Absolutely no weight loss whatsoever!

(85 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Thu 08-Aug-13 06:49:29

So about 4 weeks ago, I decided to cut down on what I eat. I stopped eating all 'junk' foods like crisps, chocolate etc. I'm mostly a vegetarian and am now eating something like half or two thirds of what I previously ate. Yet I'm not losing any weight at all.

I'm 50 and 5ft 7in and weigh 12 stone. I want to return to about 11 st 6lbs, which was my weight that stayed fairly stable after I'd given birth to twins 12 yrs ago. So it's not like I'm trying to lose vast amounts and am quite relaxed about being plump and rounded, on the whole.

Pre pregnancy, I was 10st 7lbs for years and years. I've never been slim but I've always had a reasonable waist and accepted my chunkier lower half.

But now the weight creeps up and up and no amount of cutting down what I eat has any impact at all. Just after each period starts, I lose maybe one pound for about a week or so - and then it just goes back on. I used to get a 4lbs weight loss around that time but it's now as if my body doesn't do the water loss drop and just keeps it all in!

Currently, a typical day's eating is this:

3 cups of tea with a total of about half a cup of milk across those cuppas
2 marmite rice cakes with cottage cheese and a soft boiled egg
2 tablespoons of rice with salad leaves, tomatoes, celery, spring onion, a few pine nuts and a light sprinkle of grated cheese, with a drizzle of olive oil and soya sauce
Half a piece of fried salmon with salad, as above
2 bananas, one apple, a raw carrot
Watered down fresh orange juice

No alcohol (don't drink at all).

I have no idea what calories I'm eating but it's certainly a lot less than I was and yet I'm maintaining my weight. A few years ago, this kind of eating would have meant I lost easily half a stone within a few weeks. Not anymore.

I refuse to cut down so much that I end up feeling light-headed and irritated and feel my body needs a decent amount of food for health reasons. Yet I also think that if I eat less, in fact I sometimes think, even if I eat nothing, I still won't lose weight!

It's almost like my perimenopausal body has decided to cling on for dear life to all the weight it can accumulate and just won't budge! I'm fairly active but don't have any extra time for formal exercise. I swim and am constantly rushing around up and downstairs and heavy lifting, clearing up etc etc. So if I eat any less than the above, I get very weak and dizzy and don't feel healthy.

Do I just accept that at 50, I'm permanently a different weight and shape forever - or is there a sensible, healthy way of losing about half a stone and staying there?

bunjies Wed 18-Sep-13 20:41:08

Isatdown - unfortunately your thread has disappeared from mumsnet as it was in chat over 30 days ago. sad I don't supposed you've got a cached copy of it you could paste into this topic...? I would very much like to read about your experience as it sounds alot like me.

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Thu 19-Sep-13 22:37:13

Hi, I am isatdownandwept (I name change every few months).

So, research was on the effect of a very high protein, calorie controlled diet versus a normal calorie controlled diet. Done by Imperial (still ongoing if you live in London and want to volunteer...). Having eaten nothing but healthy food, complex carbs and good protein for pretty much the last decade I knew I wouldn't lose weight but i went into the research because i wanted to find out answers and this was my best chance - I had full MRI scans during study, went into a proper metabolic measurement hood, had bloods taken (pints and pints, it seemed). I figured that this would give me more insight than all my trips to Harley street hadn't (oh yes, have sat down with many an endocrinologist and suchlike). To prepare for the diet I had to not be dieting to start with, so I expanded my diet before I started, and upped my carbs too, to a more 'normal' level. My base rate metabolism was 1,975 going in, and finished at just under 1,400 12 weeks later. Which was a direct result of reducing my calories (I kept all habits and exercise the same). Total weight loss was less than 2kg (which all happened in first 2 weeks so probably in the time it took my metabolic rate to adjust). On the very positive side, the MRI scans showed my liver fat % (the next big thing in the fat debate) changed quite a bit, proving that upping protein as an alternative to filling up on carbs is a very good thing (for me at least).

For me, i got an explanation, but not a way forward. Having spent a decade wanting to cry when doing all the right things had no effect, i did at least get further forward in understanding myself. i even got diagnosed with ME a few years ago which I didnt believe at the time, and now i realise it was my body simply hibernating (at the time I was exercising and also sticking to a 1,200 diet - my body just shut down in order to stop me using up more than 1,200 calories). I am a very successful, very intelligent businesswoman so it was horrific feeling ignorant about myself and I am relieved that I now understand my body so much more.

