1

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Is it possible that those "calorie calculators" are correct?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 03, 2013 at 7:13 AM

I have seen heaps of times, on this site in particular, where people say the online calorie calculators over estimate your calorie needs.

I was using one for the past 4 weeks and I had it set at lose 1lb/500g per week. It tells me that at 5'4 and 170lbs being quite active (I work out 3X a week, plus walking 2hours a week and an active job for 16hours a week) I need 2040 cals daily to lose the 1lb weekly.

I had been doing fine eating this amount, I'm not actually into weighing often as I know weight fluctuates, but clothes were feeling good again and bra's fitting without bulging (my boobs always lose weight first)... but then I had been reading on here everyone saying "Oh those calculators always over estimate...blah, blah, blah a women should be eating 1400-1600cals a day to lose weight".

So me being me, I reduced to 1600 daily. Went okay for about a week and then ended up having the biggest pig out over the last 2 days!!! At the beginning of the "pig out/Binge" whatever you want to call it, I recall feeling as though I had to eat, it wasn't an emotional thing, I wasn't bored/stressed/feeling like crap. I was literally just feeling starved it was a def. real hunger thing.

So is it possible that these people don't actually know what they are talking about when they say this? Or that because I have a medium-large frame, my body just needs extra calories??? Or that these calculators might actually shock-horror be correct?? Has anyone else experienced losing weight on 2000 cals? I'm 100% sure that it was coming off over the past month based on my clothes fitting a-lot better.

PS. I know I will just go back to eating around 2000 calories anyway because it was working for me, but I am also just curious, which is why I posted this question. :)

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 08:30 PM

I guess maybe its the age and perhaps you are one of the out-liers in the population?

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:56 PM

Thanks English rose, thats some good advice :)

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:54 PM

Thanks I will check out that website. I don't think I want to spend the money on being tested right now, but may test in the future if I need to. I think I will try and stick to option one, as I don't want to end up pigging out again and through-out my life this has always happened when I did not eat enough.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:50 PM

Thank you Matt, thats reassuring to hear that they are quite accurate. I have been finding that on about 50% of days I don't make it to 2000calories, but on other days I will go a little over, which I let my self as I HATE having experiences like i did the other day!! I looked at the calculator again and it said my BMR with no activity was around 1600cals so thats probably why I got so hungry as I was eating that amount with my active lifestyle.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 03, 2013
at 03:27 PM

Any BMR is small, that's just existing calories. TDEE is your BMR times an activity multiplier, which is what you eat at to maintain. Even if you're sedentary, you still get 10-20% bonus on top of BMR, most folks probably need 30-40% over BMR to maintain.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on April 03, 2013
at 02:08 PM

I like this: So, what is the solution? Well, in theory you could just eat more.. eat the high number, push through the water gain, keep pushing until your metabolism normalizes and then, you should naturally even out and drop unwanted poundage. But this takes time and patience and humility. The other option is just keep under-eating and every time you diet cut the calories further." It can work best - just eat well and healthily and do not count calories or actively try to lose weight.

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on April 03, 2013
at 01:54 PM

I should add that you could go to a gym and have your metabolism measured. You would breath into a mask for awhile and then you would have a definitive measure of your RMR. I have a gym around here that does it..I think it's like $100. And if you wanted to take it a step further have your VO2 max measured and then you would know your capacity for caloric burn during exercise.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on April 03, 2013
at 12:48 PM

Yes, I do crossfit 3-5x per week plus take long walks (with the dog) a few times per week, plus run occasionally on weekends. I am 43 y.o. which might explain some of it but I have never understood the recommendations to eat 2000-3000 calories.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 10:18 AM

Thanks. I think I will keep my cals at 2000 and just eat less if I am not as hungry, I really don't want to end up pigging out like that again!

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 10:15 AM

Hmm I suppose every one must be different, are you active?... my partner is 6'2 and would eat 3000+ cals daily (think entire pizzas, cans of pepsi etc) and maintains his weight... Eating 2000 cals I don't feel hungry during the day, but I sure as %$#@ don't want to reduce to low and end up pigging out again. I've defiantly never been one of those people with a small appetite. Ever. I suppose I will stick with 2000 and see how things go for a few more months and by this stage I will no for sure whats happening.

Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on April 03, 2013
at 08:07 AM

I think the reaction you had to cutting calories to 1600/day makes sense. 1600kcals is not a lot relative to your activity level. I lost weight on a little more than 2000kcals weighing less than you and had the same binging symptom.

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4 Answers

1
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on April 03, 2013
at 02:10 PM

Mine give my age and lack of exercise (BMR) is tiny - I think it was something like 1300 or 1500 just to stay the same weight and I eat much more than that.

I don't think counting calories helps most women.It is not very natural. It is better to be healthy and not mentally obssessed with food and eating less than your body wants you are healthier - mind you this attitude is not helping me lose the weight I put on when I was eating badly.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:56 PM

Thanks English rose, thats some good advice :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 03, 2013
at 03:27 PM

Any BMR is small, that's just existing calories. TDEE is your BMR times an activity multiplier, which is what you eat at to maintain. Even if you're sedentary, you still get 10-20% bonus on top of BMR, most folks probably need 30-40% over BMR to maintain.

