Undereating... And eating to tone up.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 31, 2008 8:47 PM GMT
    So, here's the deal. I watch what I eat and try to eat healthily and I've sort of felt as though I've been eating about 1900 calories a day. Or so I thought, until I plugged in what I was eating to a calorie counter (www.myfitnesspal.com) and found that even on the day when I had a caesar salad (lightly dressed) with salmon and thought I was being bad, I'd only really consumed about 950 calories throughout all meals.

    Holy Manorexia! That's not what I'm trying to do here. I am trying to hit about 1900 a day.

    My goal is to lose fat and tone up-- not so much to bulk up, just tone up. I'm (apparently) at 9.8% body fat but I'm having difficulty toning up-- getting that six pack, etc. I work out 5 times a week-- 30-45 min of cardio and 45 min of lifting daily.

    So, here are my questions:

    Has undereating been working against me? Are there superfoods I should be eating? Esepecially ones that will help burn fat... Remember, I'm not trying to bulk up, just tone up.

    Thanks!
  • MSUBioNerd

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    Jul 31, 2008 9:29 PM GMT
    Um, 5% body fat is generally considered to be rather unhealthy. Anything under 7% is often looked at questionably by the medical field. I know that while I was in high school, my state passed a statute prohibiting high school wrestlers under 7% body fat in an effort to stop some of the anorexic habits, given that most men who end up there come from sports where meeting weight classes is essential. If you're currently at 9.8% and still want to get leaner, I'd suggest aiming for maybe 9% and then re-evaluating once you get there. You might be surprised at how much of a difference a single % point can make.

    As for your original question: yes. Eating that few calories is certainly working against you. Your metabolism will adjust based on the calories you are consuming and the ones you're burning. If your daily calorie deficit is too high, your body will go into starvation mode and do its best to conserve whatever fat stores it has. This is why most doctors will tell you not to try to lose more than a pound a week, which is a daily calorie deficit of 500. Specific foods will matter much less than making sure you eat the right amount in total, and hopefully spread throughout the day rather than a small number of larger meals.

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    Jul 31, 2008 9:34 PM GMT
    MSUBioNerd saidUm, 5% body fat is generally considered to be rather unhealthy. Anything under 7% is often looked at questionably by the medical field. I know that while I was in high school, my state passed a statute prohibiting high school wrestlers under 7% body fat in an effort to stop some of the anorexic habits, given that most men who end up there come from sports where meeting weight classes is essential. If you're currently at 9.8% and still want to get leaner, I'd suggest aiming for maybe 9% and then re-evaluating once you get there. You might be surprised at how much of a difference a single % point can make.

    As for your original question: yes. Eating that few calories is certainly working against you. Your metabolism will adjust based on the calories you are consuming and the ones you're burning. If your daily calorie deficit is too high, your body will go into starvation mode and do its best to conserve whatever fat stores it has. This is why most doctors will tell you not to try to lose more than a pound a week, which is a daily calorie deficit of 500. Specific foods will matter much less than making sure you eat the right amount in total, and hopefully spread throughout the day rather than a small number of larger meals.




    Thanks for the advice. I didn't realise, I guess, the effect of percentages. To be honest, when I had my body fat measured, I was surprised-- I was under the impression that having 9.8% body fat meant having a six pack. Which I don't.

    Hmm. Maybe time to remeasure body fat.

    In any case, thanks for the advice!
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    Jul 31, 2008 9:38 PM GMT
    generally agreed that anything below 1200 cals for women and they go in to starvation mode, and 1500 calories for men.

    Again, entirely subjective based upon body type, bmi, etc.
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    Jul 31, 2008 9:39 PM GMT
    I am having the same issue as London...not eating enough. This happens almost every summer. Now there are tons of diet pills out there, but does anyone know of one to increase your appetite? Thanks in advance.icon_question.gif
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    Jul 31, 2008 10:03 PM GMT
    I calculated your Resting Metabolic Rate at 2,045 calories per day. This means AT REST DOING NOTHING all day you would require this many calories to MAINTAIN your current weight. Add physical activity to that and you require more calories to maintain that weight. So at less than 1000 a day for someone your height and weight, you most likely are in a "starvation" mode situation.

    You need to up your calorie intake slowly to about 2700 to 3000 a day if you are exercising an average of 90 minutes or more per day, theoretically. I'd advise upping the calories in increments of 500 a day for two weeks at a time (first two weeks you'd eat 1,400 calories a day from your present level, then the next two weeks you'd be at 1,900 a day and so on). Watch how your body responds. You should see improvements in body fat levels even as you increase your caloric intake as your body comes out of "starvation" mode and lets go of some of it's fat stores.

    As mentioned before by MSUBioNerd, eat more frequent smaller meals through the day as you do this. It will keep your body fed and prevent it from wondering where it's next meal is going to come from. As far as we have evolved we still have the hunter/gatherer instincts in our body so that is why you have to "trick" your body into letting go of fat stores by feeding it more often (nutritiously and reasonably that is).

