T Nation

Long-Term Dieter


Christmas 2008 I was 223 lbs and it was mostly fat. I've been eating under maint. calories since to drop weight (started at about 2500 calorie intake and that slowly dwindled down to the 1900 I'm taking in now). I'm down to 178-179 currently. I had been doing Starting Strength and then switched to a 5x5 program for lifting.

What would be the best way to increase my calories in order to get my metabolism/hormones back into shape? I'm thinking like +100 calories per week until I start to see the scale heading in the upwards direction? Is that slow enough?

Additionally, once I get to that point, roughly how long would I need to keep my calories at that level to "fully restore" my hormones/metabolism before I could begin cutting again?

As a side note, my diet started off pretty crappy, but has been getting better. I'm currently trying to hit 160-180 grams protein and get in my good fats. I typically had 1 cheat meal a week as well in hopes of keeping my metabolism up and helping satisfy cravings.


Eat more protein. Add in calories as you see fit. You can check morning temps as part of metabolism checks.

Start with protein as calorie additions.


Oh cool, I didn't know that I could measure metabolism via morning temps. Thanks for the information - I appreciate it.


It's a very crude method. And one you should google for parameters, but It can give you a decent baseline. My metabolism sucks and I constantly hover around 97.5* regardless of dieting, poor diet, or maintanence diet.


I picked up a thermometer today (seem to have lost my old one...) and I'll do the morning temperature thing for a few days to see what sorts of numbers result. My google search came up with <97.8 is a "slow" metabolism. It'll also be an interesting experiment to see if my morning temperature changes when I slowly up the calories.

As a side note - I'm having a hard time really believing that I need so much protein. I'm finding that I'm basically eating meat and veggies all day haha. I also fully realize that I've never actually tried it to see how my body responds. I am interested to see if it seems to make a difference for me.


I'm curious what your carb intake is. A lot of people tend to excessively lower their carbs, and in the process leave their body hypersensitive to certain foods once they are reintroduced. 1900 calories is ridiculously low. What are your stats, general condition level, pics?



I'm 5'6" 179 - had my bf done via DEXA scan not too long ago and I was 143lbs lean mass and 20.3% bf at 181 ish. If it helps, my lifts at 186 lbs were: Squat - 363, bench - 225 (missed 3rd attempt), deadlift - 363.

At 1900 calories, I do have to drop my carbs quite low to hit my protein intake (now trying for 200-225 grams) - I had roughly 30 grams carbs with breakfast, then it was just whatever I got from veggies today for my other carbs (3 servings of mixed veggies). The rest of my food was all protein powder/pork/chicken/salmon/almonds.

1900 calories was calculated from taking 400 calories from what I perceived my maint. to be (2300). One area I think I may really be screwing up is that I'm also doing cardio 4 or so days a week to help burn fat off, but have not increased my calorie level accordingly. 1900 was based on very little to no cardio.

Attached is a pic from the competition on 9/11 @ 186 lbs


I'll keep this reply updated with my morning temps for the duration of this week - in hopes to provide some more information to those helping.

Monday - 96.4
Tuesday - 96.0
Wednesday - 96.2


it's my personal opinion that you can't diet from 30% fat to 10% fat in a straight shot. You'd probably need significant periods of maintenance or minibulking to settle at the new wait.

I'd say to gradually introduce carbs into your diet and see how you feel. first get up to 100grams a day (see the 100 gram cure on the t-site), and then maybe after a while go crazy and bump up to 200g a day, see what happens with your weight and training, etc. You'll probably immediately gain a few pounds of water weight.

But the diet will also depend on how seriously you're competing and if you have any weight classes you have to hit?


The competing is basically recreational - I don't care about weight classes. I'm dropping the fat for aesthetic/health reasons.


So, I reran my estimated number of calories using three different methods. Some quick calculation, the Harris-Benedict, and another using Lean mass. They all output very similar numbers in the range of 2600-2800 for maint. calories by only being "moderately active".

I feel like with all the cardio I had been doing in an effort to drop fat put me on the verge of "very active" thus requiring even more calories. As a reminder, I was eating 1900 5 days a week, 2300 one day and 2500 one day. I'm thinking I might need to slightly bump that 1900 up.

I was going to go on up to 2100 for a short period of time and see how that worked. Ideas/comments? I also say this based on my morning temps (96.4, 96.0, 96.2) over a 3-day period.