Calorie Adjustments

I've been tracking for about 1.5 yrs and I've lost 30 of 100 lbs so far. I started at 1430 cal with exercise and I was losing consistently until January 2020. My weight plateaued for 2 months but after increasing my calories to 1530 and continued exercising 4-5 days a week, the weight started coming off again, slowly but surely. I plateaued again in July but major upset is my weight aggressively snapping back at me since. The only change was stress, life and all, and I stopped exercising as much. Before anyone asks about logging and doing so accurately, it's not the case for me because I continued tracking and Christmas was the first cheat day I've had in almost 2 yrs.

Apart from stress and monthly water weight fluctuations, what could I do to see improvement on the scale as I was before? Measurements are same except waist which between June and December I gained back the 2 inches I lost. My clothes fit the same and my progress pics show me slightly smaller but otherwise not that much different.

My training had consisted of 30 minute walks at least 3 days/week, strength training once/week and aerobics/bodyweight exercise 1-2x/weeks. I kept up with strength training at the least between June/November (when the majority of weight snapped back) and for the month of December I was eating a net cal of 1548. My weight hasn't fluctuated much since but I'm concerned how the scale could reflect such an aggressive number of lbs like that sans impediments like uneven floor.

I've seen some toning in my arms and such but I don't do strength training enough to make me think this is due to recomp or significant muscle gain. On the plus side, all the ab work has made my abs.. stronger. Some stats:

5'5 F SW: 235 CW:220 GW:135

My last lowest recorded weight at 201.6 was end of June. Around August I noticed the weight suddenly increasing 3# one week, then 1.5 lbs extra and so on until recent weigh ins kept me at the higher reflected weight vs going down. I kept my calorie goal the same ‹1530› but I'm not sure if:

I should increase my calories to reflect new weight and start over/slowly or go back down 100 calories. Should I eat my BMR everyday whether I exercise or not? Or the 1599 MFP set up which is below my BMR at 1675? Idk why that's so confusing to me at this point but if anyone has a simpler answer to help me out I'd appreciate it.


  • ama3387
    ama3387 Posts: 242 Member
    Personally I would start at your doctors. Get a full physical including blood work to see if thyroid function or something is out of wack. If you haven’t really changed much in your way of logging or activity. Medical issues should be ruled out first.
  • Carriehelene
    Carriehelene Posts: 84 Member
    Umm, if nothing has changed, are you sure you’re not pregnant? Women don’t always know 😱
  • nanastaci2020
    nanastaci2020 Posts: 1,041 Member
    edited January 5
    How accurate is your logging? Do you use a food scale, enter your own recipes for accuracy? Make most of your own food? THere is NOTHING wrong with eating food made by restaurants, friends, family but it does increase the need to estimate. And estimating can have errors.

    If your BMR is 1675, then your total daily burn could be 2000-2200 if you're not very active outside of intentional exercise. And 30-40 minutes of exercise would only bump it up a little. But eating 1400-1500 should have you at a 1 pound+ weekly average loss rate. Which is why I asked about how you log/calculate your calories.

    Eating 1599 vs 1675: not enough difference to stress over in my opinion. Make your best effort to be accurate in logging. Food scale for solids. Even 'single' items where the packaging may say 1 egg = 50g, 70 calories. It might really be 55g, 60g. Accounting for oils, condiments, beverages. Avoid bites, licks, tastes while you're making food as they're hard to track and the calories can add up. When cooking, create your own recipes in MFP based on your ingredients & quantities/weights - because my 'ground beef chili' could have different ingredients and therefore different calories per gram than one I find in the databse.
  • SwimBikeRun_Mom
    SwimBikeRun_Mom Posts: 46 Member
    I like the idea of a check in with your Dr - just to get some bloodwork and make sure all is good in that area. First - CONGRATS on your success!! It sounds like you're doing incredible and you should be REALLY proud of what you've accomplished. Second - my personal opinion (I am a former personal trainer and have a degree in kinesiology) is to modify your workouts. Looks like you are currently doing 1 day a week of strength training. What does that look like? Are you lifting free-weights, machines? Are you doing a weight that you can (relatively) comfortably complete 12-15 reps per exercise? If so - I would suggest mixing up your strength training a bit - and adding a day (or two, depending on your schedule). I would add at least one more day so that you have 2 days of week with strength - and mix up your exercises, as well as increase your weights - note that you will probably need to decrease the reps. To see if it's an appropriate weight - for example if you're doing bicep curls - increase the weight by 5 pounds first; and do 10 - 12 reps. If you can easily do all 12, try going up another 5. If that gets you to 10 reps and it's getting hard for the last 2-3, stick with that weight & number of reps for a while.

    You can also book a couple of personal training sessions - you don't have to sign up for a full package (even if they tell you that - you don't!) Tell the trainer you want them to teach you some new exercises - compound movements that will get you the most bang for your buck. For example, holding dumbbells at your side and doing a squat - and then adding an overhead press. Those types of exercises using multiple muscle groups will burn a lot of calories and tone your whole body.

