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  1. #1
    Registered User bitMEL's Avatar
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    Question Confused on why i have high(ish) bodyfat- pls help :(

    (Female, 5"4, 119 pounds)

    Apologies prior if this seems messy and long.

    I checked the number of calories i should be eating on various calorie counters (including the bodybuilding one) for curiosity and its WAY above what i actually eat. On average they say i should be eating 1700 calories if im fairly active for my weight and height... on average i eat up to 1350 calories , 1450 pushing it unless i'm massively overeating on dessert food, which i barley have in the last two months (and havnt lost any weight, if anything the other way round). Im really confused as to why if i under-eat for my weight and height i dont have a low(er) body fat percentage and less fat on my stomach in particular and all around also. Just a little more information about me:


    - I go to the gym 3 times a week with a 35 min walk there and back (now starting to go 4 times) ((2 days legs and 1 day arms, but im making it 2 days now)), however apart from that im very dormant at home.
    - For a day of eating this is usually how it goes- dont have breakfast because i sleep through it (lol), home made toasted sandwich or a wrap (averaging out at 450 cals), dinner (averaging out at 450 cals, 500 pushing it), protein shake (110 cals), snack (up to 250 cals, 300 pushing it) = 1360
    - I dont know my bodyfat % but if i had to guess it would be around 25%, maybe higher
    - I would say my legs are more muscular than the general population of women who dont* lift weights because i do for my legs, however the rest of my body is fairly soft (apart from my back, i naturally have a very slim back so it doesn't *feel* soft), however im not sure if this is relevant since i still eat very low cals compared to what i'm supposed to (not intentionally)

    I have the theory i'm either a huge secret eating or years of unintentionally undereating cals wise may have caused my Basal metabolic rate to slow down so I was wondering if reverse dieting is the appropriate option for me since attempting to loose fat on 1200 cals or less seams unhealthy (?) and that way i could slowly raise my metabolism and then bring my daily/weekly cals lower again... only problem is i dont have much of an appetite :/
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  2. #2
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    There are a number of factors at play here...

    1. Calculators only give averages (that's assuming they are in any way accurate to begin with). People vary a lot so you should only ever use them as an initial guess. The measurements you collect: your actual consumption and weight changes will tell you the TRUE maintenance calorie level.

    2. It's very common to miscount calorie intake. Are you weighing and measuring everything?

    3. Real weight changes can only be measured on long timescales because of the day-to-day noise caused by water weight shifts (and also monthly cycle of weight changes in the case of women: just to add to the confusion).
    If you have at least 2 weeks of daily weigh ins, I can estimate your weigh change in that period and how far from maintenance you are.

    4. Adaptation can happen, the average persons metabolism drops by 200 calories when they do a sustained diet - but it quickly reverses when you go back to maintenance, it is not permanent...
    In the long run, only gaining new lean tissue makes any real impact to your metabolism and it is quite a small effect.

    Personally I don't think you need to lose weight but I also realise these are your goals and you don't necessarily care what a middle aged man thinks... You could aim to "recomp", i.e. keep your weight stable and gain muscle, replacing fat in the process - this is a slow process but might suit you.
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  3. #3
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    Your BMR is your resting rate, and if you were say 150 lbs at start and 119 now, then yes your BMR would be a little less now. But if your weight is unchanged then your BMR wouldn't change much. A significant calorie deficit can result in reduced NEAT (non-exercise activity), AKA "metabolic slowdown" (which is basically your body just subconsciously moving less due to being in a state of reduced calories), but as SP mentioned this isn't going to usually be more than a couple hundred calories a day at most AND it won't actually halt weight loss provided you are in a sustained caloric deficit.

    If you want to increase your muscle mass you'll ditch your "2 leg days and 1 arm day" routine and get on a balanced program that includes chest and back as well. Ideally a 3 day a week full body or a 4 day a week upper/lower program. There are plenty of free programs available in the Workout Program forum stickies.
    Last edited by xsquid99; 09-12-2021 at 06:15 PM.
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  4. #4
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    You’re counting calories wrong, you’re eating more than you think by several 100 calories

    If you are 25% body fat your body fat is normal not high

    You’re work out routine sounds really bad, ineffective and a waste of time.

    You don’t need to lose weight, but getting into a better routine to build muscle can help your body composition.

    Reverse dieting is total bs. You need to figure out what your actually consuming. There is no way your eating 1200 calories a day. You would be losing weight fairly quickly. You need at least 80 grams protein and 60 of fat. To maintain your current weight you probably need 1700-1900 calories a day.

