Low calories and Fat gain

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

My question is relevant to eating at a calorie deficit-

I recently had put on a small amount of extra fat, and wanted to lean out to my previous levels. So I decreased my calories, (I track them for now) in a zig-zag approach, eating some high days and some low days. However, ever since I decreased the calories, my body composition hasn't improved, I've actually seen an increase in belly fat. Additionally, I notice I'm not recovering from my workouts as I used too, despite eating the same(or more) quantities of carbohydrate and protein.

So, my question is really, will eating too few calories for the workload you are doing result in fat gain instead of fat loss(leaning out) ?



on May 15, 2013
at 11:01 PM

I didn't see it! Thank you! that question had all the answers I needed on it

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3 Answers

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on May 15, 2013
at 11:01 PM

I didn't see it! Thank you! that question had all the answers I needed on it

best answer



on May 15, 2013
at 07:16 PM

My opinion is very much yes.

Eating less food than is required for the amount of exercise you put in on a regular basis is a stressor to your system, and we all know where fat deposits due to high stress ends up...belly :-)

Also, if you are not eating enough food for your needs, then your body may default to starvation mode where the food you do eat is stored as quick as possible (ie. fat) for future use because your body is now expecting you not to be able to eat enough food.

You basically have to experiment and find out what works best for you, and calorie/food restriction is likely not the best bet. Also, tracking and calorie/food counting is annoying and a stressor in and of itself. In the end I think we all need to understand our body, and eat when we are hungry and just eat paleo real food (JERF) without a huge worry about the macro nutrient content.

You may also want to research intermittent fasting (IF) protocols which are not a restriction in amount of food, but a restriction in when you eat. ie you can only eat for an 8 hour period during each 24hrs, but you will eat the same amount of food as you would have over the course of a regular 3 meal day.

Again, as with everything, it is individualized and you have to figure out what works best for you.



on May 15, 2013
at 07:11 PM

We'd need to know what your daily meal plan is like before we can help! It's not necessarily about the calories, it's more so where the calories are coming from. I fell into this mindset for quite some time before I became wise as to where my calories were coming from.

The short answer, if your eating an abundance of whole foods (fruits, veggies), as well as, some animal meats, you should be fine. You'll also want to have enough protein to keep your body structure in tact while leaning out.

Try to eat as little as processed food as possible (wheats, grains, breads, cereals, etc..), and fill out your diet with whole foods. Additionally, stay away from high fructose corn syrup.. nasty stuff. It's easier said than done... trust me.. you'd be surprised in how many foods this stuff is hiding. Not sure what your diet is like, but if it's high in that stuff.. it may take some gradual weeding off.

I don't like the term counting carbs, or keeping your carbs at an "X" amount, but if you eat an abundance of whole foods (like many experts will say you should), and keep the processed foods at moderation; it'll be next to impossible to get your daily carb intake up to the average American diet. Activity levels play a huge roll in this; the more active you are, the more carbs you'll need before and after your workout to supply your body. If your sedentary, the carb need is far less. For active people, they may start adding in potatoes or yams after workouts for the extra carb boost.

Basically, on days your more active or working out, you'll be having more calories; other days when your not so active, you can get away with less calories. Never starve yourself of calories. You'll find that sweet spot for what you need

The body's preferred source of energy is fat because it's a long drawn out energy source so to speak.. that and it's very filling and sating! You'll want to rely on fats to keep you fueled throughout the day.

This really isn't a short answer at all lol. I'll give you an example of my old meal plan vs my new one. I've lost about 15lbs and 2 inches off the waist in about a month and a half.

Old Breakfast plan(s) I often used to feel sluggish after this

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • Oatmeal or cereal
  • Bacon, Eggs, Toast

New Breakfast plan(s)

  • Bacon and eggs (no toast)
  • Bowl of strawberries & blueberries w/ 1/3 cup of that 33% whip cream (usual breakfast)

The whip cream isn't paleo, but I justify that as I'm not lactose intolerant. I'm fine with the dairy, and I find it energizes me. Many others I know can't handle dairy, so consequently, this breakfast wouldn't work for them.

Anyways, hope this helps. Fire us off your usual meal plan and I'm sure we can help you from there!

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