# My Plateau Nutrition Story, Learn from my mistakes.

## Replies

• Posts: 294 Member
Wow what a response! I'm glad I'm not the only one who was/is/did suffer from this same problem. I'll gladly answer all of your questions here
THANK YOU for posting this. This is what I've been going through. I have 9.5 lbs to my goal & have upped my work out intensely (from Tae Bo to Insanity) and kept my calories at what MFP has put me - 1200. Usually, a little lower. Well, I burn close to 1000 calories with Insanity and when you mentioned your Net & that was what your body was running off of, I checked mine. Today it's a big ol' 97. Yes. 97. NO WONDER I have stayed at the same weight within 0.5 lb for the last 5 days. I've lost, in total 228 lbs (97 lbs lost in 2004, then 2 pregnancies - 77 lbs gained & lost with one, 54 lbs with the other) and this is the first time I've been really flummoxed and frustrated about my weight loss & have hit a wall. Now the dilemma: It's 8:26pm, should I be eating something to get my calories up? If so, what?
I've just joined MFP and I wonder if it's the calorie counting to the extreme that's making me go so low in calories; all the other times I've been roughly adding them in my head & been successful. Interesting.

THANK YOU for sharing this!
I would say you must figure this out Chevitz. The Katch McArdle way to figure out your calories is wideley regarded as the most accurate way to determine your caloric needs for your body to LOSE weight. I'll give you the formula you fill in the blanks.

I'll use myself as an example:

First your need to figure out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is the amount of calories you burn if you lie in bed all day, comatose.

The equation:
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM(kg)) (Lean Body Mass is calculated by taking your TOTAL WEIGHT x Body Fat %)
Example - I'm currently 200lbs with 16% BF. 200 x .16 = 32 (I carry 32lbs of fat with me currently)
LBM = 200lbs - 32lbs BF = 168 Lean Body Mass
Now we must convert that to Kilograms. Just google "lbs to kg" and you'll get a converter.
168lbs = 76.20kg
21.6 * 76.20kg = 1646 + 370 = 2016BMR
My BMR is 2016 if I were to lay in a bed all day I would burn at least 2000 calories roughly. "But how does that tell me how much I should eat?" Glad you asked

We now take BMR * activity level = Maintenance Calories

Average activity variables are:
1.2 = Sedentary (Little or no exercise + desk job)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Little daily activity & light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately active daily life & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.0 = Extremely Active (Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job)

Example: My BMR * my activity level 1.55 (I workout 5 days a week for 50 - 70 minutes) = 3125 Maintenance Calories (How many calories I should eat a day to maintain my current body build and weight) My advice is that you are very honest about you're daily schedule, taking into account what you do for a living. I picked 1.55 because I'm walking around all day standing and working out 5 days a week 1.55 felt right.

Maintenance Calories = 3125

Now that we know my maintenance calories it's time to CUT IT for the fat burn. Most people will say "Cut it by 500 calories blah blah blah" Well since some of you have mentioned your eating 1200, you couldn't cut it to 700 or you would literally slowly die inside. Rather, pick a % that you want to shave off. Most choose 20% off your Maintenance I chose 30% because it's working well for me. The most important thing if you pay attention to your body fat %.

My Cut Calories = 2187 I rounded up 2200

It is extremely important that you're eating your 2200 calories everyday. Thinking that you're doing great by eating 1500 or 1700 is really not great, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. You're body will adapt, get use to 1500 calories and you'll get stuck. Eating at your goal will promote weight loss, promote a faster metabolism, coupled with working out you'll be hitting your goals in NO TIME! Be patient!

Quick Blurb about Macros: Macros are your most important nutrients that makeup your calories. I hate that MFP has it set up with % because your body doesn't care if you get 40% Protein 30% Carbs yadda yadda. You really should be able to calculate your own macros P F C

Protein: I would recommend you stick with the bodybuilders recommendations with protein.
1 - 1.15g total weight (if your body fat is average)
1 - 1.5g per lb of LEAN BODY MASS (if you know your body fat and calculated your LBM as stated above)
Each GRAM of Protein is 4 calories. I eat 200g of protein everyday which is = to 800 of my 2200 calories.

