1

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How should I raise my intake? Should I try to go off hunger singnals, or continue calorie counting?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 17, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Ok sorry for all the questions! I don't have access to a nutritionist, and I question their knowledge considering most encourage the SAD diet and gov myplate crap, and I've had two duds in the past.

Anyways, I'm 15, 5'7", female, and 107-110 pounds (havent weighed in a while I workout 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week. 20-30 mins inverval/hiit cardio, 45-1.5 hours weights.

After starving myself and forcing myself to be cold and having crazy extremes, I'm ready to stop being stupid and be HEALTHY.

I was a fat kid (weighed 155 in 5th grade), and started dieting when I was 13, so my hunger signals are pretty messed up. But I want to be healthy, paleo, and eat ENOUGH to FUEL my workouts, I'd rather eat more and workout more than be a potato. I am no longer willing to be SCARED to workout because I feel weak.

I do not want to gain, I want to maintain and be healthy. Should I count calories still? And if so what is a good amount? Or should I try to eat out of hunger and have balanced meals? My goal is to improve body composition and just not gain fat.

I have been eating 1000-1400 cals a day on workout days, 1500 on fridays (intense leg/cardio day), and 800-1200 on weekends. Should I slowly up my cals, or just go for it? And how many should I have?

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 19, 2013
at 09:54 AM

I wouldn't expect you to gain on 1800. As to how quickly to add it, I couldn't tell you, I just added all my cals at once 200 cals breakfast and lunch - 400 cals, 600cals of preworkout food of which you burn of how much? And a low-calorie low-fat dinner...hmmmm Go get your hormones checked - oestrogen/progesterone, TSH, T4, rT3, aT3, leptin. You probably have hypothalamic amenhorrea. (In which case leptin, aT3 and oestrogen will be low). The only sure, that I know of, is more food, or (injected) leptin. http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-female-athletes-triad-part-iii-how.htm

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:33 PM

no, probably not once you are able to properly gauge your hunger signals. As you get older and rehabilitate your relationship with food, you'll probably get to the point where you can focus just on eating high quality foods when you're hungry and not worry so much about calories.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:19 PM

so due i will more than likely have to count calories for the rest of my life, right?

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on February 18, 2013
at 08:06 AM

Like I said, start at 1500, see how you feel, and then if you still feel sluggish or prone to binging, add more calls gradually. This way, you start learning to understand, repair and trust your body's hunger cues. With how much you work out, 1800 is probably not far off from where you end up feeling your best, but start slow and work your way up to it gently. As for the carbs, I bow to Mark Sisson's carb guidelines. He says that 100-150g of carbs per day is pretty much a good healthy range for weight maintenance, which is where you're at right now.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:00 AM

by normal i mean no having to plan meals, calorie count, and worry about it all the time. and have i ruined my metabolism?

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:59 AM

I would really like to not count cals and not have to plan what im going to eat daily and be normal, but is that not a good idea? if i stick to healthy paleo foods do you think it would be fine? or have i just messed my signals up so much that im stuck? i just saw a pic of when i was heavier.. disgusted me. i really want to maintain and be healthy though and be a normal teen?

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:48 AM

if i should eat 1800, is that for maintenance or to gain? And how quickly should I increase?

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:36 AM

I havent had my period in about 3 years. But even last year when I gained up to 157 I didnt get it back, but i was eating unhealthy (200 cals for breakfast/lunch, huge before workout meal 1 container flavored greek yogurt, pb, 600 cals worth of good run granola) and then a whole pan of roasted broccoli, carrots, n cauliflower and chicken breast)

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:28 AM

But still, should i stay low carb? and should i eat 1500 or 1800? or??