    To build muscle, also, to change your body composition, cutting with super low calories is far from ideal for building muscle. And you can lose weight all day long but you still won’t have abs if you never built the muscle in the first place. To build muscle you need to eat enough and get enough protein and fat to fuel muscle growth
    Last edited by snailsrus; 09-13-2021 at 03:19 PM.
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  5. #5
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    A) Those calculators are inaccurate for most people
    B) You're taking in more calories than you think on a weekly basis
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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  6. #6
    Registered User bitMEL's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by snailsrus View Post
    You’re counting calories wrong, you’re eating more than you think by several 100 calories

    If you are 25% body fat your body fat is normal not high

    You’re work out routine sounds really bad, ineffective and a waste of time.

    You don’t need to lose weight, but getting into a better routine to build muscle can help your body composition.

    Reverse dieting is total bs. You need to figure out what your actually consuming. There is no way your eating 1200 calories a day. You would be losing weight fairly quickly. You need at least 80 grams protein and 60 of fat. To maintain your current weight you probably need 1700-1900 calories a day.

    To build muscle, also, to change your body composition, cutting with super low calories is far from ideal for building muscle. And you can lose weight all day long but you still won’t have abs if you never built the muscle in the first place. To build muscle you need to eat enough and get enough protein and fat to fuel muscle growth
    I dont overeat by several 100 calories... i tracked my calories for a while on myfitnesspal and i was averaging around 1,400, still sometimes closer to 1300, sometimes closer to 1500. Even if i didnt track my calories like that, theres no way im overeating by that much when i only have two meals and 1-2 snacks, the snacks not being high in calories.

    I work out exactly what i want to work out lmao... im not going to work out other bodyparts aside of my legs/arms if i dont care about and happy with the other areas just for the sake of it lol. Also i should not need to build muscle all over my body to be able to eat an average amount of calories for something my height/size/activity level.. that does not really sound like fixing the root of the issue imo. Thanks for your advice anyway though.

    I got my bodyfat % wrong so my bad on that!!! I was watching greg doucette's bodyfat videos, and while im deffo not overweight (reference to my profile pic), i would say im like 33-39%... im not sure really. (Point is not as lean as i initially thought!)


    I never said i want to cut (yes you may want to believe im eating several 100 more because its easier for you but im really not lol*), but rn im averaging on maybe around 95-100g protien according to myfitnesspal, when im conscious of eating protein. Hopefully ill be able to increase that a bit if i increase my calories *Slowly* You say reverse dieting doesnt work but ive seen loads of people do it before sooooo. Right now, im going to focus on tracking my calories again for a couple of weeks to double check what my average is so i can move onto my course of action

    Thanks for your reply !
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  7. #7
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Why come for advice when you won't listen. Stop wasting peoples time
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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  8. #8
    Registered User bitMEL's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    A) Those calculators are inaccurate for most people
    B) You're taking in more calories than you think on a weekly basis
    Hello. Thanks for your reply.
    Can you please explain what you mean by point a. Ive found it to be pretty accurate on myfitnesspal. Sometimes i like to compare whats on the label and app and its only been propely off once. Although im pretty surprised in how little calories fruit has in.

    Regarding point b, when i was tracking my calories, i was doing it as accurate as i could. When it came to my dinner, that was a bit dodgy because i couldn't measure everything because it wasnt made by me, however even if it was off by 100-200 calories (its deffo not more that that since a lot is fairly easy to work out), i would still be under how many cals im 'supposed' to eat. However when i go back to uni, which is very soon, im going to track my calories for 2 weeks straight since ill have more control of the dinners i eat then. I already measure my food out so it'll be very accurate hopefully
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  9. #9
    Registered User bitMEL's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    Why come for advice when you won't listen. Stop wasting peoples time
    Because i need to make it clear that its not just a case of me eating way more calories than i say i do. Just like i should listen to peoples advice, people should reply to what ive said as if they've read it thoroughly and not just reply with what they'd reply regardless of what ive explained. Goes both ways b*
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bitMEL View Post
    Hello. Thanks for your reply.
    Can you please explain what you mean by point a. Ive found it to be pretty accurate on myfitnesspal. Sometimes i like to compare whats on the label and app and its only been propely off once. Although im pretty surprised in how little calories fruit has in.

    Regarding point b, when i was tracking my calories, i was doing it as accurate as i could. When it came to my dinner, that was a bit dodgy because i couldn't measure everything because it wasnt made by me, however even if it was off by 100-200 calories (its deffo not more that that since a lot is fairly easy to work out), i would still be under how many cals im 'supposed' to eat. However when i go back to uni, which is very soon, im going to track my calories for 2 weeks straight since ill have more control of the dinners i eat then. I already measure my food out so it'll be very accurate hopefully
    Point A is that calculators are a rough guideline and not meant to be something use as the final word in calorie intake as peoples calorie burning is very widely varied. 2 people can be the same weight, height and age ant hit the gym the same amount of time every week and their calorie needs will be a lot different, hundreds of calories a day different. This is due to NEAT (calories burned in daily movements outside of structured exercise) and not some downregulating of metabolism.

