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Curious about forcing calorie deficits & effect on the body

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  • Curious about forcing calorie deficits & effect on the body

    After reading a super long thread about calories in/calories out and GCBC, I am really curious about how forcing a calorie deficit could affect the human body. I did not want to hijack that thread although maybe someone should, so here goes:

    What deleterious effects can severe, prolonged, calorie restriction have on the body? Anyone have references or personal experience in this?

    This was the good post (thanks, ciep) that made me think of this:

    Originally posted by ciep View Post
    You say: "there are several posters in this forum who really believe they can't lose weight on a calorie deficit".

    This is actually not what the members of these forums have been saying. They know they will lose weight on a calorie deficit. They're saying that you can't force a calorie deficit to lose weight. Or basically that the strategy of reducing calories (through effort) won't result in weight loss. It's a very subtle difference. Reducing calories willfully (meaning, "resisting the urge to eat") will lead (very quickly) to hormonal shifts which will result in hunger and thus, eating (despite all your willpower).

    Eating the right way should lead to better a better hormonal environment and thus, a natural non-willfull (so to speak) restriction of calories. That's the strategy that primal eaters employ to lose weight, and it's the strategy that Taubes recommends.
    My background:
    I am another person for whom "eat less, move more" did not work. For 1.5 years, I ate a restricted calorie diet, starting at around 1500 calores, then reducing to 1350 during that time (tracking every bite, every ingredient of food I consumed), while training for half-marathons with frequent multi-day backpacking trips. My daily average "calories burned" through exercise varied from 500-700 per day through that time. As I am 5'8", medium build, my BMR is near 1600 calories. I should have lost 1.5-2 lbs per week. I did not. Please do not start with the "you must have eaten more that you say" or "you probably did not burn that many calories"... I assure you that I accurately tracked these things, as accurate as calorie tracking can be, anyway. I worked my butt off running and carried a 25 pound pack up & down mountains.

    Oh, yeah, my point. My point is that after 1.5 years of this, my thyroid freaked out in grand fashion. Subacute thyroiditis, which starts with a thyroid storm followed by hypothyroidism. Now my thyroid is wonky & weight loss is even more difficult. Yes, it could be genetic factors or the fact that i ate too much soy when I was a veg, but why did it happen then? Coincidence?

    So, everyone... thoughts? experiences? (Thanks in advance)
    Jen, former Midwesterner, living in the middle of nowhere.

  • #2
    I believe you 100%.

    Just my 2c, but I would focus on healing your body. Eat lots of healthy primal food to regain health, and don't worry about weight for the time being.

    You can only abuse your body for so long before it breaks. Unfortunately, the damage done will dictate a part of your journey from here.
    Lifting Journal


    • #3
      Where were your calories coming from during your previous phase? If it was from grains, legumes, dairy, and fructose then you probably messed up your hormones/metabolism. It happened to a lot of us who bought into the health and fitness recommendation of the last 30 years. I was on the same merry-go-round, eating less and exercising more. I was eating low fat and trying vegetarian/vegan diets to try and stop the weight gain. The Primal Blueprint has worked for me. I think I was lucky that I couldn't stand to eat the soy/fake vegetarian foods, otherwise I might have screwed up my system worse than I did. Judging from the work of Dr Natasha Campbell–McBride, MD it could take up to 2 years to fix your metabolism. do you look, feel, and perform? -- Robb Wolf

      My Blog.


      • #4
        Hi Apex Predator, and thanks . That's good advice to focus on healing... sometimes that is hard to remember when you have a few extra pounds & people keep saying "eat less, exercise harder" haha. Between the thyroid issues and my now screwed-up relationship with food, I am doing the best I can. Anyway, thanks for the kind words.
        Jen, former Midwesterner, living in the middle of nowhere.


        • #5
          *WAVES HAND* ohhh me! I'm one of those people who don't loose weight eating less/moving more! A daily average of what I'm eating ranges btwn 2200-2600 cal/day. I'm also nursing. I also don't loose weight in ketosis, I just stall out in it. I need more carbs. Now If I drop into ketosis (I don't do this on purpose some days it just happens) for a couple of days, then go back up to more carbs I'll see a change in my body composition in about 2wks (more definition in my legs, pants are looser) etc. I move slowly 3-4x/week (As my schedule and weather allows), I LHT 2x/week and do 1 sprint/HIIT session/week. I occasionally IF - but only as hunger dictates.

