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How do you know you're getting enough calories?

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  • How do you know you're getting enough calories?

    This has always been a source of stress for me, both while attempting to follow CW and since starting paleo/primal. I've always been told that a teenage girl needs about 1800 calories if she isn't doing any exercise, and 2000+ with exercise. I was slowly and steadily gaining weight eating about 1500 calories per day, unrestricted, combined with lethargy, sleep deprivation and constant stress which sometimes reached crisis-level. In three years I added 40 pounds to my small frame. While that sounds drastic, I estimate that only about half was from getting fat, the rest went towards growing half a foot taller + other puberty stuffs.

    The first time I lost weight, ever, was when I ate 1000 calories per day for a couple weeks. I lost ~8lbs of water weight and steadily lost 10lbs over 2 months eating 900-1200 calories. While sticking to primal, eating this much hardly felt like a restriction. I was only ever tired when I slept horribly, I remained well-muscled, I could exercise well (I added calories for exercise), and my hair, skin and nails were always in good condition. When I avoid grains and sugar and sleep properly, I naturally consume 1300-1400 calories, and I only lose weight when in the ballpark of 1000. What's the deal? Why do I feel healthy and satiated eating this "starvation" diet? Even my maintenance level is in the supposed "starvation" zone. If, despite feeling healthy, I'm damaging my metabolism, what can I do to make my body use more calories without having to spend three hours a day on a treadmill?

    Sorry for the long-ness, I feel like background is somewhat important with this issue.

  • #2
    I do not believe that "starvation" is possible while eating a resonable ammount of high quality, nutrient dense foods.

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    • #3
      How close are you to your ideal body weight?

      Edit: by ideal, I mean a weight that is healthy for your height and frame?
      Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )

      http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html

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      • #4
        How tall are you now?

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        • #5
          You have the slowest metabolism ever, lol. I can lose 2 pounds a week on an 1800 calorie diet, even if it's carby.
          Remember, you are unique just like everybody else.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Beefsister View Post
            You have the slowest metabolism ever, lol. I can lose 2 pounds a week on an 1800 calorie diet, even if it's carby.
            More than likely your body is extremely good at utilizing calories. If you feel fine at such a low level, then just be happy with it if it doesn't limit you or make you feel like you are being limited in what you eat. If eating really healthy foods and that is all your body wants, then so be it. The biggest part of primal is learning to listen to your body.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Beefsister View Post
              You have the slowest metabolism ever, lol. I can lose 2 pounds a week on an 1800 calorie diet, even if it's carby.
              you're kinda a jerk huh? many people (myself included) have been known to maintain under 1200 calories of SAD.


              (full disclosure, I'm currently over 180 lbs and 5'2" and still working on kicking sugar)

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              • #8
                You sound like my twin. I seem to only be able to lose weight at about 1000 calories. I have PCOS and a pretty crappy metabolism, which I know are both contributing factors. It drives me crazy because it seems like it goes against all of the "conventional" wisdom of 1200 calories being the absolute minimum you should be eating. I always have a nagging feeling that I should be stuffing my face more because I fear I'm messing up my metabolism...but then the fear of gaining the weight back makes me feel more comfortable that I am completely full around 1000 calories!

                Does anyone think we're messing up our metabolisms going this low? Or, like lojasmo and dualhammers point out, is this just the level that our body best utilizes calories?

                "The Way We Do Anything Is the Way We Do Everything"
                ~ Kancho Cameron Shayne

                Blog - The Primal Pantry
                My Leangains/Primal Lifestyle Challenge to begin 2/7/11!
                Check out the Blog for Daily Progress

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by moonablaze View Post
                  and still working on kicking sugar)
                  Stop buying it, stop eating it.

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                  • #10
                    Don't believe what you 'read' about how many calories you need, etc. We're all unique. I can only lose weight at 900-1000 calories, and I've had a genetically slow metabolism my entire life (according to my endocrinologist). I have a good friend who is approximately my height and weight who can lose on 2000 cal a day. People are different, and the 'estimates' that you read are based on useless generalities.

