Checking the calorie calculations are correct
Hi everyone, I'm new. I decided to diet after being put on meds three weeks ago which have the pleasant side effect of reducing my appetite (so far at least), and I've been tracking what I eat with Fitday PC for the last week. I'm pretty short, and certainly way off the "2000 calories for women" average that gets quoted all the time. I'm probably short enough that the 500 calorie shortfall per day that is often recommended is too much for me too, so I just wanted to check that I've got the calculations about right. I've been entering custom foods into Fitday wherever needed, including if the stats they have don't match the ones on the box, and I'm entering in raw veg in order to avoid the ungodly amount of salt and fat it automatically adds, along with the actual amount of olive oil that I used.
I'm also being cautious because I'm disabled with severe ME/CFIDS, which not only bans exercise (the hallmark of the condition is that exertion makes it worse) but may also be messing with my metabolism, so it's entirely possible that this won't work at all. The plan is to give it a month after I first started eating less and then buy the scales if it seems to be going well. So far, judging by the fit of my clothes and how I look in the mirror, it does seem to be going well, huzzah!
In terms of diet, I've been vegan for many years and know how to cook nutritiously, combine proteins and so forth, and I'm making an especial effort to cook well at the moment. I'm eating the same size supper as before, but slightly smaller breakfasts and lunches, with small snacks only if I end up with calories to make up, and trying to stick to salad or soup for lunch. Actually, I might try to keep the balance with small snacks, I suspect it's doing better things for my blood sugar. I'm drinking plenty of water and some herbal tea, and I'm taking multivitamin supplements.
Weight: probably about 135lb
Activity level: makes most sedentary people look active!
Diet: smaller portions, sensible options
After customising the metabolism page with hours of sleep, hours spent pootling at the computer, hours spent lying down etc., it reckons I burn about 1470 calories a day. I've been eating about 1000 to 1100, and to my joy, haven't been hungry past the first few days. I think I'm in what they call the honeymoon period, I'm really rather enjoying this.
Firstly, do the calorie calculations sound good to you? If I try different calorie calculators on different sites, I get vastly different figures.
Secondly, I gather it's normal to feel chilly and get a certain level of menstrual cycle disruption. How long does this tend to continue for? Obviously I'm not getting cold due to losing fat, I've not been dieting long enough for that. I've started taking ginger supplements as it's an all-round useful herb, which will hopefully help with the circulation and digestion and so forth, and I may consider adding in evening primrose oil (on top of the 2g echium oil I already take) if my hormones misbehave for long.
By the way, I'm visually impaired, so I would hugely appreciate it if people could refrain from posting in different fonts, font sizes, italics, bold or what have you. No Squint is great for standardising colours, and Adblock for getting rid of smilies and sparkly signatures and such, but there's nothing I can do about the first lot.
Welcome to Fitday.
I'd say your number look fairly close based on the calculators I use. Keep in mind this is not an exact science for anyone. If you can get your actual results close to your projected results you're doing great. For me, and most here I'd suspect, these tools are used as a guide to help us stay on course.
For you, since you say your activity level is non-existent, I would image that your burn rate is much closer to your basal metabolic rate than to the sedentary calculation, which going to be almost 100 calories less. This would put your burn somewhere around 1370 (a complete resting rate would even less), though you could actually be doing the 1470 as FD states. At any rate, with your average consumption at 1100 you can expect to lose from 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound per week depending on the actual burn rate. Just track everything as best you can and you will learn of any variances and how to account for them. If you're like me it's likely that the variances will come from not meticulously measuring food. I tend to guesstimate portions. (maybe that's why I've been gaining lately...:D)
As for your other inquiries regarding hormones and cycles I can't help you.
Well, my activity level isn't entirely non-existent, I'm not in a coma. My day is generally a mix of sitting up (using the laptop, sewing when I'm up to it) and lying down (resting, watching TV, reading), with the odd bit of standing or walking around (probably an hour's worth overall, including getting my meals together). I did set up Fitday with reasonable estimations of how long I spend doing each of those. Do you reckon its calorie estimations for "light seated activity" are likely to be realistic for someone sitting at the laptop? It estimates 1.27 cal/min for that, and for "typing while sitting" it estimates 1.53 cal/min (honestly, these numbers are so odd I suspect they're converted from another format), so it seems like it shouldn't be too far out.