Fat: IS NOT THE DEVIL! STOP! "Fat Free this Fat Free that, OH GOOD I'll load my face with fat free ice cream" Nope. Fat is NECESSARY for the body to maintain health and it even helps burn fat! You need to pick the GOOD fats, Poly and Mono are great fats for the body.
Average Body Fat - .45 - 1g total body weight (if you don't know your bodyfat)
High BodyFat - .45 - 1g total LEAN BODY MASS (if you know your bodyfat you'll know your LBM)
Each GRAM of Fat is 9 calories. I eat 92.4g of fat in my diet which is = to 832 of my 2200 calories.

Now add those two up 832 calories from fat + 800 calories from protein = 1632
Now take 2200 - 1632 = 568 calories left for Carbs

Carbohydrates: Oh no! You'll get fat if you eat these! Ennnhhhhhh Wrong. If you're active, an althlete, or working out 5 days a week with weights you're going to need these to FEED THAT MUSCLE!

Carbs are my left over calories 568 divided by 4 = 142g
Considering I'm lifting 5 days a week 142g a day is pathetic so rather then settle for that I choose to take some of my fat down to compensate in the carb department. After all each g of fat is 9 calories so I can get a little over 2g of carbs if I steal it back from fat! Confused?

Example I said 92.4g of fat in my above. I won't eat that much fat, lets cut it to 80g of fat. 92.4 - 80 = 12.4g * 9 calories in each gram = 112 calories (rounded up) available for relocation
112 / 4 = 28g extra for carbs I went from 142g to 170g (thank GOD). Even that is a little low, so don't freak out if you have a lower fat day, workout hard in the gym and you substitute for some HEALTHY carbs.

Oh crap. That's a lot of information. Seriously though thanks for posting. I may have to hire you to do my calculations or risk having my head explode. :huh:

same here:ohwell:
• Posts: 2
It is fabulous that you shared your story. I am working with a trainer 1x per week and with my weight that I am at now, she has me on a HIGH calorie intake. I have 2 friends doing a journey of their own and they are freaked out by the amount of calories. My trainer explained this to me in the same way you personally learned. There will be a plateau and you will not get past it if you don't eat your calories and take the weight off slowly. My goal right now is 1 pd per week. The numbers change with your weight.
• Posts: 11
thanks for sharing I seem to have a similar problem and now I know why!
• Posts: 49
thanks for the advive, I lost 53 pounds and stayed that way for 10 months, tried everything, gained 10 pounds, and now am starting to lose once again, zig zaging my calories
• Posts: 321 Member

Ok... I want to get this right. With the calculations... and the body fat % the scales say-47% yikes!- I should be at 1400 calories. So, if I happen to work out 2 days a week or not at all, or if I do 3 days, I should still loose? I shouldn't deviate from those calories when workouts are added in?

Thank for all the information!

Thanks so much for this post, maynard. I'm new to this & still trying to understand. I'd be interested in your response to Katieblue above.
Thanks again!
• Posts: 321 Member
Thanks for posting. I will definitely be reading this over again. I downloaded "BFFM" a long time ago and found it to be full of useful information, but I wasn't ready for it yet. It seemed to be written for body builders, and I was so not a body builder then. I'm not now either, but at least I'm transforming it!

I have been stuck in a huge plateau for about 10 months now and cannot seem to find the answer. I've upped calories, decreased calories, changed workouts, etc. I will work on the info in your post and see if this gives my any hope. I have had some success - I've lost pants sizes and inches, but I am really starting to lose patience as far as weight is concerned. Thanks again!

