry about how you are going to "count" it.
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