Balancing exercise vs hunger and calories? (is my math off?)

My weight loss has been pretty slow - I'm aware, though, that I'm fairly short (maybe 5'3) and not that heavy - I'm overweight but not obese and I'm aiming to lose about 25lbs
I've been losing maybe 1-1.5lb max a month for the past 3 months while eating about 1200-1300 calories a day (the app says it evens out to a net of 1000-1100 on my non-rest days, but I don't trust the exercise estimates), with one maintenance day around the time of the month - using a food scale for everything (yes I also weigh my liquids, apart from water and my 1-2 cups of unsweetened herbal tea)

I fairly recently (about 3 weeks ago) increased the amount and intensity of my exercise from maybe 3-4x 30 minutes a week to about 5-6x40ish minutes a week plus some yoga on my rest days.. I felt a bit swollen/sore for the first week or so but I feel like I'm back to normal now


1) I feel like I get hungry more often.

2) I've tried raising my calories by about 100 on a couple of days when I felt super hungry - which shouldn't be enough to undo my deficit (I don't have a heart rate monitor, mfp says my activity should be burning, on average, around 300 per workout but I worry it might be too generous) - but no real change

Real question: if the increased exercise while still logging 1200-1400 calories (not net) is causing more hunger but no noticeable changes in the rate of my weight loss or shape (so far - I know 3 weeks is not a super long time), should I just decrease the exercise back to what it was? I feel like I'm torturing myself right now because I'm basically starving almost every night and I have nothing to show for it... it should be calories in vs calories out so raising my intake doesn't appear to be an option if I'm already losing so slowly at the moment (which is sad because I was hoping more exercise would let me eat more)

The math just seems "off", I guess? I'm aware I can't get super high deficits with my stats and mostly sedentary lifestyle (outside exercise), but I was maintaining on probably around 1700-1800 with literally 0 exercise before trying to lose weight again late last year... surely eating 4-500ish calories less + exercise would have more of an impact than this? My deficit can't be so low that I'm losing 0.25lb a week? This is something I'd expect if I was already at a healthy BMI trying to get to the lower end of it, not while still overweight
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Replies

  • Francl27
    Francl27 Posts: 26,372 Member
    Seems weird. You're probably eating more than you think... are you weighing EVERYTHING? Are you using accurate entries? Do you use a lot of processed food? Their calories can often be way off on the package.
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,345 Member
    Francl27 wrote: »
    Seems weird. You're probably eating more than you think... are you weighing EVERYTHING? Are you using accurate entries? Do you use a lot of processed food? Their calories can often be way off on the package.

    ^^ this
    Have you seen a change in measurements?
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    edited March 2018
    I measure and log literally everything including my usual 30g of milk in my coffee and I log my diet drinks (5cal or so per can), apart from maybe eyeballing stuff like plain raw lettuce I can't think of anything that could be "off" (and calorie dense) enough to destroy several hundred calories worth of a deficit.. I even weigh my pots of yogurt and cottage cheese because they're always 10-20g off, and I definitely weigh my bananas because they've been anywhere between 80 and 130g
    I've even brought my food scale with me if we were having lunch at our grandparents' house and then logged it with an extra tbs of oil as a "just in case" because I couldn't be 100% sure how much was used - but again, that's maybe 2 meals a month

    The only real processed food I can think of is my instant noodles and I've weighed those, too, to check if the weight was what the package says - I don't eat those more than maybe once a week though
    I've weighed my toast to make sure the slices aren't a lot bigger than what the package says (they usually are a good 5g heavier)
    I try and find accurate entries (I check other databases if it seems off), I don't think anything that I eat on a regular basis could be completely wrong though.. I tend to eat pretty basic food/ingredients that I cook myself and I don't use oil so I can't be underestimating *there*

    I'm basically eating oatmeal, skim milk, cottage cheese, eggs, fruit, beans, vegetables, small amounts of bread, and chicken/turkey breast (which I buy raw, then package into individual 80-100g bags and freeze), with occasional 30g of cashews or almonds as my morning/afternoon snack

    I did wonder if my exercise calories were maybe super inflated but I'm pushing myself pretty hard for about 40 minutes and I'm not eating back more than maybe 100 calories, and that's when I'm genuinely hungry