So, you've upped calories before with no improvement? That's what I am afraid of. If you find a combination of upping calories + some other element = success, please post an update (for those of us still figuring this out). Thanks much for sharing.
• Posts: 175 Member
thanks... . this is great information i never knew....
• Posts: 537 Member
Definately need to read this closer
• Posts: 324 Member
Bump!!!!
• Posts: 162 Member
Nutrition recommendation: Don't rely so heavily on shakes. They're expensive and they're not nearly as filling as real food! I was drinking 3 - 4 Protein shakes everyday when I should have been eating whole food. If you have the time and you have to choose always choose whole food. The only time I really use shakes now is after a workout, before bed (casein) or if I need a little extra protein for my macros that day.
^^^THIS!!!!!!! I recently found myself in this same predicament, thinking I was doing the right thing by drinking a protein shake everyday, but as of yesterday, I switched back to eating whole foods for breakfast, which is what I was initially doing with great results. I don't know if the shakes were causing bloating, but when I looked at myself this morning, I could already see a difference in my waistline. Thanks for sharing! Everything else you said was dead on also, btw!!:bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:
• Posts: 162 Member
Nutrition recommendation: Don't rely so heavily on shakes. They're expensive and they're not nearly as filling as real food! I was drinking 3 - 4 Protein shakes everyday when I should have been eating whole food. If you have the time and you have to choose always choose whole food. The only time I really use shakes now is after a workout, before bed (casein) or if I need a little extra protein for my macros that day.
^^^THIS!!!!!!! I recently found myself in this same predicament, thinking I was doing the right thing by drinking a protein shake everyday, but as of yesterday, I switched back to eating whole foods for breakfast, which is what I was initially doing with great results. I don't know if the shakes were causing bloating, but when I looked at myself this morning, I could already see a difference in my waistline. Thanks for sharing! Everything else you said was dead on also, btw!!:bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:
Oh yeah, and my sugar intake was really high with the shakes as well, AND they weren't as filling as whole foods, I would be hungry like an hour later.:sad:
• Posts: 553 Member
Bump
• Posts: 375 Member
I am SOOO bumping this! I have been stuck for like 4 MONTHS! Thats when I started going to the gym and working out like crazy burning at least 1000 cals and eating only 1300. Making sense now... you explained it perfectly! Thank you!!
• Posts: 14 Member
Just a quick thank you, haven't seen this explained this well on MFP before. As a physician, I read a great deal on nutrition/exercise/weight loss, because for at least 1/2 of my patients this is the primary issue at the base of their chronic health conditions. What you've posted thusfar agrees w/ most of what I've read.

On a personal note, I can verify the same. I have lost 70 lbs from my highest weight and plateaued several times during the journey. When I get frustrated, I have to remind myself to trust the process that I know works: eat whole foods, exercise responsibly, hydrate and sleep. Best of luck to you and all my MFP friends.
• Posts: 447 Member
3 common myths or misunderstandings I see on MFP that your post helps correct:

1. "If I'm hungry, that's a victory." Seriously? If you're TRULY hungry, eat!

2. "You shouldn't eat back your exercise cals." Nonsense. Especially if you have your goal set for 2 lbs/wk loss.

3. "My calorie goal is 1200." Here's the thing about MFP. I think a lot of folks set their goal at 2 lbs/week loss and do not include any exercise they regularly do in their activity settings. Thus MFP gives you a calorie goal that creates a 1000 calorie deficit. Maybe less, since it won't go below 1200 cals. If you then choose not to eat exercise cals back... Yikes! I like the "Olivia Method" for MFP settings (check the General Diet & Weight Loss section for the thread.). Set MFP for weight maintenance, eat less than your maintenance cals on non-workout days, and watch that green number, because it's your deficit. Keep it at or below 1000. And don't be terrified to eat in the evening to accomplish that!

Also, thanks for the reminder that neither fat nor carbs nor protein are the enemy.
• Posts: 73 Member
bump!
awesome post!
• Posts: 522 Member
• Posts: 36 Member
WHEW! Full Time job keeping up with this. Love it!
. I'm getting an extra 277 cals from the workouts but I rarely eat into them. I make sure I don't because then what's the point? But I've been tired, irritable, loosing my desire to work out and not seeing a difference in my body. I've been at it for 15 days so far and I want to cry because I just feel HEAVY, instead of feelng lighter and healthier. My legs feel like cynder blocks! I lost 3 lbs the first week, but only 1 the second week.