What I don't have is a way forward. Am putting this story out again and again because I truly believe that I am not the only person whose body works this way and we are all being ignored by medical research. There's been stuff on rats showing that this 'enhanced metabolic efficiency' exists and explains why you can't shift weight, but there doesn't seem to be anything being done on solving it.

For what it's worth I think my own circs arose because having my second child seems to have 're-set' my hormones, and I think my body acts as if I am still pg (second child was an elective C-S whcih I also think could be a factor). I'm prepared to believe that the process of dieting itself quite possibly permanently fucks you up, and I also think that the hormones that are pumped into the food chain these days are probably a strong contender in the cause and effect considerations. What frustrates me most is that this is a 21st century issue, still being treated as a 20th century one. 'Eat less, move more' is what got me an ME diagnosis. We have to be cleverer than just think that is the mantra that'll work, surely?

That's amazing Cloudy - the body is so incredible isn't it (not much comfort to you I'm sure but fascinating to find out what is going on and at least understand why dieting isn't working for you).

What are you doing now - if anything? Do you eat only unprocessed/organic food as much as possible or anything like that? Have you tried exercise at all? It would be interesting to find out if your body adapted the same way to that...

TheFarSide Fri 20-Sep-13 00:11:28

Thanks for sharing that CloudyBay. Very interesting stuff about the body shutting down at a particular point to prevent further energy expenditure.

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Fri 20-Sep-13 16:38:31

Next steps for me are fairly radical. Probably lipo, possibly abdominoplasty. Neither of which I relish but there are studies that seem to suggest that this stuff sometimes 're-sets' your metabolism. But I am not sure. I am a size 18 so not morbidly obese or anything like that so there's a large part of me that thinks I should just suck it up, but then there's another part of me that is still a real snob about weight and what it implies in terms of willpower attitude to health, which is difficult to ignore. I also spent the first 35 years of my life enjoying buying clothes (was always skinny before), and I want to be able to buy nice clothes again. And to not have to put talc on my thighs to stop them chafing.urgh.

And yes, I also do the whole exercise thing. My personal trainer is an ex-Olympian and I've exercised for years. Proper stuff too - resistance, aerobic, anaerobic. Am quite good at taking my heart rate up the max, doing a few k on the concept rower, etc. it's left me strong, flexible (like you wouldn't believe for a fat bird). But still fat. And usually ravenous with hunger (that's the body trying to match calories in with calories out).

I'm also taking desiccated pigs thyroid. Gross, eh?

happyaliw Fri 20-Sep-13 18:19:16

Very interesting Cloudy, and very revealing too.

I would be lying if I claimed I could provide an absolute answer for you as you are doing pretty much everything I would suggest - I have though, come across several individuals with a very similar profile over the years and the approach is rather different.

One method I have used to reasonably good effect requires plenty of self control and far stricter calorie observation than I would usually suggest - it actually goes against what I would suggest for 95% of people as it requires the use of calorie counting (hypocrite I know.)

It have used it to great success with physique competitors with almost non existent metabolisms after years of extreme dieting.

The process outlined below is simple but CAN work - no double blind studies here - just anecdotal observations.

- Move your calorie consumption UP in tiny increments, between 10 and 20 per day, or even less. The aim is to slowly move your calorie consumption up whilst MAINTAINING your weight - if you gain a little pull back, if you lose a little add on - losing weight should be seen negatively. This process enables your body time to adapt to new calorie quantities and therefore adjust endocrine processes accordingly, in other words reignite everything that has shut down. -

It could be months and months before you see any results as you will not be trying to lose weight - simply readjusting the way your body absorbs and utilises calories.

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Sat 21-Sep-13 21:10:16

Thanks for your thoughts, but you are trying to solve the wrong problem. I don't put weight on either (except whilst metabolic rate is recalculating when I change my calories) Your advice is good or someone with a very low, sluggish metabolic rate. My metabolic rate adjusts very rapidly. I have got it back up now and I am maintaining weight. It's not a sluggish metabolic problem I have - it is on over-efficient metabolic problem. Google 'enhanced metabolic efficiency' and look at the research. My metabolic rate mechanism is super efficient and my thyroid is working perfectly, too. What I need to happen is for my metabolic rate to stay at, say, 1,700 (round about where it is now given my diet), whilst my calorie intake drops to, say, 1,200.

