1

votes

Not enough calories

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM

What is the minimum amount of calories that someone should get on Paleo? I've been doing this for close to 6 months. I've lost a lot of weight and I feel really good but I've recently started tracking my caloric intake and I'm surprised by how low it is.

I'm usually only getting 1500 to 1700 calories per day.

I don't eat breakfast - never have.

I cook my veggies in coconut oil or butter and I eat all of the meat fat I can (chicken skin, pork fat, 85/15 ground beef). I also snack on nuts and try to eat a piece of fruit every day.

I'm not usually hungry so I'm wondering if I should start forcing down more calories. Is my current caloric intake even something to be concerned about? I'm working out most days of the week and following Mark Sisson's Primal Fitness Blueprint. Since I've exceeding my weight loss goals I don't want my diet to restrict my workouts.

I'm 6'4" and 185lbs.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:43 PM

again, it's an estimate. let your body guide you.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:13 PM

I try to get as many carbs as I can but that's another area that I need to increase. This entire thread has been very eye opening.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:12 PM

According to that I should be eating 3300 calories on workout days. I'm only getting about half of that. Time to get creative.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:11 PM

I do occasionally throw some cheese on something. I think I might try making these for a breakfast http://zenbellyblog.com/2012/09/14/on-the-go-bars/

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on September 20, 2012
at 03:58 PM

A cup of macadamias should boost it up (or some nut butter). If your primal, not paleo, cheese is a good dense source of calories too.

7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:58 PM

I'm not a fruit-o-phobe anymore. Have some OJ in the morning before coffee (Ray Peat), and bring an orange into work with lunch. Then there's all the good fruit, berries etc. Certainly sweet potatoes. If you want to cycle macros like leangains, it's nearly impossible to hit training day carb targets with safe starches like rice.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:39 PM

Appreciate the info and the thyroid thing has been a concern of mine as well. I've been trying to increase my carb intake over the last couple of weeks and it looks like I'm hitting somewhere between 60g and 80g per day. I'll have to find a way to increase that even further, which should also help with my calorie issue. Any suggestions for quality carb snacking?

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Thanks - it hasn't effected my performance yet but I feared that it might eventually. I've been playing with the calorie counter the last couple of days and it looks like olive oil might be the secret weapon. I'll just add a small salad to my meals and dump some homemade olive oil/red wine vinegar/dijon dressing on it.

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8 Answers

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2
7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:32 PM

I've added a few comments today in similar threads, but I'll try a genuine answer here.

I believe you should eat more, and probably more carbs. Carb maintenance for Sisson is 100-150 grams. Depending on how hard you're training, I'd shoot for at least that much. My leangains macros are 125 g of carbs on rest days and 400 g!! on training days (3x per week). And that's to get lean!

The main reason that I suggest you eat more is that a few males on here are reporting hypothyroid symptoms that emerge on VLC and appear AFTER weight loss was "completed", or when reserves were depleted. For me, that was basically my median BMI, or where you are right now.

I've been pursuing this for a while, but unfortunately, there are plenty on PH with genuine hypothyroid conditions, not eating disorders, and this specific topic gets drowned out over concerns related to real underlying thyroid disease. I may be wrong, but I believe I had an eating disorder (not enough calories) not a thyroid disorder.

It's an eclectic mix of hypothyroid symptoms;

  • a distinct period of hard stools and extremely dry hands
  • cold hands that were historically always very warm
  • thinning of outer third of eyebrow
  • an orange/yellow facial complexion
  • LOW BODY TEMPERATURE

I feel like a dope for not recognizing it all sooner. There are some mitigating circumstances, with regard to my face, I was eating a lot of orange food and getting a lot of sun.

Anyway, the best feedback in retrospect is probably body temperature. I was always higher than my wife, and by the time all this clicked, I was suddenly lower. Monitor your body temperature. Normal is 98.6, but with an oral thermometer, normal is 98.2. There can be variations during the day, and between people. I would recommend a human control as a reference point, maybe someone you live with. Take your temperatures at the same time, with the same thermometer. I like to average three reads.

AS far as labs, from what I've read, if your are VLC you should expect to have low T3. This is described as typically asymptomatic in the presence of adequate daily caloric intake. I don't believe problems arise from VLC, but from not eating enough food.

Haven't seen anything real specific from Sisson on under-eating, Kind of believe if your doing Primal right, this would never be a concern, and that I was simply doing it wrong (daily 16/8 IF, daily training, VLC, daily caloric deficit).

Take your temperature.

Eat enough food.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:39 PM

Appreciate the info and the thyroid thing has been a concern of mine as well. I've been trying to increase my carb intake over the last couple of weeks and it looks like I'm hitting somewhere between 60g and 80g per day. I'll have to find a way to increase that even further, which should also help with my calorie issue. Any suggestions for quality carb snacking?

