2

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Insufficient Calories Stalling Weight Loss?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 13, 2013 at 1:22 AM

Is it possible? I've posted a question regarding my weight loss plateau already so at the risk of being repetitive, I'll just state the bare necessary facts. I am 5'3 and weight ~135 lbs, been Paleo (with legumes) since August, recently went full Paleo. Hard to tell how much fat I've lost because I began at 138 lbs but look completely different now. I guesstimate my BF% to be around 30, don't think I lost more than 10 lbs of fat, if that. On my last post, it was recommended that I increase my fat intake. I've been trying to do that but am surprised to find it is actually quite difficult!!

Today I ate:

Breakfast: 2 egg whites, 1 yolk (wasn't hungry for the other, don't have any aversion to yolk), .25 cup of broccoli, .25 cup of cauliflower, coffee w/ 2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk

Lunch: 4 oz chicken, .5 plum tomato, .25 cup of broccoli, .25 cup of cauliflower

Snack: .5 florida avocado, .5 plum tomato

Dinner: 5 large shrimp, 6 oz salmon steak, .25 cup spaghetti squash, .25 red bell pepper, 25 asparagus spears

Snack: 2 tablespoons organic cashew nut butter, 7 blueberries, coffee w/ 1 tablespoon lite coconut milk

Facts: 1080 calories, 55 g fat (9g sat, 4g polyunsat, 6g monounsat), 18g sugar, 48g carbs, 111g protein (This comes from the FitnessPal App)

Exercise: 1.5 hrs softball practice (throwing, jogging, swinging a bat, mix of sit-ups, planks, squats, push-ups, etc.), then ab exercises & back weights on my own, 60 mins of yin yoga (This is one of my less active days- I typically get a more intense cardio workout than softball provides, usually a 45 min spin class or running a few miles)

I'm pretty full- while I'd never turn away another spoonful of a nut butter or a bowl of fruit, I really don't feel I need it.

Is 1100 calories sufficient? Could my body possibly be in starvation mode? Any recommendations? Does my fat-carb-protein ratio seem okay? Thanks a bunch.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:43 AM

Conventional wisdom recommendations are god-awful levels of calories, always well below BMR.

4f828fd11d2d1d595a1653baa5e3e77b

(421)

on March 17, 2013
at 09:42 PM

I like a snack before hitting the gym or before softball practice, which is the post lunch snack. The post dinner one is only occasional and is more the result of my sweet tooth than of true hunger. I went without fruit and nuts (except occasional almond butter) for months, just recently added them back because I wasn't losing anyways. Def going to cook in more fat though, thanks

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on March 13, 2013
at 11:54 AM

Also, you don't say if you're cooking any of those veggies in fat. I cook all my veg in fat and eat aditional fats like bacon, olive and avocado. Also more fatty meats. And more starchy carbs as Travis mentioned.

22ed067dfadf3ce563b2f0b9f8bf70bb

(92)

on March 13, 2013
at 10:05 AM

Good healthy advice x

Medium avatar

(39831)

on March 13, 2013
at 03:35 AM

I would add carbs. If you are in "starvation mode" as viewed by your hypothalamus, it's carbs specifically that will correct it.

4f828fd11d2d1d595a1653baa5e3e77b

(421)

on March 13, 2013
at 01:59 AM

What would you add to get more calories? Just increase meat intake? Seems like vegetables are hardly any calories and eating more avocados and nut butters can't be good for weight loss

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on March 13, 2013
at 01:29 AM

I'm not sure whether it's stalling your weight loss, but it does seem awfully low. I would be starving on that diet.

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7 Answers

4
46d2d71df39b4a6336df6d8307b25d87

(278)

on March 13, 2013
at 03:55 AM

Yeah, I would say you need more calories. I believe that even conventional wisdom says that 1200 cals/day is a minimum intake, with 1500 being better (1800 ideal), and obviously you'll need more if you're exercising.

My biggest paleo newbie mistake was to hang on to my food neuroticism and avoid fat and worry about calories and ratios and how much fruit to eat and how many nuts is too many, etc. Once I decided to scrap the traditional rules (of paying too much attention to what you eat), people started noticing that I was looking leaner (and I was also able to train much harder than I could before, meaning more fat loss).

So, yeah: try eating more calories (good fats especially), and see how it goes. Worst case scenario is that your weight loss stalls because of excess calories, which really isn't any worse than your situation now.

(Another possibility is that you don't need to lose any more weight and your body is resisting it altogether. I didn't like it, but had to accept that I feel and work much better at about 145 lbs than at my ideal weight of 130 lbs. [I divorced my scale shortly thereafter.] When you get to your weight goal, honestly evaluate how you feel--if you have no energy and you're crabby and can't execute a good workout, maybe it isn't the best weight for you.)

22ed067dfadf3ce563b2f0b9f8bf70bb

(92)

on March 13, 2013
at 10:05 AM

Good healthy advice x

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:43 AM

Conventional wisdom recommendations are god-awful levels of calories, always well below BMR.

