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  1. #1
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    Staying under your calorie goal?

    I signed up for My Fitness Pal and started tracking my meals. It says I need to stay under 1998 calories a day, but I'm finding that very difficult to do. Most days I'm from 100 to 300 calories over even when I think I've done pretty good for the day. I've also read on BF of people staying under 1600/day. On the days that I'm comfortably under the goal I almost feel like I've skipped a meal somewhere.
    What gives?
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjmillig View Post
    I signed up for My Fitness Pal and started tracking my meals. It says I need to stay under 1998 calories a day, but I'm finding that very difficult to do. Most days I'm from 100 to 300 calories over even when I think I've done pretty good for the day. I've also read on BF of people staying under 1600/day. On the days that I'm comfortably under the goal I almost feel like I've skipped a meal somewhere.
    What gives?
    First of all, the estimate from My Fitness Pal is only an estimate. How is it working even though you are eating over your budget? If you are losing weight than no problem. You just might lose slower than you would with 100 to 300 less calories. How much do you weigh? Are you trying to lose a pound or a couple of pounds a week?

    You will be hungry, you are eating less food than your body needs to maintain itself. Also, it does take a while to get used to eating less and as the weight starts to drop off it is more rewarding.

    I have felt like I've skipped a meal for a year and a half now. I am pretty much used to it. Some days are worse than others. Some days are pretty good. Today I was fine until this even when I have been voraciously hungry. I have met my weight loss goals and am maintaining. I am still trying to figure out how much to eat to maintain.

    I have found that eating less is easier if I do a lower carb/high protein diet. If I stay away from sweets other than fruit. If I eat at set times. If I don't eat in front of the tv or in other "triggering" situations.

  3. #3
    Senior Member OKIE_55's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this, been looking for something like this to help me lose some weight, as riding I haven't lost much. Been cutting back, but not enough I guess. I'll start with this app tomorrow.
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    I went from maybe 3000 calories to 1500. I'm hungry all the time - I mean, I finish my "meal" and feel the same as I did before I started. Five hundred calories on a plate is really unimpressive, at least compared to the heaping serving of pasta I'd really rather be eating.

    But I'm also losing an average of half a pound a day. Which makes it absolutely worthwhile.

  5. #5
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I think a large part of it is eating foods that don't leave you starving. Find stuff that you can eat that won't leave you looking for more immediately after you're done. As goldfinch mentioned, protein tends to feel more filling than crap food. I swear I could sit down and eat an entire pizza... right now.

    Eat frequently too - healthy snacks go a long way to curbing hunger.

    Drink a lot of water - fills the tummy.

    Nobody said it would be easy, that's for sure.

  6. #6
    Cyclist CFI fly7hotel's Avatar
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    Just wait, as the weight comes off the daily limit goes down, eek. When I started in mid October last year I was 265-270 my "budget" was almost 1900 cals. Now, at 215, I'm down to 1650. It IS work but the nice thing is if you exercise every day you get to eat what you work off.

    I signed up and got the Livestrong app on my iPhone and have been very careful to log everything since, what I eat and what I cycle off. One hint, "pay" for it (enter it) BEFORE you eat it. Yes you will be hungry but it DOES work.

    Keep at it and congrats for getting started. That's the hardest step.
    2004 Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple
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  7. #7
    Senior Member gunner65's Avatar
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    Add 1/2 cup of lentils or black beans to some of your meals they stick with you and fill you up. Beans are higher in calories but they are slow digesting I have lost over 20lbs on the "slow carb diet" and using fitness pal for tracking. YMMV

