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Rate of weight loss and BMR

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I'm fairly new to this calorie counting thing. I joined MFP a couple of weeks ago, entered the profile settings as requested. Starting weight was 154.5 lbs, goal weight 140 lbs, would like to lose 2 lb / week. I'm 5'6, 45 yr old female. Without factoring in exercise I'm lightly active. MFP says I should aim for 1200 calories per day. (online calculators say my TDEE is 2170 and BMR is 1400) I exercise most days around 200 - 300 calories and usually eat most of them so my net calories are still around 1200 most days.

The first week I lost 5 lbs, which was pretty extreme, but I had just upped my exercise level quite a bit and lowered my caloric intake quite a bit and I didn't expect to sustain that. This past week my weight has held steady, which is fine by me for now.

Then I start reading about how one shouldn't eat below BMR and I wondered if maybe I was eating too little (just started a 10k running training program last week and today for the first time I felt hungry even after using up my alloted calories). So I started playing around with the MFP settings for desired rate of weight loss, and level of normal daily activity. I found something interesting.

At 1 lb/week rate of loss, MFP tells me to eat 1310 for "lightly active" and 1440 for "active". However, once I increase the desired rate of loss to 1.5 lb/week or 2 lb/week the number is 1200 whether I am "lightly active" or "active". With these latter rate choices, regardless of the other settings, it says "projected weight loss is 1.2 lbs/week". If I'm understanding this correctly, I really can't lose more than 1.2 lbs/week without overdoing it and eating below a healthy level. Is that correct?

Replies

  • bajoyba
    bajoyba Posts: 1,153 Member
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    MFP will not assign less than 1200 calories to anyone because of liability reasons. You would probably have to eat less than 1200 calories a day in order to lose 2 pounds a week, but that would be a bad idea. With only 14 pounds to lose, 2 pounds a week is a very aggressive goal. Half a pound a week is a much more realistic and sustainable weekly goal and one that most people here will suggest for you to achieve your ultimate goal weight.
    If you keep your activity setting at "lightly active" then you'll want to make sure you're eating back at least half of your exercise calories every day, especially if you're sticking to a more demanding exercise regimen.
  • unFATuated
    unFATuated Posts: 204 Member
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    There is no guarantee of losses no matter how much or how little you eat and how much activity you do. I just worked out my average weight loss per week the other day for another post and I worked out that I have lost nearly 2lbs per week (it was about 1.85lbs on average) over 14 weeks eating approximately my BMR. Sometimes more, sometimes less and fairly minimal exercise apart from running around after a toddler all day. The days I have done exercise, I have generally eaten back the calories burned, or most of them.

    Everybody is different, every body is different and I don't think for a minute that what I do is going to achieve the same results for the next person. I went into this looking for a sustainable loss and I didn't have many expectations of how long it was going to take. I think that having set expectations like 2lbs per week can be dangerous as losses smaller than that may be perceived as failure (by some).
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    Thanks both of you.

    Bajoyba, would you recommend I move my activity setting up to "active"? I'm a stay-home mum so I'm on my feet a lot but a low level of activity unless I'm exercising. However, I am exercising most days and I do tend to eat back all my calories. I like eating so having more calories to eat is fine with me. ;-)

    unFATuated, I'm not wedded to 2 lb/week. I chose that because when I did a paleo/primal diet last year I lost a steady 2 lbs a week if I stayed away from the carbs. This was with amost no exercise and a high calorie diet. I figured the weight loss would be slower given that I'm eating carbs now, so I'm not too surprised that 2 lbs/week is too much for a calorie-counting program. However, I like carbs too much and sticking to the low-carb diet was, in the end, not sustainable for me. If it means just a few extra weeks to my goal weight AND I get to start each day with cereal, my ultimate comfort food, then I'm okay with that, lol!
  • michellekicks
    michellekicks Posts: 3,624 Member
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    I'm a stay at home mom and burn WAY over the "Very Active" setting on MFP. It estimates 2240/day for me, but my TDEE on a rest day is more like 2400-2500.

    Having said that, you have only a few lbs to lose; 2 lbs/week is unreasonable at this point. Aim for 1/2 a pound.
  • unFATuated
    unFATuated Posts: 204 Member
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    Thanks both of you.

    Bajoyba, would you recommend I move my activity setting up to "active"? I'm a stay-home mum so I'm on my feet a lot but a low level of activity unless I'm exercising. However, I am exercising most days and I do tend to eat back all my calories. I like eating so having more calories to eat is fine with me. ;-)

    unFATuated, I'm not wedded to 2 lb/week. I chose that because when I did a paleo/primal diet last year I lost a steady 2 lbs a week if I stayed away from the carbs. This was with amost no exercise and a high calorie diet. I figured the weight loss would be slower given that I'm eating carbs now, so I'm not too surprised that 2 lbs/week is too much for a calorie-counting program. However, I like carbs too much and sticking to the low-carb diet was, in the end, not sustainable for me. If it means just a few extra weeks to my goal weight AND I get to start each day with cereal, my ultimate comfort food, then I'm okay with that, lol!