I'm trying to be careful about measuring foods. A lot of the time, I measure anyway as I can't do it by eye: 3 oz pasta per serving, 1/3 cup rice, 4 cutlery spoonfuls of oats for porridge. What has been most instructive has been finding out how different foods vary with regard to calorie content. Bagels have a surprising amount, for instance so I've stopped thinking of them as smallish snack material. You just inspired me to make sure that I knew exactly how many almonds I fished out for a snack just now - and I'm glad I did, they turn out to be surprisingly calorific. Though I still have a few calories left to make up for today, which is nice, it means we can curl up and munch grapes together later. (Er, the "we" there referred to my partner, I'm not randomly inviting you over to eat grapes!)
1/2 to 3/4 lb a week is slower than some people get, but I don't think that cutting 500 calories a day would be wise, especially if I am actually using more like 1370 than 1470. Any weight loss at all would be fantastic, frankly, especially if I can eventually get down to the weight I used to be. I'm now at the stage of dithering over whether to buy scales or wait a bit longer. I think I'm losing a bit of weight, a couple of key garments are fitting better, although it's always tricky with clothes since they shrink and stretch a bit with washing. But then I gather that weight loss doesn't behave typically in the first few weeks anyway? I'm fairly confident that I can keep up this level of calories providing that I don't suddenly get ravenously hungry (due to meds or whatever), and that even if the appetite suppressant effect wears off, I've got myself into enough of a good routine that I should be able to keep going. Do you know if it's possible to be eating a sensible amount less but still fail to lose weight at all, say due to meds or screwy metabolism or something?
I think you should just continue working at it and see how your body responds. Most people here will tell you that adjustments are necessary to keep losing over extended periods of time.
What sort of adjustments do you mean, in terms of diet?
Not a dietician, a nutritionist, or an MD, but I can tell you what I've figured out in four months...however much that's worth!
Another poster here, Cassie, has made the allegory before that dieting is often akin to throwing something to the wall and seeing if it sticks. It's often, unfortunately, a trial-and-error process since you're dealing with a biological system (your body) that is unique to YOU -- no one else has your exact same body and internal states.
Different diets and strategies tend to work for different people. The first few weeks of weight loss often go faster for most, since you tend to shed a lot of water weight. Then it slows down. You can hit "plateaus" where you don't lose any weight at all, even if you've been sticking right to your numbers, and you have to shake up your routine to get your metabolism moving again.
This can mean adding/changing exercise (even just walking), or changing your "macros" -- that is, your percentages of carbs/protein/fat in your diet.
For example, when I first started dieting, I had VERY high carbs (60-70% per day) even though my calories were down, and I found that making a conscious effort to up my protein helped my body a lot. Now I aim for 30% of all of my calories consumed to be from protein -- it fills me up for longer, and in general I eat less. Sometimes I miss the mark, but that's ok, no one is perfect! I had started on a 50% carbs/30% protein/20% fat regiment a couple of months ago, and now I'm seriously thinking of changing it to 40/30/30 carbs/protein/fat because A) That's what my body seems to be responding to and B) having lower carbs is feeling good. 40/30/30 is a common regiment, but you can find what works for you too.
Also, how much water are you drinking daily? Water is very VERY important. It helps flush your system of sodium (which retains water and weight) and helps you more easily metabolize/flush fat. Plus, staying hydrated is awesome and important!
I hope any of this helps you at all, and I wish you good luck on your journey. You seem to be very conscious of what your'e doing and what goes into your mouth, and learning the caloric content is definitely a journey!
I think I'm drinking about 2l a day, 3/4 of which is water and the rest is herbal tea. A good amount for my height, I reckon?
Adding exercise is unfortunately not an option, as I discussed above. I'm fairly limited in how I can change my macros since I'm vegan, but I'm keeping an eye on the balance there and noting what's going on for days which are higher in protein. At the moment I'm averaging 28% fat, 52% carbs and 15% protein. I'm not planning to go for a low-carb diet, especially since I've been told by doctors to eat carbs regularly; low glycaemic index, on the other hand, is quite a good idea. As far as I can tell, my diet is pretty low GI, though it's a real pity that FitDay doesn't track sugars. My diet has always been naturally quite low in sodium, and if anything I tend a little towards low blood pressure, so I'm not worried about that. It's not as if I'm eating processed foods, beyond the odd slice of wholemeal bread or what have you. Protein will probably improve further once the local Chinese supermarket reopens and I can have tofu again.
How long do plateaus tend to go on for? Long enough that they're a serious problem, or is it more than they last long enough to make you antsy but aren't necessarily serious?
The amount of water per day doesn't seem to really depend on height, but rather how much weight you'd like to lose, and more can't really hurt.
