T Nation

Am I Undereating?


#1

I am fat. I can put away plenty of calories, trust me, but when I added up all the calories I had in one day on a clean diet, it came to about 2000. I am on a low carb diet and the protein and fat rich foods are filling, but 2000? I weigh 250 pounds at over 20% (guess) body fat and lift 4 times a week, so my maintenance calories are somewhere in the 3000s. And it isn't that I'm starving myself, I eat until I'm full.

My main question is:

Am I setting myself up for horrible cravings by not eating enough? Should I through in another protein shake or even start taking in olive oil by the spoonful? As a fat guy trying to lean down it is hard for me to imagine that my progress is being hurt by not getting enough calories.


#2

I had this exact situation.

I ended up losing more weight the closer I got to 3000 calories a day. It's having to get out of the mindset that you need to eat less as 'diet foods' tend to be low calorie. Maybe add a few peri workout carbs or something?


#3

You need to be careful asking this sort of stuff from people who don't have a clue who you are or your 'real' requirements. you need to be even more careful of following advice to drop or raise calories when they have no clue about you.

Let me outline it like this; You are very overweight, but you do not know your bodyfat% and as such don't know your lean body mass (LBM). There is no clue to your activity levels (apart from training 4x a week and i am sure you do alot more than that in a week, ie, get dressed, walk to the toilet, etc) - this means any guess that is close to reality of your BMR or caloric requirements a day is hopeless.

So, with that in mind, it is IMPOSSIBLE to recommend eating more or less. Generally speaking if you aren't hungry, you aren't restricting too much. But this is again dependant on if you are using drugs or supplements for this..

Are you on appetite blunters/stims? Drugs of any kind? Do you work? Is is active or sedentary? i don't want the answer but you need to know these facts too in order to evaluate consumption - or more accurately requirement.

However - i am willing to say that it is common for overweight people when dieting, to eat too little - illiciting a starvation response which drops muscle (in order to lower metabolism) and stores fat 9in order to provide energy in periods of starvation - except the periods of starvation are not long enough as you eat regularly but not enough). I understand this is contrary to what most know about energy expenditure and consumption.. but there you go.

To advise you to increase calories or decrease them without the facts above being known would be wrong - and likely not in your best interest.

Are you losing weight? Do you look better? Are pants looser?

Some good measurements of composition without bodyfat mesurements are:

Scale Weight
Girth Measurements
Pinch measurements
Mirror assessment (what you look like!)
Flex measurement (measure arm circum. when relaxed and when tensed. The difference is smaller when your fat is lower)

However, at your bodyfat level, it is not out of line to expect 1-3lbs of fat loss a week.. I would suggest you exercise more too.. 4x/wk is plenty for weights.. but you may want to seperate the cardio from those days (assuming you do it).

I will let someone else pitch in, sorry but i have done a couple of these posts very recently and have no interest to do another just yet :wink:


#4

Brook, you're the man..I've been a reader/lurker for a while...you always give great feedback....so dont feel bad about not giving specific advice......(even though you actually gave a ton here whether by design or not)

I feel the OP's pain.....as a (Still) FB going on a calorie restriction "diet" so to speak is hard enough.....especially if you dont always measure your foods/time your feeding right etc.

I'm in the process of "slimming" down myself.....I was at 294 at the beginning of the year..(from eating fast food all the time).I was gross, felt like crap, hated myself all that stuff......tried dozens of "diets"

I used to be real big into the heavy lifting, then got hurt, got lazy......got depressed...all the classic stuff.

Finally had enough of the BS (plus the birth of my daughter has truly opened my eyes) and now Im serious about my diet.

Always enjoyed throwing around the weights and working out....I dont know what my BF is now....but I would say I probably about 50% or damn near it at my highest weight...

I wore 44 inch pants..(my belly was 50 inches yuck)....3XXL shirts........finding clothes to wear was a pain in the arse.

So now here I am after 6 months of better (not great) disciplined eating....and increased activity.......and right now here are some of my stats.

Im down to 38 inch pants......2XL shirts which are loose.....and scale weight is under 270 right now.

It's not a ton of lost scale weight based on the time......but my strength is up, and I've lost considerable inches on my belly 7.5 as of yesterday.

