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Increase Calories

I've been on this weight loss journey for 18 months now, and it started really well. I felt I needed to lose 70 pounds to get into a healthy range. I dropped my calories to 1200 and lost 40 pounds in about 5 months, but then my weight stalled. I increased my exercise to 90 mins 5 days a week, and still no additional loss. I met with a nutritionist who said I wasn't eating enough and she wanted me to increase my calories to 1500, still no change. I took some time off of tracking over the holidays and gained 10 pounds. Then I got back on track at 1500 calories, and still the pounds didn't budge. My trainer again said to increase my calories, this time to 1800. Didn't gain anything, but still not losing. Had a metabolic test (oxygen consumption) that put my Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of calories you'd burn if you didn't get out of bed) at 1610 and now my trainer is recommending that I'm still starving my body and need to increase my calories to 2200-2500 so that my body will feel it can afford to drop some additional weight.

I'm nervous about going back to eating 2200-2500 calories, although I know I will make much better choices with how to spend those calories than I used to, but if I'm eating clean, that's an awful lot of food. I've done it the past 2 days and don't even feel good eating that much.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? What worked for you? I appreciate anyone sharing relevant experience/knowledge.


Thu. Jul 19, 11:33pm

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I've never had a nutritionist or trainer tell me how much I should be eating but figured out what worked for me w/ plateau's through trial and error. For a long time I thought I had to eat less than 1400 calories to lose weight and eventually the weight wasn't coming off anymore. I changed up my exercise routine and just stopped worrying about the calories and the weight did start coming off again. It sounds crazy, but it worked for me. When I finally did start calculating how many calories I was taking in during this time when I began to lose weigh again, it ended up being between 1600-2100 calories on most days. Apparently these little "bursts" of extra calories gave my body what it needed to get restarted! I'm now down 75 lbs.

Be patient-but heck, go along with what your trainer says. Even if you do gain a pound or two-it'll be a lesson and you will know how much is too much for you. Good luck! We all plateau at some point!

It does seem like a lot of food but remember in order to gain the weight you must have been eating a lot more than that at some point. Start your meals early in the day and stay active throughout and you will find you will get used to eating that many.

Thursday, July 19, 2007, 11:48 PM

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Hey. I really have no stories to share or advice to tell you, other than try it, stick to it and best of luck to you, but this brings up a point of mine I was arguing in early June and then I had some people attacking me for this.

Anyway, so I think your story is a clear example of what happens when one suddenly decide to restrict your calories down to 1200 or whatever, especially when one's calorie consumption was much much greater. Sooner or later, one will hit a plateau. If that person decides to decrease their already low calorie amount or increase their exercise, their body will be in fat storage mode. Therefore, it's better to start off with say, 2000 calories, especially if you always ate 2500, for example, and then you can decrease it when you hit a plateau. Furthermore, it's impossible to stick to 1200 calories long-term.

Friday, July 20, 2007, 12:37 AM

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And remember, you need enough calories to add muscle mass (with your trainer) while restricting calories enough to lose fat.

On your heavy training days take in more calories, on your rest days or easy training days, take in less. Mixing it up really helps.

Friday, July 20, 2007, 12:40 PM

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WAIT! IMPORTANT QUESTION! Are you measuring your body?! My guess is that you ARE still losing if you are still working out. The scale may not budge for a long time, but you may be lowering your body fat percentage. While it is frustrating to have the scale halt for any reason, you may be totally changing your bodies composition & that IS NOT reflected on a scale. Measuring your waist, bust, hip area, thighs & arms can be soooo motivating because sometimes the scale is not!
One more idea...are there foods sneaking in here & there that my not be accounted for? Sometimes, we may eat more here or there than we realize.
Best of luck! Great job & keep workin it!

Friday, July 20, 2007, 1:10 PM

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I'm the originator of this post.

Brenda Here --

Thank you all for your wonderful encouraging comments.
To answer a couple questions:

Measurements - I have measured and the numbers are exactly the same except that I'm down 1/4" in my wrist of all places. My trainer did do a body fat check and my body fat decreased by 6% from 30 to 24%, but those numbers seem crazy to me. How can my external measurements and the scale be exactly the same while having a 6% decrease in body fat? I don't get that. (It was a 3 point caliper pinch test which I know aren't totally accurate.) I can feel that I've added muscle which will look really good once I peel off this cushion of fat I'm wearing.

Extra Calories - I track religiously everything that goes in my mouth. I use and if I'm not willing to log it, I don't eat it, PERIOD. That includes the 2-3 french fries I sometimes eat off the bottom of my kids Happy Meal bags. My motto is "If you bite it -- you write it!!"

Shouldn't drop down to 1200 calories - AMEN sister!! I wish I'd known that before I did it. I didn't have a hard time with it because I was so motivated when I started. I still believe that I could live on 1200 calories forever if that was what would keep me at a healthy weight, but clearly my body isn't going to let loose of anything at that level. As long as I'm not eating crap, I'm amazed with how much food I was able to fit into 1200 calories. I ate approximately 5 250 calorie meals per day. I didn't do any tracking before I started the 1200 calories, so I have no idea how many calories I'd been consuming. Probably 3000-4000 since I was gaining weight. In hindsight, I wish I'd tracked what my calorie level was and then done a reduction to that. I might not have plateaued so badly.

I'll keep you all posted. It's 8:30 and I've eaten 1663 so far. I want to get to at least 2000 today, and I'm almost there. Who would have imagined trying to lose weight and having to figure out a way to fit in extra calories at the same time. Strange.

Thanks for all the tips, keep 'em coming.


Friday, July 20, 2007, 9:40 PM

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I'm impressed with your BMR and what must be an extremely active lifestyle to justify that many calories! Seriously, you must burn 3000 calories a day if your nutritionist is recommending 2200-2500.

I've also worked with a dietician, and when increasing my calories in line with my BMR test, she explained that unless you've got 100+ lbs to lose, the average loss you can expect after those first couple of weeks is about 1 pound a week. That's all most 30+ year old women's bodies are willing to lose, and that represents a 500-calorie deficit per day. In the beginning I was creating 1000-1500 calorie deficits and it worked great for about 2 months, then the gears ground to a halt. The nutrition pro increased my calories in line with my exercise habits and BMR, and the weight started coming off again.

Just don't leap from wherever you're at to 2200. Add 100-200 calories per week until you get there, otherwise you might see a false gain which would probably encourage you to return to your lower calorie consumption.

Friday, July 20, 2007, 9:54 PM

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