CICO vs TDEE- Trying hard to understand

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I've been on MFP for almost a month now. I've been keeping my calories at 1200 daily (using a food scale) and underestimating and/or eating back half of my exercise calories. I'm down 5 pounds in a month which is half decent, I guess. I was hoping to lose 2 pounds a week but I'll take the 5 pound loss without complaint.

I've been hiting the gym 1-2 hours a day doing a mix of strength and cardio. Since I've been eating cleaner, and exercising quite a bit after a two year hiatus, I'm just not hungry all the time like I used to be.

I read a lot about calories in versus calories out in the forums. I also read conflicting information about undereating and the importance of eating at your TDEE. With my BMR at 1416 and my TDEE (2195) -20% is 1756. My question is, am I screwing myself over in the long run by only eating 1200 calories plus half my exercise calories or is CICO all that really matters? I am exactly 30 pounds from my goal weight and although I'm losing an average of 1 pound a week, I would like to be losing 2 pounds a week (especially with all the heavy gym time I'm putting in).

I appreciate your insight!
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  • ncboiler89
    ncboiler89 Posts: 2,408 Member
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    Yes CICO is all that matter. A month is not nearly a long enough time frame to draw conclusions about your plan. If, after a long enough time frame, you determine that you are in fact losing one pound per week with a goal of two pounds per week you are either eating more calories than you think, burning fewer calories than you think or both.

    I'm not sure what you mean but the part about screwing yourself.
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    Screwing myself in the long run meaning I'll hit the dreaded plateau and stall losing.....

    Your right, one month is not long enough to determine to start drawing conclusions. I appreciate your feedback.
  • ncboiler89
    ncboiler89 Posts: 2,408 Member
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    Screwing myself in the long run meaning I'll hit the dreaded plateau and stall losing.....

    Your right, one month is not long enough to determine to start drawing conclusions. I appreciate your feedback.

    If you eat below your TDEE why would you stall?
  • WinoGelato
    WinoGelato Posts: 13,454 Member
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    OP I think you might be misunderstanding CICO. That is the fundamental energy balance, if your calories in (CI) = your calories out (CO) you will maintain your weight. That's essentially your TDEE (your BMR + daily activity + exercise). If you eat less than TDEE, your CI<CO and you will lose weight.

    What you might be talking about is using the MFP NEAT approach, in which you let MFP set your calorie goal which doesn't include exercise, and then when you do exercise you're meant to eat back at least a portion of those calories. In theory, TDEE less a percent deficit and the MFP NEAT method plus exercise cals should be very close to the same total calories.

    OP how much weight are you trying to lose?
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    I see people writing they hit a weight loss plateau and/or not losing weight like they used to. I've seen it written that this is due to eating too few calories. This is part of where the confusion comes in. If I eat too few calories will I hit a weightloss plateau? If it's all about CICO then why does eating too few calories even matter?
    I understand that I am not far enough into my fitness plan to draw any conclusions right now, but after spending two hours a day sweating my behind off in the gym, I just want to make sure that I'm doing right by nor worrying about under eating.
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    WinoGelato wrote: »
    OP I think you might be misunderstanding CICO. That is the fundamental energy balance, if your calories in (CI) = your calories out (CO) you will maintain your weight. That's essentially your TDEE (your BMR + daily activity + exercise). If you eat less than TDEE, your CI<CO and you will lose weight.

    What you might be talking about is using the MFP NEAT approach, in which you let MFP set your calorie goal which doesn't include exercise, and then when you do exercise you're meant to eat back at least a portion of those calories. In theory, TDEE less a percent deficit and the MFP NEAT method plus exercise cals should be very close to the same total calories.

    OP how much weight are you trying to lose?

    I have exactly 30 pounds to lose. My goal is to lose it by Christmas (3 months).
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
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    Eating too little will not stall your weight loss, but it will screw up your health!

    2 lbs a week is a bit aggressive with 30 lbs to lose. I think 5 lbs a month is a pretty great rate for you, whatever that's worth :)

    Generally, if you want to lose weight, you want to be eating above your BMR (so you get enough energy and nutrition), but below your TDEE (so you lose weight). So if eating 1200 cals plus half your exercise cals puts you over 1400 and under 1750, it sounds to me like you are on the right track!
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    Example-today I ate 1,115 calories worth of food and burned around 508 calories at the gym. If I continue at that rate on average, will eating too few calories help me reach my goal or will it stall my progress longterm ? It is all about CICO, correct?
  • Liftng4Lis
    Liftng4Lis Posts: 15,150 Member
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    I see people writing they hit a weight loss plateau and/or not losing weight like they used to. I've seen it written that this is due to eating too few calories. This is part of where the confusion comes in. If I eat too few calories will I hit a weightloss plateau? If it's all about CICO then why does eating too few calories even matter?
    I understand that I am not far enough into my fitness plan to draw any conclusions right now, but after spending two hours a day sweating my behind off in the gym, I just want to make sure that I'm doing right by nor worrying about under eating.

    Nope, it's usually due to inaccurate logging.
  • marciaholland77
    marciaholland77 Posts: 85 Member
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    kimny72 wrote: »
    Eating too little will not stall your weight loss, but it will screw up your health!

    2 lbs a week is a bit aggressive with 30 lbs to lose. I think 5 lbs a month is a pretty great rate for you, whatever that's worth :)

    Generally, if you want to lose weight, you want to be eating above your BMR (so you get enough energy and nutrition), but below your TDEE (so you lose weight). So if eating 1200 cals plus half your exercise cals puts you over 1400 and under 1750, it sounds to me like you are on the right track!

