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Shezian

How low is too low calories

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Desperatly needing advice please on my situation. I am 50 years old female, going through menopause. My weight has been increasing ever since going through menopause and the only way l can lose weight is by going on a 800 calorie a day diet and exercise 5 times per week.  When l was sick a few months ago, my body wouldn't drop any weight even on this low calorie diet. As soon as l go off the diet l gain my weight back. My body likes to stick around 59Kg, l am 153 cm tall. I feel most comfortable at 54kg but in order for me to stay that weight l have to eat very low calories. I just don't know what do do. Each time l embark 800 calorie diet it gets harder and harder to lose weight. In the past 3 months l have been eating mostly plant based and eating fish/seafood 3 times per week,  (Valter Longo, longevity diet), and my weight has stabilised somewhat at 57 kg, and not going up which is good. I start of tracking calories on cron, then lose focus and eat according to hunger, sometimes l am very hungry that l jus need to eat something.  Can anyone suggest what is the correct thing to do in my situation? Is this too low calories? Can l obtain adequate nutrition on this  kind of diet?

 

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37 minutes ago, Shezian said:

Can anyone suggest what is the correct thing to do in my situation? Is this too low calories? Can l obtain adequate nutrition on this  kind of diet?

Have you tried professional help? 800 calories on the low GI index longevity diet are pretty few, I wonder how you can exercise 5 times per week.

What I would try if I were in your situation, besides seeking a very competent specialist:

- Keep up with a low-carb version of the longevity diet

-Starting with a little more calories, like 1200 per day and  20% protein by energy (some animal protein like nonfat dairy besides fish), more healthy fats, less carbs, maybe about 50 grams per day carbs

-Keep a few months with that and supplementing all the nutrients you need (you must use cronometer and weigh religiously everything, checking amino acids, vitamins, minerals)

-Have your blood drawn and analyzed every 3 months

-See what happens after 6 months.

Edited by mccoy

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After seeing my  GP and Dietician, both  have said it can be very difficult for a 50 year old women going through menapause to lose weight. My doctor admitted she has to eat under this amount at times to lose weight and its nothing unusual.  It was very surprising to hear all this, and asked for a referral to see and endocronologist to check hormones. 

When on eat 1200 calories per day l don not lose any weight, thats why l am seeking help.

Thanks so much for your suggestions will take it on board. 

 

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18 hours ago, Shezian said:

When on eat 1200 calories per day l don not lose any weight, thats why l am seeking help.

I'd look for things likely sapping your vitality such as chronic stress, poor sleep, nutritional deficiencies, inappropriate potentially therapeutic stressors such as physical exertion and thermal exposure,  environmental toxins, infections/parasites, side effects of medications or supplements, etc.

You didn't discuss your approach to exercise but if it is mostly cardio type stuff such as aerobics,  treadmill and biking you might try an interval style approach of brief perhaps 1 minute maximal give it everything you have got 100% intensity efforts mixed in between several minute long periods of gentle warm up and recovery.  Brief high intensity resistance/strength training can also do wonders for jump starting ones metabolism.  This can be excellent for improving body composition both burning fat and building muscle.  Muscle gains will offset your weight loss progress on the scale but the scale is an inappropriate tool for evaluating health and fitness.  Much better would be to take a weekly picture of your body and let your eye be the judge of your progress.  We have an innate talent to see and subjectively evaluate health and beauty and should let go of emphasizing objective numbers especially when they represent a mixed signal such as weight which can go up and down for many reasons both good and bad.

I expect my final suggestion will be challenged but I'd suggest hyperinsulinemia is a common issue thwarting  many peoples' weight loss goals.  Insulin is the primary anabolic hormone promoting nutrient uptake.  When we are young and metabolically healthy it supports maintenance and growth of muscle but for many of us as we age that propensity diminishes and instead it is mostly driving the maintenance and growth of fat.  Insulin blocks lipolysis, if it is chronically high it impairs mobilizing stored body fat and burning it for energy.  We can have plentiful fuel as stored body fat but it does us little good if we still get hungry because our ability to burn fat is limited.  Unfortunately insulin is rarely measured and most of us are completely oblivious to our insulin levels, insulin sensitivity and its effects on our health and fitness.  From standard labs a good proxy with correlation to insulin sensitivity is the ratio of HDL to 12 hour fasted triglycerides.  If HDL is low and triglycerides are high one likely has poor insulin sensitivity.  Elevated HbA1c, fasting blood sugar and visceral fat (somewhat correlated to hypertension and poor markers of liver and kidney health) suggest hyperinsulinemia.

