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Why eating too little calories is a bad idea.....

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  • barneshallbarneshall Member Posts: 688 Member Member Posts: 688 Member
    I have been on MFP since 2011 but only used it properly and the forums for the last 6 months, the number of posts I see (mostly) from women eating 1000 calories and under or netting less per day when they could lose by eating a higher and healthier intake is heart-breaking. When I used MFP in the past and was a serial starter, I have eaten quite low calories (Around 1300) because I hadn't really a clue what I was doing so I hope this post goes some way to educating those who think that the only way to lose weight is to starve yourself and it will save me typing out the same response repeatedly :lol:

    What is a healthy weight for you and what rate of loss is healthy?
    The BMI range is a good place to start. You can calculate your BMI here http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx
    US & UK departments of health* recommend a steady weight loss of 1-2lb per week for those who are obese. If you have any medical concerns it's best to consult with your doctor.

    The science behind weight loss/maintenance/gain
    If you're new to MFP you may or may not have heard the term CICO being thrown around.
    CICO is an energy balance of Calories In & Calories Out.
    To lose weight your CALORIES IN must be less than your CALORIES OUT (CI<CO)
    To maintain weight your CALORIES IN must be the same as your CALORIES OUT (CI=CO)
    To gain weight your CALORIES IN must be more than your CALORIES OUT (CI>CO)

    Understanding how your calorie allowance is calculated8kn2ubmrqx6s.jpg

    Eating low calorie but still not losing weight
    There are many posts already on this subject but in summary, those who are eating low calorie and not losing weight, for the most, this is down to logging inaccuracies either in underestimating calories in or overestimating calories out. Using measuring cups or estimating/eyeballing portion sizes are very inaccurate ways of calculating the calorie content of meals. Using the MFP database/Machine Readings/Non-HR fitness trackers for calorie burns can also be an inaccurate method of determining burns.

    Net Calories and Eating Exercise Calories Back
    Your initial calorie allowance is essentially a net figure - the way MFP is set up you are intended to eat back your calories burned as they are not accounted for in the calculations to acquire the figure. If you ate none of your exercise calories you are putting yourself in a larger deficit than you have set yourself in MFP. This may be ok if you're set at lower rate of weight loss, however if you're already at 2lb per week loss (1000 calorie deficit) then you could be getting less food than you need to fuel your body sufficiently. Going back to "Mildred" above if she didn't eat any of her calories back she would be netting under 850 calories on her active days and this would no doubt impact her energy levels and her running performance.

    The Negative Effect on Weight Loss from Undereating
    Some people may well be able to stick at a 1000+ calorie deficit for long periods of time, however for a lot of us what actually happens when you are being overly restrictive is that we can only manage it for a short while because it's too drastic and we are simply hungry so we decide to pack it in and go back to the way we were eating before and end up in a vicious cycle of binge and restrict that doesn't actually achieve anything.

    The Short & Long Term Effects of Undereating Without Medical Supervision
    In the short term undereating can have the following effect (this is by no means an exhaustive list):
    • Mood Swings
    • Fatigue
    • Constipation
    • Hair Loss
    • Menstrual Irregularities
    • Dizziness
    • Brittle Nails
    • Poor Skin Condition
    • Headaches

    In the long term it can have far more negative effects, such as:
    • muscle loss
    • gallstones
    • electrolyte imbalances
    • organ damage
    • bone density loss
    • vitamin/mineral deficiencies
    and whilst you might feel fine now, there is not always an advance warning of the long term effects.

    Other useful posts that can be read in conjunction with this one:
    Accurate Logging
    Weight Loss is Not Linear
    Why am I not losing weight?

    *https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html *http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/should-you-lose-weight-fast.aspx

