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  1. #1
    Registered User Horizon92's Avatar
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    Need advice on amount of calories to consume for an extended cut (230lb to 185lb) 6'4

    Hello!

    I am an "experienced" dieter, having previously gone from around 350lb+ to 205lb, then back up to 315lb, down again to 205lb, and now I'm catching myself at around 230lb looking to finally end this jojo-dieting once and for all.

    I am confused about my caloric intake, as I lack confidence in what I'm doing actually being the correct approach. I've been logging food on MFP again since around mid October 2019, seeing success at 1500kcal / day with no lifting or exercise. I got down to 223lb, but christmas put me all the way back up to 235lb. Now I've been consistently logging for a month, with 4 days in the red (likely 3000kcal average for those days). The other days, where I've met my goals, I've been somewhere between 1500kcal to 2000kcal. I've been weightlifting 3-4 days a week, walking or doing cardio for 30 minutes 4-5 days a week as well. As per online calculators, this should see me lose weight at a pretty rapid speed. Unfortuntely, that hasn't been the case.

    As I see it, there are some factors that may play a role as to why I haven't really lost any considerable weight over the past month (weigh-ins have ranged from 232lb at the lowest to 238lb at the highest).

    - I've recently started lifting after more than a years hiatus. I've previously been relatively strong, could the missed weight loss actually be muscle gain?
    - The lifting might retain serious amounts of water weight
    - Other factors causing me to retain weight, but fat loss still going on and a big "woosh" awaits me?
    - Completely butchered metabolism from years of yoyo-dieting, although I view it as highly unlikely to be that screwed considering my size

    I am weighing and counting everything I'm eating into MFP. I guess the question I'm asking is, is there a conceivable way that 2000kcal average or thereabouts could be too high of a caloric intake for cutting? I'm not in a hurry, but its important that I know that what I am doing will have me reaching my goals by the end of 2020. I am planning on lifting weights 4 times a week with cardio stacked on top those days, and hitting 10k steps as a minimum all days. With the background of having potentially a "damaged" or "low" metabolism, what would you fine people recommend I do for a cut? Start even higher on calories and go from there? Stay at 2000 and just wait it out?

    Thanks everyone!
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    Registered User spradish's Avatar
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    What was your weight on Jan 4 and what is it today?
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    I similarly lost weight a bunch again and again for about 15 years. The important thing that will hopefully quell some of your anxiety (but not all of it!) is that metabolic damage from years of weight loss is real, but pretty modest. I can't remember the exact amount the studies have measured, but think something like less than 100 calories per day overall impact maximum. You just make adjustments and go around it basically. You can also re-coup most of the way back if you get your weight where you want it and stay there for 5 years or so.

    Also to quell you're anxiety in another way I was gaining scale weight at a deficit last year for just a little while. Maybe a few months. It was just a perfect storm of a few factors -> I had just come off of a very long diet. I had almost no muscle mass to speak of, I previously had lifted in the past (was at least a little detrained) and started lifting very consistently and aggressively and made sure I got plenty of protein. What happened was some very disorienting results where I was at a 500kcal deficit (staged to lose about a lb a week) and instead slowly gained weight. Mind you I was getting stronger very rapidly and I ultimately decided to just let it happen and to try to keep my calories just barely north of even instead to kind of enjoy the easy strength gains and deal with the weight loss later which I'm doing currently. I'm now back down to close to that weight, but look completely different so I ended up confirming that I had indeed been gaining a lot of muscle mass. Even now a year later I'm losing weight steadily at least, but STILL gaining ground with the weights I'm lifting.

