Borderline underweight after low carbing, now what?

(45 Posts)

Been low carbing since last summer and successfully lost over 35 pounds. I'm now into the 19 BMI range and starting to look very gaunt and spare.
I'm 43 and my periods seem to be getting erratic.

I do a lot of exercise and do dance/strength training or similar 5 days a week, which I love. It keeps me sane and is my only opportunity to do something with other adults.

My carbs were about 30g a day now they are 100-120g but I'm still losing weight. My calories are about 1800 - some days over 2200 but I think 8-9 hours of training a week plus rushing about all day as SAHM to a three year old is burning off a lot.

I don't want to go back to eating bread. I don't like sugar but have a glass or two of wine most nights. I'm eating full fat Greek yog, cheese, chicken with skin, oily fish, red meat, nuts, eggs, avocados etc but find it hard to eat more of this kind of food as it is so filling. I don't snack and meals are fast and rushed as no time to eat them.

Any ideas apart from the obvious eat more exercise less?
Anyone else found they kept losing whilst low carbing even though ey didn't want to? Could it be a thyroid thing? Or something else?

Might post this in exercise too but wanted to speak to other low carb people first!

notwoo Fri 07-Feb-14 11:56:13

When I low carbed I found that the weight contined to fall off even once I'd started introducing more carbs. There seems to be a sort of delay.
But I got a bit complacent and ate more and more carbs and started putting weight back on after about a month or so.
How about increasing your starchy veg-carrots, potatoes etc. or introduce porridge for breakfast and see how you get on.

RayPurchase Fri 07-Feb-14 11:56:28

Maybe introduce some carby-er veg and fruit? Sweet potatoes, bananas etc.

giraffeseatpineapples Fri 07-Feb-14 18:28:57

You prob know all this already... but I think I remeber you were fasting before? are you exercising before breakfast, app that is good for weightloss so if you don't want to lose weight you might need to eat more before exercising?

Could you add back some quinoa, white potato or brown rice maybe if you have already tried fruit and stachyy orange veg?

Good excuse for paleo deserts though grin www.self.com/fooddiet/recipes/2013/04/banana-ice-cream-roasted-almonds

I would add in some low GI carbs as suggested above - lentils, quinoa, beans, sweet potato. Maybe also a daily protein shake made with milk (cows/almond/soya), nut butter, banana?

Have you considered reducing the amount of cardio you are doing? Focus a little more on weights, maybe introduce some yoga?

I'd also really try and slow down with your meals, I know your toddler is demanding but have at least one slow, mindful, relaxed meal, maybe after bedtime is done? Your body won't be getting the best of all the food you are eating if you consume it on the run.

Thanks v much for ideas. I'm trying more carbs - had half banana today, some sweet potato fries with toddler. Two no-exercise days a week (but I'm still on my feet all day and rushing about). I don't do any cardio - just dance and strength training - trx, core conditioning, pole fitness conditioning and barre conditioning and dance rehearsals.

Just put today's food and though I thought I ate loafs today after heavy training (3.5 hours) yesterday it's under 700 cal and 82 carbs! Had Greek yog with strawberries and nuts, 2 take out trays salmon maki, half banana. Dinner is 4 lamb chops, will make effort and do broccoli and green beans and spinach feta salad. Plus Friday wine. Will still come in c. 1800 calories or so.

But I guess there's the answer: I'm not eating enough for my activity levels. I think my metabolism has revved up too and got super efficient. Plus my hunger has changed - am satiated faster and blood sugar is very stable I think compared to before.

Will keep checking because I don't want to get any more haggard lean.

Loads not loafs!

I think you've figured it out yourself then grin. You posted a while back re possibly having a distorted perception of how much food was 'a lot'...this may be at the heart of it. You've also probably hit the nail on the head re blood sugar and metabolism, you are eating great stuff, but you need more!

giraffeseatpineapples Sat 08-Feb-14 14:48:29

Oh well done checking the cals and carbs. Good idea to have some more greens, maybe look for some nice veg side dishes to inspire you!

I have been having a green smoothie (4 portions veg 2 fruit) the last couple of mornings as I am not great at eating veg and it does taste nice and no slower than making eggs really, plus you can keep half in the fridge for the following morning.

pootlebug Sun 09-Feb-14 10:06:38

Have you read Loren Cordain's book on Paleo for Athletes? It talks about what/when to eat post-exercise for recovery (and the rest of the time) and about replenishing carb stores specifically post exercise. From what you say I think it might be useful.

