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Never eat below your BMR?

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traineo Newbie
Posts: 2
Member since
Jun 8, 2011
Posted: June 08, 2011
Hi everyone, I have a dilemma. My BMR is currently about 1470 calories and my activity level/calorie maintenance level is 1770 (before exercise). I am trying to lose a pound a week so a deficit of 3500 calories/week or 500 calories a day. I have been listening to the fat2fit podcasts and heard you should never eat below your BMR because this is the number of calories your body needs if it's in a coma and the body will break down muscle to get more energy if you go below your BMR.

My question is, is that net or gross calories? Because I have been tracking my weight and it has suggested I eat 1270 calories a day but this is below my BMR of 1470. I can eat 1470 calories and then easily burn off 200 calories in a day so my gross calories are above my BMR but it's still a calorie deficit of 3500/week, but does this whole "don't eat below your BMR" thing mean the net calories have to be above 1470, not just the gross calories? If so I could only lose 300 calories a day which is only 2100 a week or more like half a pound. I want the weight loss to be sustainable but that's really slow.

If I only have to eat 1470 gross calories per day, can I exercise a bit more to bring my weight loss down to 1.5 pounds per week (this is still only 1% of my total weight)? This would mean a calorie deficit of about 5000 a week or 715 a day.

So each day I would have to eat 1470 calories, then burn off 415 calories in exercise to achieve this, meaning a net calorie intake of 1055 calories and a gross calorie intake of 1470. Is this sustainable? Thanks for your advice!
traineo Fanatic
Posts: 199
Member since
Mar 20, 2011
Posted: June 08, 2011
The only advice I have is to up your daily exercise rather than dramatically cut calories. Even consistently eating at your BMR could result in muscle loss as well as fat. If your goal is to lose 1.5lb per week, I would suggest trying to eat a little above your BMR and to do a little extra exercise to burn off those calories. By keeping your calories above that number (fat to fit suggests 1.2xBMR), so I doubt that 1770 is your maintenence level, even without exercise unless your life is basically completely sedentery. Just try eating above your BMR, and upping your exercise and see how that works for you... you can always adjust from there! Also, be sure you are eating real, natural types of foods because they require your body to work hard to digest them, rather than processed foods which require little effort for your body to digest. Hope this helps
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traineo Guru
Posts: 1947
Member since
Jun 4, 2009
Posted: June 09, 2011
Forget the whole net and gross thing. It just confuses everything. It also doesn't really mean anything anyway. It's the difference between input and output that matters. If you eat 5000 calories per day and burn 4500, then you lose weight. If you eat 2000 and burn 1500, then you gain weight.

Your BMR is 1470. Do not go below this unless you want to spend the next several years fighting to keep your weight down. It will burn off muscle, which is the tissue what burns most of your calories. Have less muscle, burn fewer calories at all times.

Everyone knows the 3500 calories to a pound of fat. You also have 1700 calories per pound of muscle. You can lose that really fast if you're not careful.

Don't play around with some days above and some days below. Your body is smarter than that.

Your maintenance level is 1770. You know that if you eat that much, your body weight stays the same. That is really useful information.

All you need to do now is exercise enough to burn 500 calories more each day on average. This IS a place where you can do more one day and less the next. You just need to burn 3500 calories per week to make it happen.

You do need to spread it out a little bit. If you did no exercise all week and then did a marathon 3500 calorie exercise session, your body would just be exhausted and depleted, but you would not lose a pound of fat like you wanted.

The place where you can get in trouble is that when you start exercising more, there's a tendency to eat more, thinking "I've earned it, right?"

Maybe. If you know that you are WAY ahead (maybe you burned off 1200 calories on a 2 hour hard bike ride), then you can probably have cheese on your sandwich (which is 100 to 200 calories!)

As Jacky mentioned, staying away from processed (or as I like to think of them, pre-digested) food helps. It's more filling so you're not as hungry and your body has to work a little harder to break it down.
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