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 01:52 AM

I read every word

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:24 PM

If you're talking, even jokingly, about "oogling" a fifteen year old young lady, I surely hope you are a teenager yourself. Otherwise, that's pretty creepy. Women here can give honest feedback about a person's physique, and probably in a way that the young lady's parents would find appropriate.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:22 PM

If you're talking, even jokingly, about "oogling" a fifteen year old young lady, I surely hope you are a teenager yourself. Otherwise, that's pretty creepy.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:10 PM

Thats what Im saying I want to be healthy, if i gain muscle sure but i dont want to be a flabby mess.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:09 PM

Im always sore. I go to a sport school which ends at 12:30, but i cant play a sport so i just go to school there. I do squats (around 100 pounds due to bulging disc), benching (around 70 pounds, lost a lot of muscle due to injury), lunges (50-60 pounds bar up and down gym), leg press, bulgarians, pushups, etc) I try to lift as hard and heavy as possible. I run at 8.5-11 mph 1 minute, then walk one minute, or do sprints at 30 seconds, jog 7.5 for 1 minute, then incline 8 run at 8-10 mph 30 seconds

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 17, 2013
at 05:37 PM

Also should I go low-carb?

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4 Answers

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3
04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:51 AM

Zombers,

You and I have vastly different goals for making changes in our diets and are in vastly different places physically, emotionally and chronologically (I'm in my late 30s, very out of shape, morbidly obese and my goal is excess fat loss). However, you and I have two things in common:

1 - a disordered relationship with food

2 - a faulty hunger/satiation signal

I don't know nearly enough of the science behind adolescent nutrition or health, so I can't really speak to the dietary requirements you should be meeting or about the seeming excess of exercise you're doing. I read your posts and comment responses and see you're in a sports school and other kids are doing nearly double what you are...

My advice to you is this: stop comparing yourself to others. What works for other people may not work for you. What other people can do may not be something you should do (especially with a disc injury still healing). Your main goal and aspiration should be feeling good, energetic and injury free... if you are doing that, you are doing the best for your body.

I can't necessarily always go by my body's natural hunger/satiety signals. Years of disordered eating (more years than you've been alive!!) have made my hunger signals completely out of whack. Since transitioning to paleo, I am constantly undereating on my calories and have to make sure that I'm hitting my micronutrient levels.

But my issues--weight loss--are vastly different than yours. You want overall health, probably maintenance or even muscle building PLUS fueling an active, growing and developing body. There's no other way to say this but bluntly: your body NEEDS more calories than you are giving it and it is telling you so.

I suggest eating until you are full, but making sure you are getting the proper micros. Aim for a minimum of 1500 calories per day EVERY SINGLE DAY (seriously, with as much as you're working out, 1500 calories is still probably severely under-eating). If you still feel sluggish after a workout or still feel tempted to binge, start increasing your calories by 50-100 and see how you feel. Keep on doing that until you get to the point where you feel good and are no longer tempted to binge at all. That's when you know that you're getting what you need for your body to function properly.

I've seen a few of your comments where you ask how to eat on non-work out days. Since you are exercising so much and since I doubt anyone here can convince you to scale back those workouts, my answer is another fairly blunt response: eat the exact same way you eat on work out days. At least to start out with. Eventually, as you start fueling your body properly, you may find that you naturally adjust your appetite based on your daily activity. But don't underestimate how much rest your body needs. I know you say you're sedentary on the weekends, but after all you do during the week, your body really does need that down time to repair.

Mostly, though, please learn to understand that food is not a reward for "good" behavior and starving yourself is not a punishment for "bad" behavior. Food is a vital necessity that your body needs to grow, develop and fuel your active lifestyle. Start now to develop that good relationship with food. If you are giving your body good, nutrient-dense foods in an amount that makes you feel good, energetic and injury free, then you are doing it exactly right and you have absolutely NOTHING to worry about.

Yes, there will be times you eat non-paleo/primal foods with your friends because you want to have fun with your friends. You're young, athletic and in seemingly decent health (back injury notwithstanding)! Enjoy that burger or fries or pizza when you're out with your friends now and again! That's going to happen all your life and there's NOTHING wrong with it. Just make sure you are doing it in moderation (and since it sounds like you're keeping it to just a couple times on the weekend, it sounds pretty moderate to me).

