Are You Eating Enough Calories?

20 Mar

When you want to lose weight, the “rule of thumb” is to subtract 500 calories from your total daily calories, or exercise to burn an extra 500 calories.

Apps like the LoseIt! app (which I do love), give you caloric numbers depending on what your goals are and how fast you want to lose weight. When I put in that I want to lose 10 lbs., it told me I should be eating 1,200 calories.

How often have we heard that number? 1,200 calories? It seems to be the “magic” number for how many calories to eat and lose weight, but also the number you’re never supposed to dip under.

But how many calories do you actually need?

calorie calculator

Well, it all depends on how often you work out and for how long. When I typed in my stats into the Mayo Clinic Calorie Calculator, it told me I should be eating 2,000 calories daily, and a minimum of 1,700! I’m definitely not eating 2,000 calories per day, but have been trying to be better about eating more. It’s just hard, but I’ll get into that later.

The Plateau

Have you been struggling to lose weight or bodyfat? It may be metabolic damage – or, not eating enough calories. Contrary to popular belief, you need to EAT MORE to LOSE. Recently, trainer Tony Gentilcore had a guest post from another trainer who discussed metabolic damage.

I’ve seen real people…exercising often and leading a busy life consuming less than 2000 calories a day. 

Hmmm….shouldn’t they be burning at least 623 calories a day from fat, leading to over one pound of fat lost a week? (3500 calories in a pound of fat).

Quite often, they don’t because their metabolism has adapted to such a low calorie diet that it won’t chance increasing energy expenditure for fear of burning through it’s precious energy stores.

Not eating enough calories puts stress on your body, and increases cortisol…along with other negative effects. This post also states that, “even if you don’t drop your calories too low, dropping carbohydrates too low can inhibit your metabolic functioning.” Don’t be afraid of carbs! Especially if you’re an active person!

The first time I heard about “metabolic damage” was when a friend sent me this video by trainer Layne Norton. He is mainly using fitness & figure models as the example here, but I think a lot of active people can relate. He really opened my eyes as to how dropping your calories or going low-carb can have a negative affect on your body:

He has said that what he does to help figure competitors recover is to have them eat a bit more calories each week until they reach the threshold for how many calories they can eat without gaining weight. It’s something that I have started doing as well. I used to only eat 1,300-1,500 calories because I wanted to lose bodyfat. Clearly, not enough!

Recently, I’ve been tracking my calories and trying to eat close to 1,700-1,800 and will slowly build to 2,000. It is really hard for me because I have no clue what to eat to get there! I can only eat so many protein shakes, fruit, eggs, etc. So any healthy snack ideas you have, please feel free to comment 😉

If you have been stuck in a plateau for a while (I certainly have), then how many calories you consume may play a role. Another thing to think about is your macros (protein, carbs, fat). Check out “If It Fits Your Macros” to get a break down of how many calories they think you should eat, along with macros.

I’ve written about IIFYM before, and don’t 100% agree with the premise, but I do agree with trying to calculate what percentage of each macronutrient you should be getting. Like I mentioned above, I use the LoseIt! app to track all of this.

If you want to see part 2 of Tony’s post about recovering your metabolism, check it out here.

If you want to get a clearer picture of your caloric needs, the best and most accurate thing would be to consult with a nutritionist or dietician.

Do you eat enough calories?

Do you track your calories and macros?

How does eating affect your workouts?


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5 Responses to “Are You Eating Enough Calories?”

  1. Stephanie March 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    I wasn’t eating enough calories in the spring, but it was mostly due to stress. When I started amping up my intake, I did see an increase in weight and quicker than I would have thought I should have. But I was also strength training and my pants still fit, so I think it was mostly muscle. Still, the rate at which I gained scared me a bit and definitely made me think I had screwed up my metabolism. My gut reaction was to descrease my calories to try to reduce some weight, but that backlashed and made me REALLY hungry. So I started just trying to listen to my body, fed it (and then some) when it was hungry, and I feel like I’m now back to things being a bit more evened out. If the scale keeps creeping up, though (which I don’t expect it will since I’ve been holding steady for over a month without a lot of effort), I’ll revisit.

    Thanks for posting ! This is really important information!

    • reach-yourpeak March 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      hey Stephanie! I’m going through comments to find people who regularly commented bc I wanted to let you know that I transferred to self-hosting, so if you follow me in your wordpress reader, I won’t show up anymore 😦 You can either follow me on bloglovin’ or please subscribe to my newsletter for email updates on new posts and workouts 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Kristin March 20, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    I think I eat enough calories; however, I don’t track my calorie intake. If I’m hungry, I cannot workout because I’ll feel dizzy!! I love your posts!! You give the best info!! I always learn a lot from you!! Thanks!!

    • reach-yourpeak March 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      I also feel lightheaded if I don’t have enough fuel…and thank you for your kind words!! I’m glad you like my posts/someone is reading! 😉

      • Kristin March 20, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

        Oh I’m definitely reading and look forward to your posts everyday!!! You’re talented at what you do!!

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