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Old 04-11-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
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Question Making myself eat the right number of calories

So I had a talk with the trainers at the gym today (I really need to get them an appreciation gift, lol) about what I was typically eating, just because it's been a long time since I was up to date on the latest nutrition info. Turns out I am maybe eating 950 calories a day, on average, and that's way less than I need.

(I work out--weights and cardio--5 days a week about 30 min a time). They said I needed to hit more like 1600 calories or my body would just shut down and I'd lose nothing b/c it would think I was starving. I know my science and that there is a point at which this happens. It's just that finding a place to work in that extra 700 calories or so seems really daunting. I don't find myself wanting to snack during the day. It's not that I'm depriving myself---I'm just not hungry.

's weird. Yesterday I wanted some chocolate so I had some--and it tasted terrible to me. I think if hubby wanted to go get some french fries or something I'd be like, "eh, I'll pass." What the heck is wrong with me, and how can I get in those extra calories so that I'll actually see some results?
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:48 PM   #2
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In a way I share your problem. I have been not getting all the calories I need. I have basically compensated by eating a bulkier range of food at breakfast (adding fruits, nutritional shake/yogurt) That way I also don't have to add them at night.

I am still iffy about the "starvation" mode, but I think being under every once in a while isn't horrible, but you should try to at least get closer to 1200 if you are working out that much

Hope this helps

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Old 04-11-2014, 05:16 PM   #3
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I would add more nutrient rich/calorie dense foods to my diet. A handful or two of nuts during the day, dried fruit as a snack, a tablespoon of healthy peanut butter, add olive oil to my salad, avocado on sandwiches, low-fat yogurt with granola and fat free whip cream as dessert, etc. There are a lot of healthy delicious calorie dense foods out there to choose from. Enjoy
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:48 PM   #4
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I agree with Lea- great ideas.
I would also recommend smoothie, and add some avocado or coconut oil to make it creamier and add some cals.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:07 PM   #5
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Your calorie deficit is significant. Aside from your metabolism slowing down, your body might digest muscle tissue for energy. It's possible that you are in a state of ketosis, in which your body is now burning fat to produce ketones which the cells burn to fuel life processes. People in ketosis often don't feel hungry. It's an effective way to lose fat, but you still need protein and carbs & essential fatty acids in your diet to stay healthy.
Could you ask or pay the trainer to help you determine the right mix of fats, carbs, and protein to get you to your goal? Good luck

Last edited by mars735 : 04-11-2014 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:12 PM   #6
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I heard that the starvation mode theory is basically a myth. It may slow your motabolism slightly but not enough to make a big difference. If you are eating when you are hungry and stopping when you feel satisfied, you should be OK. Make sure the foods you are eating are nutrition dense. No empty calories. Give your body what it needs.

Good luck!
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:44 PM   #7
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I agree with wannabeskinny. I can't understand the starvation mode/metabolic adaptation at all But my doctor put me on a vlcd before and it worked great, this time around I'm doing my own version of it and I almost never hit 1000 calories a day (well this is after exercise). But I also eat TONS of veggies, so I can never reach the calorie limit eating that many veggies.

I think if you want to add in extra calories, you could try protein bars? Maybe it won't seem like so much food but you can still pack proteins + some carbs that way.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:48 PM   #8
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Hmm. From my experience you will know if this becomes a problem. You will start to feel very fatigued at the gym and will struggle to do your workouts.

But it also depends on your goal.

If you want to build or maintain muscle then you will need to keep your calories (and protein) in check i.e. not too high, not too low.

At 281lbs, I had lots of fat and some muscle to spare so it did not matter going very low on calories and losing both.

At 170-ish pounds, however, I now need to keep an eye on the muscle so too few calories while doing cardio could eat into that and weight training could have little effect in building or retaining muscle.

I also make sure I get enough protein to help with muscle recovery, retention and building.

So, if you are big I would not sweat it unless you are feeling tired before the gym. If you are smaller looking to build muscle mass, then you may need to check you are getting enough calories and protein.
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:40 AM   #9
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No your body won't just shut down and you won't lose anything. Think about it. If that was true, people would never starve to death! But, in fact, they do.

My understanding, however, is that if you eat very low calories your metabolism may slow somewhat. You would still lose weight though. If someone is really and truly eating 950 calories a day, each and every day, and never eating more than that and is a normal person without illness who moves around normally during the day -- that person will lose weight.

So one of these things is most likely to be true if someone actually does think their body has shut down due to eating low calorie (I'm not saying this is actually your situation, just responding to the point):

1. The person is eating more than they think they are. Most people are very inaccurate at estimating calories eaten. Have they been weighing all their food and recording all of it immediately upon eating? If not, try doing that for awhile.

2. Sometimes people don't recognize the impact of 1 or 2 high calorie days. They eat 950 calories most days but then have a day they eat 2500 calories. They have to count those extra calories.

3. If really and truly eating 950 calories each and every day and they aren't losing weight - then maybe they need to get checked out by a physician.