                    If you're eating healthy foods, and you're not hungry and not losing weight (unintentionally), then your calorie level is fine--for you.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'm 5'4" and I currently weigh about 135lbs, though my body really likes to gravitate towards 140. I'm smallish, pear-shaped, have a good amount of muscle, but I'm carrying a lot of abdominal, back and thigh fat. My goal weight is 120.

                      Hmm, today I walked 5 miles, ate 1200 calories, and I'm currently stuffed from my dinner of roast beef, zucchini and cauliflower.

                      Originally posted by emmie View Post
                      Don't believe what you 'read' about how many calories you need, etc. We're all unique. I can only lose weight at 900-1000 calories, and I've had a genetically slow metabolism my entire life (according to my endocrinologist). I have a good friend who is approximately my height and weight who can lose on 2000 cal a day. People are different, and the 'estimates' that you read are based on useless generalities.

                      If you're eating healthy foods, and you're not hungry and not losing weight (unintentionally), then your calorie level is fine--for you.
                      Admittedly, my source for nutrition information a couple years ago was USDA Food Pyramid-loving sparkteens.com. Half of the threads on their message boards are from tweens wondering why they aren't losing weight stuffing themselves full of 2500cal worth of whole grain toast and lite salads :\

                      Originally posted by Primalvore View Post
                      You sound like my twin. I seem to only be able to lose weight at about 1000 calories. I have PCOS and a pretty crappy metabolism, which I know are both contributing factors. It drives me crazy because it seems like it goes against all of the "conventional" wisdom of 1200 calories being the absolute minimum you should be eating. I always have a nagging feeling that I should be stuffing my face more because I fear I'm messing up my metabolism...but then the fear of gaining the weight back makes me feel more comfortable that I am completely full around 1000 calories!

                      Does anyone think we're messing up our metabolisms going this low? Or, like lojasmo and dualhammers point out, is this just the level that our body best utilizes calories?
                      Is temperature an accurate measure of metabolic activity? Even those of us with 'low metabolisms' should be running roughly the same temperature as long as we're healthy, unless that contradicts the definition of 'low metabolism' (which I'm not entirely sure about). I checked my temperature for the first time since going primal and I'm consistently around 99 degrees.

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                      • #12
                        Be careful of your "goal weight" plans. I'm also 5'4", and when I was younger (I'm 69 now), my 'goal weight' was 125 because that's what I thought I should be (and what the charts told me I should be). My body wanted to be 135, but I pushed myself down to my ideal. At 135, I looked great and felt great. At 125, I looked gaunt, felt terrible, and lost my period! My body kept wanting to return to 135, but I was so pleased with my number that I resisted--until my body won out:-) You might be better off at a lower weight, but be sure that you're not just aiming for an arbitrary number as I was.

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                        • #13
                          I have never ever been more thankful that I'm a dude who gets to eat 2500 - 3k calories a day because I can't imagine only getting to eat my normal breakfast and having to be "done" for the day.

                          I love food way too much, I guess.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Beefsister View Post
                            You have the slowest metabolism ever, lol. I can lose 2 pounds a week on an 1800 calorie diet, even if it's carby.
                            well la de da...

                            Have you done that for an extended period of time? I am a person with a fast metabolism and the weight loss of a restricted cal carby diet levels off VERY quickly. More and more restriction is required in order to get the same results.

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                            • #15
                              I am 55 years old, 5'3" tall, female, and currently 144 pounds with 32.8% body fat, headed toward 130 pounds with 25% body fat.

                              If I eat low fat, moderate protein and high carb, I maintain my weight on 1100 calories.
                              If I eat high fat, moderate protein and low carb, I maintain my weight on 1800 calories.

                              I like the second one better!
                              Rebecca

                              Right click here to watch me lose 22.5 pounds of body fat and gain 5.5 pounds of muscle in only 5 months right before your eyes in this cool morphing video!

                              Click the banner below to visit my blog:

                              sigpic

                              Feb 2009 - 158 pounds - 43.6% body fat
                              Aug 2013 - 138 pounds - 34.3% body fat
                              So far, lost 19.8 pounds of body fat and gained 1.8 pounds of lean mass
                              Goal - 136 pounds - 30% body fat
                              Still need to lose 6.4 more pounds of body fat and gain 4.2 more pounds of lean mass

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