To the OP: This is a marathon, not a sprint.......like Brook here has said.....there are many factors to consider when doing your diet......Right now Im eating 5-6 times a day about 400-600 cals per meal....(so between 2000-3000) somedays its higher, somedays its lower.....just all depends on how I feel.....the thing is I do the mirror test, and a scale test every day and I log everything......that way if I start to stagnate or gain I know to immediate drop a couple hundred cals, or increase my activity.....( I usually try to cut food out first because its easier than trying to add time to my limited workout time because of work and family obligations)

Anyways, I stress again (and this is where I always failed before) its gonna take some time to shed those lbs that it took you YEARS to get.......so....its okay to have a bad day here and there....but it's gonna take discipline and hardwork......and if you keep on keeping on, eventually you'll get to your goal.

Good luck....keep us posted.


#5

John, I don't believe you're really eating 2000 cals a day. It's extremely hard to accurately measure caloric intake. Especially if you're at all guesstimating. The gold standard would probably be measuring and weighing everything that you eat for the day.

It seems a little OCD, to me too, although I'm thinking about doing it, because otherwise the potential for variance between the calories you think you're eating and what you're actually eating is huge. Especially once you start getting into restaurant meals or variable portion sizes (casseroles, etc).


#6

my meals right now consist of 4 protien shakes with water........which are measureable.....snacks with almonds, cheese, crackers (calories based on what the nutrtion facts say) and I eat those premade bags of salad (nutrition info included as well)........with salad dressing (again.....going off the label)

and like I said it's between 2000-3000.............2000 is the extreme low end.....but I hardly ever go over 3000 in a day.

Edit: I just realized that you were probably talking to the OP.....and not me.


#7

BTW, If you are ever thinking "Am I Undereating?" and you are lifting weights 4-5 times a week, the answer is always yes.


#8

I did not estimate my calories for that day. I measured everything.

I guess you don't really know too much about me, maybe if I uploaded some pictures it would give you guys more to go by.

I am currently taking a lot of Biotest supplements. Flameout, HOT-ROX, Creatine, Metabolic Drive, Surge Recovery and Surge Workout Fuel (I don't do the entire serving of either, should I bump them up?)

I have some others, but those are what I really use. I work in retail, so I walk all day and lift heavy objects. I'd say I'm pretty active when it comes to calorie expenditure outside of my training. I am 18, forgot to mention that. I know all the important things when it comes to fitness, the stuff every T reader knows, but I just have trouble applying them. I recently purchased Get Jacked Fast and I think such a program it just what I need.

I just put in my information and my daily caloric need is about 3200. So I should be eating about 2700 calories to lose over a pound a week through diet alone. Would adding an extra 700 calories a day make easier to stay on track?

I do cardio. Dance Dance Revolution. Don't knock it until you've tried it, weighing 250 pounds and jumping around for an hour takes it's toll. I have also been looking into the strongman cardio that was talked about in the latest article (Read: not doing it yet). In the past month or so I have been doing sprints, but I dropped them in an effort to improve my nutrition. Yes, you read right. Nutrition is the end all be all of any program, right? I decided it would be better to improve the more important thing than to just cheat all the time. And look what happened, I'm cheating all the time. It isn't really cheating, I go strong for a good week or two and then just crash. I live with my parents, who are supportive of my goals but keep buying junk. I have already come to the realization that I can't change them, they have to do it, and that it really is up to me to accomplish my goals, regardless of what they do.

What I face is different from most people in that I have been fat ever since I can remember. I know it sounds like an excuse, but I'm just letting you know about my history. I have made progress, don't get me wrong, but never the progress that I feel I should be making.

I'm not really going to post my program, nobody wants to read all that (or this ^^^^), I'm confident that if I just fucking did it I would be golden. It is the doing it which is the problem. I know you have all been there, but the phrase "Just fucking do it" doesn't really help. As was said in the Phoenix article, I forgot who wrote it, but there is almost always a defining moment for people where they "snap" and just fucking do it. I'm not sure that moment can even come for me. Through elementary school and middle school I was extremely fat, the same weight I am now, only on a 13 year old. I've heard and lived through pretty much every fat moment there is. I have more confidence now than I ever did back then, and with that confidence comes friends, which I had few of before, but I feel like I can never completely change without losing the fat. I won't stand for people immediately classifying me as lazy and stupid because of how I look. They do, I know it; why shouldn't they? There must be something I'm missing. I can't be so weak in the mind that I can't stay on a diet for more than a fucking week. I have the desire; I have so much desire that it hurts. Or maybe I just think I do. Obviously I don't want it if I'm not just fucking doing it, right? I mean, everybody wants to look ripped, and if it were easy everybody would be. It takes a certain amount of passion to achieve goals, and damn it if I don't have enough right now I'm going to beat myself until I do.