I totally get what you are advising - your advice would have a sluggish metabolic rate move up by tiny increments until it starts behaving normally. But that's simply not my problem. I don't have to move my calories up by 10,20 a day - i can shove them up by 400 at a time without putting weight on, because my metabolic rate adjusts upwards accordingly. It's whizzing round at a high level now (because im not dieting, just eating healthily) but it will drop the minute I cut the calories.

This is what I mean when I say there is no research. Everything is geared to adjusting calorie intake/expenditure around a given, stable, metabolic rate (whatever that may be), not around how you hold that metabolic rate steady whilst adjusting calorie in/out changes.

CoteDAzur Sun 22-Sep-13 09:50:33

You should be able to increase your metabolic rate while cutting calories by increasing your muscle mass - i.e. exercising. Unless your body works on principles totally alien to human physiology? Sorry, I'm not sure if I understood your posts correctly but it seems like you are saying that your metabolic rate tanks as soon as you cut a few calories off your diet.

That's exactly what she's saying the tests showed Côte.

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Sun 22-Sep-13 16:25:47

Yep. Metabolic rate dropped to 1.400 as soon as diet dropped to 1,400.

And I exercise 3-4 times weekly, heart rate to 165 for 30 minutes (on a 2 mins up, 30 secs rest rotation), using bike, treadmill, concept 2, then I have 20 mins resistance work with my trainer, then a bit of floor work for abs etc then stretching (trainer does all the stretching stuff whilst I just groan). The net effect of all this is that if I don't feed myself extra (am ravenous after exercise), then my body shuts down to conserve energy. Usually by falling asleep without warning (have twice had to sleep in car outside restaurants whilst family finish their dinner, have had to be woken up in work meetings, have found myself asleep on loo at work, have fainted at train station, have slept 14 hours straight quite often when I overdo the exercise).

Nothing unusual about my body's workings in that calories in - calories out = fat storage/reduction. Problem with me (and I suspect many others) is when fat storage stays constant instead of adjusting, meaning that my body forces the calories expended to = calories input, so that the ratio still works. And it does it by shutting down if if eat too little or exercise too much, and also by dropping my temperature to 34 degrees (which leaves me very lethargic)

It's not an unknown phenomena and here is some research on it if your still sceptical. Problem is that no-one is exploring whether I'm in a minority of say 2% of population (and should be ignored) or whether what I go through is reflected in 30-40 % of fatties. No-one looks at measuring metabolic rate/temperature in dieters but I'd be bloody interested to see the results if they did.

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Sun 22-Sep-13 16:44:45

Typo in there. Apologies.

By the way, this isn't alien to human physiology at all. Dame Nancy Rothwell was doing research on all of this way back in the 80's. I just think everyone assumes its only a small minority of people, whereas no-one really knows, it could be one of the major factors in obesity these days.

I'm hoping that the Imperial research study I was on might turn up a few of us with the same measured results,showing our metabolic rates doing extra-ordinary things (relative to normal expected ranges of metabolic rate shift capacity), which would be really interesting (even though it isn't the main focus of the research).

I think you are more evolved than the rest of us Cloudysmile

The only thing I can think of recommending to you is switching your workout around, spend 30 mins lifting heavy weights (by which I mean you struggle to do more than 6-8 reps) then 10-12 mins of HIIT, followed by core work and stretch. The aim being to build muscle (you will also need to adjust your diet to include plenty of protein, which you are used to smile aim for 1g of protein for every lb of bodyweight at your ideal weight). The HIIT will hopefully blast fat and raise your metabolism over the 12-24 hrs following the exercise, without inducing the stress effect that longer cardio sessions can? Apologies if you have already tried this but if not then maybe discuss it with your trainer? I have absolutely no idea if it will work but may be worth a try.....

CoteDAzur Sun 22-Sep-13 22:14:28

Cloudy - I'm not skeptical about your metabolism being efficient re calories in/out. I was pointing out that it should be possible to increase your metabolism through exercising and increasing your body's muscle mass.

"whether I'm in a minority of say 2% of population or whether what I go through is reflected in 30-40 % of fatties"

If such a large population was passing out after exercising to conserve energy, I think that would have been noticed.