  8. #8
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fly7hotel View Post
    Just wait, as the weight comes off the daily limit goes down, eek. When I started in mid October last year I was 265-270 my "budget" was almost 1900 cals. Now, at 215, I'm down to 1650. It IS work but the nice thing is if you exercise every day you get to eat what you work off.
    I have had a few surprises with my calorie budget. When I started my diet I ran a 500 calorie deficit, losing about a pound a week, on 1200 calories. I also went from totally sedentary to adding light activity, mostly walking and standing. Over the course of a year I lost 50 pounds. But during the year I was able to increase my calories because my activity level continued to increase. Now that I am maintaining my weight I am averaging about 1700 calories a day. Even though I am 55 pounds less and thus have reduced metabolic needs, I make up for it in activity. If I had stayed 55 pounds heavier than I am now and stayed sedentary, I would be gaining weight on 1700 a day. This has been a surprise to me. I didn't think that I would be able to eat this much.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dave5339's Avatar
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    My fitness pal works. I am walking proof.. Check out the link in my signature line for proof.

    Semper Fi

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjmillig View Post
    On the days that I'm comfortably under the goal I almost feel like I've skipped a meal somewhere.
    I know the feeling. Over time it's gotten to a point for me that if I don't feel that way at the end of the day I feel like I missed an accomplishment.

  11. #11
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    Mrs. Fred and I have found a list of 50-100 calorie snacks that we tend to have on a 60-120 freqency throughout the day (fruit, oranges, apples, pears, etc.) We've also found that some foods fill and last better than others. Some, "just aren't worth the calories." Oatmeal is a prime example of one of our "lasting" breakfasts. The caloric value of oatmeal seems to get us much further into the day than those same calories consumed in some other form.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  12. #12
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    I find that a fast lunchtime ride, with a power meter-measured 400-500 calorie burn, makes dieting much more enjoyable. My 1600 calorie target + 400-500 calorie exercise deficit adds up to a more satisfying 2000-2100 calorie meal budget. On days when I don't ride, I still try to hit that 1600 calorie target, but I don't get worked up if I'm 200-300 calories over; my longer weekend rides will make-up for a few extra calories during the week.

  13. #13
    Senior Member chandltp's Avatar
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    I struggled with eating and being hungry 2 hours later for years on a low fat high carb diet. If I snacked I ate too much during the day because I never felt like I ate anything. Willpower can only last so long. I discovered I was really eating too little fat. A tablespoon or two of olive oil on a big salad will go a long way to curbing hunger for a while. Add some eggs or tuna to that and you have a good meal.
    There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    I started out to hit 1600 calories per day, which was supposed to include about 200-300 calories of "slop" - the little bit of oil used in cooking, the "optimistic" estimates of how much that piece of chicken weighed, etc. What I found was that, as I went along (and this happened very quickly), I got really good at controlling the slop, until there basically wasn't any. So I've been eating 1300 calories per day for the last couple of months at least.

    According to the tracking spreadsheet I created in excel, my current calorie deficit is between 1000 and 1100 calories daily, which corresponds (for me) to a weight lost of about 0.35 lbs per day, on average.

    Here's how I stick to the diet:

    1) DON'T MISS MEALS, EAT ON TIME. I'm 5' 7 1/2" tall, and I can live VERY comfortably on this 1300 calories/day as long as I have these fat reserves to burn. But late meals are TORTURE.

    2) For me, eating the same breakfast every day works out just fine. Breakfast is 270 calories, and includes protein (yogurt) and fiber (raisin bran). I budget 300 calories for lunch. Every lunch gets about half its calories from protein - lean meats like chicken cutlet, pork tenderloin, whatever, some carbs, and lots of fiber - usually a leafy salad with a nearly oil-free vinaigrette, or leftover sauteed greens from a dinner.

    3) Dinner is budgeted to be between 500 and 600 calories. That's usually a lean meat or fish, a CONTROLLED serving (about 200 calories worth) of something like rice, potato or pasta, and lots of fiber - usually either a large salad (nearly 0 calories), or greens/veggies.

    4) I usually crash at about 5 PM, so I allow a snack of less than 100 calories - an apple or a nutrition bar, and another about an hour or so before going to bed, so I don't wake up with hunger pangs during the night.

