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ATTN: Calorie Counters!

I have started counting my calories in the past week and in doing so have lost 5lbs this week alone. On average, I have had an intake of about 1000 - 1300 calories each day. What is your average intake, do you have limitations for yourself?

Thu. Aug 10, 3:12pm

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Having a problem limiting my calories....

I have been having a hard time limiting my calories. I aim for 1200 each day, but almost always have around 1500-1600, sometimes more :( I have been making much healthier choices, but I am having a problem giving up snacking -- even though I am choosing healthier items. Guess I reallyneed to practice portion control. I am working out 5-6 days a week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 3:32 PM

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My goal is actually to have a net of 1100-1400, so I would never go with an intake value that low. I have consitently lost 2 lbs per week since I have started this. 6 weeks ago, I can not have a low energy level for my job and if I average too low then I am slow and tired, and that is just not acceptable. Most information that I am aware of says to not go below 1100 without Dr. supervision...

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 4:37 PM

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I aim for 1200-1300. I'm pretty little - 5'1" and 117.8 lbs this morning - so that many calories is actually just barely below "maintenance" for me. I really don't lose, even with that low of a calorie count.

To the poster who has trouble staying within her calorie goal - pay attention to what kinds of foods keep you full, and choose them for your snacks. For example, 100 calories of low-fat crackers keeps me satisfied for, um, 5 minutes. But, 100 calories of almonds, or air-popped popcorn, or 2 wasa crackers w/ light laughing cow cheese spread on top, keep me full for hours.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 4:48 PM

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It's going really well for me, averaging between 1200 and 1400 calories a day. But you really shouldn't dip below 1200, or your body will not get the vitamins and nutrients it needs to run properly. You also run a greater risk of going into "starvation mode" where your body starts to store fat. If you can exercise as well as cut calories, you'll be in good shape! There are lots of calorie intake calculators out there on the web. They will tell you what you need to do, based on your age, height, sex, and activity level. Good luck!

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 4:55 PM

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i do 1200 calories a day ...some people may think that is low but really if you choose what you eat wisely 1200 calories will keep you pretty full. Veggies are very low in calories so load up on those!

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 7:56 PM

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I wouldn't worry about going too low...apparently studies show that we underestimate our calories by 20-30%.

This is easy to do when the FDA allows packaging to be wrong by up to 20% without rapping the manufacturers on the knuckles. Then there's human error -- I have yet to find an easy way to measure out a tablespoon of mayo or whipped butter or peanut butter or salad dressing that didn't involve leveling off and digging around with my fingers (ick). So by not being exact with calorie dense items like this, it's easy to make that 20% mistake on your own. And let's not get started on deliberately deceitful portion/packaging info (I believe the PT doctor-writer has an article or two about it).

So when someone thinks they're eating 1000 calories, there's a very good chance they're having more like 1200-1300 despite their best efforts.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:49 PM

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I agree with you on that and that is why in my counting I also don't count things like washing the car or vaccuming or things like this. So I figure if do things that burns extra calories the extra calories that I eat without knowing it is basically a wash.

Thursday, August 10, 2006, 8:55 PM

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I wouldn't worry about going too low either. I use software to track my calories. Besides counting my calories, the software also tracks my levels of 30 nutrients. Once I began to see which nutrients I was missing and began to correct the deficits with better food, I became genuinely less hungry. I now have days when I have to force myself to eat more than 800 calories. I believe the 1200-calorie-myth is a general rule of thumb to keep people from having to think about their nutrition.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 7:12 AM

Add comment is your friend :)

Another really nice website is if you're getting bored in the kitchen. It's got a section to search by just about any categories you can think of... including low calorie and low fat.

Every recipe posted there has a full nutritional breakdown. It takes a couple days for the recipes you submit to be approved and posted for the world to see, but it's been really informative for me to plug in a few of my inventions and see how they really stack up.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 8:32 AM

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Glad you asked

I try to stay under 1500 cals, closer to 1300 or 1200. But I do agree that we underestimate our cals, so when I strive for 1200 or 1300 it's probably closer to 1500, and when I do 1500 it's probably closer to 1800. I can tell you that wether I'm accuate or not (I do check labels, measure, etc.), when I keep my cals closer to 1200, I lose 1-2 lbs. every week, EVEN WHEN I'M PMS'ING. That's how I know 1200 seems to be a pretty magic number to strive for. Good luck, aim for progress, not perfection. I still go to the movies and have all the fixin's, and allow myself sweets, but much smaller portions. :)

Friday, August 11, 2006, 8:40 AM

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It's a myth that is continually perpetuated. If you drop your calories your body will use the fat stores, NOT go into "startvation mode". You may plateau at a certain calorie intake for various reasons; your body has gotten more efficient, you have lost some weight, your expending less energy, etc.. At which point you would need to decrease calorie intake again - not add more calories to prevent "starvation-mode". Our bodies are unbelievably efficient and adaptable. If you have ever done a complete fast (which is quite a drop in calories) you would know what I mean. The scale doesn't stop moving down.