Mostly, though--HAVE FUN with your workouts and with your friends. There are enough stresses in high school to deal with (grades, parents, friendships, relationships, changing bodies and all sorts of other fun stuff) that wreak havoc on our hormones and bodies. As Mark Sisson says, never underestimate how good PLAYING is for your body and your health (physical and emotional).

Again, I'm no scientist and I'm nowhere near to being a fitness expert. But I've read almost every post and comment you've written and I am so worried and scared that someone so young is starting to go down a very dark road. I've been on that road for many, many years and I felt compelled to say something because it's so terribly difficult to get off that road once you start down it. I know this is a really long response, but I really, really hope you read it.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:19 PM

so due i will more than likely have to count calories for the rest of my life, right?

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:28 AM

But still, should i stay low carb? and should i eat 1500 or 1800? or??

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 01:52 AM

I read every word

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on February 18, 2013
at 08:06 AM

Like I said, start at 1500, see how you feel, and then if you still feel sluggish or prone to binging, add more calls gradually. This way, you start learning to understand, repair and trust your body's hunger cues. With how much you work out, 1800 is probably not far off from where you end up feeling your best, but start slow and work your way up to it gently. As for the carbs, I bow to Mark Sisson's carb guidelines. He says that 100-150g of carbs per day is pretty much a good healthy range for weight maintenance, which is where you're at right now.

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on February 18, 2013
at 11:33 PM

no, probably not once you are able to properly gauge your hunger signals. As you get older and rehabilitate your relationship with food, you'll probably get to the point where you can focus just on eating high quality foods when you're hungry and not worry so much about calories.

2
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 17, 2013
at 08:02 PM

Not enough calories by a LONG way. I'd estimate you'd need AT LEAST 1800 cals if you're working out that much and that's a very conservative estimate. 800 is insane.

You WILL gain weight as you get older - a combination of more muscle, denser bones and late-teen "filling out" - this is normal, unavoidable and HEALTHY. When I was 15 I weighed 95lbs (I'm 5'1"), wore a size 2 and was thin as a whippet; it would never be healthy for me as an adult to be at that weight. So don't assume weight gain is fat, and accept that some fat gain over the next 4 years is highly likely. It doesn't mean you're flabby, it means you're a woman.

It's hard and a little traumatic going from skinny tween to woman, but women's bodies are supposed to have some fat. I freaked when I went from an A to an E cup in 15 months when I was 16/17. Took me years to get used to the woman curves.

Dieting as a teen is common but dangerous for your bone density. Health first!

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:36 AM

I havent had my period in about 3 years. But even last year when I gained up to 157 I didnt get it back, but i was eating unhealthy (200 cals for breakfast/lunch, huge before workout meal 1 container flavored greek yogurt, pb, 600 cals worth of good run granola) and then a whole pan of roasted broccoli, carrots, n cauliflower and chicken breast)

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:48 AM

if i should eat 1800, is that for maintenance or to gain? And how quickly should I increase?

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 19, 2013
at 09:54 AM

I wouldn't expect you to gain on 1800. As to how quickly to add it, I couldn't tell you, I just added all my cals at once 200 cals breakfast and lunch - 400 cals, 600cals of preworkout food of which you burn of how much? And a low-calorie low-fat dinner...hmmmm Go get your hormones checked - oestrogen/progesterone, TSH, T4, rT3, aT3, leptin. You probably have hypothalamic amenhorrea. (In which case leptin, aT3 and oestrogen will be low). The only sure, that I know of, is more food, or (injected) leptin. http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-female-athletes-triad-part-iii-how.htm

2
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:57 PM

Yay for healthy! Very good to hear!