    This scheme has been working really well. The basic idea is to take in something less than half of the calories at any meal from stuff that'll burn off quickly. The protein doesn't give the same rush of satisfaction that carbs do, but it stays with you longer, so you avoid the ups and downs of a carb-heavy diet. I've done those, and while I've lost weight at about the same rate I am now, it was much more painful.

    I'm not advocating an Atkins kind of balance - I do get something less than half of my calories from carbs, and I do eat rice, bread and pasta - in limited quantities. But balancing on the protein and fiber side of things really seems to help with my energy level and the way I feel.

    I ride or exercise about an hour per day 3 days/week, and then usually do something a little longer one of the weekend days. I don't consider the exercise in calculating calorie deficits or anything like that - I measure my calorie deficit from my calorie intake and my weight loss. The rule of thumb is that one pound = 3500 calories, so if you look at your weight over a period of time, and calculate:

    calorie excess/deficit = (start weight - end weight in pounds) * 3500/num_days_in_observation_interval.

    I found that my body doesn't conform exactly to that 3500 calories/lb rule, so I had to calibrate the formula for myself. This is easy to do if you know more or less exactly what you're consuming in calories over a period of time - you just throw in a fudge factor so that the formula matches reality, and that'll be your formula from then on.
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  15. #15
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    5 Tips

    I'm no Clydesdale but I do count my calories so hopefully my experience can be helpful.
    I typically will start to take off weight coming out of winter while getting ready for the cycling season. I'll usually fluctuate between 10-15 lbs from winter weight to riding weight. I've gone about it in different ways over the years and have found a few things that help the process.

    1. Max allowable weight. I have a maximum allowable weight of 184 lbs. I usually sit between 175 and 180 and get down just below 170 when I'm fit. When I hit 180 lbs I start a calorie reduction to bring myself back down...if I hit 183 or 184 I stop eating all together...haha. Choose a max allowable weight that is within 15 lbs of your ideal...it's a lot easier to lose 10 lbs to get to your ideal weight than to lose 40 or 50.
    2. Start dropping weight earlier and at an easier pace: I've tried the 2 lb/wk thing at 1450 cal/day and it was doable but a bit torturous. If I run a 350 -400 cal deficit I'll lose roughly 1 lb/wk and the hunger pangs are only slight.
    3. Eat a good low cal high protein breakfast...like a greek yogurt or some eggs. Lets you get to lunch with ease on about 200 cal.
    4. only eat a small snack before an evening ride and eat dinner directly after. I've found that if I do this I feel good for the ride and when I come home I've burned another 600-1000 cal. I can then eat a happy 1000 cal dinner and not feel hungry the rest of the night.
    5. No guilt Sunday: (Not for your sins my friends for your food) I have to have a day off. I don't go to town but I allow myself to eat a little more than normal and have some cake and ice cream too.

    These help me...hopefully they'll be of use to someone else. At the end of the day Newton's law of energy conservation is still in effect no matter what the magazines tell you. Calories in = calories out + Calories Stored. Make the first one smaller than the second and you'll be good.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    This seems to work for me:

    1) I write down everything that I eat and drink. Down to the 1/2 teaspoon of condiments and sauces. This is just to keep me "honest" about how many carbs I eat, and my portion sizes (just try to keep carbs below 45% of daily calorie intake). I try not to think about food unless I'm about to put something in my mouth, or am adding that food item to my food diary on Fitday.com (another calorie counter and exercise site).

    2) My daily "goal" is to eat about 1600-1800 calories a day. I'm still bigger than most of you, so I'm supposed to be able to lose weight with anything less than 2100 calories.