    I've dropped roughly 1 dress size since late december but the scale says only 3-4lbs
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,345 Member
    The main thing is that you have lost those 3-4lbs since December, the scale is going in the right direction albeit slowly.
    Its sounds like you are accurately recording your intake so stick with it, sometimes the loss happens in a 'whoosh' (several pounds at once).
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    edited March 2018
    thanks :) I guess I just start second guessing myself.. I was so hoping more exercise would let me lose weight and eat a bit more while doing it and I guess I'm a little bit disappointed at the moment

    I've lost these same 25lbs + more before (though I was 6-7 years younger), also through calorie counting and 1200-1300 a day, and it seemed to come off a lot faster
  • jnomadica
    jnomadica Posts: 280 Member
    Sounds tough! Here are a couple of things that have helped me:
    -Eating more protein. I am so much more satisfied with a smaller amount of calories since I increased my protein intake.
    -Getting a Fitbit and focusing on moving more everyday. This has increased my daily calorie burn by 200 calories or more, aside from my actual workouts. I mostly try to be as inefficient as possible (e.g. making several trips upstairs when I could have done one, parking far from a store, etc.).
    I can’t explain why you’re not losing more but these might make the journey more enjoyable?
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    oh definitely, I'm already trying to increase my protein - and it's a real struggle because I seem to not enjoy the foods that are the most rich in protein, hah (apart from liver, for some reason I really like the taste of that)

    I'm taking me getting to 100% of my protein target (looking at the default ratios mfp gave me) as a mini victory at the moment
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    At the moment I tend to cycle through a combination of stuff like jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, etc, pushups, squats, and whatever I can - at the moment - do with the adjustable weights I have at home - I've been logging my exercise as a combination of "calisthenics light effort/vigorous" but as a few minutes less than the 40-50 that I do because I do occasionally have to stop for a few seconds and I just don't want to wildly overestimate it (I know it can be unreliable)
    I'm not sure it should really matter much though as I'm not really trying to eat it back (I just add a 100cal snack if I'm really truly hungry after dinner - and feel like I'll have trouble sleeping if I don't eat) and even if I did only burn 100 I'd still be left with what should be a 500 deficit - mainly because I've been waiting past few weeks to see how my body/weight responds

    I'm going through all the entries that I've been using and nothing really stands out to me at the moment, all the food that I eat is either in packages with nutritional info - or raw food that I weigh before cooking (really basic stuff, eggs, lean skinless meat, etc)
    A couple of the frozen vegetables that I log are not the same brand that I actually use but are within 3-5kcal/100g of what is written on my bags and I adjust accordingly when I log it

    I mean, at the moment my activity outside exercise is walking up/down the stairs a few times a day (my mom's had hip replacement surgery recently and I'm the one in charge of getting stuff from the basement, getting her stuff when she needs it, house chores, etc), and a short (5-10 minute) walk to and from the bus station when I go to my classes
    The rest of the day is spent working on my thesis and other university related things, or work... which is also done at my PC (mainly translation work)

    And agreed - I know 3 weeks is not a huge amount of time
    The exercise is not torture, the hunger is! :P
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    It does seem you have a good handle on logging.

    One thing that helped me manage as opposed to eliminate (unfortunately!) my hunger was to have an erratic calorie deficit that added up over the course of a week to a moderate/sensible deficit but was a mixture of large deficit days and days eating at maintenance.
    Mentally/emotionally I found it far easier to accept that today I'm hungry but tomorrow I can eat normally as opposed to an everyday deficit stretching away into the future which I found very frustrating and sapped my motivation/commitment.
  • netitheyeti
    netitheyeti Posts: 539 Member
    oh that could be a good idea, I definitely have days where I'm not that hungry and could use them to save calories for the next time I feel particularly hungry
  • concordancia
    concordancia Posts: 5,320 Member
    When you weigh your liquids, what conversion are you using from volume to weight?
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    cbelc2 wrote: »
    As a quick quite, a dietitian taught me that if you remove the last number on your calorie intake, that’s the weight you are shooting at. So 1400 will take you to 140, the high end of your normal BMI. I’m 5’8” and (cough) 203 lbs. I’m eating 1200-1500 calories per day to get down to 150. I need to get at least 40 lbs off. I also saw on line that walking 10000 steps per day will burn roughly 3000 calories per week. I noticed, in myself, that when I did intensive training -with a trainer- I gained weight initially and then lost it rapidly.