7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:58 PM

I'm not a fruit-o-phobe anymore. Have some OJ in the morning before coffee (Ray Peat), and bring an orange into work with lunch. Then there's all the good fruit, berries etc. Certainly sweet potatoes. If you want to cycle macros like leangains, it's nearly impossible to hit training day carb targets with safe starches like rice.

2
Adb249ff0b1447d86ed308d0265e2b86

on September 20, 2012
at 03:48 PM

Surely at 6' 4 and 185 lb your body weight is as low as it should go. I am now 6' 1 and 180 lb and photos and the mirror are telling me to add some muscle weight which I'm working on.

I was fat before starting all this, Robb Wolf/ Art de Vany's paleo diets made me lose weight with great speed and efficiency but by the time I hit 8.5% body fat I was feeling like crap. I thought my body and sinewy arms looked great, but my face evidenced in photographs looked drawn and really quite ill. Something had to change and that's the reason I readjusted with Paul Jaminet's 'Perfect Health Diet', I just found VLC paleo too extreme for me. My metabolism is now roaring and to accompany my gym workouts I'm eating 3,140 kcals a day with plenty of tubers and safe starches. Contrast this when I weighed 220 lbs on the SAD (actually British diet) and felt like I was just picking at food.

I think you should be having 2,500 calories a day and probably a lot more. I've never felt hungry on any rendition of paleo but I think forcing down extra calories, which I did for a while, was great for me. It seemed to rev my metabolism up and I have really felt much better for it.

I think we can eat a lot more calories when we're not eating metabolism destroying wheat and other death foods. To quote Paul Jaminet's book:

'Our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate 3,000 calories per day or more. Modern !Kung and Ache hunter-gatherers average 49 calories per kg per day, compared to 32 calories per kg per day for modern office workers. For an 80 kg man and 55 kg woman, those translate to 3900 calories for men and 2700 for women among the hunter-gatherers, versus 2560 for men and 1760 for women among moderns.'

If these figures are correct your 1,500 to 1,700 calories are way too low for a big man who works out.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:13 PM

I try to get as many carbs as I can but that's another area that I need to increase. This entire thread has been very eye opening.

1
2336245491a87ee15d4fb8f8f8283909

(1173)

on September 20, 2012
at 03:25 PM

If you are happy with the results you are getting why worry about it?

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 20, 2012
at 03:10 PM

The minimum number of calories is the amount necessary for you to have the energy to complete your desired tasks. Someone who desires to sit in their lazy boy needs far fewer calories than an very active person. You can calculate your basal metabolic rate here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ -- NOTE this is an estimate, and there are lots of factors that can move this up or down (like loosing weight and burning fat for energy rather than just calories in.).

My suggestion is to listen to your body. Eat what you want when you want. If you feel sluggish, tired, loosing too much weight, eat more! Good Luck

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:12 PM

According to that I should be eating 3300 calories on workout days. I'm only getting about half of that. Time to get creative.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 20, 2012
at 04:43 PM

again, it's an estimate. let your body guide you.

1
98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

on September 20, 2012
at 02:13 PM

If you are feeling good and making progress with the fitness blueprint, i would say continue what you are doing.
Although the general advice would be to up your calories.

3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

(126)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Thanks - it hasn't effected my performance yet but I feared that it might eventually. I've been playing with the calorie counter the last couple of days and it looks like olive oil might be the secret weapon. I'll just add a small salad to my meals and dump some homemade olive oil/red wine vinegar/dijon dressing on it.

0
7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on September 20, 2012
at 05:27 PM

Not too much to add, I'll just post a link to this page. This helped me put things in perspective especially Mary Enig's day 2, or Tom Cowan's day 3. I'm not saying you need to eat that way it just helped me see what's possible without gaining too much. You might have to click on the link in the top left if the page doesn't load.

0
05de181d71c1df6304a03566fe821d4b

on September 20, 2012
at 04:44 PM

I agree with whoreball, if you feel good then continue as your are you could start increasing calories, but I'd think your body would let you know if you aren't eating enough. Especially since you are working out you will feel fatigued if you aren't consuming sufficient calories. If you been eating this range of calories your body is probably adapted to this caloric intake.

I guess what you could do is maybe increment calories by say 250, test it out for a week or so, measure body fat (not weight because you could be gaining lean muscle and the scale sucks for fat progress). then in two weeks maybe another 250? See how you feel. When I feel like I need more calories I like to do it in a form of Short Chain Triglyceride (such as butter) and Medium Chain Triglycerides (such as Coconut Oil) for the mere fact that the body is least likely to store this as fat, as oppose to the long chain Triglycerides (such as Olive Oil) which may get stored as fat if not used.

0
B72e976b2df9e7f01315830062a5209c

(1365)

on September 20, 2012
at 02:47 PM

The best way to figure this out is to try it. Eat 3000 calories a day (Steak for all the meals!) for a few days and see how you feel.

Sluggish and bloated? Didn't work! Energetic and happy? Keep eating more!

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