    That's good :) I feel terrible for the people who get upset because MFP 'guaranteed' them a loss of 2lbs per week and it doesn't happen. It's a great calorie counter, but its 'science' leaves a bit to be desired. Most women who set their loss at 2lbs per week get shoved down to 1200cals and many find it unsustainable.

    And I'm with you on the carbs. Paleo was like a nightmare for me!
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    I'm a stay at home mom and burn WAY over the "Very Active" setting on MFP. It estimates 2240/day for me, but my TDEE on a rest day is more like 2400-2500.

    I'm guessing your kids are young? I recall those days, definitely active! :-) Mine are 9 and 11 and don't require much running around after them. We homeschool, so a lot of what I do is driving kids to activities, general housework, etc. I also work from home part time at the computer. And I live in a tiny house with no stairs. :-)
  • michellekicks
    michellekicks Posts: 3,624 Member
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    I'm a stay at home mom and burn WAY over the "Very Active" setting on MFP. It estimates 2240/day for me, but my TDEE on a rest day is more like 2400-2500.

    I'm guessing your kids are young? I recall those days, definitely active! :-) Mine are 9 and 11 and don't require much running around after them. We homeschool, so a lot of what I do is driving kids to activities, general housework, etc. I also work from home part time at the computer. And I live in a tiny house with no stairs. :-)

    They're 3, 7, 9, 10 and 13. Mostly it's moving around my 4-level split house, making meals, washing dishes and doing laundry for 7 people. But yeah... not that young. I spend a lot of time on the computer.
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    Interesting...How did you figure out how many calories you were burning then?
  • Mokey41
    Mokey41 Posts: 5,769 Member
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    SAHM to 2 older kids isn't active or probably even lightly active. Read what it says beside the descriptions of those options.

    Sedentary: Spend most of the day sitting (e.g. bank teller, desk job)

    Lightly Active: Spend a good part of the day on your feet (e.g. teacher, salesman)

    Active: Spend a good part of the day doing some physical activity (e.g. waitress, mailman)

    Very Active: Spend most of the day doing heavy physical activity (e.g. bike messenger, carpenter)

    Which one of those things describes your day the best?

    You add exercise calories in separately so that doesn't factor into your daily activity level.
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    The MFP definition of "lightly active" is being on your feet most of the day, like a teacher. That's me, I'm definitely on my feet most of the day. My legs are always sore at the end of the day (when I do part time work at the computer, it's in the evenings).

    My BMR is 1400 based on other calculators, but they take exercise into consideration. The calculators suggest not going below 20% of TDEE for weight loss, and my TDEE is 2170, so I should not go below 1736 per day.

    If I choose "lightly active" on MFP it puts my caloric goals at 1310 per day, but even if I eat back all my exercise calories I'd be eating only about 1500 - 1600 calories per day which is too little according to the above calculators. If I set myself to "active" on MFP it puts my daily goal at 1440, which means if I eat my exercise calories I'll be eating around 1700 - 1800 per day. In theory, I should slowly lose weight on this since my TDEE is 2170, do I have this right?
  • LAnne16
    LAnne16 Posts: 272 Member
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    I got a bit confused by this too. My BMR is 1830 but MFP put me at 1730 to eat to lose weight. I exercise at varying intensities pretty much everyday, so sometimes I'm netting closer to 2200...
    Does that sound right? What about the days if I Don't exercise? Then I'm netting below my BMR...
  • climbamnt
    climbamnt Posts: 190 Member
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    I don't use MFP's calculations, my TDEE is is closer to 2100 - 2300 on my average day so I do TDEE - 15% (I have already lost 30 lbs and the less you have to lose the slower is will be - ie for 15 lbs you should be looking at a deficit for 1/2 lb a week). I manaully go in and enter my calorie and macro goals, and I use a FitBit to track my activity level. You can pick up their low end model for $60.
  • ThatSoundsHard
    ThatSoundsHard Posts: 475 Member
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    Just my 2 cents: your goal for pounds lost per week is too high, move it down to .5 pound a week. You're not too far from your goal weight so your weight loss will be slower than those of us with a longer way to go.

    Put it this way: At 200 lbs when I joined, I put in a goal of 2lbs per week. It gave me 1200 calories because that's just too much of a loss for me to reasonably expect while eating enough food. I kind of looked at it as mfp's way of saying "slow down there chicky- that's not exactly feasible"
  • walleymama
    walleymama Posts: 174 Member
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    Thank you for the advice, folks. Glad to hear I have got this calorie counting thing right in my head now.

    I have adjusted my goal settings to an "active" daily activity rating and 1 lb/week which gives me a daily net calorie goal of 1440. Eating this plus my exercise calories will put me at 80% of TDEE.

    I'm going to do this for a week or two and see what happens. I'm not comfortable with increasing my calories even more at this point, as I wasn't even able to eat them all yesterday despite indulging in some not-so-healthy snacks. So far my weight has held steady for the last few days, so as long as it doesn't go up I"ll hang in there a bit longer. :)