    3) Try to pay more attention to how I feel while walking, riding, etc. than I do to food, and how hungry (or not) that I am

    4) Related - think about how something that I'm about to eat will make me feel if I were to immediately jump on the bike and push really hard for an hour or more. If it would make me feel like crap, then it is not a good idea.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    I guess I got a little more lee way due to starting at about 6'7 and 300 lbs. My budget started at 2700 calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week according to LoseIt. I'm down to 262 and my dailey budget is down to 2200 calories a day. Sometimes I can't believe it, but the results are hard to argue with. I generally stay at around 1800 calories. The biggest hurdle for me was differentiating "hunger" from "craving food". It's not the same for me. I eat out of boredom, anxiety, laziness, etc. Cutting all that crap out was very hard to, but also extremely effective for weight loss. Also spreading my calories out throughout the day and never sitting down to a big 1000 calorie meal. That's hard as well, but also seems to be working for me. But really, just actually counting every single calorie just makes me very conscious of of my personal health and I find it much easier to avoid snacking when I know how important that 200 calories can be in the long run. But that's me. I suppose everyone is different when it comes to breaking bad habits.

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    It definitely depends on activity level and your goal. I was eating 1800 or so, riding and going to a trainer. I wasn't making any progress at all. I talked to my trainer and doctor and both thought that I'm not eating enough for the exercise. Now I'm between 2100 and 2500 calories a day, all strictly recorded. I'm currently losing about a pound and a half a week and building quite a bit of muscle. What works for me is eating lots of fiber and protein (about 1/3 of the calories.). I also eat five 400 calorie meals rather than big ones, plus some little snacks.

    If I don't manage the balance closely and eat the right foods I can crash and crash hard. But it's working, according to the last mesurements, I'm down 2.5% body fat in eight weeks.

  19. #19
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucienrau View Post
    It definitely depends on activity level and your goal. I was eating 1800 or so, riding and going to a trainer. I wasn't making any progress at all. I talked to my trainer and doctor and both thought that I'm not eating enough for the exercise. Now I'm between 2100 and 2500 calories a day, all strictly recorded. I'm currently losing about a pound and a half a week and building quite a bit of muscle. What works for me is eating lots of fiber and protein (about 1/3 of the calories.). I also eat five 400 calorie meals rather than big ones, plus some little snacks.

    If I don't manage the balance closely and eat the right foods I can crash and crash hard. But it's working, according to the last mesurements, I'm down 2.5% body fat in eight weeks.
    It sounds like one big difference is that, before you were eating "or so", and now you're eating "all strictly recorded".
    L'asino di Buridano...

  20. #20
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    It sounds like one big difference is that, before you were eating "or so", and now you're eating "all strictly recorded".
    Or he could have had an adaptation thing going on, conserving energy from too little food. I think that happened to me a few times during the course of my weight loss.

    Early this winter I was biking a lot, had upped my calories as I was trying to maintain my weight, but still was losing weight and feeling pooped out all the time. I slowly upped my calories since the beginning of February with no adverse effect on weight. For the past month I averaged 1700 a day. And I am feeling more energetic with the increase in food. Of course, it is tough to control all the variables but I have actually decreased my exercise since the beginning of April, as I have biked less (went further north so fewer nice biking days). Here is my weight chart for one month, basically showing that I am maintaining my weight, which is what I want to do:



    The chart is also interesting as it illustrated how much day to day variance there is in a person's weight, even when you weigh yourself under the same conditions each day (first thing in morning, after peeing, undressed).

    To show even more variance and how hard it is to see if you are maintaining your weight, here is a couple of months of charting, where at first I was still trending down:

    Last edited by goldfinch; 04-22-12 at 06:31 AM.

  21. #21
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    Actually the 1800 was strictly recorded too. It was just between 1600 and 1900 depending on the day, I'm 6'2" and 278 now. I'm doing 3 hours of resistance/ endurance training and around 4 hours of cardio a week, plus biking. When I wasn't doing as much exercise 1800 calories was fine. Once I started the new program it wasn't, after I tweaked my intake, I started making significant performance gains and trimming down.

    But building tone and and losing weight is tough. The 2% body fat has only come out to 4 lbs on the scale. Ymmv. The important measures are down lots, which is what counts. Bp down from 135/85 to 110/71 resting heart rate down from 90 to 65. Thats just my experience taken with medical advice and in no way should be construed as advice for others. Sleep is just as important as food for loosing too. I didn't start seeing pounds come off till my sleep issues got under control.