This is not even just about efficient metabolism. What you are describing would mean that your body is not capable of using its energy reserves (i.e. convert fat into energy and use it). It sounds very strange, indeed.

CoteDAzur Sun 22-Sep-13 22:25:22

And re your exercise program:

"heart rate to 165 for 30 minutes (on a 2 mins up, 30 secs rest rotation), using bike, treadmill, concept 2"

30 minutes cardio is probably not long enough. You don't start burning fat until 20-30 minutes into a cardio workout. I was told that cardio workout should be 45-60 minutes.

Also, 2 mins up/30 secs rest intervals should be pushed up as your physical condition improves. Thinking of the treadmill, for example, 2 min run/30 sec walk would be fine in the first week, but then you should quickly move on to 5 mins run/2 min walk intervals for example, then 8 mins run/2 min walk etc. In less than 2 months, you would be running for 25-30 minutes without a rest.

"then I have 20 mins resistance work with my trainer"

I'm not sure what "resistance work" refers to here, but if it is similar to weight training, I'm pretty sure that you are advised to do that before the cardio for fat loss/weight loss.

Actually, I would love to know what happens if you start running. I would be willing to bet money that you will see the change in your body before you reach the end of the C25K program smile

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Sun 22-Sep-13 23:05:22

Have had 3 trainers in last 7 years and they have all done the same - aerobic, then anaerobic. Current one is a triple-Olympian, who's been training people for 15 years. We do vary it (we sometimes run for an hour instead, sometimes we box for 45 minutes), but I was simply wanting to point out some of the detail so you know I am doing proper sessions, not just wimping round a stair machine and a power plate for half an hour.

In terms of raising metabolism the last research i read suggests the effect of exercise on raising RMR is unlikely to exceed a maximum of a 3% swing, so a drop in the ocean compared to the 30% swings in my RMR caused by diet, recorded by Imperial under full medical research conditions at the Hammersmith hospital. It may sound very strange indeed, but its fact. I underwent 12 weeks of monitored medical research to understand it. With every piece of food recorded and controlled.

i am nothing if not thorough and have spent many, many commutes digging through the body of research (not just the abstracts) f anything I can find related to this and if you read the research I've referenced, you'll find what I describe is well documented, so clearly not that extreme. I imagine most people don't end up passing out because most people give up when something doesn't work. Ive certainly cut down from the 7 days a week because it was unsustainable, and I can only do the current regime by eating more to avoid the shut-down. The only reason I ended up shutting down and fainting was because i am quite a driven person, and blindly believed that if I ate a good, healthy 1,200 diet and worked out 7 days a week I would lose weight. So I continued on and on and on. And when nothing happened I simply adjusted the carbs down and upped the exercise. End result - shutdown, medical intervention, etc. I would say there's probably not that many people who have both my level of dogged obstinance and the metabolism effect, no. But I think there's a lot of people with the same metabolism issue who try exercise/dieting for 6 weeks or so and then give up when it doesn't work, rather than (like me) getting stroppy with myself and stepping it up.

Mintyy Sun 22-Sep-13 23:20:58

Hi Cloudy, I believe I am the same. I think my metabolism simply adjusts downwards to whatever level of calories I choose to give it. I am the person who did nearly a year of 5:2 dieting and didn't lose a pound (while my dh has lost coming up to 3 stone), but my thyroid is apparently normal. Your posts make for fascinating reading.

Sorry Cloudy, you must be really frustrated. But have also you tried what I suggest, heavy weights and Tabata (4 mins total, so very short, very intense) HIIT? Interval cardio/boxing for the periods you describe would be exhausting for anyone and although you are clearly fit, it doesn't seem to be working in other respects....I wouldn't expect your weight to necessarily drop with my suggestion but it may change your muscle/fat ratio and leave you feeling and looking slimmer?

Cote, your advice regarding the 30 mins/'fat burning zone" stuff is outdated. Cloudy is interval training with the running, it isn't being done to get to a point where she does long runs, which is what your advice about run/walk periods relates to (as with c25k). The heart rate she reaches when running would be a result of a virtual sprint on the treadmill, followed by a recovery period and repeated.

Oh and Cloudy my next approach after that would be to block the idea of calories from your mind, eat as healthily as you can, enjoy your meals and do yoga smile.

happyaliw Mon 23-Sep-13 10:45:35

Spot on regarding exercise Sleep - good advice.