Jollyb Sun 09-Feb-14 10:10:07

Agree you should get your thyroid checked. This happened to my sister. She started weight watchers around the same time that she became hyperthyroid. Took her a while to work out why she continued to lose weight once she was on maintenance.

BIWI Sun 09-Feb-14 10:14:21

The theory behind low carbing is that as it burns fat, there will come a point where it won't burn any more, and that is when your weight loss stops.

Sounds like it would be a good idea to get someone to check your body fat. If you go to a gym they will have either calipers or an electronic device that can do this for you.

It sounds to me, although I'm obviously not a medic, that you are risking losing muscle mass now, because your calorie intake is so low. And 1800 calories is low if you're doing all that exercise.

Best thing, I think, would be to increase your carbs by adding potatoes and rice/pasta to occasional meals - this will also increase your calories.

I would, though, also suggest that you go and see your GP if you're continuing to lose weight like this, just to check everything is OK.

Body fat is very low.
Gone from 17% to 14.7% and lost 5lb lean body mass since October which is v worrying.

Thanks everyone.
I will check out hyperthyroidism to see if I have any symptoms. And I will check that paleo athlete book.

giraffeseatpineapples Wed 12-Feb-14 19:21:25

trucks I have just started reading chris kresser your personal paleo. It seems really good. These are the macronutient recommendations for a woman who wishes to maintain weight or gain muscle: in general 30 - 45 (around 150 -225g ) (but can be up to 60 %) per cent of cals from carbs, and protein 1.0 - 1.25 g per pound of body weight. Also he only counts the carbs in dairy products, starchy veg and grains and fruit - not those in meat or low carb veg such as brocoli as these are difficult to break down and the glucose they contain is therefore used in the process of digestion rather than utilised as energy.

He also reccomends gradually adding foods such as legumes back to the diet, if benefits of low carb / paleo have plateued, and monitoring the effects. Gluten and refined sugars would be bottom of the list of things to add back though and only occasionally if no side effects.

Thank so much - that's really interesting.
I have been logging on MFP and just checked back last 90 days.

Am 125lb or less so should be eating 125-156g protein but only managed that a dozen times: managed between 100g and 150g about half the time. So, not eating enough protein.

Carbs: always under 150g and frequently under 100g. And mostly from green veg like spinach and broccoli, plus avocados, tomatoes, berries, whole milk plain yog.
So not eating enough carbs.

Despite eating over 1800 calories many days I'm burning them off so I guess I just need to find time to snack.

The more I exercise though the less I want to eat: for at least two hours after exercise I just don't feel remotely hungry.

Do I sound like I have some kind of eating disorder? I'm getting a bit freaked out now.

BIWI Thu 13-Feb-14 07:54:40

Have you made an appointment to see your GP? That's really important, just to check you out.

And yes, you need to eat more calories and carbs. Can you not introduce some legumes, as giraffes suggests? How about frozen peas? Why not have a slice of wholemeal toast in the morning?

What about your fat intake? Are you eating plenty of that? Your body will be able to use that for fuel if you're adapted to low carbing - but you haven't got much bodily fat so dietary fat looks like it's necessary for you.

I might also suggest that you try and cut down the exercise a little bit. You can become as addicted to that as you can to food - swapping one 'obsession' for another!

But you really do need to eat more and see your GP.

Bunbaker Thu 13-Feb-14 08:00:05

Do you think you are turning into an adrenaline junkie?

Trucks if you are concerned about an eating disorder (and various posts I've seen from you suggest to me that you may be borderline) then definitely see your GP. Otherwise, you have been regularly eating less calories than you need, particularly with your level of exercise, so it's only to be expected that you are losing weight. How many rest days - no exercise at all, do you have? I'd suggest trying a couple a week, even two together on a weekend? BIWI has a good point with the exercise obsession.

Concentrate on eating more to fuel your body better. I'd be throwing away the scales and not counting calories for most people, telling them to eat according to their appetite, but I think you have maybe disengaged from yours sad. Changes to habits, eating more snacks and more food at meal times is probably the key for you. Even just adding in a protein shake (dairy/soy/almond or coconut milk) with a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter thrown in would be a great snack to have at some point?

