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Under eating...YIKES!

mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
I'm grossly under eating and I didn't realize it and I'm really not sure what I should expect as I correct this issue. Should I gradually add back in calories or jump straight into eating what I should? Im not sure if adding them ALL back in at once is possible as my appetite is small and Im also scared I will see a weight increase. I'm having a little anxiety over this but I know I cant continue to under eat...a little backstory may shed light.





I have been on this journey for almost 2 years (since Sept 2019) and have yet to reach my goal of 140lbs. I started at 175lbs. I never logged my food and when I first started I didn't have an apple watch to keep track of calories burned. So I was basically blind to what I was doing. I kind of didn't understand how a calorie deficit worked in corporation with exercise but now Im realizing Ive been doing things way wrong.

I work out M-F. I leave to walk to the gym (1.8 miles up hill) at 4:30am and arrive at 5am when it opens. I work out from 5-6:30am (weights & cardio) and do the same walk back home. By the time I reach home I have burned 900/1000 calories and by the end of the day my movement ring shows around 1300-1500 calories burned an my total for the day is around 3000-3500 burned. The amount of calories I would consume in a day was somewhere between 1200-1600. I would keep track of those by reading labels. I assumed I would have to eat under a deficit AND workout to lose before i had the watch I didn't even consider what I was burning exercising.

When I finally decided to log my food in the MFP app last week for the first time it told me I had 1700 calories remaining. I realize Im grossly under eating considering I could not exercise at all and with the way I eat id still be in a deficit.The workouts are actually overkill

when I first started at 175lbs in sept 2019 by the end of nov I was down to 155lbs. I got stuck and assumed I was in a plateau. I tried keto and got down to 152lbs but I could never get any lower than that. Every time I got my period I would gain 5-6lbs then spend the month losing that same weight. In march 2020 the gyms closed because of covid. I hate home workouts and I fell off my consistent routine. I walked when I could ate the best I could during the week and kept the weight off. The gym opened back in Oct and closed again in Nov not much changed with my weight then even tho I was going and sticking to my routine. The beginning of 2021 I was still the same weight but feb came and by march I magically went from 158 to 172. Luckily the gym opened back up March 15th and since then I have been in the gym or working out. I took a 2 week break from the gym while I was in LA and did 30min HIIT workouts 3-4 days a week. I ate out almost everyday I was there but I kept my weight steady. When I returned home I took a whole week off from anything but light walking.


Since March I have went from 171 down to 160 (11lbs) right now I seem to be hitting that wall and 160 is that number I thought after this past week I would be back in the 150s but Im actually fluctuating between 160-163. I realize after deciding to log my food last week (I didnt log over the weekend) that I am under eating and this is probably why I have struggled to lose the weight. I dont have any health issues that I know of that would prevent me from dropping weight. I know I clearly need to eat more but Id like to go about it in a way that doesnt totally undo my progress. Ive had such a hard time with this.
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Replies

  • jamesha100jamesha100 Member Posts: 202 Member Member Posts: 202 Member
    I would guess that the 1220 MFP gave you would be for the sendentry profile rather than active. If I set my profile to active my allowance increases by 700 calories a day from 1500 to 2200 to lose 2 pounds per week.

    Based upon the figures you give I can see why you are frustrated by the slow progress. Leaving for your work-out every day at 4:30am sounds pretty intense - are you getting enough quality sleep? I seem to lose easier when I get a solid seven hours a night.

    Another thing that has worked in the past for me is the 5:2 diet - basically five days of the week you eat at maintenance and then have two days where you "fast" and limit calories to 500. This seemed to keep my system guessing which helped break plateaus (full disclosure I did 2 days maintenance, 2 days fast and three days on MFP allowance to lose 2 pounds per week).

    edited June 2
  • mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member

    Lietchi wrote: »
    Lots of debate on whether or not you are undereating. But in the end, it's your real life results that will show what is really going on.

    Just based on your stats (160lbs), the fact that you feel extremely tired and that you're eating 1200-1500kcal max, I would say it definitely is a possibility that you may be undereating. Considering you're scared of gaining weight, I would advise increasing slowly. Increasy your daily calorie allowance weekly by 100kcal or so.
    A small increase in weight is normal (a bit more food waste and carbs in your body) but if the weight gain continues consistently over a few weeks, you might have reached your maintenance calories. If, on the other hand, you feel less fatigued after a few weeks and you don't gain weight (or even continue losing), than you could conclude you were undereating.