    I like that you're not just focusing on the scale and paying attention to how your clothes fit - adding more strength training will help build more muscle and in turn; burn more fat. Clothes fitting better is something a lot of people see more with added strength training when the scale isn't moving as much.

    overall - keep being kind to yourself! you are doing AMAZING!!
  • DezYaoified
    DezYaoified Posts: 143 Member
    I agree about speaking with your doctor. I’m hypoglycemic and always struggle at the 30 pound mark. (My doctor can only guess the reason and we are in the process of finding out why) I’ve been attempting to maintain for most of the year but have been focusing on weight loss again for the past few weeks. My main struggle is finding a good carb balance: I haven’t been successful with low carbs because my blood sugar drops so fast without them, but it’s also to difficult to drop my body fat % eating too many. Im not sure about the long term because it’s only been about 2 weeks but my doctor had me replace my evening meal with a shake. Not a protein shake but a breakfast shake. Personally I like the carnation cookies and cream but my doctor also wants me to try ensure and other glycemic shakes.

    H 5’3” SW 227 CW 194 GW 140(ish)
  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,829 Member
    I'll echo the suggestion to check with your GP or internist. The part where you upped your calories and started losing slowly.... were you losing more slowly than before the plateau? That would make sense but upping calories to lose at the same rate or faster would not make sense. It wasn't clear to me what your experience there was.

    Bodies are weird. Plateauing for several weeks -- totally normal. Plateauing for a couple months -- that makes me wonder if there is a medical reason you are retaining water.

    Honestly, logging inaccuracy is the simplest explanation. The more you lose, the more the logging inaccuracies show. As you lose, your TDEE slowly decreases, so if you are eating the same calories, your deficit is slowly shrinking and you should ideally see that as slower weight loss on the scale. If there are a couple things you eat a lot but are logging inaccurately, you may not notice with a bigger deficit. With a smaller deficit, though, those inaccuracies account for a larger % of your overall intake and could be more noticeable in terms of throwing off the expected weight loss. There have been things I ate almost daily for YEARS and was logging them incorrectly. (Versions of an almond ricotta cake I had with coffee almost every weekday I had in the recipe builder which I tweaked every time I made a new one. But I never changed the entry for the most caloric part -- the almond meal-- and it was really off!) I'm sure there were many other things I discovered I was logging wrong that I can't remember right off. Anywhoo... the point is it happens.

    Check with your doctor. But also take another look at your diary to see if you can spot ways to make it more accurate. Best to you!
  • LinkedEmpire
    LinkedEmpire Posts: 40 Member
    Thank you for everyone's responses. Intuitively I've been feeling the need to see a doctor to check hormone and vitamin levels and get a T3 test. I do retain water weight often and not sure why but 19# worth? Idk about that. During the week of ovulation is when I notice I'm tighter and more energetic so I actually see and feel the difference.

    Stress and a whacked sleep schedule doesn't help with exercise but doesn't make me binge eat or stress eat either. If anything, it suppresses my appetite and I journal those occurrences.

    As far as eating back exercise calories, I ate majority of them after walks and half for other exercises. If I wasn't hungry I didn't eat them back. My apps calculate the burn based on two presets: my weight and the weight I'm using or based on duration/intensity. I'm not sure if it's a net cal it's giving so I'm pragmatic about it.

    I have added an additional strength training day. I like using resistance bands because it's a safe way to start strength training at home. I learned good form for when I started adding a weight routine and it helps with mind/body connection. I added 5# weights to the additional day using a preset app routine but I feel I can increase the weight too. I eat more protein on these days as well, around 35% of my calories.

    My macros is 35/35/30. I can go up to 40% carbs because I noticed it helps my workouts. I try not to go below 130g carbs otherwise I get that brain fog.

    When I weigh food, it's everything. A piece of white fish is labelled as 4 oz but comes out to 6.4 oz. I eat an avg of 40g sugar per day and considering the amount of carbs/sugar I ate before it's made a difference to my tummy.

    I'll stick with the 1500 in the meantime. Because that's the sedentary level, I suppose increasing my daily calories before to account for other activities is what made a difference during the first plateau. A doc might need to help me figure out why I don't lose or lose slowly otherwise.
  • PAV8888
    PAV8888 Posts: 10,689 Member
    Stress and whacked up sleep schedule are deadly. Getting doctor check is a really really good idea especially since things are different than before.

    Numbers are estimates for average people. Most people are average and match the estimates. Some burn more than estimated. Some burn less. Given length of time you may be in a position where you burn a bit less than most and, as a result, you're operating on a smaller deficit. A slow loss is a FINE loss. Don't diss a slow loss ("or lose slowly otherwise").

    How active are you in addition to the exercises you list? The sedentary setting (an activity multiplier of 1.25) includes a good 35 to 45 minutes of self care moving around (think approximately the first 3 to 4000 steps you take during a day).

    Almost all calculators will give you gross values for exercises, not net. MFP already assigns BMR * 1.25 calories to the time slot. Therefore for any exercise to get to the net calories you have to subtract bmr * 1.25. Walking at a good 4km an hour (2.5mph) is a MET 2.9 activity, so burns about 2.9 * BMR. This means that it would add (2.9 - 1.25 = 1.65) * BMR to your day for the duration. Or 57% of the gross calories. This relatively low net is what happens when you engage in a high duration moderate burn activity.

    Addressing the stress, lack of sleep, checking in with doctor, and perhaps slowly increasing activity may serve you well. In addition to the care attention of logging most accurately as described above!