2

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Why is it important to eat above RMR when losing weight?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 11, 2012 at 6:02 PM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/46722/how-do-i-lose-weight/46780#46780

"You may be able to lose a lot of weight up front. Eventually tapering off to still a very fast 1-1.5 lbs / week. Then your number of pounds lost per/week will drop as you reach your ideal weight. Each pound lost is 3500 calories under consumed for a week. However you need to stay above your resting metabolic rate (Rate if you stayed in bed basically). And you need to stay below your resting metabolic rate + Daily activity calories + Workout. (Over consuming calories will make a person gain weight of course.)"

Why do we need to stay above RMR? What happens if we eat below RMR? Why can't fat stores be used to make up the difference?

1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on July 10, 2012
at 07:21 PM

**Old thread, sorry** I'll vouch for the unsustainable aspect of eating below RMR. I (unwisely) ate ~400 calories under my RMR for a couple of months. I lost a little fat, but this quickly plateaued. I also lost muscle, and my 2k erg test went up by 20 seconds (which is a pretty dramatic increase). I was hungry and tired all the time, and felt guilty and physically awful whenever I ate any real quantity of food.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 12, 2012
at 03:45 AM

BMI and RMR made more sense as I neared normal weight, and my body became very reluctant to give up any more body fat. I try to eat nutritious calories but there isn't a lot of difference between them metabolism-wise.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 12, 2012
at 02:26 AM

If it's a choice between short-term "starvation" and remaining overweight, I think "starvation" sounds like a good idea. I guess the point is too much deficit is bad, but how do we define too much? I'm not sure why BMR/RMR would define that line. I would love to know how to define the line though.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 12, 2012
at 12:24 AM

Eating below your metabolism is starvation. Eating below your BMR/RMR is severe starvation. Sound like a good idea?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 12, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I've read studies that say the other thing, Bill. (At least for low calories over long term).

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on April 11, 2012
at 08:54 PM

This is not to say that I disagree with Eric per se, but your question sort of implies that everyone agrees with his answer.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 08:02 PM

I will update this portion of the post to add some context. If you do go below RMR make sure you are getting all of your nutrients and work with a doc.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Excellent point thhq!

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Thank for pointing this out Bill. I will update the post.

D290734f36a9ae03e3f60e0fa088d7ed

(1304)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Thanks for asking, I was wondering about this myself

E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

(2384)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:56 PM

When liver glycogen is sparse (thats actually what I presume, when a paleo is on calorie restriction) then conversion if T4 to T3 is inhibited and body is preserving energy. Not adjusting metabolism would reduce the chance to survive. Can you please post a study which confirms your statement?

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:54 PM

"Why is it important to eat above RMR when losing weight? Its not.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:39 PM

There are plenty of studies that show no decrease in metabolism when fasting for 72 hrs, OR fasting every other day for a month, OR, eating 800 calories a day for 30 days.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I could eat at RMR when I was obese and not even feel hungry. At healthy weight I'm starving if I don't eat 30-40% over.

E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

(2384)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:21 PM

You're welcome ;)

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:17 PM

Ha! As I'm typing it, somebody pulls out the starvation mode card!

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6 Answers

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07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:17 PM

I think answers will vary between "You'll lose weight too fast" or "your body will go into starvation mode" or something like those answers.

I'm not sure how much I'd believe that particular bit of advice or those kinds of answers - yes, calories in minus calories out = weight lost. But when you start dipping into fat stores, that's adding to calories in.

Maybe it just comes down to being less sustainable. It'll be darn hard to maintain that kind of deficit. But you can always try it and find out if it works for you. I doubt it's dangerous.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:17 PM

Ha! As I'm typing it, somebody pulls out the starvation mode card!

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I could eat at RMR when I was obese and not even feel hungry. At healthy weight I'm starving if I don't eat 30-40% over.

E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

(2384)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:21 PM

You're welcome ;)

1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on July 10, 2012
at 07:21 PM

**Old thread, sorry** I'll vouch for the unsustainable aspect of eating below RMR. I (unwisely) ate ~400 calories under my RMR for a couple of months. I lost a little fat, but this quickly plateaued. I also lost muscle, and my 2k erg test went up by 20 seconds (which is a pretty dramatic increase). I was hungry and tired all the time, and felt guilty and physically awful whenever I ate any real quantity of food.

1
9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on April 11, 2012
at 11:06 PM

RMR is the minimum amount of "raw material" needed - I believe - for the body to adequately repair and grow. When you eat below RMR for too long, repair of some things can lag behind. This would explain why many chronic dieters appear aged and have worse hair, teeth, nails, and skin (grayish?).

I believe this is why when ED recoverers start off, they have to eat 4000+ calories a day and don't gain much fat. The body uses a lot of this food for things like muscle and degraded tissue, trying to "catch up" on what it's been unable to do for too long.

Eating below RMR does way more harm than good if weight loss is your goal. Weight loss should be slow and steady, after all. Food is medicine, so constant restriction can't be healthy IMO.

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:03 PM

Protein intake and nutrient density are a more useful benchmark, as bodies are not looking for calories per se, but nutrition. I paid absolutely no attention to RMR, made an educated guess as to how much protein I needed to maintain muscle mass, and generally tried to stay under 1500. Sometimes the scale seemed to refuse to budge and I'd go really low carb, or give up my wine and chocolate, but on reflection I have to say I was probably losing weight as fast as humanly possible and extra strictness didn't give me much return on investment.

RMR may make more sense to pay attention to as you get closer to your goals. As BMI starts to look less like a ridiculous made up number and more like a reasonable target, or even a target you might have to put on muscle achieve, the body seems less happy about converting bodyfat into fuel. Calories become a lot more important then.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 12, 2012
at 03:45 AM

BMI and RMR made more sense as I neared normal weight, and my body became very reluctant to give up any more body fat. I try to eat nutritious calories but there isn't a lot of difference between them metabolism-wise.

1
1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

on April 11, 2012
at 06:44 PM

"Each pound lost is 3500 calories under consumed for a week" wrong

"Each pound lost is either 3500 calories from stored-released-burned fat (454 grams), regardless of time, OR it is 454 grams of anything else being removed from the body or converted and then removed from the body (water, water+glycogen, amino's, etc).

Lets say your BMR is 2000 and you decide to fast for 72 hrs AND you decide to walk for an extra 1500 calories a day, and you lose 5lbs of scale weight. What did you lose?

Well, I don't know, in order to find out, drink water and eat just carbs until your carb loaded like you were when you started and THEN weigh yourself. Bet it will be 1-2lbs of fat lost.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Thank for pointing this out Bill. I will update the post.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:25 PM

RMR is a useful benchmark for a minimum amount to eat in relation to a person's size. If you want to do it on less than that work with a doctor or dietician. Two other cross checks on weight loss are max -2 lbs/week or -1% of body weight.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Excellent point thhq!

0
E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

(2384)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Your body would go into starvation mode after a few days, slowing down metabolism to preserve energy. He doesn't know that there's actually plenty of food available and try's to retain as much energy (=fat) as possible to survive. This is not what you want to lose weight. :)

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:39 PM

There are plenty of studies that show no decrease in metabolism when fasting for 72 hrs, OR fasting every other day for a month, OR, eating 800 calories a day for 30 days.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 12, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I've read studies that say the other thing, Bill. (At least for low calories over long term).

E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

(2384)

on April 11, 2012
at 06:56 PM

When liver glycogen is sparse (thats actually what I presume, when a paleo is on calorie restriction) then conversion if T4 to T3 is inhibited and body is preserving energy. Not adjusting metabolism would reduce the chance to survive. Can you please post a study which confirms your statement?

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