    Personally, I feel that many people are way too agressive with their eating goal and ending up stuck because of it (too hungry, too tired, water retention from the stress of the large deficit leading to weight loss stalls), I can only encourage trying to lose weight with a higher calorie allowance. It does take some careful monitoring though (and looking past short term fluctuations), to make sure you are still in a calorie deficit (most people have an average metabolism, but there can be individual variations, so it's important to look at real life results, not just calculators and results of other people). I lost all of my weight eating 1700+calories (sometimes quite a lot more even), slower than most people would choose to lose weight, but a lot more painless.

    I think 'reverse dieting' is something you could look into, it's pretty much what I described (increasing food intake gradually).


    I honestly think I was too aggressive with my calorie cut and I don't want to continue doing something that isn't healthy. I have noticed if I get a cut or bruise or even a pimple they take forever to heal and that makes sense now. I think I am showing signs of not eating enough.


    I weigh my food by scale and read the package. So actually if something says about 2tbs is 90 calories but it gives a oz measurement I will weigh it and match the ounce. I realize that hidden calories exist when you don't go by the ounce you could be eating way more than you think accidentally.

    Also for a few days I ate prepackaged salads and meals and went off those calories listed on the package. I drink 2/3 cups of coffee a day with stevia and creamer thats 20 calories and a gallon of water a day.

    I'm positive I'm accurately logging my food intake and it's just not a healthy amount considering it's also with exercise.

    I do think you guys have the right idea gradually adding in or eating at maintenance level while continuing exercising is what I will do. That way I don't undo the weight loss I've accomplished so far.
  • mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    OP, I just reread the thread and it seems you're really the only one convinced you're undereating. I would really double check the exercise calories your watch is calculating for you. You say it's accurate because it's close to what the machines say but the machines are notorious for overestimating calories burned during a workout.

    Let me tell you a little story about me, my beloved fitbit, and mfp. And a whole year in my life.

    I had a classic fitbit and it was spot on when it came to my tdee. I lost weight accordingly. Then it broke so bad I had to replace it with a newer version. That plus two other newer versions told me I was earning maybe 1200 calories during my walks (they were REALLY long walks). It was synced to mfp and I would eat the calories mfp gave me. I ate in a 3500 calorie weekly deficit.

    I gained and lost the same pound.

    For a year.

    A bloody (I'm not british) year.

    When I posted about it in the fitbit forums I was pointed towards a recommended online exercise calorie calculator, replaced the fitbit's calculations with theirs, and OHMYGOD, I STARTED LOSING WEIGHT AGAIN!!!!!

    What I'm trying to say is you're probably not undereating.

    Stop being so stubborn, open your mind, realize the people here are trying to help even if they didn't answer the question you asked, and maybe you won't have to come back here with the "why am I not losing weight when I confused my metabolism by eating more" post.

    Otherwise, yep, add the calories slowly and see how it goes.

    I get what you guys are saying but I'm literally telling you guys I am eating 1200 calories and under some days PLUS exercising. Lets try not to focus on the exact amount of calories burned on my watch.

    Every single site/app/doctor says eating 1200 is the minimum healthy deficit you should have. So eating that way and doing 2-3hrs of cardio and strength training would make my deficit greater even if my accurate calorie burn was only 300 for my workouts. What I'm hearing from this forum is that's wrong despite every other medical source saying that isn't healthy/sustainable.

    So are you saying I can continue to eat only 1200 calories and continue workouts the way that I am?
  • mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    Last month I was sick for a few weeks and under ate during this time as I had very little appetite.

    However, during this time I lost two pounds per week instead of my usual one pound/week.

    I just added calories back as my appetite came back. I was back to 1500 calories net immediately after I started antibiotics. I did bounce up 5 pounds, but didn't worry about it as I had had several high sodium meals plus ovulated, a time of my cycle where I always retain water. I also added exercise back after days of rarely getting out of bed, and expected first a water weight drop from not exercising then a water weight gain from returning to exercise.

    I'm currently two pounds over my low sickness weight, which seems completely normal to me.

    I weigh every day and log this into Happy Scale. Its trend line helps me deal with normal fluctuations.

    So to answer your question, I just added calories back immediately. However, like others, I'm not convinced you are undereating nearly as much as you think you are. I know you feel your device is accurate as you have been using it for some time, but perhaps try logging the calories manually into MFP and see what you get.