Oh, it's also really hard to hit those levels of protein every day without things like protein shakes. And don't forget about getting plenty of fat too, you don't mention that and IMO MFP sets the bar too low on that. Focus on nuts, olives, avocados, eggs and oily fish.

giraffeseatpineapples Sat 15-Feb-14 17:29:08

Sorry trucks try not to get too stressed. This has presumably all come from you trying to make changes to become healthier ( I haven't read many of your posts though) I am sure you can bring it back and gain some weight . I guess GP visit is in order because you might not even be underweight or if you are it might be thyroid etc rather than an ed.

A fairly easy thing to do would be to add in some microwaved sweet potatoes with lunch and dinner and slather some butter on top?

Were there any nutritious foods you used to love that you could add in occasionaly as a treat? Just be careful as from experience I know its easy to go the other way when trying to gain weight. It is v hard to get it right frankly [cross]

Thanks for all the advice and sorry late reply.
I don't have a GP but will find one and ask for bloods.
I think it's activity levels and lack of time rather than eD as I've never had an ed and have been a bit overweight through lack if exercise and eating too many hasty sandwiches before plus booze rather than bingeing or starving.

5:2/16:8 did mess with my appetite though and it's very hard to over eat low carbing.

I am doing 8-10 hours exercise weekly plus active and on feet so I think it's just hard to hit enough protein and fat when I gag on milkshake type protein smoothies.
I fit in a class during morning when DS at playgroup 9-12 and again when he's in bed most days.

Saturday 2 hours pole strength training
Sunday off
Monday dance/strength class
Tues trx core strength class then pole strength in evening
Wednesday off
Thurs ballet barre class. Trx class (strength) then dance class at night.
Friday off.

I don't think of it as a heavy training schedule so have been eating 1800 cals a day. Am 5'7 and slim build.
It looks like I need to eat more on days off and more carbs so have tried with extra nuts, cheese, ham, avocado, bit of buttered wholemeal bread and started eating breakfast.

Was another 2 lb down this morning as did additional two hours dance rehearsals this weekend. :-/ even though I ate more so trying to track down paleo athlete recommendations. Reluctant to give up classes as is my only contact with other adults as SAHM.

BIWI Mon 17-Feb-14 16:39:06

Seriously, I think you need to cut back on your exercise and find other ways to interact with adults, until you get your weight stabilised. I think you have a disordered relationship with food and exercise, personally. And 1800 calories simply isn't enough.

Where are the extra carbs? Not many in those things - and you say a 'bit' of wholemeal bread - how much is that? Sweet potatoes, some potato and even pasta/rice should be added to your diet I think.

BIWI Mon 17-Feb-14 16:43:48

how much do you weigh now?

BIWI Mon 17-Feb-14 16:45:35

With your height and BMI of 19 I guessed that you are 120lbs, and according to this site you should be eating 2225 calories a day

Thanks for all the advice and sorry late reply.
I don't have a GP but will find one and ask for bloods.
I think it's activity levels and lack of time rather than eD as I've never had an ed and have been a bit overweight through lack if exercise and eating too many hasty sandwiches before plus booze rather than bingeing or starving.

5:2/16:8 did mess with my appetite though and it's very hard to over eat low carbing.

I am doing 8-10 hours exercise weekly plus active and on feet so I think it's just hard to hit enough protein and fat when I gag on milkshake type protein smoothies.
I fit in a class during morning when DS at playgroup 9-12 and again when he's in bed most days.

Saturday 2 hours pole strength training
Sunday off
Monday dance/strength class
Tues trx core strength class then pole strength in evening
Wednesday off
Thurs ballet barre class. Trx class (strength) then dance class at night.
Friday off.

I don't think of it as a heavy training schedule so have been eating 1800 cals a day. Am 5'7 and slim build.
It looks like I need to eat more on days off and more carbs so have tried with extra nuts, cheese, ham, avocado, bit of buttered wholemeal bread and started eating breakfast.

Was another 2 lb down this morning as did additional two hours dance rehearsals this weekend. :-/ even though I ate more so trying to track down paleo athlete recommendations. Reluctant to give up classes as is my only contact with other adults as SAHM.

Sorry don't know why that posted twice.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Mon 17-Feb-14 17:48:11

I don't understand why you say you don't have time to eat properly yet can spend hours working out?

giraffeseatpineapples Mon 17-Feb-14 18:05:16

Just to add to what biwi said about potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes etc - a couple of books I have read recently seem to really emphasise the importance of tubers and that they are a food we have evolved to eat, ( not to mention they are delicious and easy roasted grin ) App the evening is the ideal time to have them.