I like this article about Starvation Mode:

http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/starvation-mode/
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Old 04-12-2014, 07:24 AM   #10
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I'd hold off on the appreciation gift just yet lol, lose some weight first and then you can start thanking them. I'm always horrified when "health experts" talk about starvation mode, it just seems like such a dumb thing to say. You do need to eat enough calories so that you can keep up your energy, if you eat such low calories for a while it's more likely that you're probably setting yourself up for a binge than starvation.

I remember this pattern very well though, "I'm eating so little now!! and I don't even feel like I want any french fries wow!" and then BAM a few days later I wake up in a potato induced stupor. I can't speak for you but this is what happens to me when I eat so little.

The truth is that some days you will be hungrier than other days. It's human nature, don't think that because you didn't want chocolate today you won't want it tomorrow. Prepare for it, allow for it and eat adequately so that your body doesn't lash back.
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:45 AM   #11
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we all got here by eating too much. so trying to claim that we suddenly don't know how to get enough calories seems a little, um, off?
It is more likely you swung the pendulum too far in the other direction, and while it seems difficult to get enough calories in for a little while you will probably find yourself feeling hungrier and hungrier and either naturally adding more calories to get to around 1600, or figuring that you were so restrictive for so long that a few "cheat meals" won't hurt, which can turn to "cheat days" or "cheat weekends" etc.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koshka View Post
No your body won't just shut down and you won't lose anything. Think about it. If that was true, people would never starve to death! But, in fact, they do.

My understanding, however, is that if you eat very low calories your metabolism may slow somewhat. You would still lose weight though. If someone is really and truly eating 950 calories a day, each and every day, and never eating more than that and is a normal person without illness who moves around normally during the day -- that person will lose weight.

So one of these things is most likely to be true if someone actually does think their body has shut down due to eating low calorie (I'm not saying this is actually your situation, just responding to the point):

1. The person is eating more than they think they are. Most people are very inaccurate at estimating calories eaten. Have then been weighing all their food and recording all of it immediately upon eating? If not, try doing that for awhile.

2. Sometimes people don't recognize the impact of 1 or 2 high calorie days. They eat 950 calories most days but then have a day they eat 2500 calories. They have to count those extra calories.

3. If really and truly eating 950 calories each and every day and they aren't losing weight - then maybe they need to get checked out by a physician.

I like this article about Starvation Mode:

http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/starvation-mode/
I think these are good points. What I learned from my diet coach (for which I have no links to research) is that 2 things might happen on a very restricted diet: 1) weight loss SLOWS but does not stop. The point is that if you are restricting severely in order to experience the most rapid weight loss, there ight be a middle ground of calories--low enough to lose but high enough and with appropriate nutrients to maintain metabolism.

2) Your body needs a certain amount of glucose. The two sources for glucose that the body is equipped to use are carbohydrates & proteins, but NOT fat. The liver will digest your own muscle if needed, to get protein to convert to glucose.

The down side of that regarding weight loss is that muscle tissue plays a role in maintaining weight loss, as it requires energy just to maintain itself. The more muscle mass, the more energy we burn just by being alive.

Last edited by mars735 : 04-12-2014 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 04-14-2014, 11:15 AM   #13
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To the question asked - if you actually are having trouble getting in enough calories you can drink them. Protein shake, orange juice, whatever. Drinking calories is quite easy.

To the question not asked IanG pretty much nailed it. When you have a lot of energy reserves (you're obese) the situation is different than if you have only a few lbs to lose. Context matters.

"Starvation mode" for most people means that your body won't lose weight. This is a rediculous notion. The energy needs of the body will be met and your body will not stop burning fat because you have no ingested enough calories.

Rosesandholly I doubt your trainers at the gym are truly knowledgable on this subject. They may be but based on your interpretation of what they are telling you it seems they are clueless. Here are some questions that help establish context.

How are you monitoring your calories? You're sure you're averaging 900 calories a day? What are you eating?

What kind of exercise are you doing in those 30 minutes?

What is your height and weight?

How are you feeling?
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabehealthy View Post
I heard that the starvation mode theory is basically a myth. It may slow your motabolism slightly but not enough to make a big difference.
That's right. There is no amount of calories that's too low for you to lose weight. While metabolism does slow down when you diet, the body needs to use a certain amount of energy to maintain vital functions. When you eat at a large deficit, you may lose less weight than predicted by the "1 lb = 3,500 calories" formula, but you'll still lose.

If starvation mode as commonly understood were real, undernourished children in developing countries wouldn't be skinny. And in the first few months after weight loss surgery, people usually eat 600 to 800 calories a day and lose massive amounts of weight.

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Old 04-14-2014, 01:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seagirl View Post
we all got here by eating too much. so trying to claim that we suddenly don't know how to get enough calories seems a little, um, off?
I admit this is exactly what I think when I read a post about how someone is not hungry enough to eat their allotted calories. I can understand it more easily if, say, someone has started a new medication that suppresses appetite. But spontaneously going from an overeater to an undereater... I can only wish.

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