Too few calories + too much exercise = no weight loss?

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I'm not new to cutting and I've been lifting heavy for a little over a year. A few months ago, I was eating 1850 cal a day and losing about a half a pound a week. At that time, I was lifting four days a week for about an hour and doing one 60-minute cardio session per week. I measure/weigh everything I eat and log everything as accurately/consistently as I can.

I switched to maintenance in November and stayed at about 122 pounds until I started a quick eight week summer cut program that I designed in March. The goal was to lose about a pound a week, or drop down to 115 pounds by the end. I'm now eating about 1700 cal per day and, in addition to the aforementioned mentioned exercise, I added 30 minutes of cardio to my lifting days.

This is the end of the week six and I have only lost about 2.5 pounds. I now realize that I'm pushing my body too much and I need to cool it on the extra exercise. My body constantly hurts, my energy level is on the ground, and I'm even starting to feel low/depressed.

I've never had a problem losing weight before, and this time it seems that math is not on my side. I was maintaining at 2150 cal a day, yet not losing much on 1700 cal a day even with extra exercise. I realized today that I'm doing at least eight hours of exercise per week, lifting heavy for half and moderate/intense cardio for half. And eating at a 20% deficit of my old TDEE. My body is telling me to slow down, so I will.

However, it's extremely frustrating that I might go the entire eight weeks and only drop a fraction of my goal. Is it possible that I was over training and it was sabotaging my weight-loss? If so, what does this mean as far as transitioning back to maintenance? Am I going to probably gain weight at my old maintenance because I mistakingly pushed my body too much during this cut? It's not as if I'm starving myself, so I just don't get what's going on with my body and why it won't cooperate or let go of these last few pounds.

Words of wisdom are appreciated.
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Replies

  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
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    TLDR?
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,532 Member
    edited April 2015
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    Only read the subject line. The subject line is wrong. Too few calories and too much exercise leads to rapid weight loss, and a LOT of the lost weight will be lean body mass. This isn't conjecture, there is tons of evidence demonstrating this.

    Eat too little, exercise too much -> rapid body weight loss, guaranteed.
  • tulips_and_tea
    tulips_and_tea Posts: 5,715 Member
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    If your body is hurting and your energy is low, it's time to take somewhat of a break. If you switch to maintenance I don't see why you'd gain. I would say do a little recovery and recoup and then re-start your 8 week plan instead of feeling like you failed this time. Not a failure. Just a back-up, re-route, and start over at another date.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
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    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Only read the subject line. The subject line is wrong. Too few calories and too much exercise leads to rapid weight loss, and a LOT of the lost weight will be lean body mass. This isn't conjecture, there is tons of evidence demonstrating this.

    Eat too little, exercise too much -> rapid body weight loss, guaranteed.

    If you read past that, your answer might have actually been useful to me.
  • AgentOrangeJuice
    AgentOrangeJuice Posts: 1,069 Member
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    Seems like they might be in starvation mode if they're not eating enough calories and are burning even more.
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,532 Member
    edited April 2015
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    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Only read the subject line. The subject line is wrong. Too few calories and too much exercise leads to rapid weight loss, and a LOT of the lost weight will be lean body mass. This isn't conjecture, there is tons of evidence demonstrating this.

    Eat too little, exercise too much -> rapid body weight loss, guaranteed.

    If you read past that, your answer might have actually been useful to me.

    If you had been concise, I might have.

    If you want other people's help, it's your responsibility to engage them, not theirs to wade through TL;DR.

    :drinker:

    Bottom line: you aren't doing what you think you're doing. Good luck!
  • girlviernes
    girlviernes Posts: 2,402 Member
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    It looks like you are already pretty lean so the weight loss gets tougher. In addition, I think the deficit you are shooting for may be extremely stressful on you at your current weight which may result in increased cortisol and water retention (just a hypothesis).
  • maxit
    maxit Posts: 880 Member
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    The stress you are putting your body through is not good. Cruise on over to lyle mcdonald's website and pick up some good tips for a cut -
  • sodakat
    sodakat Posts: 1,126 Member
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    Seems like they might be in starvation mode if they're not eating enough calories and are burning even more.

    Not eating enough calories to do what? Lose weight?

  • DeguelloTex
    DeguelloTex Posts: 6,652 Member
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    Seems like they might be in starvation mode if they're not eating enough calories and are burning even more.
    No.

    I don't have any words of wisdom. It sounds like what you're doing should have had better results than what you're seeing.

    The only thing I can think of is to bump calories so that your pains, energy level, and mindset improve and see if that's still low enough to generate any fat loss.
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
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    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Only read the subject line. The subject line is wrong. Too few calories and too much exercise leads to rapid weight loss, and a LOT of the lost weight will be lean body mass. This isn't conjecture, there is tons of evidence demonstrating this.

    Eat too little, exercise too much -> rapid body weight loss, guaranteed.

    If you read past that, your answer might have actually been useful to me.