          I'm glad I'm seeing results...but the results are necessarily on the scale! they are in the measurements, clothing size. Yes I've had some *fat* disappear and the scale has moved - but some of the fat disappearing is me building muscle so the change on the scale isn't as drastic if I wasn't building muscle. my body is changing its composition from the bottom up. First my calves leaned up and got some serious definition, now my thighs and hip...hoping the belly fat, and the arms start to make a turn to burn in the next 6mths! : D I really want a flat belly (6pack not required) & rocking arms
          The most depraved type of human being is the man without a purpose. ~ Ayn Rand
          What's your purpose? Mine is Optimal Health.

          Converted to PB November 2010
          SW 190lb
          Leptin Reset Redux (1Sep 2011) SW 170lbs
          25 Sep 2011 160lbs
          1 Dec 2011 158lbs!
          GW ~135lbs
          Mother of 2, and wife to a kick ass husband...trying to contain chaos and havoc on a daily basis

          My Journal:


          • #6
            Hi Bodhi, yes at that time it was a mix of grains, dairy, legumes, fruit, veg, meat (was no longer veg and started feeling good after adding meat back in). I had binges of sugary foods, but always kept it under my calorie count... not that it matters. I also have blood sugar & gluten issues, so I've been tackling things one at a time. Although PB seems to be the shotgun approach, curing many imbalances with one simple plan. Glad that PB has worked so well for you; I really appreciate your thoughts. And thanks for the link.
            Jen, former Midwesterner, living in the middle of nowhere.


            • #7
              Hi Shijin13... thanks for the info. Just goes to show that every body has different needs as far as calories, carbs, etc. And it sounds like you are doing great! If you continue treating your body right, I bet you can reach your goals!
              Jen, former Midwesterner, living in the middle of nowhere.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jen AlcesAlces View Post
                Hi Apex Predator, and thanks . That's good advice to focus on healing... sometimes that is hard to remember when you have a few extra pounds & people keep saying "eat less, exercise harder" haha. Between the thyroid issues and my now screwed-up relationship with food, I am doing the best I can. Anyway, thanks for the kind words.
                Hopefully you'll find plenty of support on here!
                Lifting Journal


                • #9
                  Me, too. I'm another one who didn't lose on less food and more exercise - in fact on a liquid and walking diet for 2 weeks I didn't lose the tiniest amount of weight. I think my body eventually went into complete shutdown mode.

                  I've only been primal for 8 weeks, but for the 2 years before that I'd stopped weighing or putting any boundaries at all on what I ate, except for dairy which makes me sick. So even though it was the NZ version of a SAD, I still developed a healthier relationship with food. My IBS got heaps worse, though, so here I am. I've lost some weight, which is nice (I'm about 30kg overweight) but my main focus is around IBS, energy and sleep. My energy is recovering nicely, and my sleep is much more stable. The IBS is a learning curve, and right now I'm quite restricted in what I eat. As it settles, though, I'll be reintroducing foods to see where the real issues lie.
                  Started Feb 18 2011

                  Tried basic primal and almost everything else in pursuit of IBS control, mood stability, and weight loss.

                  Journalling here


                  • #10
                    Oh the tales I could tell of "the look", followed by "If you don't write everything down you ate, we can't help you improve". I have measured, weighed, counted, remeasured etc to the point of violence if I even use a kitchen scale to weigh a letter for a stamp. Not only did I NOT lose weight (unless I starved and dehydrated myself deliberately before weighing in), I gained like crazy when I tried to eat a "normal" amount of food. In fact, I really did diet and calorie restrict and exercise myself up to the breaking point, and I believe it is a major cause of some of the significant health problems I have now.

                    At this point, I'm focusing on healing all the damage I've done. I find it distressing to see people stick to the CICO formula, especially on this forum, but at the same time without some dissent we wouldn't get all the knowledge that people are bringing forward either, or all the support. I believe that for some, in fact for most people if they haven't badly damaged themselves through all the CW crap that floated about particularly through the 80's and early 90's, the standard of "eat less, move more" will work, somewhat. For people like me? Nope, not any more. Its no longer that easy.
                    Fighting fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain since 2002.

                    Big Fat Fiasco

                    Our bodies crave real food. We remain hungry as long as we refuse to eat real food, no matter how much junk we stuff into our stomachs. ~J. Stanton