    Glad you are feeling better and back to your routine!

    I'm not saying the watch is accurate but I know I am logging my food intake accurately. Even if the watch is less than half right eating 1200 calories and some days a bit shy of that plus exercise would be a bit much? I feel like this forum is the first place I've ever had people say eating under 1200 calories isn't bad or assume I'm inaccurately counting them.


    For example one day my meals were:

    Protein shake 140 calories

    Chicken Caesar salad
    from Trader Joe's 460 calories

    2 Trader Joe's green tamales 560 calories

    I had no snacks and only drank water. It was one of the days I just didn't have much of an appetite.

    That's 1160 calories.

    Plus 3hrs of physical activity.

  • mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
    jamesha100 wrote: »
    I would guess that the 1220 MFP gave you would be for the sendentry profile rather than active. If I set my profile to active my allowance increases by 700 calories a day from 1500 to 2200 to lose 2 pounds per week.

    Based upon the figures you give I can see why you are frustrated by the slow progress. Leaving for your work-out every day at 4:30am sounds pretty intense - are you getting enough quality sleep? I seem to lose easier when I get a solid seven hours a night.

    Another thing that has worked in the past for me is the 5:2 diet - basically five days of the week you eat at maintenance and then have two days where you "fast" and limit calories to 500. This seemed to keep my system guessing which helped break plateaus (full disclosure I did 2 days maintenance, 2 days fast and three days on MFP allowance to lose 2 pounds per week).


    I do not get enough sleep and spend a lot of my day tired but I can't really tell right now if that's because I'm still readjusting tired getting up at 4am. I went off my routine while I was out of town for 3weeks and I spent a lot of my down time sleeping in so when I came back it was harder to get up early and fall asleep at a reasonable time. I ended up taking naps. Right now my sleeping is still off it's definitely something I need to fix.

    I have MFP set to "active" and it says 1220 I can't remember what all it asked me when I set it up but I vaguely remember it asking about my goals and how quickly I wanted to lose the weight so maybe that's why it gave me such a low deficit. Is there another calculator you recommend?

    I also used to intermittent fast and not eat after 8pm id have my first meal at 12 or 2pm this is actually how my appetite shrunk it was very hard to eat so many calories in a little window. I'd have a cheat day on the weekends.

    Now I don't eat after 8pm but I have a protein smoothie as soon as I get in from the gym because i was told that's the best time for your muscles to get protein I also take a bcaa supplement 30mins before workout (pills). I posted an example of what I would consider a day of under eating in my previous post.


  • mrsodessamrsodessa Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    Ok, in a nutshell, it can be 1 of 4 things:

    1. Calories in is off
    2. Calories out is off
    3. You have some disease you don't know about (or you're already on meds) that prevents you from losing weight
    4. You're a snowflake

    (It ain't 4 😀)

    2. I do believe calories out is likely off but even if so calories in still isn't at a healthy amount with workouts incorporated.


    3. would honestly make sense. I dont take medication but it is possible something is internally off because none of this makes sense.


    Trust me when I say this I don't diet and exercise because I enjoy it. I do it because I have a goal I am determined to reach and not being able to get in the 140s after 2 years of actually trying HARD is killing me.
  • hist_dochist_doc Member Posts: 212 Member Member Posts: 212 Member
    mrsodessa wrote: »
    jamesha100 wrote: »
    I would guess that the 1220 MFP gave you would be for the sendentry profile rather than active. If I set my profile to active my allowance increases by 700 calories a day from 1500 to 2200 to lose 2 pounds per week.

    Based upon the figures you give I can see why you are frustrated by the slow progress. Leaving for your work-out every day at 4:30am sounds pretty intense - are you getting enough quality sleep? I seem to lose easier when I get a solid seven hours a night.

    Another thing that has worked in the past for me is the 5:2 diet - basically five days of the week you eat at maintenance and then have two days where you "fast" and limit calories to 500. This seemed to keep my system guessing which helped break plateaus (full disclosure I did 2 days maintenance, 2 days fast and three days on MFP allowance to lose 2 pounds per week).


    I do not get enough sleep and spend a lot of my day tired but I can't really tell right now if that's because I'm still readjusting tired getting up at 4am. I went off my routine while I was out of town for 3weeks and I spent a lot of my down time sleeping in so when I came back it was harder to get up early and fall asleep at a reasonable time. I ended up taking naps. Right now my sleeping is still off it's definitely something I need to fix.

