Calories counting confusion

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Hi

I have 5kg's (11 pounds) to lose and I have been working hard to make a dent in this number before Xmas. I have two questions:

1 - I am supposed to eat 1200 calories a day and I land up eating between 900 and 1300 a day. I exercise 5 times a week and generally burn 500 calories. As I understand it I should be eating 500 extra clories on tose days. Is this correct? Do I have to eat the extra calories even if I am not hungry?

2 - I have been eating well for 8 days and I have been gyming 5 days a week for 2 weeks. Yet the scale reflects that I have lost 0.25kg!!! Any ideas why my weightloss is so slow? I have noticed that my shape is changing and I know that muscle is heavier than fat but I expected more movement than this.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thanks!

Replies

  • lindsayvernon
    lindsayvernon Posts: 56 Member
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    You're probably not going to like this, but you need to eat more food. If you are working out 5 days a week and only consuming aroudn 1200 calories you're leaving your body in a position with not enough fuel. You should also look at weighing out your food and using a HRM for your exercise (if you aren't already) as you could be over estimating your burns and underestimating your food. Also, muscle doesn't weigh more than fat. A pound is a pound, no matter what. Muscle will take up less space than fat, but in no way are you getting heavier because of it...at least not after only 2 weeks.

    I would change your stats to losing 1lbs a week as that is more sustainable. It'll mean a slower loss, but what's the rush? I understand the goals of losing before xmas, but why not just keep going to the gym and making healthy choices in food and be happy with whatever weight you lose from now until then. Your weight loss is not a race, so take your time to adjust.
  • katehamilton25
    katehamilton25 Posts: 4 Member
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    Thanks for the feedback. It is hard because I either eat too much or too little. I always struggle with balance.

    I guess I will have to try and up my intake.

    Thanks for your help!
  • smithers911
    smithers911 Posts: 5 Member
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    Its tough to hit the right number consistently, but I find that by planning my food a day ahead, it gets pretty easy. I have a few staple meals that I repeat quite a few times a week, and make them in bulk at the weekend.

    With a bit of practice, not only do I hit the right numbers every day, but also pretty much nail the target macro-nutrients as well. Once you get into it, you will come up with a list of 'fillers' to help you achieve your daily totals. If I'm low on protein, I generally have a protein shake, low on fats I have some smoked salmon, walnuts or full-fat cottage cheese. I'm never struggling to hit the carbs goal, so I don't worry about that...

    Final thought, if your measurments are improving, then what you are doing IS working. What the scales say is not the be all and end all, its about feeling and seeing the progress your body is making. Keep up the good work and good luck.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,395 MFP Moderator
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    Thanks for the feedback. It is hard because I either eat too much or too little. I always struggle with balance.

    I guess I will have to try and up my intake.

    Thanks for your help!

    If you are consistently going to the gym 5 days a week, you can also set your account to moderately active and not eat back your exercise calories. It reduces the chance of over estimating your exercise calories. I would also recommend setting your account to 1 lb per week max (if not 1/2 lb) since you don't have much weight to lose and adjust your macro's to around 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats. I suspect this will put you around 1700-1900 calories which is an average range for women (actually I generally see 1700-21000).

    Additionally, while at the gym, spend half or most of your time weight training (or do3 days fully body weight training and 2 cardio). Between WT and protein, you increase the amount of muscle you retain. And more muscle = tighter body. The biggest benefit from weight training is you see body composition changes more quickly.

    Lastly and most importantly, if you don't have a food scale, invest in one. It's critical for accuracy and preventing plateau from under estimating calories.
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,342 Member
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    the less you have to lose the slower it will be - I was in a similar position - 1/2lb is about as much as you can expect a week, but the good thing is that slow and steady does work :)
    some weeks you'll get no change, the body is a funny thing! annoying when that happens but just keep on doing what your doing and try not to net under your 1200 cals.
    (I found when I stalled upping my allowance by 100 worked - I currently still lose and I eat at 1400-1600)

    ps my loss has gotten more consistant since I increased my strength training - which I enjoy more than cardio anyway so its win wni!
  • Inshape13
    Inshape13 Posts: 680 Member
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    Thanks for the feedback. It is hard because I either eat too much or too little. I always struggle with balance.

    I guess I will have to try and up my intake.

    Thanks for your help!

    If you are consistently going to the gym 5 days a week, you can also set your account to moderately active and not eat back your exercise calories. It reduces the chance of over estimating your exercise calories. I would also recommend setting your account to 1 lb per week max (if not 1/2 lb) since you don't have much weight to lose and adjust your macro's to around 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats. I suspect this will put you around 1700-1900 calories which is an average range for women (actually I generally see 1700-21000).

    Additionally, while at the gym, spend half or most of your time weight training (or do3 days fully body weight training and 2 cardio). Between WT and protein, you increase the amount of muscle you retain. And more muscle = tighter body. The biggest benefit from weight training is you see body composition changes more quickly.

