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Increasing Calories - What to expect & why you need patience...

31prvrbs31prvrbs Member Posts: 687 Member Member Posts: 687 Member
Because the calorie upping process always brings some concerns, I thought it might be helpful to have a synopsis of the process. We're all different, and of course will respond in different ways, but at some point during the process we may feel like we are all alone in our reactions to increased cals.

We often hear the success story of the person that upped their cals and dramatically started losing weight again, and I find that this can often lead to calorie increasing being looked at just as any other "fad diet.' With claims sometimes sounding similar to those of magazines, "lose 10 lbs in 10 days" many MFPers want to jump on the calorie upping bandwagon and start shedding that weight again. And who could blame us, we've all obviously been there, losing and gaining the same pounds over and over again, and we just want it off and are "willing to try anything"

Or are we?

It's very important to note that although many see success very shortly after upping their cals, that this is not the case for most. In fact it's quite the opposite. I am a STRONG proponent of giving your body the proper fuel that it needs, but it's extremely important for me to make this point clear:


Seriously, I'm not trying to be mean, just stating the facts. I know that many people are coming to this decision for different reasons, some are on those last few stubborn pounds, and others are just beginning their journey. Whether you have 5 or 100 lbs to lose, the process CAN work for you, but much patience and the correct frame of mind are required. Regardless of where you are or why you want to eat more, keep the main point the main point: It's time to stop starving your body, and get/keep your metabolism on the right track. period. everything else that happens as a result (building muscle, losing fat, looking good, finally being able to wear shorts/bikini, etc) are just extra. Yes, we're all a bit vain, in that we want to look good, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there are a zillion different "quick fixes" and starvation/over-exertion plans out there if that's the route that you want to go (again, and again as you continue to re-gain the same weight), but I can assure you, this ain't one of 'em.

So enough of *that* part of my ramble, and on to what to expect:

Upon starting this process, some dive in w/little to no knowledge, and some take it slow. What I've found over time, is that those who take the time to properly educate themselves and prepare for the mental aspect, have much greater success. Often those that dive in, thinking that they'll up their cals and fit into that bikini by next Friday have a rude awakening. We see the success stories of those that up their cals, but we don't see the mental transition that had to take place before/during the process.

Typically, a person is coming into this process after already having had "success" on lower cal diets, therefore this "success" (and I use quotes because they have typically re-gained the weight) will always be at the forefront of their mind as a "just in case this doesn't work" option. So the first place of mental acceptance that a person has to arrive at is: IF YOU GAIN THE WEIGHT BACK, OR HAVE COMPLETELY STALLED, IT WASN'T A "SUCCESS." A person who does not feel this way, will run at the first sign of trouble. You have to become completely convinced that super low cals, excessive cal burns through exercise, and eating under your BMR are no longer an option. Lowering cals, begets lowering them more during plateaus, and becomes a slippery slope, especially if you are already a too low of a cal level. You'll eventually drop into that gray area, and your body either starts holding on to every morsel of fat, or completely stalls out. Think of it this way: WHEN YOUR CAR "RUNS OUT OF GAS," IS IT "TECHNICALLY" COMPLETELY EMPTY? More than likely there is still some smidgen of gas in there, right?. But just not enough to make the large body of metal "go." This is what happens to your body when you make it try to operate on bare minimums.

Now, let's say that you "get" all that, and are ready to get this party started and start losing weight again, all while stuffing your face. I mean, we can eat like it's Thanksgiving everyday and watch the lbs melt off? It's a win, win, eh? The next thing that a person will have to realize it that, the longer you have been in the super deficit/overexertion phase, the more patience you'll need to have during your "re-feed" phase. Yes, ultimately you want those lbs to melt off, but some people need to take a couple of steps back first, and will actually GAIN some "scale" weight up front (the "scale weight" can be different for each person, sometimes it's just bloat/water weight, sometimes a person has lost the weight unhealthily, and the body must first recoup before it can function properly). The analogy that I like to use here can be understood by anyone who has a newer phone (be it Blackberry or iPhone), or other rechargeable device. When your battery runs out on your phone, it doesn't matter what you do to it, there's only one way to make it work again (other than putting in an entirely new, newly charged battery). You have to plug it in. Most phones or devices nowadays, will not start working the second that you plug them in. They often need a few minutes of "re-feed" charging before they will even *turn on*. Then once they're turned on, you can't just unplug them and walk away, you have to wait. Different devices take different amounts of time to charge, and different charging sources also come into play. If I plug my iPhone into the wall charger (when completely dead), it takes about 1-5 minutes before it can turn on, and then another 30-1hr before it's completely charged. However, when I plug it into the USB on my PC, or car charger, it takes But, regardless of where I charge it, and how long the process takes, the end result is that it's now charged, and I can unplug it, walk away and expect it to perform whatever command I give it. I can continue to expect this, as long as I continue to charge it properly from here on out (not letting it go completely dead again), for the life of the phone.

