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Can a Calorie Requirement be TOO low?

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  • Can a Calorie Requirement be TOO low?

    I'm kind of lazy about math, but I finally got around to calculating my exact calorie requirements, and macronutrient calculations and I'm wondering if my numbers seem reasonable. (Hey there's a reason why I became a Social Studies teacher instead of a math teacher!) As a female in my mid 50's, just 5'0" tall, trying to go from 134 lbs (27% body fat, 98% lean body mass to at least 20%), I wanted to try to lose five pounds in a month (actually, 15 over the next 3 months). I came up with a calorie expenditure of 1160 to do that (1743 daily calories minus 583 to lose the weight). Does that seem too low? Is there a limit to how low a middle aged women should go?

    I will do what I have to, but I don't want to sabotage myself with a goal that leads me into starvation mode. I would exercise more (I exercise 3-4 times a week....weights, yoga, kickboxing DVDs... and walk my dogs everyday for at least 30 minutes.) but I don't want to go too hard. Is what I'm doing counted as Moderate or Light Activity? Anyone have any ideas on this? 1160 isn't very much! Thanks in advance for any help or ideas anyone might have on this!

  • #2
    Caloric goals are complete wild guesses. Each persons BMR and how they respond to exercise and macro breakdowns are quite individual and will change your calorie requirements. I would recommend following marks carb curve for a month and see if that alone is moving you toward your goals. If not then track the calories you are consuming that month and adjust accordingly by reducing calories by several hundred a week and re-evaluating. Rinse and repeat.
    Last edited by Neckhammer; 08-04-2012, 02:42 PM.


    • #3
      smaller, post-menopausal; women do require less fuel. that's true. those on-line calculators really just serve as a ballpark, you will have to experiment and see what works.

      with only 15 pounds to lose, 5 pounds per month is a pretty aggressive goal, especially if you are already eating primal?

      what number cals are you eating at now?
      As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

      Ernest Hemingway


      • #4
        My wife felt exhausted when we had our first kid, so we tracked her calories and found she was eating about 1000 a day. So she consciously increased her calorie intake (and her milk production shot way up).
        Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

        Griff's cholesterol primer
        5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
        Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
        TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
        bloodorchid is always right


        • #5
          I also am an older, small woman, and that number doesn't seem low to me at all. But we're all different in terms of caloric level. I am only able to identify my own maintenance and weight loss levels by trial and errors. If I stay the same, I'm maintaining. From that number, I cut to create a deficit to lose.

          I don't think you have to fear 'starvation mode,' which, IMO, is a myth created by the Internet. Because of age and medical conditions, my calorie requirements are quite low, and I have to go even lower to lose any weight. The only time I 'stall' or 'gain' is if my calories are too high. I've never had a problem eating too little.


          • #6
            If that caloric requirement can be met on one or two meals instead of 3 or more, you might not feel as much pain. If you can become what Mark calls a "fat burning beast" you might be able to do this easily. Personally that's just too few calories for me to stay sane day after day after day. I walk, ride my bike to work, do a calisthenics class and/or sprint every week day and hike at least once on the weekend. I considered that to be moderate for exercise. I'm only a couple years younger and a couple inches taller and the calorie count I got for maintenance was between 1700 and 2000. Perhaps there are different calculators with different results.
            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


            • #7
              sbhikes, I would consider that more than moderate exercise!!


              • #8
                I am eating around 1600-1750 a day now...with about 70 carbs. I am not losing or gaining, but it's a pretty delicate balance.


                • #9
                  Thanks! That makes me feel much more confident in my numbers.....


                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone!

                    I'll refigure the numbers to reflect moderate exercise and see what I never feels like that much to me! I think also that I'd be pretty successful with two larger I will try that too. Thanks again....