    If you had been concise, I might have.

    If you want other people's help, it's your responsibility to engage them, not theirs to wade through TL;DR.

    :drinker:

    Bottom line: you aren't doing what you think you're doing. Good luck!

    Notice the question mark at the end. I'm eating at what SHOULD be a deficit based on my TDEE (as I explained in what you didn't bother to read), I'm doing a lot more exercise than before (as I explained in what you didn't bother to read), and yet I'm not losing as much as I SHOULD be (as I explained in what you didn't bother to read). I'm not claiming that my subject line is a fact. If I was, it would end with a period. Grammar.

    I'm not a newbie, so you can keep your condescension to yourself. Thanks.
  • joejccva71
    joejccva71 Posts: 2,985 Member
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    It sounds like you need a deload week. Not just with eating at maintenance but also your training. You don't need to take it completely off from weights/cardio but cut it back about 60%.

    In that year of training/dieting, have you ever done a deload before?
  • DirrtyH
    DirrtyH Posts: 664 Member
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    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Only read the subject line. The subject line is wrong. Too few calories and too much exercise leads to rapid weight loss, and a LOT of the lost weight will be lean body mass. This isn't conjecture, there is tons of evidence demonstrating this.

    Eat too little, exercise too much -> rapid body weight loss, guaranteed.

    If you read past that, your answer might have actually been useful to me.

    If you had been concise, I might have.

    If you want other people's help, it's your responsibility to engage them, not theirs to wade through TL;DR.

    :drinker:

    Bottom line: you aren't doing what you think you're doing. Good luck!

    Then don't comment on it. No one forced you to participate.
  • jak1958
    jak1958 Posts: 82 Member
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    It looks like you are already pretty lean so the weight loss gets tougher. In addition, I think the deficit you are shooting for may be extremely stressful on you at your current weight which may result in increased cortisol and water retention (just a hypothesis).

    This ^^

    http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/why-big-caloric-deficits-and-lots-of-activity-can-hurt-fat-loss.html/
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,136 Member
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    Seems like they might be in starvation mode if they're not eating enough calories and are burning even more.

    nope, starvation mode is a myth ..
  • futuremanda
    futuremanda Posts: 816 Member
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    My best guess?

    Since weight is not just fat, I think a lot of the "I didn't treat my body so well in order to get a bigger deficit, but didn't lose, and then treated myself better, with a smaller deficit, and started losing again!" things are related to the non-fat parts of your weight. If you are run-down and your muscles need extra water for repair and so on, the scale may not be reflecting your weight loss properly.

    Honestly, your 1700 is almost 1 lb a week anyway, right? Why the extra cardio on lifting days? (You went from 1 hour of cardio a week to, if I'm reading you right, 3, and added it TO lifting days, which is tough, so that's a huge increase.)

    Try sticking out the 1700, back off on the new exercise. Maybe add an extra rest day, since you may need one. And don't worry so much about your deadline. It will suck if it takes an extra couple weeks, or if you don't get as low as you wanted on this cut, but better to be well taken care of so you can kick *kitten* in the gym than how it sounds like you've been feeling lately.

    Reason: My theory is that you're losing the fat just fine, but you're overworking yourself, and it's showing in water retention and energy levels (so you may burn less) and digestion and such. Back off, aim to feel better, and see if your weight catches up as you get more energetic and feeling more like your usual self. If not, then something else is up in your numbers -- but you sound to me like that shouldn't really be the case, as you've been at this awhile, and were successfully maintaining recently.
  • DawnieB1977
    DawnieB1977 Posts: 4,248 Member
    edited April 2015
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    You weigh 122lbs. Unless you're incredibly short, I imagine you're pretty thin. If you've been lifting for over a year I expect you are in good shape. So weight loss will be slow, although I think 2.5lbs in 6 weeks is good when you don't have much to lose (if any).

    I weigh a lot more than you do and I exercise a lot/eat at a deficit and I lose quite slowly on the scale, but my clothes fit so much better. Take measurements and don't get disheartened.
  • gothchiq
    gothchiq Posts: 4,590 Member
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    Yeah, take a break for a week. If you are hurting a lot you may have a lot of water being retained in your muscles.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,136 Member
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    if your were losing half pound per week on 1850 and wanted to lose a pound per week, why were you not eating at 1600 instead of the 1700 that you went to???

    1850 - 250 = 1600 ....
  • _lyndseybrooke_
    _lyndseybrooke_ Posts: 2,561 Member
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    joejccva71 wrote: »
    It sounds like you need a deload week. Not just with eating at maintenance but also your training. You don't need to take it completely off from weights/cardio but cut it back about 60%.

    In that year of training/dieting, have you ever done a deload before?

    I haven't deloaded in maybe two months, but I usually deload on my main lifts every four weeks. I kind of cheat, though, because I don't deload on accessory lifts. I plan to do a deload next week, cut out the extra cardio, keep my macros the same, and see what happens.

    Thank you.