1

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Too Few Calories?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 05, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Hi everyone,

I've been paleo/primal now for almost a month (took a break around Thanksgiving) and have gone through the initial blah phase. For the most part I'm feeling really good and not missing the starches and empty calories I used to eat.

I have such a large amount of weight to lose (I'm 5ft and about 300lbs) that I chose to go more ketogenic with my macronutrient ratio (keeping my carbs around 10-15%). I have added exercise as well - a daily 30 minute walk and on three days a bodyweight circuit of squats, wall push-ups, and planks (I'm working up both reps and number of circuits). I'll eventually add weight, but for now, I'm pretty challenged completing three circuits of 5 reps each (with a 30 second plank).

The issue I'm running into now is that more often than not, I'm not eating anywhere near "enough" calories to avoid MyFitnessPal nagging me. Often, I'll eat twice per day for a total of about 750-800 calories and feel completely sated. I don't want to dip into "starvation mode," but I'm hesitant to force myself to eat something when I am genuinely and legitimately full just because MFP says "you need twice that number of calories."

So given the info: morbidly obese, 37yo female; 30 minutes daily walk; 3x/wk bodyweight circuit; ketogenic paleo

Is it truly possible that my body is just saying "hey, you've eaten enough today, we'll take it from here" and not worry that MFP says that I'm eating less than 1000cals/day? Granted, my weight loss is super slow, but it is happening, so I'm not overly concerned about the speed with which I'm losing weight as long as its coming off. I just don't want to damage my metabolism any further than it's been damaged from 37 years of crappy eating.

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on December 05, 2012
at 09:12 PM

Well that's amazing. And I wouldn't get overly worried about potassium, I'm habitually low on potassium too, and I eat way more food than you do! Good luck to you.

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Thanks Robin. I am worried about the micronutrients, but the tracking I'm doing on MFP shows that I'm getting right about or over 100% RDA for most of the micros, and one or two I'm low on (mainly potassium, I'm getting around 50%). I'm being VERY careful to make sure that everything I eat is nutrient dense. This past few weeks, it's just been so hard to eat more than about 800 calories (if I force it, I can get up to about 1100). I'll keep an eye on it and if my appetite doesn't change in the next couple weeks, I'll see if I can up to 1300. Again, thank you!

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 05:37 AM

Thanks, Michael. That's a really helpful response. I have been making sure I'm getting the best quality ingredients I can find (kerrygold is a STAPLE!!!). Mainly, though, thanks for the head's up on the changing appetite. I'll be keeping that in mind for the future.

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Thanks for the response... Energy is definitely good and there's no light-headedness at all. And the 30sec plank? It took me some time to get up to 30, and it is a challenge to hold it! Slow and steady wins the race, though ;)

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5 Answers

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1
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on December 05, 2012
at 01:46 AM

I was never 300lbs, so take my answer with a grain of salt. But I do know that there were times were I was "in the groove" and not hungry at low calorie levels. I had success riding that wave. However, I have a few caveats. (1) I'd suggest to you that you make sure you're eating high quality food. You're already getting fewer micronutrients than ideal, so e.g. pastured butter like Kerrygold would be worth seeking out rather than conventional butter and likewise w/grass-fed versus conventional meat. (2) You may well hit the point where you cannot sustain such low calorie levels even though you are still far from your ultimate weight goal goal. In that case, be grateful for your quick start and be at peace with a higher caloric intake. Your health will continue to improve even if your weight loss stalls. In the long run you will get there, but it definitely won't always be as easy as it is now. As long as you're prepared for that, you'll do great!

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 05:37 AM

Thanks, Michael. That's a really helpful response. I have been making sure I'm getting the best quality ingredients I can find (kerrygold is a STAPLE!!!). Mainly, though, thanks for the head's up on the changing appetite. I'll be keeping that in mind for the future.

1
366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on December 05, 2012
at 06:05 PM

I will be the odd man out, but I think it would be hard to get all the nutrients you need on that few calories. If it were me, I'd try taking in at least 1300-1400 calories, and see if that makes your weight loss go slower or faster. Seems to me there is at least some chance that your weight loss is slow because your body is already in starvation mode, and while you're quite right not to be worried in the general sense about how fast you lose weight (in some ways, the slower the better), I'd be worried about why it is "super slow", and I'd assume that it's quite possible that your hunger mechanisms (like many of us!) are not in tip top order to begin with.

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Thanks Robin. I am worried about the micronutrients, but the tracking I'm doing on MFP shows that I'm getting right about or over 100% RDA for most of the micros, and one or two I'm low on (mainly potassium, I'm getting around 50%). I'm being VERY careful to make sure that everything I eat is nutrient dense. This past few weeks, it's just been so hard to eat more than about 800 calories (if I force it, I can get up to about 1100). I'll keep an eye on it and if my appetite doesn't change in the next couple weeks, I'll see if I can up to 1300. Again, thank you!

366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on December 05, 2012
at 09:12 PM

Well that's amazing. And I wouldn't get overly worried about potassium, I'm habitually low on potassium too, and I eat way more food than you do! Good luck to you.

1
2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

on December 05, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I agree with the above posters. If your really in ketosis, your excess body fat is making up for the rest of your calories. Keep it up, your on a great path!

1
8254203777a813c24c7b9c6a36ff06aa

on December 05, 2012
at 11:23 AM

Hunger is a function of your cells not receiving the energy they need. If you're not hungry than your cell are getting the energy they need and you won't be in "starvation mode". Since you're in ketosis your fat cells must be releasing enough energy to cover most of your energy needs. Eat when your hungry but if your not hungry don't sweat it.

I agree with Michael points of micronutrients being more scarce and realizing that the amount of food you eat will fluctuate.

Myfitnesspal is a useful tool, but your body knows better. If your weight is coming down and you aren't hungry then trust it.

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on December 05, 2012
at 01:06 AM

300 lbs and knocking out 30s planks? I think what you are doing is awesome! Keep it up.

As for calories, don't worry about them. If your energy levels are good, keep it up! If you get a little light-headed or feel tired, then you might want to see if you can fit in another meal or so. But I think you are fine for now!

04b157684e2dcfa867ff15db95145652

(325)

on December 05, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Thanks for the response... Energy is definitely good and there's no light-headedness at all. And the 30sec plank? It took me some time to get up to 30, and it is a challenge to hold it! Slow and steady wins the race, though ;)

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