First off, you are probably going to need to add some fat. Because you're fifteen, and breast tissue and such is fat, you are probably going to gain some, regardless. This is not a bad thing. Women are supposed to have body fat. At your height and weight, unless you have practically no muscle, I don't there's any way that you have enough fat. And with the description of your lifting, I don't think that's the case. You don't have to be "a flabby mess" but you do need an appropriate amount of fat to be healthy. Because of your history you've described, I'm not sure that your idea of how much fat you should have is in line with you much fat you should actually have. Ask an adult that you trust to be honest, someone who is not going to flatter you but who is also not going to put you down, what they think of your physique as you work toward your goal of health. If you trust them enough to ask them in the first place, trust them enough to believe them. If not your parents, maybe an older sibling, a teacher or coach, an aunt or uncle. You know who is in your life that you can go to for advice. Use those resources!

More calories probably will be necessary. BMR is based on maintenance for running a developed adult's body - not growing a teenager's body and producing hormones! I was a thin teenager who wasn't much into working out (about 5'4" and 120 pounds) but between ages 14-18 I probably averaged 2500 calories per day, sometimes was still hungry after I ate all my dinner plus my dad's leftovers, and did not gain anything except height and bigger feet.

As you said, your body's hunger signals are probably messed up from your previous chunkiness and dieting at a young age. For that reason, I don't think you should go based just on hunger signals until you've reached a point of good health and homeostasis. I am also not sure that you should necessarily track all calories daily, because that can lead to a bit of an obsession which isn't a good path for anyone prone to an eating disorder. I would suggest a middle ground - put several of your typical meals in cronometer or fitday, or whatever calorie tracker you have used, get them to add up to a good amount of calories, and use that as a template to go forth intuitively.

I wish all the best for you! It is not easy being a teenage girl - I am not so old I've forgotten the silly things I used to think. I'm really just lucky that my ideas stopped at silly and didn't progress to dangerous. Think about what you'll think in ten years - will you wish you didn't weigh ten pounds more in high school, or will you lament possible damage you did to your developing brain and reproductive system? You have the whole rest of your life to look fabulous. You only have one chance to grow and develop properly. There's no reason you can't do both, but if in doubt, go with health.

1
24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on February 17, 2013
at 06:03 PM

Random comments:

(1) Evident need of Paleo template for girls.

(2) Girl needs way to stabilize her eating. And not yo-yo diet the rest of her life.

(3) If girl attends high school, off at 3pm and still exercises 2 hours a day - huh?

(4) Girl is overtraining.

(5) Girl is overtraining inefficiently.

(5a) If girl does resistance training for 45 to 90 minute sessions 5 days a week, and not seriously sore, then routine suboptimal.

(5b) No way anyone interval trains for 30 minutes at max effort, 5 days a week.

(6) "Body recomposition"?? Girl already has no fat. May even look skeletal at 5'7" 110 lbs. Girl should gain some lean weight, depending on her build. BMI say 120 lbs lower end of normal for 5'7". Girl should not fear gaining up to a conservative 120 lbs.

(7) Girl should post pic of body [face obscured] when she reaches 120 lb so the guys on Paleohacks can oogle her we can give her honest feedback on whether she would look better with yet more weight.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:24 PM

If you're talking, even jokingly, about "oogling" a fifteen year old young lady, I surely hope you are a teenager yourself. Otherwise, that's pretty creepy. Women here can give honest feedback about a person's physique, and probably in a way that the young lady's parents would find appropriate.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:22 PM

If you're talking, even jokingly, about "oogling" a fifteen year old young lady, I surely hope you are a teenager yourself. Otherwise, that's pretty creepy.

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:09 PM

Im always sore. I go to a sport school which ends at 12:30, but i cant play a sport so i just go to school there. I do squats (around 100 pounds due to bulging disc), benching (around 70 pounds, lost a lot of muscle due to injury), lunges (50-60 pounds bar up and down gym), leg press, bulgarians, pushups, etc) I try to lift as hard and heavy as possible. I run at 8.5-11 mph 1 minute, then walk one minute, or do sprints at 30 seconds, jog 7.5 for 1 minute, then incline 8 run at 8-10 mph 30 seconds

370751438907115abacc67f4466b398d

(118)

on February 17, 2013
at 06:10 PM

Thats what Im saying I want to be healthy, if i gain muscle sure but i dont want to be a flabby mess.

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