1
06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

on April 03, 2013
at 01:51 PM

I think, more often than not, people (especially women) are chronic dieters. And I don't really mean they're consciously dieting, but under-eating in order to achieve some ideal weight in their head (be it realistic or not). So, if you're chronically under-eating and then you suddenly decide it is time to lose weight you go to the calculators. The calculators give you a number that you feel is high and you try and eat at that number for a couple weeks. You gain weight... probably water, but whatever, and freakout. Now, that might actually be the right number for your body weight, activity level, etc, but you have under-eaten for so long that you are now eating more despite the fact that you subtracted 500 calories to lose 1 pound/week.

So, what is the solution? Well, in theory you could just eat more.. eat the high number, push through the water gain, keep pushing until your metabolism normalizes and then, you should naturally even out and drop unwanted poundage. But this takes time and patience and humility. The other option is just keep under-eating and every time you diet cut the calories further.

The first option works for many bodybuilders, fitness models. There is a reason they eat above maintenance when not in contest prep.. they need to bring their metabolism back up so that next time they diet down they don't completely screw themselves and end up with bingeing habits or irreversible hormonal damage.

Was this cohesive? Idk. Maybe I'll edit this later, but if you want further reading on the topic and encouragement I would suggest checking out GOKALEO's website.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:54 PM

Thanks I will check out that website. I don't think I want to spend the money on being tested right now, but may test in the future if I need to. I think I will try and stick to option one, as I don't want to end up pigging out again and through-out my life this has always happened when I did not eat enough.

6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

(1169)

on April 03, 2013
at 02:08 PM

I like this: So, what is the solution? Well, in theory you could just eat more.. eat the high number, push through the water gain, keep pushing until your metabolism normalizes and then, you should naturally even out and drop unwanted poundage. But this takes time and patience and humility. The other option is just keep under-eating and every time you diet cut the calories further." It can work best - just eat well and healthily and do not count calories or actively try to lose weight.

06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

(1649)

on April 03, 2013
at 01:54 PM

I should add that you could go to a gym and have your metabolism measured. You would breath into a mask for awhile and then you would have a definitive measure of your RMR. I have a gym around here that does it..I think it's like $100. And if you wanted to take it a step further have your VO2 max measured and then you would know your capacity for caloric burn during exercise.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 03, 2013
at 12:49 PM

Diet forums are filled with folks who swear up and down that they've got slow metabolisms, that they simply cannot eat what calculators tell them they should be able to. The problem isn't their metabolism, but rather their estimation of intake and expenditure. Calculators actually come pretty darn close depending on what equation they use, the overwhelming majority of folks are within a small error of their actual BMR. N=1, a simple calculation and deficit worked perfectly for me.

Another "problem" with the calculators is that when folks diet, they tend to change their food composition as much as their food amount, particularly prevalent when going paleo. Eating 3000 calories of pizza, soda and chips is a walk in the park, eating 3000 calories of salads, chicken breast and non-fat yogurt is quite a challenge. They then conclude that the calculator cannot possibly be right as they have so much trouble even eating 1000 calories of their "healthy" food.

The thing to remember is that any deficit is literally starvation, albeit controlled starvation. The more you stress your body, the more likely to respond negatively to that stress (i.e. binge).

EDIT: wish I could find a neat graph I saw a week or so ago... calculated BMR versus error. Showed pretty good matches between calc'd and actual BMRs (+/- ~100 calories). If somebody finds it, they can edit this.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 07:50 PM

Thank you Matt, thats reassuring to hear that they are quite accurate. I have been finding that on about 50% of days I don't make it to 2000calories, but on other days I will go a little over, which I let my self as I HATE having experiences like i did the other day!! I looked at the calculator again and it said my BMR with no activity was around 1600cals so thats probably why I got so hungry as I was eating that amount with my active lifestyle.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on April 03, 2013
at 09:00 AM

Actually in my experience those calorie estimates are way high. I started out at 6' 228# and the BMR calculators said that to maintain my body weight I could eat 2500-2600 calories per day.

When I first went Paleo my appetite dropped and I was completely satisfied eating more like 1200-1300 calories per day, some days more like 1100. I lost about 20 pounds and then my weight stabilized. I started to exercise more and increased my calories to maybe 1500-1800, but nowhere near 2500. If I ate that much I'd blow up like a Macy's Thanksgiving balloon. Honestly I don't think I could eat that much unless I forced myself to eat 1 or 2 extra meals per day.

Perhaps I have a slow metabolism or I don't know what but I don't follow the BMR calculators.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 10:15 AM

Hmm I suppose every one must be different, are you active?... my partner is 6'2 and would eat 3000+ cals daily (think entire pizzas, cans of pepsi etc) and maintains his weight... Eating 2000 cals I don't feel hungry during the day, but I sure as %$#@ don't want to reduce to low and end up pigging out again. I've defiantly never been one of those people with a small appetite. Ever. I suppose I will stick with 2000 and see how things go for a few more months and by this stage I will no for sure whats happening.

81feb1022a28f534867616b9316c7aa4

(638)

on April 03, 2013
at 08:30 PM

I guess maybe its the age and perhaps you are one of the out-liers in the population?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on April 03, 2013
at 12:48 PM

Yes, I do crossfit 3-5x per week plus take long walks (with the dog) a few times per week, plus run occasionally on weekends. I am 43 y.o. which might explain some of it but I have never understood the recommendations to eat 2000-3000 calories.

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