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You Asked: Too Few Calories?

You're asking and I'm answering . . .

"Fit, so I've been working out 5 days a week, and I'm only eating around 1000 calories a day and I can't seem to lose the weight. What gives?"
- Frustrated Fiona

To see my answer,


What gives is that your body is probably starving. Granted I don't know your statistics, but 1,000 calories is not a lot, and you must be hungry! Here is the thing that so many dieters fail to accept: if you cut out too many calories, your body goes into starvation mode, which means your metabolism starts to conserve energy, slows down, and doesn't burn calories as fast — the exact opposite of your goal. You should always (always, always, always) be eating at least enough calories to match your resting metabolic rate or BMR (basically what the amount of calories you'd burn if you didn't get off your couch for a day). Here's a calculator if you don't know it — mine is around 1500, just to give you an idea. Clearly, since you're working out five days a week, you're going to need more than your BMR, as you're not a couch potato.

Check out my calculator to see how many calories you should be taking in given certain amounts of activity. So stop starving yourself and you should see a difference, you'll definitely feel one.


Join The Conversation
FeeZiLLa FeeZiLLa 9 years
wow....I just knew it!!! Thanks a lot girls!! I have to do it in the right way then...
scottdavis0676 scottdavis0676 9 years
You cannot defy the law of energy balance. Calories count period! Start doing cardio five times a week and training with weights three times. Establish a baseline with your calories (what you typically consume). Set yourself up in a feedback loop (Take measurements each week on the same day, but not more than once a week!). Depending on your results, progress from there. Let the results dictate your appraoch! BURN THE FAT, FEED THE MUSCLE with supportive nutrition. Do not overcomplicate it, it is NOT rocket science. Eat less, move around alot more. THis approach got me down to 3 percent body fat.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Clarient, you may want to adjust your thinking there! BMR isn't how much you should intake but what amount you burn if you just stay in bed. If you do any more activity than one who is completely paralyzed, then it will go up:) which is why you multiply it by how much daily activity you do. If it is low, then it just means that you have a lower metabolism and/or higher body fat and it will take more to lose or maintain your weight. Like if you upped your cardio, then your caloric burn would be more, meaning you'd consume more to maintian, or consume less to lose, but it changes based upon your activity and current weight. But again it can't be taken too literally b/c it is an average of body composition and doesn't take into consideration exact measurements of muscle tone or BF%, or the fact that you're a woman and breasts = fat! Well, unless they are implants lol, then it also manipulates the equation, though it doesn't change it for you!
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Uh, this is quite typical...depends on what your goals are and really what you are trying to achieve. You need to really assess what your 5 day a week workouts consist of. Are you trying to lose body fat and tone up? How much body fat do you want to lose? You need to figure out where you were in the beginning, determine your body fat percentage, and figure out how much is left. Then you take the pounds of BF you want to lose, and each pound is 3500 calories. Then you find your BMI & BMR. Then you take what you are expending each day and you want to eat less than that amount. Simple as that...if you eat less than you are burning daily, then you will drop. And remember it is not about the scale! Water weight also has a lot do to with it as well. You take your BMR & multiply it by a certain number depending on how active you are (go for a good equation). I was 116, wanted to lose 16 lbs of body fat, then slowly build myself up with lean muscle. I was eating about 800 calories a day, spinning 7 times a week, doing weight training in between, eating protein like it was going out of style, and got to my goal in about 6 months...and now I have a body fat percentage of 6%, work out 6 days a week (3 personal training days, then going to my own gym on the same day and 3 days in between), and I am now having to consume almost 2200 calories a day so that I can maintain the weight that I am...which means that in order to build more muscle tone, I must push it up to about 2500-3000 calories, and that means I can eat whatever I please, lol. You must do it all in phases...drop down body fat, build lean muscle and core, then you eat right and go from there...sometimes you'll do more cardio, other months you'll do more strength training. But you don't do the high workout/low calorie for very long, otherwise it can be VERY bad for your health. But you can't do it thinking abstractly that you want to drop weight and eat won't get anywhere. Numbers mean everything and it's how you will be able to monitor yourself as well. The point is it
merymery merymery 9 years
Celebrity soup, rather than doing intense training three days a week, try doing more frequent but less intense workouts. Say, 30-40 min cardio about 5 times a week, and strength training 2 or 3 times a week. Also, eat more, but make sure it's not just empty calories - try increasing your caloric intake through whole grains (proven to get rid of belly fat!) and protein.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I hope that you've upped your caloric intake because your body is basically going into starvation mode (like everybody else said on here) and holding on to whatever you consume. Its just not healthy. Just make sure you get your recommended daily calories from healthy snacks! Losing weight the healthy way will also keep the weight off longer.