    I have been told by a dietician that I am not eating enough, I usually have 3/400 calories spare on an exercise day (3days per week) I have lost only 1.2 kilos in the last 8 months so if I start eating back the calories burned as per MFP, Will I put on weight? How long will it take to adjust? Any thoughts please, I feel quite lost
  • alteredsteve175alteredsteve175 Member Posts: 2,410 Member Member Posts: 2,410 Member
  • dianefinnegan1dianefinnegan1 Member Posts: 9 Member Member Posts: 9 Member
    I have a hard time reaching my 1200 calories a day. I was banded back in 2007 and tho I have put on about 20 pounds since my initial weight loss, I feel full with the amount I am eating with all the fat and under 20 carbs per day. I guess I will be able to gauge if I am not eating enough if the scale doesn't move???
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,813 Member Member Posts: 7,813 Member
    barneshall wrote: »
    I have been told by a dietician that I am not eating enough, I usually have 3/400 calories spare on an exercise day (3days per week) I have lost only 1.2 kilos in the last 8 months so if I start eating back the calories burned as per MFP, Will I put on weight? How long will it take to adjust? Any thoughts please, I feel quite lost

    This may be more suitably discussed in its own post as opposed to as part of this much longer thread.

    @heybales has discussed some good points above; but, in general, if you are receiving professional advice from a registered dietician who has seen you in person and knows your case history and is caring for you on an ongoing basis... how can our generic and faceless and varying quality non professional opinions and suggestions override that advice?

    Now if you've tried that advice and it doesn't work, or are asking if you should seek a second professional opinion because the first one sounds outrageous, then I can see crowd sourcing answers on the internet.

    But in your case I would address your concerns with the advising dietician and ask them directly to explain the mechanism that under pins their advice and why they think it applies to your case. There is a good chance that it may.
    edited December 2019
  • dianefinnegan1dianefinnegan1 Member Posts: 9 Member Member Posts: 9 Member
    heybales, I have increased my calories but now I find I go over on fat. What happens then??? I am still learning how to put food together to try and get as close as possible to cal, carb, fat and protein. Can you go over on fat and still loose??
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,813 Member Member Posts: 7,813 Member
    heybales, I have increased my calories but now I find I go over on fat. What happens then??? I am still learning how to put food together to try and get as close as possible to cal, carb, fat and protein. Can you go over on fat and still loose??

    For weight management only your calories matter.

    For health reasons you may choose to emphasize some macros more than others.

    I generally consider my (set to default) MFP goals as calories are what I want to manage, protein= a desired minimum, fiber=a desired minimum, sodium= something I wish I would not exceed as often as I do, and since I am usually neither very low or very high in terms of total fats, I view then as something where I don't want my saturated fats to be too high, i.e. I would like to see them under 15 grams for myself
    edited December 2019
  • s_rivera_92s_rivera_92 Member Posts: 92 Member Member Posts: 92 Member
    Was eating 1200 for about a week. Maintained weight for 3 days. Bumped it up to 1550. Consistently loosing .4lbs each day since (on off days from the gym).
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Member Posts: 7,095 Member Member Posts: 7,095 Member
    ellie7187 wrote: »
    I'm voting for this to be stickied as well. Great info!!!

    Sort of in line with this, something I've always wondered because it's been preached in various diets and programs I've tried (or friends have tried)...is "starvation mode" a real thing? Meaning you eat so few calories (or your calorie deficit is so massive) that your body hangs on to weight and fat instead of shedding it?

    I'm not not really asking for myself as I make sure to eat almost all the calories I'm allotted daily (I love food! Haha) but I've always been curious and never found a definitive yes or no on the web.

    I am 5'3" and through a medically founded weight loss company did a 6 mos long diet of 800 cals a day but OVER 125gms of protein, for a consistent loss of 2lbs a week with no additional exercise.

    When I eat the recommended 1200 to get my "loss to post to the feed" I sit at the same weight unless I workout. Not all of us want to workout. Ive done my fair share. macro based weight loss works for me.... 125 gms of protein in a day is SO MUCH nutrition.. i am STUFFED and dont desire more but my calorie load is too low for mfp standards. For ladies 4"10'-5" 2', I don't like this. They have a broad standard in place that Does work for many, even most. But not for all.

    Be sure to eat. Food drives metabolism. 💓

    125 grams of protein is a lot of *protein*. Without knowing exactly what you're eating, it's not at all clear that represents "SO MUCH nutrition." Our bodies need protein, but we need other things too.

    Yes, this.
  • alteredsteve175alteredsteve175 Member Posts: 2,410 Member Member Posts: 2,410 Member
  • dpearson1957dpearson1957 Member Posts: 5 Member Member Posts: 5 Member
    how can you lose the weight when you arnt able to exercise? I stay under 1200 calories a day but my weight is up and down. Any suggestions I need help?
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