    I have MFP set to "active" and it says 1220 I can't remember what all it asked me when I set it up but I vaguely remember it asking about my goals and how quickly I wanted to lose the weight so maybe that's why it gave me such a low deficit. Is there another calculator you recommend?

    I also used to intermittent fast and not eat after 8pm id have my first meal at 12 or 2pm this is actually how my appetite shrunk it was very hard to eat so many calories in a little window. I'd have a cheat day on the weekends.

    Now I don't eat after 8pm but I have a protein smoothie as soon as I get in from the gym because i was told that's the best time for your muscles to get protein I also take a bcaa supplement 30mins before workout (pills). I posted an example of what I would consider a day of under eating in my previous post.


    Typically you would set your activity level to sedentary and then add exercise, unless you have a physically demanding job. This is likely throwing off your calorie output. Perhaps MFP had fixed its calculations, but in the past I would always get a double read on activity.
  • RedordeadheadRedordeadhead Member Posts: 972 Member Member Posts: 972 Member
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    mrsodessa wrote: »
    glassyo wrote: »
    OP, I just reread the thread and it seems you're really the only one convinced you're undereating. I would really double check the exercise calories your watch is calculating for you. You say it's accurate because it's close to what the machines say but the machines are notorious for overestimating calories burned during a workout.

    Let me tell you a little story about me, my beloved fitbit, and mfp. And a whole year in my life.

    I had a classic fitbit and it was spot on when it came to my tdee. I lost weight accordingly. Then it broke so bad I had to replace it with a newer version. That plus two other newer versions told me I was earning maybe 1200 calories during my walks (they were REALLY long walks). It was synced to mfp and I would eat the calories mfp gave me. I ate in a 3500 calorie weekly deficit.

    I gained and lost the same pound.

    For a year.

    A bloody (I'm not british) year.

    When I posted about it in the fitbit forums I was pointed towards a recommended online exercise calorie calculator, replaced the fitbit's calculations with theirs, and OHMYGOD, I STARTED LOSING WEIGHT AGAIN!!!!!

    What I'm trying to say is you're probably not undereating.

    Stop being so stubborn, open your mind, realize the people here are trying to help even if they didn't answer the question you asked, and maybe you won't have to come back here with the "why am I not losing weight when I confused my metabolism by eating more" post.

    Otherwise, yep, add the calories slowly and see how it goes.

    I get what you guys are saying but I'm literally telling you guys I am eating 1200 calories and under some days PLUS exercising. Lets try not to focus on the exact amount of calories burned on my watch.

    Every single site/app/doctor says eating 1200 is the minimum healthy deficit you should have. So eating that way and doing 2-3hrs of cardio and strength training would make my deficit greater even if my accurate calorie burn was only 300 for my workouts. What I'm hearing from this forum is that's wrong despite every other medical source saying that isn't healthy/sustainable.

    So are you saying I can continue to eat only 1200 calories and continue workouts the way that I am?

    No, people are saying because you are not losing weight there's likely something wrong with your calculation of Calories In and/or Calories Out.

    For how long have you been stuck at 160-ish?

    Please change your Diary Sharing settings to Public: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/account/diary_settings

    OP if you temporarily make your diary setting public, people may be able to spot any issues and give you better advice.

    Edited to add: you mentioned weekend cheat days, are you still having those?
    edited June 3
  • RimtimtimRimtimtim Member Posts: 21 Member Member Posts: 21 Member
    For quick, low volume calories: use a bit more oil when making food. Then slowly add more food and less oil.

    Also ignore the exercise calories. if you feel like you're losing too fast increase calories by
    100-500 a day and then adjust based on your weightloss/gain.
    edited June 3
  • J72FITJ72FIT Member Posts: 5,821 Member Member Posts: 5,821 Member
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    So are you saying I can continue to eat only 1200 calories and continue workouts the way that I am?

    No, people are saying because you are not losing weight there's likely something wrong with your calculation of Calories In and/or Calories Out.

    ^^^This...
    edited June 3
  • yirarayirara Member Posts: 6,680 Member Member Posts: 6,680 Member
    @kshama2001 it would really help if you opened your diary. It will be a lot easier to help you figure out what's wrong.
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