    Lastly and most importantly, if you don't have a food scale, invest in one. It's critical for accuracy and preventing plateau from under estimating calories.

    This is almost exactly what I was going to write.
  • katehamilton25
    katehamilton25 Posts: 4 Member
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    Wow, thanks for all the feedback.

    My BMR is 1300 and my weightloss is set at 0.4kg/week (1pound).

    I will have to up my net calorie intake which isn't what I wanted to do but I will.

    Thanks for the info on weight training and adjusting what I eat. I don't feel like I know what I am doing in thoe areas at the moment. I will have to slowly start that sort of thing.
  • BenjaminMFP88
    BenjaminMFP88 Posts: 660 Member
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    You have your calories set at 1200. Did you get this number from MFP? I would suggest going to a site like IIFYM or Snoopy's and calculate your BMR/TDEE. Once you calculate this you will subtract 20% of the calories from the TDEE caloric value. This ensures your body receives the necessary nutrients it needs for proper functioning and in my opinion, is a lot more accurate then the number MFP provides. This also means that you don't need to calculate your workout calories, as it's already factored in. For instance, my TDEE is about 2850, so I eat around 2200 calories. Ideally, you'll look into setting up what is called your Macros. Meaning, you eat your calories based on the three macros, Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins. Many people would suggest doing the traditional 40% Carbs, 40% Protein and 20% Fat but you can find what works for you. I typically go with a 50C/30P/20F which has worked for me. I don't add any calories back after the gym and I can much more efficiently plan meals ahead of time.

    There are so many factors that could weigh in as to why your weightloss is "so slow" but your caloric intake is very likely the cause. Ensure you are logging your calories accurately (weigh your food if necessary) and if you choose to eat 1200 calories a day, ensure you are accurately estimating your calories burned during exercise.

    My only other suggestion would be to lift weights. Personally, when I'm cutting (trying to lose body fat), I weight lift 3 days a week, do HIIT cardio 2 days a week, and do lighter cardio whenever I have time or feel like it. I find this set up helps me lose the most fat the fastest.
  • BenjaminMFP88
    BenjaminMFP88 Posts: 660 Member
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    Wow, thanks for all the feedback.

    My BMR is 1300 and my weightloss is set at 0.4kg/week (1pound).

    I will have to up my net calorie intake which isn't what I wanted to do but I will.

    Thanks for the info on weight training and adjusting what I eat. I don't feel like I know what I am doing in thoe areas at the moment. I will have to slowly start that sort of thing.

    Something noteworthy to consider, as you increase your weight training, don't get dishartened if you gain scale weight. Muscles weigh more then fat and although it is unlikely you will gain significant muscle, it is possible to gain a bit especially if you've never seriously lifted before. Also, as you lift, your muscles will retain additional water. Stay true to your diet and exercise regime, and you will lose body % which is the most important.
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,342 Member
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    [
    Something noteworthy to consider, as you increase your weight training, don't get dishartened if you gain scale weight. Muscles weigh more then fat and although it is unlikely you will gain significant muscle, it is possible to gain a bit especially if you've never seriously lifted before. Also, as you lift, your muscles will retain additional water. Stay true to your diet and exercise regime, and you will lose body % which is the most important.
    [/quote]

    ^^ Agree with this, the scale showed my weight as a few pounds gain for a while before i started losing - but my body shape was getting smaller ::)
  • katehamilton25
    katehamilton25 Posts: 4 Member
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    Okay, so taking all this advice into account my plan of action it this:

    I will make sure that I NET 1200 calories a day (the number generated by MFP) bear in mind that I am just over 5 foot, and I will introduce basic weight training once a week. If I feel adventurous I will increase this to twice a week but I will probably drop a weight on myself and be banned from the gym.

    The other website calculators suggested my TDEE is around 1700 so I will relook at my intake if I don't feel a shift.

    Thanks for all the support.

    Let's keep losing!
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,395 MFP Moderator
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    Okay, so taking all this advice into account my plan of action it this:

    I will make sure that I NET 1200 calories a day (the number generated by MFP) bear in mind that I am just over 5 foot, and I will introduce basic weight training once a week. If I feel adventurous I will increase this to twice a week but I will probably drop a weight on myself and be banned from the gym.

    The other website calculators suggested my TDEE is around 1700 so I will relook at my intake if I don't feel a shift.

    Thanks for all the support.

    Let's keep losing!

    I would ask which inputs you put in to get 1700. But generally below would be the outcomes with a BMR of 1300:

    Lightly active - 3-4 hrs of exercise a week - 1300 * 1.375 = 1787
    Moderately active - 5-6 hrs of exercise per week - 1300 * 1.55 = 2015


    From there you can take a 20% cut. If you do tackle anything slowly, really start with the macronutrients and weight training. Low protein and high cardio will increase the amount of muscle you lose. When you lose muscle, your effective body fat will maintain or increase and it will take longer to reach your ideal body. Keep in mind, it is a lot harder to grow back the muscle you lost then preserve it. I can't tell you how many women I know are facing this issue as they are under weight or close to it.