    I had a friend recently who had his gall bladder taken out from losing weight to fast.
  • diannethegeek
    diannethegeek Posts: 14,776 Member
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    Example-today I ate 1,115 calories worth of food and burned around 508 calories at the gym. If I continue at that rate on average, will eating too few calories help me reach my goal or will it stall my progress longterm ? It is all about CICO, correct?

    The bigger fear with low net calories like that is lethargy, not getting enough nutrition, and things like muscle loss as your body breaks down the tissues to get the energy it needs. Can you still lose weight this way? Probably. But it's not very healthy.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,013 Member
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    Example-today I ate 1,115 calories worth of food and burned around 508 calories at the gym. If I continue at that rate on average, will eating too few calories help me reach my goal or will it stall my progress longterm ? It is all about CICO, correct?

    OP, are you using a food scale? It's highly unlikely you are only eating 1100 cals, working out 2 hours a day, and not starving all day and losing weight dangerously fast.

    When I went from measuring cups and eyeballing, to diligently using a food scale, I found I was eating sometimes as much as 400 cals a day more than I thought...
  • senecarr
    senecarr Posts: 5,377 Member
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    I see people writing they hit a weight loss plateau and/or not losing weight like they used to. I've seen it written that this is due to eating too few calories. This is part of where the confusion comes in. If I eat too few calories will I hit a weightloss plateau? If it's all about CICO then why does eating too few calories even matter?
    I understand that I am not far enough into my fitness plan to draw any conclusions right now, but after spending two hours a day sweating my behind off in the gym, I just want to make sure that I'm doing right by nor worrying about under eating.

    No, you never fail to lose weight because you ate fewer calories. Over time your BMR will go down because you have less body mass, and if you don't increase activity, TDEE will decrease as well because of lower BMR. This means that if you picked 1 single calorie goal and stuck to it for the entire weight loss, your loss would be asymptotic and you'd lose fat slower every week.

    Now here is what won't happen is the difference between these situations
    A. You're eating 1500 calories a day and go from 170 to 160. You must eat only 1400 calories or less a day to lose from 160 to 150.
    B. You're eating 1300 calories a day and go from 170 to 160. You must eat only 1200 calories or less a day to lose from 160 to 150.

    Regardless of which way you were eating before, you'll need to eat at the same number of calories per day to go from 160 to 150.
  • OsricTheKnight
    OsricTheKnight Posts: 340 Member
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    I've seen it written that this is due to eating too few calories.

    People certainly write that. And it's 100% garbage.

    If your intake is less than your burn, you will lose weight. It might be fat, or muscle + fat (most likely), or muscle+fat+essential organs, but your body has to get energy from somewhere and get that energy it will.

    If you want maximum measurability use a tracker like BodyMedia fit to find out what you really burn (within 10%) and log everything you eat precisely to determine your intake (also within 10%, with no restaurants; within 30% with restaurants), and then adjust from there.

    I wrote a thread on how I prefer to calculate it which doesn't involve tracking if you don't want to weigh and measure your food (you can weigh yourself instead).

    Osric
  • ereck44
    ereck44 Posts: 1,170 Member
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    What's your hurry in losing 30 pounds by Christmas? Isn't it better to lose it a little slower and keep it off. I recommend at least netting over 1200 calories, esp on workout days.
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    Thanks for all the awesome feedback and advice! Although I'm still a noob, I'm learning a lot from you guys. Appreciate it :)
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    I've seen it written that this is due to eating too few calories.

    People certainly write that. And it's 100% garbage.

    If your intake is less than your burn, you will lose weight. It might be fat, or muscle + fat (most likely), or muscle+fat+essential organs, but your body has to get energy from somewhere and get that energy it will.

    If you want maximum measurability use a tracker like BodyMedia fit to find out what you really burn (within 10%) and log everything you eat precisely to determine your intake (also within 10%, with no restaurants; within 30% with restaurants), and then adjust from there.

    I wrote a thread on how I prefer to calculate it which doesn't involve tracking if you don't want to weigh and measure your food (you can weigh yourself instead).

    Osric

    Extremely informative link!!!! Thanks!
  • tincanonastring
    tincanonastring Posts: 3,944 Member
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    Hey, not sure if you caught that, but if you ate 1115 and burned 510, that means you netted only 605 calories for the day, which is far too low to sustain yourself.
  • WinoGelato
    WinoGelato Posts: 13,454 Member
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    kimny72 wrote: »
    Example-today I ate 1,115 calories worth of food and burned around 508 calories at the gym. If I continue at that rate on average, will eating too few calories help me reach my goal or will it stall my progress longterm ? It is all about CICO, correct?

    OP, are you using a food scale? It's highly unlikely you are only eating 1100 cals, working out 2 hours a day, and not starving all day and losing weight dangerously fast.

    When I went from measuring cups and eyeballing, to diligently using a food scale, I found I was eating sometimes as much as 400 cals a day more than I thought...

    This.

    Also, why the rush to lose weight by Christmas?
  • Optimistical1
    Optimistical1 Posts: 210 Member
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    Hey, not sure if you caught that, but if you ate 1115 and burned 510, that means you netted only 605 calories for the day, which is far too low to sustain yourself.

    I woke up at 4:30am absolutely starving. My stomach was growling so bad and I couldn't for the life of me fall back to sleep. This has never happened to me before. I ate a serving of almonds and fell back to sleep instantly. Then this morning I wake up starving and eat a 600 calorie breakfast (going to have to hit the gym hard today). That gave me a better understanding of eating enough to sustain myself, obviously my tummy gets upset and doesn't let me get a full nights sleep on days I eat way too low.