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Old 09-23-2013, 11:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Really struggling with calorie requirements. Please help!

Hello, I'm new here and was wondering if I could get an unbiased opinion on how many calories I should be eating.

I am 5ft 4in female who dropped from 200lbs down to 120lbs at my lightest but now I am currently 144lbs. I am very active and look at what I eat every day. Even though I have gained a fair bit of weight back, I am definitely at my fittest physically and have regained some 'female physiological functions' which disappeared for over a year at my lowest weight.

I have incorporated a lot of weight training so I imagine that some weight may be gained muscle but the majority will have been fat. My aim is to build muscle and strength and lose fat. My clothes are feeling tighter in places (arms, calves, thighs, butt and stomach to some extent) and that is quite disconcerting to me psychologically, having dropped a lot of weight and sizes only to start putting it back on again.

My problem is that I am trying to eat at a slight deficit but the scale is going nowhere and I can feel it affecting my energy levels and exercise performance negatively. I have no idea whether I am eating too much/too little? So if anyone could help that would be great.

I am currently eating 2350cals a day. I work 5 days a week in a lab so there is a lot of standing at the bench or sitting at a computer.

My exercise is as follows (with approx burns from my hrm):

Fast paced Cycling 2.5miles each way to and from work 5x a week. Approximately 700cals a week.

1x Swim for 40mins. Approximately 300cals.

1x Run (between 5k and 10k). Approximately 250-650cals.

2x RPM spinning classes. Approximately 850cals a week.

2x Crossfit style classes. Approximately 700cals a week.

2x 5/3/1 heavy lifting workouts (squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses).

So I'm burning around 3000cals a week + those that I don't measure when doing weight lifting.

Is 2350cals a day enough cals to fuel this amount of exercise and maybe drop some fat? There's so much conflicting info online. Some sites say to drop to 1200cals which I personally think would kill me whereas other places say I need a lot more calories (like 2800-3000 region?!?).

I just have it ingrained in my mind that a 5ft 4in female should never need to eat more than 2000cals a day as that THE average guideline amount! But I'm guessing I do more exercise than your average Joe so maybe there's truth in it?

I know this is a massive TLDR, but any advice would be gratefully received
I'm really confused.

Thanks for your time
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rawr255 View Post
Hello, I'm new here and was wondering if I could get an unbiased opinion on how many calories I should be eating.

I am 5ft 4in female who dropped from 200lbs down to 120lbs at my lightest but now I am currently 144lbs. I am very active and look at what I eat every day. Even though I have gained a fair bit of weight back, I am definitely at my fittest physically and have regained some 'female physiological functions' which disappeared for over a year at my lowest weight.
"Very active" is a bit of an understatement with regard to the exercise regimen you describe below!

Quote:
[..] My problem is that I am trying to eat at a slight deficit but the scale is going nowhere and I can feel it affecting my energy levels and exercise performance negatively. I have no idea whether I am eating too much/too little? So if anyone could help that would be great.

I am currently eating 2350cals a day. I work 5 days a week in a lab so there is a lot of standing at the bench or sitting at a computer.
I'm 5'3", 55 years old, and work 5 days a week sitting w/some walking.
I've currently been in maintenance for a year (~ 115 lbs) and average around 1400 cals/day. I (ahem, only) exercise 150 minutes a week, and lift weights once a week.

Quote:
My exercise is as follows (with approx burns from my hrm):

Fast paced Cycling 2.5miles each way to and from work 5x a week. Approximately 700cals a week.

1x Swim for 40mins. Approximately 300cals.

1x Run (between 5k and 10k). Approximately 250-650cals.

2x RPM spinning classes. Approximately 850cals a week.

2x Crossfit style classes. Approximately 700cals a week.

2x 5/3/1 heavy lifting workouts (squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses).

So I'm burning around 3000cals a week + those that I don't measure when doing weight lifting.

Is 2350cals a day enough cals to fuel this amount of exercise and maybe drop some fat? There's so much conflicting info online. Some sites say to drop to 1200cals which I personally think would kill me whereas other places say I need a lot more calories (like 2800-3000 region?!?).

I just have it ingrained in my mind that a 5ft 4in female should never need to eat more than 2000cals a day as that THE average guideline amount! But I'm guessing I do more exercise than your average Joe so maybe there's truth in it?

I know this is a massive TLDR, but any advice would be gratefully received
I'm really confused.

Thanks for your time
2350 cals sounds about right to me. 1200 cals is WAY too low to support all that exercise. 2000 cals/day recommended for an average woman, but I'd dare say the average woman doesn't do nearly that much exercise, not even the average 'active' woman.

I found a link to a USDA chart that shows the estimated calorie requirements for a woman who happens to be 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 126 pounds. You might consider the value in the 'Active' column for your age as good baseline for maintenance. (I don't see a column for 'Extremely Active,' ;-) Eat slightly less if you are trying to lose weight.

Last edited by dmartz; 09-23-2013 at 01:18 PM. Reason: fixed link.
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Old 09-24-2013, 03:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I am 5'2" and also very active. I run a minimum of 4 days a week. Lift heavy 2-3 days a week. (my PR for DL is 225) plus I have a very active job.

I eat, on average, 1200 cals a day (low carb)to maintain my current weight and composition. It sucks sometimes because I am so active, like it's not fair, that I should be able to eat a few hundred cals more than that, but it is what it is. IMO worth it because I feel so much better when I stay on track.

I have played around with my macros and cals and just have to accept that my body needs less than most "average" people need.

dmartz... I had to lol at that chart. The USDA? I would be huge if I believed/followed anything they said.
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Old 09-24-2013, 02:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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'I am 5ft 4in female who dropped from 200lbs down to 120lbs at my lightest but now I am currently 144lbs. '

What is the weight you WANT to be? If you have a goal weight, then getting there may mean more than eating at a 'slight' deficit. Cut your calories and see what actually works, limit-wise, for you. You could ramp up your activity but then you'd have to sustain that level until you again wanted to lose weight. It's much more effective to just reduce your daily calorie intake until you see some weight loss and then acknowledge that level to be your baseline for the weight you want to maintain.
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