You might go into starvation mode if you have very little body fat to begin with or if you live in true "starvation" conditions like they do in some regions of the world. So I'm not saying that there is no "starvation mode" the body may have to resort to, I'm just saying that I don't believe the U.S. population as a whole has to worry about that problem

I'm not coming down on the poster who refered to it. It's such a widespread myth you see it everywhere, experts talk about it, every board I read has had it posted numerous times. It's easy to believe. And personally I would prefer to add calories, thinking I would loose more weight, than I would want to cut more calories!

I agree with the posters above who suggest that we under estimate our calorie intake, that might cause a stall in our weight loss attempts. Or dropping your calories to the extent you don't have energy for usual activities, that would cause a stall in weight loss. Calories in < Calories out= weight loss.
Now finding the balance you can maintain for life, that's the trick!

Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:06 AM

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I disagree. Food fuels your metabolism - if you don't eat, your metabolism slows down. (If you don't put fuel in the furnace, it stops burning.) Now, if you eat little enough, you may continue to lose weight, but your hair will begin to fall out, your skin will get scaly and you'll be tired and irritable, and you probably won't be able to keep it up. And now that your metabolism is slower, once you start eating more again, you'll gain the weight right back.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:21 AM

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I would say that everyone has a different experience, therefore what's "true" for one person may not be "true" for another. I continued to cut calories and while my metabolism did slow down, I didn't experience any of the hair falling out, scaly skin issues you describe.
Yes, I agree If you add the calories back, without increasing exercise/activity to balance the intake, you will gain weight again. No doubt!
Of course that would be true even if your metabolism hadn't slowed down...

Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:32 AM

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Weight loss can also be muscle loss, not just fat

From prevention magazine:

Confronted with a dramatic decrease in calories, the body draws upon glycogen in the liver and fatty acids from fat stores to power the cells' work. After several hours, though, the liver's glycogen stores are depleted.

While many of the body's cells depend on fatty acids to fuel their work, the red blood cells and cells of the nervous system need glucose. In fact, the brain and nerve cells consume about two-thirds of the total glucose the body uses each day, 400 to 600 calories in all.

To supply the red blood cells, brain, and nerves with glucose after the glycogen is gone, the body opts for biology's version of plan B: It breaks down muscle and liver tissue to make the glucose it needs.

The metabolic catch-22? As the lean, protein-rich liver breaks down and shrinks, it works less in order to "spend" less energy. The same is true of muscles: As they waste away, they also work less and demand less fuel. Metabolism, in effect, grinds to a crawl.

As metabolism slows, fat loss also slows, so much that dieters on crash diets or very low calorie plans lose less fat than they would on a sensible reduced-calorie program. In most cases, this means that crash dieters who see big losses on the scale may actually lose less fat than dieters who opt to eat--and enjoy--more food.

Because muscle burns more calories than fat, your metabolism slows and you burn fewer calories if you lose muscle.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:35 AM

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Actually, the idea of "starvation mode" is based on some real peer-reviewed research. This from Hirsch, Leibel, and Rosenbaum in The New England Journal of Medicine, "... Conclusions -- Maintenance of a reduced or elevated body weight is associated with compensatory changes in energy expenditure, which oppose the maintenance of a body weight that is different from the usual weight..."

I don't want to discourage anyone, but this study would support the idea that reducing weight would be associated with the body using less energy to maintain itself.

Here's a link to the abstract of the article:


Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:54 AM

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1200 is the minimum for women; 1500 is the minimum for men

Below 1200 for women and 1500 for men, the body thinks you are starving and goes into starvation mode. 1200 is what the bodies requires for normal bodily functions to occur.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 11:55 AM

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Well, the 1200/1500 is a total generalization (that doesn't take into account body composition and other factors), but the fact of the matter is, your body does need a certain amount of fuel to perform the way it's supposed to. Less than that, and your metabolism slows down, which means you burn fewer calories and don't have the fuel needed for basic functions. I wouldn't call it "starvation," but it's not a healthy way to treat your body.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 12:22 PM

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Basically, treat your body the way you would treat your car (or better). Give it high-quality fuel, don't overfill the tank (but don't try to drive on fumes), drive it regularly, and take it to the mechanic for scheduled maintenance.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 12:24 PM

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I like that last post!

The problem I have is..... I eat 1200 calories I exercise 1 cardio exercise event, 400 calories I am now down to 800, so am I supposed to get to 1600? And somedays this could be really really hard especially when I run.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 1:54 PM

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If you're running regularly, your metabolism is probably burning more than 1200 calories a day just for daily functions, so yes, I would try adding more high-quality carbohydrates.

Friday, August 11, 2006, 4:03 PM

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