Such is the case for your body. Your individual needs may vary. Your recharge may be different from the next person, you may have to gain a couple of pounds (not turn on yet) until your body has had it's set "internal" time of charging. Then you may have to sit at a standstill/maintenance (still plugged in) until your body is fully charged. Once you reach this point, you will be able to move forward (finally unplug), give your body commands and expect full compliance, as long as you treat it right, agreeing not to starve it again. Quality/sources of food (wall charger vs. USB) will also affect the variations in length to the process for different people.

* If you've been a "low carber" for a while, then expect some water retention as you add healthy carbs back into your life. It's ok. Your body needs carbs and has to learn to adapt to them again. In this scenario, probably 98% of the gain that you "see" will be water.

*If you've been a low cal "binge-er" (eating low cals for an extended period of time, then having a "binge" ever so often in moments of "weakness"), then expect your body to react negatively at first. It will assume that this is just another one of your "binges" and that "starvation" is just around the corner, thus the desire to hold on to everything that comes through. Once it senses that it will receive regular feedings, it will react accordingly by actually letting go..

*Remember, your body does not give a darn about your "weight loss" goals. It has one goal- survival. It's up to you to convince it that you're on the same team, and it will stop fighting you.

*Some people see results in a week or two, some need 4-6 weeks or more for things to completely balance out. Know this going in, and prepare to be in it for the long haul. The first 2 weeks are usually the mental aspect of eating more and convincing your mind/body that you are on the right track despite scale fluctuations. Following weeks, may become easier as far as the eating aspect goes, but be prepared for discouragement if the scale is still not moving. This is normal, and not the time to run for the hills. Often times a person needs to eat in a hypercaloric (surplus) or eucaloric (maintenance) state for some time before their body believes that they are not "crying wolf."

Give your mind/body enough time to be fully convinced. Remember that your life will (hopefully) last for several more years, giving yourself deadlines like "this summer" or "tank top season" does not register w/your body. If you plan on "eating more" for the rest of your life, then this will only be a very short time in the grand scheme of things.

You will hear me say, over and over to people that are on the "Eat More" or "metabolism repair" path:

Take your time, pace yourself, enjoy the journey, and don't quit just short of the finish-line.

Trust the process. You can/will reach your goals.

This is your life, not The Biggest Loser. There is no cash prize for starving yourself, while working out 6 hours/day.

edited July 2016


  • OriginalWhatTheHelenOriginalWhatTheHelen Member Posts: 22 Member Member Posts: 22 Member
    Thank you. Again. :flowerforyou:
  • 202685tracy202685tracy Member Posts: 42 Member Member Posts: 42 Member
    OMG...what great analogies!!! Something that is in language we can all understand!! The part about the binging, I think you were talking to should have said "and Tracy...." LOL. I think that is the scenario that is totally going on right now with me! thank you so much KIKI!!
  • harlanJENharlanJEN Member Posts: 1,166 Member Member Posts: 1,166 Member
    Once again, THANKS for taking the time to provide that information to us - lots of great info - and very timely !
  • ANewLuciaANewLucia Member Posts: 2,084 Member Member Posts: 2,084 Member
    Kiki, just so eloquently know this and believe it with my whole heart and step away from worrying about the scale was the hardest mindset change I've ever made in my life. I so thank God for you and my other sisters that planted seeds that finally took root.
  • Quel1970Quel1970 Member Posts: 91 Member Member Posts: 91 Member
    Thank you for this information! I have recently decided the starvation method isn't helping (no weight lose after 6 weeks at or below 1200 calories). I have been reading, reading, reading. I LOVE the book NROLFW! Something clicked in my head and I'm super excited to start this lifestyle change. I decided that I would up my caloric intake gradually though, going from 1200 to 1350 for a week and then to 1460 (my TDEE). And I'm not really worried about the scale! As long as I can keep increasing my weights, I will be happy (because I know by doing this I will also decrease my pants size, regardless of the scale.)

    Sorry I blabbed on and on... I'm just very stoked!
  • DecemberNickDecemberNick Member Posts: 64 Member Member Posts: 64 Member
    Very well put! This should be mandatory reading for the mental battle of eating more food after living in a food deprived world.
  • 31prvrbs31prvrbs Member Posts: 687 Member Member Posts: 687 Member
    Thank you for this information! I have recently decided the starvation method isn't helping (no weight lose after 6 weeks at or below 1200 calories). I have been reading, reading, reading. I LOVE the book NROLFW! Something clicked in my head and I'm super excited to start this lifestyle change. I decided that I would up my caloric intake gradually though, going from 1200 to 1350 for a week and then to 1460 (my TDEE). And I'm not really worried about the scale! As long as I can keep increasing my weights, I will be happy (because I know by doing this I will also decrease my pants size, regardless of the scale.)

