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    Navajo's Avatar
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    Eating below bmr

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    Hello again all you fine folks!

    Quick question, I am still in the weight loss mode and came across an article a while back that got me thinking...

    I generally eat right around my BMR (yes, I know it is just a wild guess) but the article was saying that what you should do trying to lose weight would be to figure out the BMR for the weight that you WANT TO BE then eat to that amount instead.

    While that makes some sense on the surface, I have read here and other places that you should never consistently eat below your BMR. Does anyone have any opinions on this?

    Don't get me wrong, I am still slowly losing weight eating 1900 - 2400 KCal a day of Primal food (occasionally going up to 2900 KCal) and keeping my Fat around 70% and Protein around 20ish% as seen below, but was really wondering if/when the BMR is relevant.

    Once again, if it matters, I am a 47 yo male at 6' and 263lbs. and am shooting to be below 180 lbs and mor muscular.


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    When I do BMR (just laying in bed all day) I get 1324. Then I add my exercise and it goes to 2200 (much more forgiving number). I find to lose weight, I have to eat below the 2200.. I'm 5'2, 40 so I don't get to eat as much as you, but at least it is more than the awful 1324 calories. Hope that is helpful.
    Primal since 4/7/2012

    Starting weight 140
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    The fact is that your BMR estimate needs to take into account your ideal body weight. Fat only requires about 20% of the maintenance calories of muscle weight. If you're carrying around 200 pounds of excess fat, and your calculator is figuring that is lean body mass, you may never lose an ounce.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JennGlob View Post
    When I do BMR (just laying in bed all day) I get 1324. Then I add my exercise and it goes to 2200 (much more forgiving number). I find to lose weight, I have to eat below the 2200.. I'm 5'2, 40 so I don't get to eat as much as you, but at least it is more than the awful 1324 calories. Hope that is helpful.
    Well, I probably shouldn't eat as much as me either! HA! Yeah, I keep forgetting about the whole add activity thing. Thanks for the reminder!

    Quote Originally Posted by eKatherine View Post
    The fact is that your BMR estimate needs to take into account your ideal body weight. Fat only requires about 20% of the maintenance calories of muscle weight. If you're carrying around 200 pounds of excess fat, and your calculator is figuring that is lean body mass, you may never lose an ounce.
    That makes a lot of sense! OK, so back to the calculator! I guess that explains why I have only dropped 1.4 lbs this entire month!

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    When I was significantly overweight, I ate many days under my BMR, but my average consumption was right around my BMR. As I got smaller and my BMR dropped, the days that I ate under my BMR got fewer and fewer. It wasn't a calculated thing, I just got hungrier. My macros have been all over the place, but often they seem to fall into 40f/40c/20p.

    I am not aware of any scientific evidence that chronically eating under your BMR will lower it. I believe there is some evidence that eating *way* under (<1000 cals/day) will temporarily drop it on the order of 100-200 cals /day. All the advice around BMR and calories is speculation and conjecture. It's probably not possible to give general advice because there's a huge variety in the way different people's bodies mobilize excess body fat. Personally, I found consistently eating as little as possible without making myself miserable to be extremely effective. I had no other "rules" regarding my food and eating.

    ETA: eKatherine makes a good point. A lot of extra body fat will artificially elevate your calculated BMR. It makes using BMR as a guide even trickier.
    Last edited by LauraSB; 03-23-2013 at 06:10 AM.
    50yo, 5'3"
    SW-195
    CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
    GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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    This calculator takes account of body fat under advanced options
    Calorie Calculator - Daily Caloric Needs

    Calorie cycling really kept the weight dropping but eating below the BMR, in my opinion, is pretty extreme...I believe the slower the weight loss the better the chance the weight will stay off

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    Navajo's Avatar
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    OK, so, I went back to the Primal Blueprint book to the section where Mark gives the calculations for the Korgs to lose 8 lbs a month and came up with this for me:

    Current BMR - 2286
    With Low Activity – 2743 (2286 X 1.2)
    Lean Body Mass – 168 (36% BODY FAT)
    To lose 8 lbs per month = 932 cal per day deficit
    Total Cal per day – 1811 (2743 – 932)

    TO LOSE 2 LBS A WEEK :
    PROT – 117 GRAMS (468 CAL) (.7 x 168)
    CARB – 75 GRAMS (300CAL)
    FAT – 115 GRAMS (1043 CAL)

    Does this look about right to you? I suppose it might explain why I have only lost 1.4 lbs this entire month even though it is WAY too early for a plateau and I have PLENTY of fat to burn.

    As an interesting side note, for my current goal of being moderately active and weighing 180 lbs I would need 2741 cals a day. Almost the exact same amount to maintain my current weight with low activity. Odd.

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    All those calculations are usually wildly inaccurate. The only reliable method is to meticulously track your results for a month then adjust accordingly.

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    Navajo's Avatar
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    Yeah, sometimes I get way too caught up in the numbers when I am doing something. Even though I've been reading/researching/half-assing primal for a couple of years now, I am still floundering.

    I mean, I know my body is repairing quite a bit of abuse from the past few years (heavy drinking, no sleep, waaaay too much stress) and losing slowly is still better than gaining but I have a LOT of fat to eat up and this past month has been frustrating.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Navajo View Post
    Does this look about right to you? I suppose it might explain why I have only lost 1.4 lbs this entire month even though it is WAY too early for a plateau and I have PLENTY of fat to burn.

    As an interesting side note, for my current goal of being moderately active and weighing 180 lbs I would need 2741 cals a day. Almost the exact same amount to maintain my current weight with low activity. Odd.
    I think those calorie numbers look pretty reasonable. My husband is 5'11" and went from 210-165 lbs eating about 1800/day with moderate activity. The fact that you haven't been losing very fast eating ~500 cals/day more than that suggests that Mark's numbers are at least worth considering.

    I was also surprised to discover that the number of calories needed to maintain my fat weight was not that much higher than my slender weight. I guess that helps explain why it's so easy to get fat and so hard to lose once you do. On the upside, once you reach a normal weight, you will have had months of training to eat at even lower calories than maintenance. The amount you can eat and still remain a normal weight will probably seem like plenty.

    I was going to say that I thought Mark's carb curve was unnecessarily aggressive, especially for taller individuals. I love fruits and veggies and can probably count on one hand the number of days I was below 75g while I was losing weight. But I see you've been eating less than 75g carbs/day already, so if you're comfortable down there, go for it.
    50yo, 5'3"
    SW-195
    CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
    GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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