    Utter bollocks.

    I'm eating 2600-3000 shooting for 225, and have been since 265.
  • Froggyh
    Froggyh Posts: 81 Member
    cbelc2 wrote: »
    As a quick quite, a dietitian taught me that if you remove the last number on your calorie intake, that’s the weight you are shooting at. So 1400 will take you to 140, the high end of your normal BMI. I’m 5’8” and (cough) 203 lbs. I’m eating 1200-1500 calories per day to get down to 150. I need to get at least 40 lbs off. I also saw on line that walking 10000 steps per day will burn roughly 3000 calories per week. I noticed, in myself, that when I did intensive training -with a trainer- I gained weight initially and then lost it rapidly.

    What? No way. I'm currently about 140lb and I'd be RAVENOUS on 1400 calories a day. I currently eat 1900-2100 a day (I'm maintaining/recomping) and wouldn't go below about 1700 to lose weight; otherwise I'd be so hungry my self-control would falter and I'd binge like crazy.
  • MegaMooseEsq
    MegaMooseEsq Posts: 3,118 Member
    cbelc2 wrote: »
    As a quick quite, a dietitian taught me that if you remove the last number on your calorie intake, that’s the weight you are shooting at. So 1400 will take you to 140, the high end of your normal BMI. I’m 5’8” and (cough) 203 lbs. I’m eating 1200-1500 calories per day to get down to 150. I need to get at least 40 lbs off. I also saw on line that walking 10000 steps per day will burn roughly 3000 calories per week. I noticed, in myself, that when I did intensive training -with a trainer- I gained weight initially and then lost it rapidly.

    Yeah, I'm 5'2", 161 lbs, averaging 2000 kcal/day and shooting for 135 (admittedly a slower rate of loss than some, but that should certainly be accounted for). That "rule" sounds like the kind of thing people tell you when they don't trust you to accurately count your calories and assume you'll overestimate your intake.

    @netitheyeti: I would definitely recommend you try cycling your calories. I eat at or above maintenance about 2 times a week and aim for a 800-1000 deficit the rest of the week. I've been doing this for over a year now and have lost 45 pounds. It's certainly slower than if I were managing that larger deficit every day, but the couple of times I've tried it did not make me happy. Slow and steady for me!
  • collectingblues
    collectingblues Posts: 2,541 Member
    cbelc2 wrote: »
    As a quick quite, a dietitian taught me that if you remove the last number on your calorie intake, that’s the weight you are shooting at. So 1400 will take you to 140, the high end of your normal BMI. I’m 5’8” and (cough) 203 lbs. I’m eating 1200-1500 calories per day to get down to 150. I need to get at least 40 lbs off. I also saw on line that walking 10000 steps per day will burn roughly 3000 calories per week. I noticed, in myself, that when I did intensive training -with a trainer- I gained weight initially and then lost it rapidly.

    I'm glad my dietitian isn't an idiot.

    My TDEE is 2200. Your metric would have me eating 1150. Sports performance would suffer, and considering my dietitian already side eyes my 1500, I'm pretty sure she'd throttle me.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    cbelc2 wrote: »
    As a quick quite, a dietitian taught me that if you remove the last number on your calorie intake, that’s the weight you are shooting at. So 1400 will take you to 140, the high end of your normal BMI. I’m 5’8” and (cough) 203 lbs. I’m eating 1200-1500 calories per day to get down to 150. I need to get at least 40 lbs off. I also saw on line that walking 10000 steps per day will burn roughly 3000 calories per week. I noticed, in myself, that when I did intensive training -with a trainer- I gained weight initially and then lost it rapidly.

    @cbelc2

    This elderly cyclist maintaining on 3000 cals/day while weighing 170lbs would disagree with your dietitian.
    Think I might struggle up the hills at 300lbs!

    The steps thing is also a bit silly - would you think a 100lb person and a 300lb person both doing 10000 steps would burn the same number of calories? That's not even a rough estimate, it's more like a soundbite.