Cloudy - I read the piece you linked to on metabolic efficiency - a very interesting paper, thank you for suggesting as reading, very insightful.

I'm interested in the changes in your body composition Cloudy?

Are you finding that your partitioning of calories is changing based on certain criteria i.e - are you gaining more fat with a lower calorie intake etc.

As you instantaneously adapt to intake from a weight perspective, it would be interesting to know whether your body is changing composition positively or negatively at either end of the scale.

I suspect no specialist will be able to give you an absolute answer to the intricate workings of your own biochemistry, although I will say from my own experience it is not entirely common to your extremity. MOST people do lose weight once they eat sensible foods, exercise regularly and manage stress.

That said, there is no doubt that many people are more metabolically efficient as you have suggested and even 1% would still represent millions of people struggling in the same fashion.

I see that you have two options - I am sure you have come to the same conclusion.

Either you must take Sleeps advice; relax and enjoy life, eat healthily, exercise well and accept yourself for the healthy, driven successful person you are - OR pursue your bodies reaction to every possible stimulus with meticulous observation until you notice consistent patterns that can be replicated to success or detriment - the answer will lie in your own body and you are the best positioned to discover it - no expert can monitor and obsess in the same way you can.

There is an answer, of that I am sure. Perhaps the answer is in the mind - even the most sceptical of scientists acknowledge that the mind creates processes in the body way beyond current scientific understanding and is far more powerful than we can possibly comprehend.

Obsession is a dangerous game though, and I would never promote this as it can send a person insane - but there again most profound answers are found this way - perhaps you are already closer to a breakthrough than you think.

Oh - we should apologise to blog by the way, we seem to have hijacked your thread somewhat blush.

Cloudy there is obviously some unusual stuff going on with your metabolism and I am interested in all the stuff happiAli asks about too - but in addition, what your day to day life is like. You say you are a very successful businesswoman, would I be right in saying this means quite a lot of stress and time pressure? Do you frequently eat on the run or combine business meetings with meals?

Again, I'm not sure if it would be the answer (and I am aware this may sound a bit woo...), but I think the way we eat and approach meals also affects how our body metabolises them. The more relaxed we are, the more we savour and enjoy meals (impossible when rushed, stressed or discussing work) the less efficiently digestion works? Maybe this happens already but if you let go of the worry about your calories/metabolism/work and just enjoyed the best quality, nutritious meals you could get, regularly, it may, just may change things?

Just thinking about what I just posted, I realise it may sound counter-intuitive, making your digestion etc more efficient Cloudy, to explain my ponderings, I just wonder if your body is mostly in stressed, fight or flight type mode, what with work, intense exercise, worry about what you are eating, it is actually hyper-efficient at maintaining your body's status quo confused, and if life and food (possibly exercise) became more relaxed, it might be less so and behave more predictably...or how we generally consider predictable?

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Mon 23-Sep-13 15:48:15

Hahaha. I wondered that too, once, so I gave up work for 12 months. And went absolutely loop-de-loop bonkers grin have you ever tried living without deadlines? Horrific.

I'm actually less stressed these days than I ever was, business runs itself with my fab office mgr doing most stuff, and I am full time with a dream client at the moment which is bliss. I have always been one of those 100mile-an-hour people, though, so am sure there's been far too much testosterone/cortisone in my system than entirely necessary...

Anyway, time for the thread to taper off, methinks. Has been interesting putting it all down in writing and now its here i can link and refer to it instead of repeating.

Thanks all for comments. The minute i slip into a size 12 I will be sure to come back and let you all know.

grin. Good luck Cloudy

CoteDAzur Mon 23-Sep-13 20:23:45

"Have had 3 trainers in last 7 years and they have all done the same - aerobic, then anaerobic"

And yet they are not infallible.

Check out LiveStrong, which says cardio after weights is healthier

In your place, I would think that whatever I am doing is not working and get a new trainer + a new dietician.

Good luck.

happyaliw Tue 24-Sep-13 08:41:17

CoteDazur - you have no knowledge of nutrition beyond what your dietician has told you and no knowledge of exercise beyond what you've read on a website that was founded by the most obnoxious cheat that ever walked the earth.

Yes cardio after weights CAN be better - well done for explaining that. If you knew anything about the reasons behind WHY it was better you would understand why it would not make any difference to cloudy.

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