    Sorry I blabbed on and on... I'm just very stoked!

    Congrats on your decision. :) Your body will thank you!

    I'm not sure if your TDEE is 1460 or if that's your BMR (which sounds about right), but a gradual approach is often preferred when trying to minimize scale fluctuations that come w/the process, even though it may take a bit longer. As long as you are patient w/yourself and your body, you will be able to change your eating habits around for the best. 50-100 cal/wk is usually a decent rate for a gradual increase.

    Stay strong, and keep us posted!

  • 2012asv2012asv Member Posts: 705 Member Member Posts: 705 Member
    Thank you for your post, I just finished week 2 of upping my calories. I was one of those people who was lowering calories and adding tons of cardio- because that's what we've been programmed to beleive is the road to weight loss. It took me aboout 2-3 weeks to realize my body was not happy one bit.
    Initially I did gain almost 2 pounds but by the end of the first week it leveled off. This second week has pretty much been the same, I did not gain or lose. While I did question whether or not I am doing the right thing- I did not doubt the "process". I know this is an actual process and i want to get healthy not just drop 10 pounds in a month.
    Reading your post was a refreshed my motivation... That and seeing your (hot) pictures!!! Thank you :)
  • Simmie69Simmie69 Member Posts: 72 Member Posts: 72

    Thank you for posting, I spent all day yesterday emailing, reading and researching and have to confess I was confused about this all. Today is day #3 for me and after not losing a pound but also not gaining (since Feb. 23) I decided to weigh this morning and was down 1 pound. Granted I lifted yesterday so I was expecting some water retention. I was on JC and lost 70 pounds but I was on a 1200 a day calorie intake and that weight did come back. I'm not saying I'm not scared but I also know that I'm not looking for a quick fix! I felt great this morning in spin, I had a lot of energy and will continue upping as needed.

  • MichelleRenee13MichelleRenee13 Member Posts: 367 Member Member Posts: 367 Member
    Thank you Kiki. I am on week 2 of upping my calories and the more I read the easier it is getting and the better I feel mentally about this change.

  • jaeonejaeone Member Posts: 649 Member Member Posts: 649 Member
    Thanks!!. This was a MUCH needed explanation!! A few of my pals tried to make every day Thanksgiving!
  • JadeRabbit08JadeRabbit08 Member Posts: 553 Member Member Posts: 553 Member
    This is a great clearly explained post. Just what we needed for the board.
  • CorinthiaBCorinthiaB Member Posts: 509 Member Member Posts: 509 Member
    Thanks. I think that we all should be prepared to handle whatever may come up. Shared experience and information is one of the best preparation tool.
  • LoriInIowaLoriInIowa Member Posts: 113 Member Posts: 113
    You're not only *beautiful* but SMART!! :)

    You just bless my socks off. Thanks for being patient with us newbies!
  • Simmie69Simmie69 Member Posts: 72 Member Posts: 72
    You're not only *beautiful* but SMART!! :)

    You just bless my socks off. Thanks for being patient with us newbies!
    I'm with Lori on that..
  • keesh1123keesh1123 Member Posts: 234 Member Member Posts: 234 Member
    Thanks so much for posting this. I'd LITERALLY just taken my cals down a couple hundred this morning out of frustration with not seeing "expected" results on the scale or in my clothes. My clothes actually feel tighter, not any looser. My plan was to stick it out for atleast 4 weeks like NROLFW suggests, but I was getting really impatient. :grumble:

    I was thinking that maybe I upped my cals too quick (although I hadn't been eating that low to begin with), or maybe I should go ahead and try eating less instead of at maintenance because after all, I am still trying to lose some weight, not maintain, plus I thought that maybe I should have upped them a little more gradually, maybe a hundred or so at a time instead of 300-500 so quickly. But I've been so confused about where I should go from here.

    This post has given me the extra push I needed to at least stay with it for 4 weeks total and then adjust from there if needed. Thanks.
  • kjmommiekjmommie Member Posts: 92 Member Member Posts: 92 Member
    Thank you much for this post. I really needed to read this :smile:
  • shanna0413shanna0413 Member Posts: 667 Member Posts: 667
  • SwimKittySwimKitty Member Posts: 133 Member Posts: 133
    Thank you!
  • Quel1970Quel1970 Member Posts: 91 Member Member Posts: 91 Member
    I upped my calories form 1200 to 1350 and will up them again next week to 1400.
    It felt GREAT when I did it!
    Problem is, I can't seem to get there every day. I'm just not that hungry. I felt like I ate really good today and then realized I was only at 975.
    I did order some protein shakes that I plan to drink after my workouts HOWEVER, they are only about 150 calories. Any advice? (BTW- I do not eat red meat)
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