But I am not eating my full 1600 cals either. I have been feeling hungry a bit, but not acting on it, just drinking water. Now, the calorie calculator recommended here puts me at 2128 cals for fat loss and 1596 for extreme weight loss. So I should be eating my full 1600 that MFP has me on, or should I go for 2100?
Ok, Can someone please explain "net calories"?
Net calories are the calories that you net minus total exercise. So if I eat 2000 from food, exercise for 500 k/cal burn net would be = 1500k/cal. The way fitness pal is setup is to EAT back your exercise, but I'm still skeptical of this. I set my goals manually using my calculations and specific Macro goals, mine being 45%Carb 35%Prot 20%Fat. From what I've read, please don't flame me if I'm off here, it seems that MFP underestimates your calories to compensate for eating your exercise calories. My recommendation currently is if you use the Katch McCardle method that I posted eat your food to the calories you come up with. Also do not do the extreme fat loss people, I seem to say this on every page, Slow and Steady Wins the Race.
What is a good recommendation for the amount of protein someone should be eating? I keep seeing people comment that you can change your macros, but I am unsure what to change them to. I currently try to go over on protein and under on carbs, but it would be easier just to reset it.
General guidelines for protein is about .8g for lb of weight and 1lb - 1.5lb for weight if intense exercise is happening. I have mine set to 35% of my total calories resulting in 193g. My recommendation is a pretty standard body sculpting ratio of 45/35/20. 45% Carbohydrates to ensure your eating carbohydrates with your lean proteins to have a nice long digestion of amino acids for your muscles. Fat is 20% because you need to eat fat to lose fat, but you don't want to go nuts and eat 30% fat due to the amount of k/cal per g of fat (9 calories). PS the body digests fat quickly and therefore I recommend fat intake lower. Whoa long winded response.
I am 5'6" and weigh 142 lbs. According to the calculator, my LBM is 99 lbs, assuming a body fat of 30%. Using Katch-McCardle, my BMR is 1340, and my TDEE is 1847, if I use a multiplier of 1.4 (lightly active) or 1,608 if I use a multiplier of 1.2 (sedentary). If I use 30% as a percentage for the deficit, this only leaves me with 1,313 calories/day (multiplier of 1.4), which is 37 calories LESS than my present goal. Am I doing something wrong, or should I use a lower percentage for the deficit?
Nope! You did it correct assuming your Body Fat is truly 30%.
Good post in general, but as i wrote in another post, I wouldn't call it starvation mode. As you know anytime you hit a plateau it would be considered starvation mode by most people. It's just metabolic decline. One way to offset, metabolic decline is to have a free day once a week. A calorie deficit shouldn't be greater than 15-20% of AMR.

Loss of muscle mass
impaired hormonal function
losing weight

all 3 slow down metabolic function, if you're losing weight it will cause you to burn less calories. There is no way around that one, but around the other 2? Yes, it's based on your caloric intake, it can't be too low, and i also recommend one high calorie day a week.
Funny you posted this because I was literally just talking to my wife over dinner about the most overused word in the weight loss world is starvation mode. I should update the original post to decreased metabolic rate. True starvation mode is not achieved until your body reaches level of dangerously low BF% i.e 5% or lower and being malnourished. Don't take that out of context either because BodyBuilders go below 5% sometimes, I mean 5% body fat being malnourished eating 1000 calories a day or less and still expending energy. There was a great study done by Karl Freidl done with military personnel. A true starvation mode will begin causing lost of problems with our hormones (testosterone, mood related to serotonin, thyroid issues) and the function of our body day to day. Haven't even delved into the leptin issues. So did I hit true "starvation mode"? No. I suffered from a severe drop in metabolism due to a large caloric deficit. Starvation is a term thrown out very quickly by people in the weight loss world, but I don't believe they are doing this maliciously.
i didn't read all the responses, so maybe i missed this. but how do you calculate your percentage of body fat?
If you peek through the responses I have a specific scale I use that has proven to be very accurate. I am actually going to go for my first Dexa scan in a couple weeks which is considered the most accurate way to measure. I'm not a fan of the hydro-static testing as to how obnoxious it is to get in the water and because it's dated. You can look in your area for Dexa scan or for BodyPod (which is hydro-static without the water )
I am not sure how to do this. I am not able to exercise at the moment due to knee issues. I am being told by MFP to eat 1450. I am 37 years old, female, 5’5, @ 193lbs. I don’t know my fat percentage, but I am sure it is high. I must say, I am very confused on all of this. I have been mainly overweight all my life and would like to go about weight loss the right way for a change. It takes me forever to lose weight and I never seem to maintain weight loss for more than 6 months to a year.