mwjank mwjank 9 years
This might not be the case here at all, but lots of people underestimate the number of calories that they are consuming, I read somewhere up to 40%. It might be a good idea to do a food journal for a few days to know exactly how many calories you are eating. If the total is really around 1000, I agree that is too low and is stalling metabolism function.
xrawk_starrx xrawk_starrx 9 years
I used to do this too but I always lost a lot of weight.
celebrity_soup celebrity_soup 9 years
i do this. im eating around 900-1000 calories a day and go tot he gym 3 times a week. when i go to the gym I do intense training for two hours. I run on the treadmill for 1 hour and another hour for muscle training. im 16 years old... is there something wrong with this routine?
ley ley 9 years
also depending on WHAT your actually eating it could be that your retaining water. I suggest at least 1,200 cals. Try as much as possible to eat the right kind of foods like lean protein and good carbs. Try to focus on inches lost as opposed to what they scale says, women tend to normally have crazy weight fluctuations due to our crazy hormones. ANd for starters, try any form of excercise walking is good 30 mins a day would do the body good.
AmyLyn AmyLyn 9 years
I don't think it's fair to assume that this girl is "starving" herself or has eating issues. I'm actually in the same boat, I eat about the same amount and work out 5 days a week and have not seen much movement in the scale. I can tell you that I do NOT starve myself! I eat a healthy breakfast with oatmeal and fruit, always eat lunch a snack and then dinner. I don't tend to exceed 100-1200 calories because I stop eating when I'm full andf I eat when i'm hungry and that just doesnt always amount the a lot of calories. I can't really figure out how to "eat more" and still function... I don't want to have to eat constantly or eat when I'm not hungry or eat past full. This has been a battle for the past few months when I got a trainer and started excercising and eating healthy. Maybe there's something that I'm missing? I appreciate any tips.
caryatid caryatid 9 years
i upped my intake since i'm working out more and have lost more! love it!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
It seems so logical, cut calories lose weight. But our bodies are like WHAT"S HAPPENING!?!? I'M STARVING! I went like 2 weeks doing this and my trainer freaked. He said I couldn't train if I wasn't eating. Try thinking about food more as Fuel for your workouts. That helps me think about what I'm putting into my body. Is this going to give me energy and make me feel good. Or is it going to make me feel like crap in an hour. I still love me some candy, but very rarely. And I've lost 10 lbs in a month!
melizzle melizzle 9 years
Less than 1200 a day is generally a bad move... I too learned this the hard way.
missyd missyd 9 years
Ha ha that's true snowbunny. Oops. Perhaps I should have said "proofread AND spellcheck".
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
spell check thinks "snake" is a super great word
missyd missyd 9 years
Hmmm ash hon you need to do a spell check before you post(Not to be mean whatsoever). You should not eat snakes; some of them are poison :-).
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Seriosuly I used to be the same too! And then my gym people said NO! So i started eatign some low-fat prridge for breakfats and lots of healthy snakes throughout the day and I find it serisouly helps (and I have mroe energy).
Rini Rini 9 years
I also used to be guilty of this - and to add support to what FitSugar says, I went back and reevaluated how much I was eating. It was hard to make myself "eat more" and not run and work it all off, but I feel definitely happier and much better functioning. It's important that the choices you make are healthy ones but ones you enjoy. As for the weight loss, I have no clue what my number is but my jeans are fitting better even with eating more.
missyd missyd 9 years
I starved myself into oblivion for a couple of years. I lost a ton of weight, way too much actually. When I finally was forced to eat much more and gain some weight, I realized what I had done to my body. COMPLETELY messed it up. My metabolism not longer EXISTED ( I can easy put on 5 pounds in a week). Please don't starve yourself. You will always regret it. I do. My body will never be the same.
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 9 years
I used to do the same thing and I wasn't losing any weight so I decided to eat more and lost a few pounds.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I used to be guilty of this...
aeschere aeschere 9 years
hi OP. i did this last summer, for months and never lost a pound. it may seem counterintuitive, but you actually have to eat more than that to lose. right now your body is going to hold on to everything it can get because it's struggling. make sure you take the healthy and safe path. good luck
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Oh my gosh, I agree with Fitsugar. OP, you're losing weight the wrong way. I think you may be hurting your health, too. STOP what you're doing right now, and follow Fitsugar's advice. May I ask a delicate question? Are you menstruating? If you keep up with your unheathy habit, you may not, and that may trigger a host of health problems, including poor bone health.
Julienne Julienne 9 years
I'd like to know if you gain weight, at least in the beginning? Because your body's not used to the normal amount of calories?
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