Beat myself. Hah.

I don't expect many people to read the above, and shit; I'm not gonna proof it. I guess it is more for me than you anyway.

For those of you that didn't completely skip my life story:

My daily caloric needs are 3200. A good diet would be based around 2700. I am currently eating about 2000 on a healthy diet. Should I force myself to eat 2700? Will it improve my fat loss and/or help me stay on track?


#9

Dont worry about the folks who are negative on here.......because they dont matter one bit.

How did you figure out that 3200 calories? Did you use a BMR calculator?

If you're doing work like you said....and your workout like you're supposed to you should probably be way higher than 3200 on a day.

Because based on my activity level and my age and such I need 3800 just for maintenance....and the younger you are the higher your maintenance level is.

You didnt give a height so I just guess 5'8" for you and at 250 lbs your BMR is 2365.....which is what you would eat if you did nothing all day but just being alive...that would be your maintenance.

Using the Harris Benedict equation {http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/} (which is what I used for me) I put you down as working out 3-5 times a week moderately.....so I take your 2365 and multiply by 1.55 and that gives me 3365 just for maintenance.

So you could actually eat more like 2500-2800 calories a day (which is a ton) and get 1 - 1.5 lbs of fat loss each week......or if you dropped it down to like 2300 cals a day in a week you would lose 2 lbs.....or you could even add more time working out. (Now this is all the low end of what you could do.....you could increase your intensity with work and working out and even have more leinency.)

So anyways. Check out that link and that calculator and plug in your actual numbers.....Its worked pretty well for me so far, but remember its gonna take a long time and you have to be dedicated and determined, and if for some reason you fall off the wagon one day and binge out its not the end of the world.....just refocus and attack again.....its okay to have 1-2 slip ups a month at first....but once you start seeing the lbs come off you wont slip up nearly as much.

Good luck!


#10

J-Tapey, hey, I've been fairly fat my whole life too. And I just turned 34. Previous attempts were a) very short lived and half-assed, because I honestly never gave a shit, and b) pretty much immediate failures because I didn't realize the amount or length of worth that would be required. But I have made progress over the last year, really for the first time ever. Actually, a friend who hadn't seen me in a couple months asked if I had a tapeworm, which I decided to take as a compliment.

I think the most important thing for me has been patience. It's important to know that this WILL work, but it's going to take effort stretched out over a long period of time (let's say a year), with excruciatingly slow progress (like a pound a week, and not linearly).

I honestly don't know if it would have worked for me when I was 18, because it's hard to get excited about something when you can't see immediate results. But again, it's important to know that it WILL work. It just takes time. Faith is something you can't see, but believe to be true. Once you finally start seeing progress, then it starts to reinforce itself.

Talk to me about the cheating. It sounds like a clean diet day would result in very rapid weight loss. This means that either a) you have a metabolism problem, or b) the cheat days are running 1000 calories surpluses. I think (b) is more likely.

You really might be sabotaging yourself if your target is too low. If you find yourself being exceptionally lethargic, dizzy, headaches, a disaster in the gym, you might be undershooting. If you psychologically snap and go demolish a Hometown Buffet, maybe a smaller deficit would be more maintainable. It doesn't have to be shakes and supps, you could eat real food too.


#11

Maybe the people who run Biotest will love you but I question whether taking all these supplements is the answer.

You want to lose weight first and worry about training like an Olympic Athlete second so keep the Flameout and a decent postworkout shake.

Then measure your meals correctly and get everything else from proper food rather than relying on supplements.

Eat more broccoli (theres never too much), low fat cottage cheese and whole meat (ground meats are often mixed with extra fat that really bumps the calories up).

If your parents buy junk dont eat it. Or if you do allow yourself something log it like a man and dont kid yourself that its free (it aint)

If you are doing things right then you WILL see fast results unless theres something medically wrong with you(you can always get a checkup to make sure your Thyroid is working right)

And read Brooks advice again.