Beginner Calorie Question

  • Hi there!

     I'm on day two of my first official challenge and have some questions. (Did BFL casually about 8 years ago with really nice results).  I'm using the LIvestrong My Plate food diary to track my diet and I am kind of shocked by how many calories I am taking in.  I have food allergies and a restricted diet so I don't eat gluten, dairy or artificial sweeteners.  This means that in some instances I'm compromising to eat a higher calorie item to make it fit in my diet, eg. whole grain gluten free bread, or rice pasta vs regular whole wheat or whole grain.  I'm  following the rule of palm and fist for portioning, and doing my six meals. I will start doing EAS Soy Protein as soon as it comes in the mail (not available retail around me.)  Yesterday the website said I ate 1900 calories!!!  

    I know that the workout methods involved perk your metabolism throughout the day, but I"m concerned that I won't lose weight (or properly build lean muscle) this way.  I have 10-15 lbs to work with.  I should also add that I am nursing my one year old baby still, but my doctor said that since I'm weaning I don't need to account for extra calories for that.  I did however decide to do 2 fats a day (olive oil and avocado) because of this fact.  Nursing also limits my ability to take certain supplements.  

    Once I supplement at least one meal a day with the powder, it will take my calories down a bit, but I'm still concerned.  Any feedback?  I'm 31, 172 lbs, 5'9", BMI of 25-26% and Body fat of ~ 29.

    I really would appreciate any ideas or feedback you may have to offer!

  • I used to live in RSM!  

    To answer your question, I think 1900 is too much for a day.  That would be closer to what a guy should be eating.

    I did my first challenge at 5'9" 175 and was taking in about 1700 a day and lost 28 over the 3 months.  Go to  to read about figuring your daily caloric needs.

  • Rick is probably correct, but unfortunately there are so many individual variations it's hard to be sure - you have to experiment and see what the results are.

    I'm 49, 5'8", 225 lbs. Following the palm-and-fist rule, I was taking in between 2100-2700 calories per day. I decided to cut that back after reading through Dr. Hussman's site and calculating my ideal fat loss range as about 1500-1800 calories. However, when I cut my daily calories back to that range, my fat loss decreased by over 50%.

    Don't get me wrong - I love Dr. Hussman's site, and I still follow other adjustments I've made to my plan based on his articles. But many fitness and nutritional recommendations (not just his) are based on the "average person", and sometimes we just aren't "average" in certain things. Often the only way to find out for sure is just to try them and see what happens.

  • Interesting.  So your fat loss decreased when you ate less calories?!  I'm new to this so this is all confusing.  First, how can you tell your fat loss decreased?  I'm only on day 4 so I can't see any changes yet but I'd like to know what to look for.  I seem to be eating really well and I'm almost surprised how much I should be eating (if I have this right!)

  • Thank you for the feedback everyone.  I'm on day 10 now and have tightened up my calories.  I've been more consistently between 1400-1600/day.  It helped that I started using the soy protein 1-2 times a day.  That ensures that at least 2 of my meals are below 200 calories.  I tweaked a few of my gluten free recipes too to make them lower calorie.  Also, I met with a trainer today and he said that 1400-1600 might even be low for the amount/type of workout this program provides.  Another thing I've done is to base at least one of my meals around a really large (veggie only) salad. This makes sure that I get one meal a day that feels really substantial.  I'll post back with my progress in a few weeks.  I feel great, though I'm expecting it to take a while before I see major visible differences.

    On a side note, I can see how cutting calories too low could eliminate fat loss, because if your body thinks you're starving, it will hold on to fat reserves.  

    Thanks a bunch and good luck to all of you!

  • @Mina - I could tell because I've been doing body fat testing several times per week, using a method that combines weight and a couple of body measurements; for me it has tracked very close to what I'd get using calipers. I have a spreadsheet that calculates and graphs my results for me, and the "fat" line was dropping nicely until the week I cut way back on calories, when it almost flatlined.

    The reason is probably what rsmblonde noted.  Before BFL I used to eat WAY too much - there were days my afternoon snack alone could hit 2000 calories (44 oz Pepsi and 10 oz bag of chips) - so plummeting to below 1800 was like telling my body "there's a famine in the land!" It probably slashed my basal metabolic rate and had me unconsciously doing things in a less energetic way to "conserve fuel". That's my guess anyway.

  • Wow. I'm going to have to get my fat tested. I feel like I'm eating the perfect amount where I'm not hungry etc but if I use the calculations, I'm eating too little.