    So all of that is certainly possible. Naturally I should challenge you and say to make sure you're really at the calories you think you are. I'd should also say that whatever you do make sure you stay consistent for at least a month and measure accurately in detail whats happening with weight loss and strength gains. Then simply adjust until you get the result you want. For instance you might find your lifts are improving dramatically right now and that should be a sign and hopefully make you a little bit more comfortable that stagnant weight loss might not be that concerning. Keep the pressure on, stay consistent and accept the long term and you'll be good to go.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Horizon92's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by spradish View Post
    What was your weight on Jan 4 and what is it today?
    My first weigh in was some time after. Like 4 days. The weight then was 235lb. My most recent weigh in was at 236lb. The lowest weight in the last month was 233lb. I took pictures at the first weigh in, in a couple of days it will have been exactly one month, so I'll take a new set of pictures and compare.

    Originally Posted by newbutserious View Post
    I similarly lost weight a bunch again and again for about 15 years. The important thing that will hopefully quell some of your anxiety (but not all of it!) is that metabolic damage from years of weight loss is real, but pretty modest. I can't remember the exact amount the studies have measured, but think something like less than 100 calories per day overall impact maximum. You just make adjustments and go around it basically. You can also re-coup most of the way back if you get your weight where you want it and stay there for 5 years or so.

    Also to quell you're anxiety in another way I was gaining scale weight at a deficit last year for just a little while. Maybe a few months. It was just a perfect storm of a few factors -> I had just come off of a very long diet. I had almost no muscle mass to speak of, I previously had lifted in the past (was at least a little detrained) and started lifting very consistently and aggressively and made sure I got plenty of protein. What happened was some very disorienting results where I was at a 500kcal deficit (staged to lose about a lb a week) and instead slowly gained weight. Mind you I was getting stronger very rapidly and I ultimately decided to just let it happen and to try to keep my calories just barely north of even instead to kind of enjoy the easy strength gains and deal with the weight loss later which I'm doing currently. I'm now back down to close to that weight, but look completely different so I ended up confirming that I had indeed been gaining a lot of muscle mass. Even now a year later I'm losing weight steadily at least, but STILL gaining ground with the weights I'm lifting.

    So all of that is certainly possible. Naturally I should challenge you and say to make sure you're really at the calories you think you are. I'd should also say that whatever you do make sure you stay consistent for at least a month and measure accurately in detail whats happening with weight loss and strength gains. Then simply adjust until you get the result you want. For instance you might find your lifts are improving dramatically right now and that should be a sign and hopefully make you a little bit more comfortable that stagnant weight loss might not be that concerning. Keep the pressure on, stay consistent and accept the long term and you'll be good to go.
    The food that I've logged is correct, however in the last month there have been around 5-6 days where I haven't logged, and likely consumed, on average, around 3000kcal. This could completely ruin my deficit, but considering I have so many days at 1500-1800kcal, and my size, I still think I should be in a net negative and losing weight. I guess I won't truly find out until I have a full month of really meticulous counting, or if my weight starts dropping soon. I'm just afraid that the food intake numbers that online calculators and people in general are giving me are just way too high for me.
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  5. #5
    "Meow" - Cat, 2020 lukepeter's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Horizon92 View Post
    5-6 days where I haven't logged, and likely consumed, on average, around 3000kcal.
    In my (not inconsiderable) experience, the days you don't track and "feel" like you are around maintenance, its pretty easy to knock on 4-5000 Kcal. Especially considering that untracked days often result in rebound eating following aggressive diet.

    Granted, at 100 kg, with reasonable activity, 1500-1800 should still result in very aggressive loss (I am also 6'4, and I can still lose consistently 0.8 to 1 kg a week at 1800Kcal, provided it is properly weighed and tracked) if you toss a weekend of eating at 5000kcal a day in at the end of the week, your deficit shrinks significantly (to the point of not being there at all really).

    Have you started using anything that will cause water retention specifically (creatine, significant carb cycles around your weigh ins etc.)?
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  6. #6
    Registered User Vawn's Avatar
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    I'd suggest keeping your calories as high as possible while still losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you lose more than 2 pounds, bump your calories slightly. If you don't lose any weight over a week drop them slightly.