    Add in inaccurate counting and tracking and the fact that the nutrition calorie specs on food containers can be off as much as 20-25% and you can see how it needs to be a personal equation rather than just using a standard calculator number.

    It's all about trial and error until you get things dialed in and no, adding calories never has and never will cause fatloss unless there is added activity where the calorie burn is greater than the extra calories being consumed. Your body doesn't know numbers, only that it's given calories to either add mass, lose mass or maintain mass.

    Plus only training a couple of body parts is just dumb. If you want a decent body you need to train everything.

    Reread Posts #2 and #4
    Last edited by Tommy W.; 09-22-2021 at 01:29 PM.
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    Registered User Darkius's Avatar
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    Well done studies found you should have 3-6 meals per day. More messes up your metabolism, and fewer messes up your body composition. Intermitant fasting has been refuted and will make you skinny fat if you do it enough.

    Working your chest and back won't make you big. It will just make you lean instead of skinny fat. Buff women take years to get that way and did several bulking cycles. Mainenance calories will never make you buff no matter how much you exercise.

    If you want a flat stomach instead of a little sag you keep chasing till anorexia, you need to exercise all your muscles. That is how you stimulate growth hormone production and get the body of a teen. Thin teens run around. Many millenials don't.
    Last edited by Darkius; 09-27-2021 at 05:14 AM.
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    Registered User Darkius's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bitMEL View Post
    Because i need to make it clear that its not just a case of me eating way more calories than i say i do. Just like i should listen to peoples advice, people should reply to what ive said as if they've read it thoroughly and not just reply with what they'd reply regardless of what ive explained. Goes both ways b*

    That would just mean that point A not B applies to you, and that your body has lower metabolism than the average assumed by calculators. Their advice still applies, that you should exercise more or eat less.

    Please do not drink energy drinks to raise your metabolism. Their primary effect is on your brain, and the metabolism develops dependence on them.


    As for exercising more, there is only so much you can do before you get stronger. So lower calories must be considered by some people. In your case though, you are not yet exercising all your muscles. So you can easily increase calories burned by adding in the other muscle groups.
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    Another poster saying you are potentially overeating calories.
    Buy a food scale and weigh all your food.
    Eat the same calories for a week or two and see what your weight does. Adjust calories accordingly.
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  14. #14
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    Well done studies found you should have 3-6 meals per day. More messes up your metabolism, and fewer messes up your body composition. Intermitant fasting has been refuted and will make you skinny fat if you do it enough.

    .
    that is incorrect, very incorrect. All of it
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    Well done studies found you should have 3-6 meals per day. More messes up your metabolism, and fewer messes up your body composition
    No, there is a slight tradeoff between optimal protein distribution (4-5 feedings) vs. appetite control (1-2 feedings). That's the only real conclusion that can be drawn from the literature AFAIK.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    No, there is a slight tradeoff between optimal protein distribution (4-5 feedings) vs. appetite control (1-2 feedings). That's the only real conclusion that can be drawn from the literature AFAIK.

    I've not seen the studies saying more than 6 meals per day messes up metabolism. Just otherwise trustworthy sounding articles making the claim. I could be wrong and don't know how that would be tested or what exactly it means.


    As for the 1-2 meals being bad, I've seen a hanful of studies with 20-100 partucipants, usually overweight, testing 2 vs 3-4 meals per day.



    As for 2 meals a day, maybe a well designed program can work as well as 3, since the studies I saw did not try to optimize everything but just looked for general patterns. Participants were randomly devided and allowed to pick the food they wanted. One group was only offered food twice a day and the other 3x a day. The 2x a day group lost much more muscle than the 3x per day group. The 2x group also loss more weight total, but muscle.
    Maybe the 2x group could have avoided muscle loss with better exercise and protein intake. But the study at minimum suggests it is easier to reach your goals with 3+ meals since you maybe don't have to be as careful as you would with 1-2 meals.


    Your body needs a carb source even when you sleep, when only 80% of energy comes from fat then. A PhD at my school said that to a room full of coaches. Some anti carb people claim your body will eventually adapt and not need any carbs, but even they agree that for the first 6 weeks it might get the sugar from protein, which your muscles have.

    When you fast long enough to empty your glycogen stores, hopefully your body does not get energy from your muscles. Your fast twitch fibers can't burn fat. You'd be reliant on your liver turning diety protein into sugar.
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