Tracking blood sugar can be helpful to see if insulin resistance is likely a problem.  Unstable blood sugar and especially increasingly intense hunger as blood sugar falls are good indicators of a problem with insulin and many benefit from adjusting their diet to foods that stabilize blood sugar.  Restricting carbohydrates, especially the high glycemic ones of processed foods rich in refined sugars and starches is effective for many to stabilize blood sugar, lower insulin and improve access to body fat as a source of energy.  Some such as myself with severe metabolic derangement find it helpful to aggressively restrict carbohydrates such as in a ketogenic diet which limits all foods rich in digestible carbohydrates such as sugary fruits and starchy grains, legumes and vegetables.  Refined vegetable oils such as corn and soybean oil especially when used in high heat cooking have also been linked to metabolic derangement.  Although they don't drive immediate blood sugar swings reducing or eliminating them may help restore insulin sensitivity over a longer time frame.

Edited by Todd Allen

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I am impressed that you can maintain your weight on so few calories. But to lose weight you should do more low intensity exercise rather than restricting your energy intake.  Try walking eight to twelve miles a day or the equivalent. And dont be afraid to raise your energy intake a bit, either. You need sufficient sugar to perform this amount of physical activity. On the other hand, you dont have any use for dietary fat until your weight stabilizes. Expect to gain it all back if you cease exercising.

 

Edited by hamdog

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4 hours ago, hamdog said:

Try walking eight to twelve miles a day or the equivalent. And dont be afraid to raise your energy intake a bit, either. You need sufficient sugar to perform this amount of physical activity.

Needing sugar to walk would be a strong sign of compromised fat metabolism.

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14 hours ago, Todd Allen said:

Needing sugar to walk would be a strong sign of compromised fat metabolism.

Theres needing and then theres needing. Trying going on a strenous eight hour hike with only water. Then you will notice the difference.

 

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IMO, the OP is not tracking correctly, as if she was truly eating 800 calories per day and exercising, even lightly, on most days of the week, she'd be losing weight.

Also, what is the body fat %? If mostly muscle, it may explain the 59kg, to an extent, but I doubt that she would be posting the question in such a case.

Plant based diets can be great, if comprised of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Not so great if mostly pizza and french fries.... :)

Perhaps becoming religious about measuring and entering in Cronometer, adjusting nutrient intake as needed and getting something like a Fitbit or a Garmin tracker (or an Oura smart ring) to track activity, would help give a clearer picture of the cause of the weight gain.

 

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On 11/19/2019 at 11:04 PM, Shezian said:

When on eat 1200 calories per day l don not lose any weight, thats why l am seeking help.

With the hypothesis that you are counting your calories correctly and not underestimating your energy intake as others suggested, it has been already discussed in this forum how too little calories will prevent you from losing weight. I observed it first hand with my wife. On a monitored 900 Kcals per day, it was evident that her body defended very strenuously its own weight, lowering thermogenesis, causing sleepiness to save energies, slowing down other metabolic processes.

This known phenomenon of homeostasis, or bodyweight setpoint, has also been described in Stephen Guyenet's book, 'The hungry brain'.

In a few words, by cutting calories too much, you are probably preventing the very goal you wish to achieve.

That's the purpose of increasing the energy level at about 1200 kCals. Also, lowering carb in a moderately low-carb diet (like Longo's longevity diet with a little less carbs and more healthy protein),  will drastically cause a drop in your blood insulin, as explained by Todd, and this will usually make it easier to lose weight, at least at the beginning, with about the same amount of calories, depending on personal metabolism. After menopause, it is well known that the insulin level suddenly soars.

This may be tried after Longo's FMD (medical approval is sometimes necessary).

Cheat days are often helpful since the starvation signal which will activate the bodily defenses against bodyweight losses will be avoided.

All the above being said, losing weight after menopause is probably one of the hardest things to achieve and as discussed by others a suitable strategy should be adopted (diet+exercise both resistance and aerobic+stress management+sleep enhancement).

Last but not least, HRT is sometimes helpful, the specialist will accurately balance the pros and cons.

 

 

Edited by mccoy

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On 11/21/2019 at 4:34 PM, Ron Put said:

IMO, the OP is not tracking correctly, as if she was truly eating 800 calories per day and exercising, even lightly, on most days of the week, she'd be losing weight.

I agree.

  --  Saul

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Thanks so much for you advice McCoy and others,   l really appreciate your thoughts.

As far as me eating 800 calories per day, l was getting home food delivery plan at the time, which was 800 calories per day, and l had the flu at the time, and my body didn't drop any weight  for 5 weeks on this diet,  and the dietician said, it was because l was sick, and my body wouldn't drop weight. The interesting thing was all my hot flushes all of a sudden went away for the entire time l was sick, and thats also the time l couldn't lose any weight which was all a bit odd. I find when my hot flushes are raging full, l tend to drop weight easier. Also very interesting that when my body was fighting an infection no hot flushes. So very strange. 

Anyhow, l will continue to up my calories for now and eat as healthy as l can with 2 semi fast days per week, and see how l go. My main goal is to be healthy and even if it means being a little on the heavier side so be it.  This menopause has been crazy. Still contemplating, if l should see a endocrinologist, don't really want to mess with my hormones too much. I have a referral to see her, but just can't decided if its worth the time nor the money. 

Th

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