If you're drinking 2L (a little more than 8 cups, by U.S. measurements) of water a day, you're getting a bit over the daily recommended amount. A lot of common thought here says that you should drink that amount (roughly 2L) and then about 1/4L more for every 10 lbs. you'd like to lose.
I hope you can get more tofu soon! I admit I know little about a vegan diet as I do eat meat and animal products, and if you're comfortable with the protein you're getting now, that's good. I just knew it helped for me!
Lowering sodium is always good for the heart; I just know that if I have a "high-sodium day" (usually due to eating out) that I will retain water for a couple of days until the sodium flushes out of my system, but if it's not a problem for you, then great!
Plateaus can go on anywhere from a couple of weeks to months and months... they're usually not a serious problem, and they happen to everyone. As long as you're feeling healthy and know you are eating in your limits, it's probably okay to plateau without having to worry about it (though they are very frustrating). Happens to everyone - and the closer you get towards a goal weight, the harder it is to lose.
250ml more for every 10lb you'd like to lose? Surely that would end up with crazy amounts of water for people aiming for large-scale weight loss? There is such a thing as drinking too much water, you know! Come to that, there is such a thing as not getting enough salt. You don't hear much about it in Western countries where salt intake is usually too high, but it's still possible, especially if you're losing a lot of sweat through heat or exercise, and if severe it can kill you. (There are also reports of people having a modest amount of salt, way too much water, and ending up with the sodium in their body so diluted that it killed them.) Having just done a quick google, apparently the minimum recommended amount of sodium is 1,500 mg, and the maximum is 2,300mg. I just had a look at my charts, and I seem to be within that most days, slightly above it once, under it a few times, which probably evens out overall. I can see how it would be very easy to go way over the recommended amount of sodium if you're eating processed food at all, or anything particularly salty. I've been told to increase my salt intake in the past, when my blood pressure was about 90/60 (possibly lower than that when I hadn't just had the exhaustion of a trip to the doctor's) and I was blacking out a lot. My blood pressure seems to be normal for the last few years, thankfully, though I still black out occasionally.
Tofu is useful stuff, and turns out to be even higher in protein than I thought. Some people say you should balance out the, erm, probably phytoestrogens by consuming a little seaweed with it, can't quite remember how it works but I tend to put seaweed with my tofu anyway, at least when I can be bothered (which from now on will be practically always, I hope). The whole phytoestrogen thing is controversial, of course, you get people extrapolating practically everything from the Japanese rates of breast cancer and such, even though you can't possibly reduce an entirely different diet and lifestyle to a single factor. From what I've gathered, going through a block of tofu a week is fine, it's when you have soya added to practically everything you eat that you start running into problems.
Out of curiosity, are you Jewish too? I'm a humanist by belief but was brought up Jewish, and I'm used to the convention of adding "-ele" as a diminutive (and have been known to do this to the name of a Hindu/Sikh friend of mine). There's a rather good short story by I.B. Singer called "Taubele and her Demon Lover" which I've always been fond of.
For the water -- 250mL for every 10 lbs., within reason of course! There is certainly such a thing as too much water.
I drink between 3-4L of water a day with no side effects other than having to use the bathroom a lot (in fact, I look forward to all the water and my body seems to want it - a far cry from when I barely drank any per day and lived on soda...) and I know others on here that often aim for 4L per day, but I haven't seen too much over. There's only so much you can drink without feeling bloated.
I do think the salt problem is largely Western, you're right. I went routinely over my salt intake every day without even realizing it until I had to sit down and track it.
It's interesting to meet a fellow low blood pressure sufferer, though your case seems to be a bit more severe than mine - for the greater part of my adulthood I usually clocked in around 90/65 or 95/65, though I had gotten as low as 85/55 on one occasion (after a fainting spell, at the hospital). I haven't fainted as much in the past few years, thank goodness, but I'm usually down for the count at least a couple of times a year (usually in the summer, when it's very hot). Phytoestrogens is such a hot area of research right now (I do study hormones in part) but you have a very healthy view on it - reducing anything complex to one factor is bound to lead to a lot of trouble. A skeptical but informed eye is often best.
I am not Jewish - my last name is "Aubele." I'm told the ancestry is from the Black Forest/Dusseldorf region of Germany, which was a hotly contested border with France for a very long time - I happen to believe my last name looks more French than German, though it does not have a French pronunciation. I was brought up Irish Catholic (the other side of my family is Irish) though I am lapsed from religion. I had never heard of the "-ele" ending as a diminutive though! How interesting - and now I simply must look up that book, that's too much of a coincidence to set aside. Not sure if my lover is a demon, but he certainly acts like it from time to time (as we all do!)
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