    If you continue at this pace, you will maintain the most muscle and be most likely to avoid yo-yo dieting in the future.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Horizon92's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lukepeter View Post
    In my (not inconsiderable) experience, the days you don't track and "feel" like you are around maintenance, its pretty easy to knock on 4-5000 Kcal. Especially considering that untracked days often result in rebound eating following aggressive diet.

    Granted, at 100 kg, with reasonable activity, 1500-1800 should still result in very aggressive loss (I am also 6'4, and I can still lose consistently 0.8 to 1 kg a week at 1800Kcal, provided it is properly weighed and tracked) if you toss a weekend of eating at 5000kcal a day in at the end of the week, your deficit shrinks significantly (to the point of not being there at all really).

    Have you started using anything that will cause water retention specifically (creatine, significant carb cycles around your weigh ins etc.)?
    Thats true, and that has been an issue in the past for me - If I don't count, my consumption will just get ridiculous. When I do count, I feel as if 2500kcal is an absurdly large amount of food, whilst when I'm not counting I'm gaining weight out of control just eating normally. So I'm definitely prepared for the possibility of those days throwing me completely off for the whole month.

    I'm thinking strength training might up my cortisol levels and somehow retaining water, and I've also been eating like 500g of brussel sprouts per day on average, which has made me pretty constipated at times. Another factor is that, while I am strength training + doing some cardio, and getting in daily walks totalling around 10k steps a day on average, I'm completely sedentary - I'm working from home at the time, sitting at my desk all day. So I'm thinking that maybe, because outside of training my lifestyle is pretty damn inactive, I might have a lower than normal energy usage - most calculators probably assume people have a baseline of activity above mine.

    As for things I'm using, only really multivitamins, fish oil, magnesium and some preworkout at times which does contain some creatine but not a lot (scared of the hair loss)
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  8. #8
    Registered User spradish's Avatar
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    I would suggest eating 2200 calories every single day for the next 3 weeks. Then either increase or decrease your calories based on results from that time period.

    The days when you didn't log could have been way over 3000 calories--it's insanely easy to eat that much, especially if you've been using a fairly aggressive deficit. I'm always a fan of more moderate deficits because I think they make long-term adherence to a deficit a lot easier. Yes, they can increase the time spent dieting but that's really only the case if you compare them to consistently being able to sustain a large deficit, which many (most, I think) people aren't able to do.
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    Just for frame of reference I'm 6'5" and 220 and I can cut comfortably on 2600 cals a day and lose about 2lbs a week, and I have never needed to go below 2200 calories ever.

    I dont for a second believe that you're only eating 1500 calories a day, not at your size, and not losing significant weight quickly. You're either not accounting for something or you're completely blowing out your calories on the days you don't track and therefore erasing your deficit.

    Pick a calorie number (2200 is fine) and stick with it, consistently every single day.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Horizon92's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by spradish View Post
    I would suggest eating 2200 calories every single day for the next 3 weeks. Then either increase or decrease your calories based on results from that time period.

    The days when you didn't log could have been way over 3000 calories--it's insanely easy to eat that much, especially if you've been using a fairly aggressive deficit. I'm always a fan of more moderate deficits because I think they make long-term adherence to a deficit a lot easier. Yes, they can increase the time spent dieting but that's really only the case if you compare them to consistently being able to sustain a large deficit, which many (most, I think) people aren't able to do.
    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Just for frame of reference I'm 6'5" and 220 and I can cut comfortably on 2600 cals a day and lose about 2lbs a week, and I have never needed to go below 2200 calories ever.

    I dont for a second believe that you're only eating 1500 calories a day, not at your size, and not losing significant weight quickly. You're either not accounting for something or you're completely blowing out your calories on the days you don't track and therefore erasing your deficit.

    Pick a calorie number (2200 is fine) and stick with it, consistently every single day.
    I'm weighing and counting everything, but I'm open to the idea that the days I'm not counting is so bad that it might set me back completely. I'm going to follow you guys' advice, shoot for 2200kcal a day for 1 month and make sure there are zero "no counting" days. Ty & repped
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