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Eating fewer calories than your BMR

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Eating fewer calories than your BMR

Postby nothing2lose » Sun Jun 27, 2010 11:34 pm


(Sorry! I think I am addicted to these boards! All will be better tomorrow as I am back at work!)

I have made a bit of a discovery....maybe even had a breakthrough!

I have just used several online tools to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR - The amount of calories your body needs to function BEFORE you do ANY activity...even get up out of bed).

For my weight and height and age my current BMR is 1792 calories.

Today I tracked my daily eating calories on calorieking. They came in at about 1250 cals and were less with the small amount of exercise I did (about 200 cals worth). I reckon my eating today was pretty typical for a "good" diet conscious day. So that means it came in at least 540 calories less than my BMR.

What are the implications of this? Does this mean I am letting myself open to the "starvation mode"? Is my body clinging on to those calories I am eating for dear life???? I have been losing weight pretty slowly (about 500gms a week). Is this the reason?

To add a little bit of confusion into the mix, calorieking recommends a daily intake of about 1650 cals for me. This is still below my BMR...

It would be great if someone could help clear my confusion!!

Thanks :)



HW - September 2008 - 121.3kg :( :(
SW - 16 May 2010 - 110.4 kg :(
New SW - 6 January 2011 - 108 kg :(
First GW 99kg :) My aim is to reach this goal by April 15, 2011
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Re: Eating fewer calories than your BMR

Postby court » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:19 am

*nods* you arent eating enough! Weird this weight loss thing huh!!! :roll:
Other people can explain this in better/more detail than I can but there is a post I started somewhere where EWQ explained this in awesome detail :D
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Re: Eating fewer calories than your BMR

Postby Jisgone » Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:22 pm

Your BMR is what you burn just through being alive, however you also burn extra calories depending on how active you are.
Information on the net is often hugely inaccurate because it runs on averages however I couldn't recommend this place more:

They give you a body scan which works out exactley what your BMR is, they can then give you an exact figure of how many calories you should eat to lose weight. They basically take all of the guess work out of it!
The best bit is they currently have a promotion which makes your first scan completely free (they just need your medicare card).
I had it done a few months ago and loved it, and a load of people on the calorie king forums went too :)
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Re: Eating fewer calories than your BMR

Postby Tan37 » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:29 pm

They seem to only be in Victoria, do you know of any other companies that do these at all??
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Re: Eating fewer calories than your BMR

Postby EvilWombatQueen » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:36 pm

I agree with Jewles. BMR differs between people and is based not just on weight and height but on muscle mass and other variables that have an effect on metabolism. The calories quoted by Calorie King and other online tools would be a rough estimate of your BMR. For safe long-term weight loss some sites recommend calculating your maintenance calories (the calories needed to keep your present weight, not just maintain your basic functions) and subtract 500 calories per day. That should keep you safely over your BMR.

Here's the explanation of the dangers of starvation mode I posted elsewhere on the forum that Court mentioned. We were discussing whether you should 'eat back' the calories you exercise away.
I come down heavily (no pun intended) on the 'eating back calories' side of things. The argument based on the assumption that your net (total, including what you subtract from exercise) calories are still at a level that will cause you to lose weight. For instance, if you need to eat 1300 calories per day to lose weight your body won't care if it's 1300 from food alone, or if you eat 1600 and exercise away 300 calories. It's still getting 1300 calories to maintain your vital organs, a bit more so you don't starve but not enough to maintain your current weight, so you lose weight.

The problem of not eating calories back comes into play when your net calories ends up well below 'starvation level' and, in worst case scenarios, below basic resting metabolism. When you consume fewer than about 1000 calories per day (this level varies between individuals) your body thinks that it is starving, you'll hear this referred to as 'starvation mode' in a lot of weight loss literature. (Edited to add: this is 1000 calories NET, because if you burn 600 calories running then those calories are no longer available for other tasks in the body). In order to preserve itself for the famine ahead your body slows its metabolism and actually changes how you burn off your calories, increasing the percentage of muscle burned and decreasing the percentage of fat burned. So it becomes harder to lose weight and you lose the wrong type of weight. The temptation for many people when confronted with this situation is to lower calorie intake, or increase exercise, to try to lose more weight. This puts the body even further into starvation mode. You may still lose weight doing this, but you are losing a high percentage of muscle and having to cut back calories to dangerous levels. This can then lead to exercise bulimia, where people exercise away too many calories to the point where they no longer have enough net calories to sustain basic resting metabolic rate. In other words they don't have enough calories to fuel their vital organs. I don't need to tell you how dangerous this is.

If it looks like you are eating below your BMR amount of calories, try eating more for a few weeks to bring it up to your recommended weight loss calories. If you have trouble eating the amount of food you need, try adding servings of higher calorie nutrient-dense foods like avocado, nuts or other sources of healthy oils. Often people are surprised at the amount of weight they lose when they start eating more because it seems so counter-intuitive, but it really works!
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