1
048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

on March 18, 2013
at 08:50 AM

I'd get rid of any nut butter if you are really looking forward to lean out. A tablespoon of this is almost equal in caloric intake of a full salad or big green dish. That would give you more vitamins and minerals while keeping you fuller. Seriously, nut butters are overrated and they're so delicious that are pretty easy to overeat and if you don't, you probably are left with more hunger than before.

The rest of the diet seems pretty solid nutrition-dense wise, but as suggested by the other users I'd try to snack less, if you can re-arrange that 1100 kcal in only two meals, I think that this would give you a really good bust in termins of body adaptation. You may think that eating small meals will keep your metabolism fast, but nowadays this has been put into debate and seems that this apprach will not work. By eating so frequently you don't have the time to let your body run out of sugar and start using stored fats for fuel, and that should be your ultimate goal. And with so many few calories it may become possible to lean even while eating freq??ently but in your case seems that you have hit a combination of starving-mode and regular insulin release that may prevents this.

You could try to stick to 3 bigger meals with 5-6h in between or ever better 2 and see how you do, and may even go up to 1500 kcal and see how it works. If hungry, coffee can be your friend here. Good luck!

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:44 AM

Low calories is literally starvation and starvation often causes nasty things like fluid retention. While you might not be losing weight, you're likely losing fat, but retaining a ton of water (not healthy.) Eat more, it's not hard.

0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 18, 2013
at 07:01 AM

Dear Sydney-

Looks like you've got the food / calorie tracking dialed in.

Here are a couple useful tools that might also help

http://home.fuse.net/clymer/bmi/#bmr

This first one is a calculator that yields BMI (not that useful imo) but also does waist to height ratio, basal metabolic rate, body fat estimate. I input your numbers. I guessed a waist measure & your age.... it yields a daily basal caloric need of 1388.

Like others have suggested you're WAY light on the calories as this number does not account for additional energy expenditures via exercise or activity.

This second one

http://www.freedieting.com/tools/nutrient_calculator.htm

allows you to play around with total daily calories and carb, protein & fat as %'s of total calories

to answer your specific questions

Is 1100 calories sufficient? No. You're probably at least 600 calories low.

Could my body possibly be in starvation mode? Yes.

Any recommendations? Eat more calories

Does my fat-carb-protein ratio seem okay? It's fine, take a look at it in the calculator. Its estimate of your daily is 18% carb, 40% pro, 42% fat When you increase your caloric intake you could try this profile 15% carb, 35% pro, 50% fat. For fat loss keep your protein 33%+ and carbs at less than 75 grams (closer to 50 grams).... this gives only protein & fat to play with.

At 5' 3" and as active as you are, you will lose some more body fat but you need to eat more calories...

I would suggest adding that yolk at breakfast, cooking the eggs in butter or macadamia nut oil, a salad with olive oil & vinegar at lunch and olive oil on the asparagus AND generally increasing portions.

Bottom line...too active for your caloric intake & it's hurting the fat loss. Good luck.

cheers Bob

0
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on March 17, 2013
at 09:01 PM

PALEO 101

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/paleo-101/

It's not d dinner with two or three tablespoons of fat like coconut oil, bacon grease, butter, or chicken/duck fat.

For instance, I cook my protein with 3 tbsp of fat, then remove the protein, add another 3 tbsp of fat to the same pan, and cook my vegetables.

Why are you snacking so much, is it because you are hungry between meals? You shouldn't need to snack anymore if you've been eating Paleo since August. Eat ALL your calories at meals. And yes, you do need to eat more calories. Cooking with fat will help with this.

I eat twice as much as you do, plus lots of cooking fat, but I eat it all at meals, no snacks, I sit on my butt all day, and still lost a lot of body fat.

Other ideas: throw out the scale, stop eating nuts and fruit.

4f828fd11d2d1d595a1653baa5e3e77b

(421)

on March 17, 2013
at 09:42 PM

I like a snack before hitting the gym or before softball practice, which is the post lunch snack. The post dinner one is only occasional and is more the result of my sweet tooth than of true hunger. I went without fruit and nuts (except occasional almond butter) for months, just recently added them back because I wasn't losing anyways. Def going to cook in more fat though, thanks

0
Adb6852b4f2f42904da67708ffcd59f5

on March 17, 2013
at 07:26 PM

Hi Sydney,

I have read up on this but I am no expert.

BUT, I know someone that is. Click the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHHzie6XRGk

It is around 30minutes long but I believe it will be of help, he is a well known bodybuilder and respected in his profession.

Good Luck!

0
5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 02:26 AM

It's possible and quite common according to this recent article by mark sisson. You might consider switching it up and adding more calories. There's only one way to find out if you're eating too little and that's to try eating more.

Check out this article on carb refeeding and weight loss for some great info too, as well as this original article on stalled weight loss.

Possible tweaks:

Breakfast: use full fat coconut milk in your coffee and cook your 2 eggs and veggies in ghee or grass fed butter etc

Lunch: add some fat to your ...salad? Maybe increase portions... I wouldn't worry about measuring .5 a tomato. Add some Greek yogurt dressing (home made) or olive oil. Watch out for sugar lurking in products if you buy store dressings or sauces.

Dinner: add some butter to your spaghetti squash, maybe a meat sauce?

Those are just some suggestions to consider trying but the possibilities are endless really. Good luck!

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