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Not happy with personal trainer

I met with a personal trainer on Saturday. We were talking about what it takes to lose 1lb. He was telling me I needed to have a calorie deficit below my resting metabolic rate (RMR). I'm fairly certain this is not just wrong, but dangerous to do long term. The RMR is what our body needs just for our bodily functions if we were laying in bed all day. Our true caloric need is based on our activity level and extra calorie burn during workouts. Mine is about 2200/day but my RMR is only 1300/day. To lose 1 lb in a week I'd have to consume net calories of only 800 calories/day based on what he was advising.

What do you all think about what he said? Don't you think he should know better?

Wed. Mar 15, 12:36am

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I know that you should not consume less than 1200 cal/day without the guidance of a physician because you risk malnutrition. Whether or not this is correct is not for me to say without knowing your height/weight/age/activity level, etc... however you seem pretty confident in your assessment of your RMR, so I would definitely trust your own instincts about this person.

My guess? He wants you to see really! dramatic! changes! exclamation point! which you will not see with healthy weight loss. Instead you see a gradual, but constant metamorphisis - not crash, post-baby hollywood starlet type results (ie: back to pre-baby weight in 8 wks). However people who don't see amazing bodies fast are not as likley to continue to justify the cost of a personal trainer. It sounds like he's got his best business interests at heart and those might not coincide with your healthy weight-loss goals.

This is strictly my opinion based on the information provided and a bit of conjecture based on observing friends who want rapid weight loss results (many of whom hire a personal trainer to get fast results).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 1:42 AM

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I definitely agree that you should have a calorie intake should be below your RMR, if you are trying to lose weight.

To lose 1 lb, you need to have a deficit of 3500 calories - there's is no way you can do that just by eating normally (= to satisfy your RMR) and just adding exercise and activity. I just don't think you'll burn that much with exercise and activity, unless you're planning to run a marathon this week...

Your personal trainer is right.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 2:33 PM

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I am not an expert, but I think if you start eating only 800 cals a day you are going to make yourself sick. The body had a way of reacting to starvation of that manner. It wll either one, hold on to the fat because it thinks you are in starvation mode, or two it will break down your immune system and you can be a lot more susceptible to illness. Yes, you do need to lower caloric intake to lose weight, but if you are adding exercise into you life, you can slowly reduce the amount of calories to find a healthy balance that lets you loss weight without hurting yourself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 2:47 PM

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I think your trainer is wrong, and I would guess that it's because he is getting confused about what you mean when you say resting metobolic rate. I would guess that both he and the 2:33 poster are talking about the caloric intake needed to maintain your weight, which is NOT the same as your RMR. You have RMR correct - it's what you would need if you just sat all day (hence why the test for it has you sit very still and just breath into a machine for 15 minutes). At the most basic level, all you need to lose weight is to have a net deficit: "calories in" are less than "calories out". RMR is just a useful starting point to give you a basic idea of how many calories you need each day to maintain bodily functions like breathing, circulating blood, and digesting food.

It sounds like on an average day for you, your "calories out" are about 2200, so to lose a pound a week, you'd need to have a "calories in" of about 1700.

Eating 800 cals/day is definitely not healthy or sustainable, and maybe I'm cutting him too much slack, but I'd say he's not doing it on purpose, he just is confusing the terminology.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 3:37 PM

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How's it possible you burn an extra 900 calories over your RMR? That is the equivalent of 4.5 hours of jogging a day... Do you burn that much at work?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 3:45 PM

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It's not that hard to burn 1000 calories over your RMR

My RMR is about 1800 calories and I have an active job....the equivalent of being a part-time nurse, which equates to an activity factor of 1.4. This means I break even at 2520 calories (720 calories above RMR). Then all I have to do is medium-high intensity on the elliptical (Level 9, heart rate around 150) for about 20 minutes to burn 280 calories, and there we go -- 1000 calories above my RMR to earmark for weight loss. If I did a desk job, my activity factor would be 1.2 and therefore I'd only burn 2160 before exercise, so I'd have to do 640 calories worth of exercise -- a one-hour kickboxing class would take care of that.

However, I am discovering that my body doesn't respond well to math or logic, so knowing all these numbers and following these rules doesn't always lead to results.

Also, to the OP, personal trainers are not qualified to give advice on diet. Mine has never said anything beyond "eat many small meals" and presented it as anecdotal knowledge rather than expertise. Anything other than that is pretty much against the rules (meaning the legal statutes governing their ethics).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 4:46 PM

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Some trainers, depending on the gym, have taken classes on nutrition and are even certified nutritionists. They give classes all the time at my gym concerning nutrition and diet. They also talk about fat burning foods, etc.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 5:13 PM

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well at 171 lbs my RMR is 1561. However, I am rather active, I work out 5 or 6 days a week for an hour, sometimes more, plus i have a job that i rather physical. I have managed to lose 8 lbs in the last 3.5 weeks by aiming for 1700 calories a day, sometimes going over it. If i were to go below that, i can tell you right now i would be STARVING!! and then we'd get nowhere. while i think your trainer meant well, perhaps you should clarify your goals to him-it sounds like he thinks you are looking to lose weight quickly. unless you are extremely sedentary, you probably expend more calories than your RMR everyday.

to lose 1 lb a week-you need to cut back 250 calories every day from what your body needs to get by and burn and extra 250 calories everyday so you have a calorie deficit of 3500 for the week. to lose two lbs a week you need to eat 500 less calories each day and burn an extra 500 than you would normally. my suggestion is to clarify with your personal trainer your goals, and if it doesn't feel right get some sessions with someone else OR see a nutritionist . . .they really know!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 8:07 PM

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Go with your gut. If anything my trainer is telling me to EAT MORE as in consistently every few hours, variety, complex carbs, protien. He doesn't push supplements or funky diets. Just eat healthy so that he can train me hard. ;) I'm not loosing weight but gaining muscle and loosing inches (and gaining cm's in some spots).

To me, your trainer guy is doing some funky, not-healthy calculations.

Thursday, March 16, 2006, 11:10 AM

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And to loose on pound in a week, you'd have to burn 3000 calories in a week more than you consume. But that doesn't mean crazy restrictions. Calories are not the enemy, our choices of which we consume makes the difference.

Thursday, March 16, 2006, 11:13 AM

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Actually, the number is 3500 cals more burned per pound.

Thursday, March 16, 2006, 2:28 PM

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