  22. #22
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucienrau View Post
    Actually the 1800 was strictly recorded too. It was just between 1600 and 1900 depending on the day, I'm 6'2" and 278 now. I'm doing 3 hours of resistance/ endurance training and around 4 hours of cardio a week, plus biking. When I wasn't doing as much exercise 1800 calories was fine. Once I started the new program it wasn't, after I tweaked my intake, I started making significant performance gains and trimming down.

    But building tone and and losing weight is tough. The 2% body fat has only come out to 4 lbs on the scale. Ymmv. The important measures are down lots, which is what counts. Bp down from 135/85 to 110/71 resting heart rate down from 90 to 65. Thats just my experience taken with medical advice and in no way should be construed as advice for others. Sleep is just as important as food for loosing too. I didn't start seeing pounds come off till my sleep issues got under control.
    Yes, clearly 1800 calories was not going to give you enough energy for that kind of exercise at your size.

    I have been a poor sleeper for years. I got that under control when I addressed my sleep apnea and RLS. Now I am sleeping much better. I think that addressing those issues substantially helped me lose weight.

  23. #23
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucienrau View Post
    It definitely depends on activity level and your goal. I was eating 1800 or so, riding and going to a trainer. I wasn't making any progress at all. I talked to my trainer and doctor and both thought that I'm not eating enough for the exercise. Now I'm between 2100 and 2500 calories a day, all strictly recorded. I'm currently losing about a pound and a half a week and building quite a bit of muscle. What works for me is eating lots of fiber and protein (about 1/3 of the calories.). I also eat five 400 calorie meals rather than big ones, plus some little snacks.


    If I don't manage the balance closely and eat the right foods I can crash and crash hard. But it's working, according to the last mesurements, I'm down 2.5% body fat in eight weeks.

    I think this ought or be a sticky.

    I found the exact same thing. Mid you are seriously training, and I do mean seriously, you simply have to eat.

    I was doing paleo and I mean strictly doing paleo. Mi never counted my calories then or now, bit I know for a fact when I increased my food intake about a month ago, I THEN really started to lose weight.

    I still don't track calories and have continually increased my training load (up now to 25 miles a week running) and I can tell a huge difference if I don't MAKE myself eat. Just this week, for whatever reason I got busy and started to crash on my runs by Thursday afternoon. I went back and tout about it, hadn't been eating a lot, increased my food intake all day yesterday, and now feel much better.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    I have been a poor sleeper for years. I got that under control when I addressed my sleep apnea and RLS. Now I am sleeping much better. I think that addressing those issues substantially helped me lose weight.
    Yeah, I had unaddressed allergies and a structural issue in my nose that completely blocked off my nose for years. It happend so gradually that I hadn't noticed. Once I had surgery and took some steps for the allergies, things got better. Still the weeks I sleep, I loose, if I don't I just get more exhausted.

  25. #25
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    I must have a really linear metabolism, then. I did a little algebra with the formula for active metabolic rate (AMR) to make it recursive, and then generated curves for months in advance using it. I calibrated it using my first month's average daily calorie intake and average exercise level - the calibration consisted of applying a "personalization factor" to the rule of thumb 3500 calories/pound to arrive at what MY metabolism does. I've been on the program now for nearly 4 months, and the mean squared error between my daily measured weights and the prediction is less than one pound. In fact for the last month or so, the daily squared error has consistently been within a quarter of a pound.

    The point of mentioning that is that, at least for me, the notion of calories in = calories out + calories stored seems to work out really well. I do agree that there's a starvation effect, where the body starts to shut down non-essential functions rather than dip into fat reserves, but the signs of this are really obvious: feeling sleepy, cold, lethargic... MODERATE exercise prevents this from happening - it gives your body no opportunity to slow down the metabolism - you're forced to dip into the reserves.

    But "moderate" may be the key word. I dunno - I'm an engineer, not a physician. But I'm glad my body seems to behave fairly predictably...
    L'asino di Buridano...

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