    Ten percent body fat is an arbitrary number and doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a six pack. MOST guys should see the outlines of a six pack at that percentage but if you want a really well defined six pack.....you'll have to go lower. How low will depend on when you are happy with what you see but generally, maintaining body fat below 5 percent is not recommended AND it's very difficult to maintain unless you are naturally lean (which it looks to me as though you are)
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    Jul 31, 2008 10:09 PM GMT
    Luckydog76.....if you start making yourself eat more frequently, you naturally increase your appetite because you'll be stoking your metabolism with more food. It's like throwing wood on a fire. You'll be surprised at how soon you are hungry after eating one meal once you start feeding yourself more often. If I'm being diligent and eating six times a day, after a couple weeks I'm hungry every hour and a half or so. You just have to stick with it. Right now I'm eating about every 3 1/2 hours or about 5 times a day and I'm usually hungry about 2 hours after I eat a meal but I stick to my feeding schedule. I'm trying to lean down right now so I am eating less total calories per day but still feeding 5 times a day.
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    Jul 31, 2008 10:48 PM GMT
    Thanks Triple-S... Smaller meals make sense, but would you go the carb or protein route? Protein gets burned first, right?
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    Aug 01, 2008 5:54 AM GMT
    Shortnsexystud saidI calculated your Resting Metabolic Rate at 2,045 calories per day. This means AT REST DOING NOTHING all day you would require this many calories to MAINTAIN your current weight. Add physical activity to that and you require more calories to maintain that weight. So at less than 1000 a day for someone your height and weight, you most likely are in a "starvation" mode situation.

    You need to up your calorie intake slowly to about 2700 to 3000 a day if you are exercising an average of 90 minutes or more per day, theoretically. I'd advise upping the calories in increments of 500 a day for two weeks at a time (first two weeks you'd eat 1,400 calories a day from your present level, then the next two weeks you'd be at 1,900 a day and so on). Watch how your body responds. You should see improvements in body fat levels even as you increase your caloric intake as your body comes out of "starvation" mode and lets go of some of it's fat stores.

    As mentioned before by MSUBioNerd, eat more frequent smaller meals through the day as you do this. It will keep your body fed and prevent it from wondering where it's next meal is going to come from. As far as we have evolved we still have the hunter/gatherer instincts in our body so that is why you have to "trick" your body into letting go of fat stores by feeding it more often (nutritiously and reasonably that is).

    Ten percent body fat is an arbitrary number and doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a six pack. MOST guys should see the outlines of a six pack at that percentage but if you want a really well defined six pack.....you'll have to go lower. How low will depend on when you are happy with what you see but generally, maintaining body fat below 5 percent is not recommended AND it's very difficult to maintain unless you are naturally lean (which it looks to me as though you are)


    Thanks a lot for the good advice. I really appreciate it. Today, realising I was starving myself, I went to a Vitamin Shoppe and got some protein powder to help feed myself in a healthy way. I really appreciate the advice and hopefully I'll be on my way soon!

    Best,

    Fabio
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    Aug 04, 2008 3:39 AM GMT
    Regarding carbs.....CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY! The TYPES of carbs you eat are what make the difference. Stick to nutrient dense carbs with low sugar and low glycemic indexes. That means no processed white sugars or flours, bleached wheat flours or artificial fillers. Eat whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc. Each meal should consist of fat/carbs/protein. The ratio can vary depending on the specific goals you have. Eating to gain muscle....40/40/20 is a good ratio but a lot of people go with 30/50/20. Dieting to lose body fat you might go with 40/50/10 or 30/60/10. You've got to have some fat in your diet (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated) in order for your body to protect your organs and absorb fat soluble vitamins.

    Have your carbs earlier in the day and only have very low calorie, nutrient dense carbs (veggies) at night with dinner or your last meal (you'll feel fuller too). You don't need a lot of carbs before bedtime since you are going to be inactive for 6-8 hours however, you do need protein to give your body what it needs to repair muscle while you sleep/rest. If you are going to supplement with protein products, I suggest a balanced meal replacement shake for daytime and a zero carb whey protein that is easily digested before bed if you haven't consumed enough protein for the day.
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    Aug 04, 2008 3:49 AM GMT
    Shortnsexystud saidEach meal should consist of fat/carbs/protein. The ratio can vary depending on the specific goals you have. Eating to gain muscle....40/40/20 is a good ratio but a lot of people go with 30/50/20. Dieting to lose body fat you might go with 40/50/10 or 30/60/10.



    Just to be sure: these ratios read 30/60/10-- so that's 30% carbs, 60% protein, and 10% fat, right?

    Thanks for the advice. I've started having a zero carb whey protein shake after working out and first thing in the morning and over the last two days have added about 500 calories to my diet including carbs. Hopefully now my gains will become real noticeable gains!
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    Aug 04, 2008 10:34 PM GMT
    Shortnsexy can I ask your advice on something here?

    Why would he want to increase his calories to your suggested level when the reality is to reach his goal his diet and training need to be in par. His current regime shows his training is currently way too high and his diet way too low.

    However all you are doing is adjusting his diet to meet his training demands not his goal.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 04, 2008 10:43 PM GMT
    One thing I've learned... if you have "heavy" friends who are bitching and moaning about their diets, don't chime in and complain about how hard it is to make yourself eat enough. They're bigger than you are, and they can hurt you...