Ok, there is no other way for me to have social contact with adults here other than exercise classes. I live abroad. My friends and family are 12000 miles away.

I need to find a way to eat more rather than dance less.
The days I don't train I don't get to talk to another adult all day, just 3 yr old DS - and DH works late. Dance is keeping me sane at the moment. The rest of the time is laundry supermarket housework admin and taking DS to therapy things. It's flat out.

Today I had 2 small slices wholemeal with butter, 40g ham, 50g cheese and a tomato and small banana for breakfast.
Dance class, 2 supermarket shops, pick up DS.

Lunch was a cold chicken drumstick with skin and leftover BbQ spare rib: was going for protein and fat. I am now full and can't face stuffing down something when I don't want it.
(DS had drumstick, buttered bread, tomatoes, raw carrots,, cheese chunks and an apple. I was going to eat same but was full after the meat bit).

I will then be out all rest of day taking DS to therapy things - - no chance to snack, nor any interest in it really - and back 5pm teatime - DS will have sausage broccoli and sweet potato fries - I will try and eat same as him at 5pm.

DH working late so no dinner to cook tonight.
I am unlikely to be hungry again once DS has gone to bed but if I am can make spinach and avocado salad with feta. Was going to have early night.

That is a fairly typical day - the opportunities to eat are a bit limited tbh.

6am get up
7am DS breakfast. I try to eat but usually not hungry.
8.30am playgroup drop off
9.15 -10.15 supermarket
10.30-11.30 a class. Ie an hour for me.
11.45 set off to collect DS at noon.
12.30 do DS lunch and help him eat it, eat same myself or something grabbed from supermarket ie: rotisserie chicken and bag salad.

Rest of day out doing DS SN therapy things. Housework laundry admin fitted in plus prepping his meals
5-7pm DS tea bath bed - eat with him if going to evening class/ DH working late
7.45-8.45pm class or make dinner for DH and me
10pm bed.

All I do is Stepford wife stuff and SAHM mother stuff and play therapy stuff and driving about: do I want to stay in dutifully baking sweet potatoes or making quinoa (which DS and DH won't eat) or would I rather get out the house and dance and talk to other grown ups? If I can carve out an hour during daylight for myself and an hour in the evening on nights when I'd otherwise be home alone, what can I do with that hour that makes me feel alive, stretches me out, helps me sleep, makes me sweat and gives me some mental challenge and social time?

It's the only time I'm not on duty.
I realise it all sounds very self indulgent.

Trucks I understand your need to exercise but I the 'not hungry' at breakfast and knowing the exact grammes of cheese and ham you ate worries me. You need to force yourself to eat some kind of breakfast, even a protein shake, and make it a habit. You need to eat more at lunch and dinner - including carbs of some kind - and probably snacks too (a handful of raw nuts or an avocado doesn't take any time or effort) You are going to make yourself ill sad.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Mon 17-Feb-14 19:37:36

Yes nuts are great for a quick nourishing snack - keep in your bag and glove compartment. Good with dried apricots as well. Sorry to make you explain your day; I remember the Stepford Wife feeling (but you know you're not really one, yes?) but I wasn't living abroad so at least had the opportunity to socialise.
Are there any language classes you could do occasionally instead? Or maybe something less calorie-burning, like yoga? chess? tiddleywinks?

giraffeseatpineapples Mon 17-Feb-14 19:42:33

I don't think you should give up on classes but there is nothing dutiful about making food for you that you like and seriously microwaving a sweet potato takes seconds - just wash prick and wrap in kitchen paper then just let it cook. The more you eat the more your appetite will increase.

giraffeseatpineapples Mon 17-Feb-14 19:48:20

I know little about exercising and have no idea if you are doing too much but this article suggests over exercising can cause hyperthyroidism chriskresser.com/why-you-may-need-to-exercise-less, not trying to make you give up something you love but maybe changing exercise classes a little might help or at least be worth keeping in mind? Where do you live by the way?

That is v interesting article. Knew about hypothyroidism but didn't expect hyperthyroid stuff to be issue from over training.

Was shaky and cold with hunger at 4pm today so excused myself from DS therapy for ten mins and are some almonds I found in bag. Sitting on floor for hours all afternoon whilst therapists encourage him to make eye contact is not great for looking after myself - I don't even get a cup of tea from lunch til back home at 5pm and then have to throw his tea together and feed him while he fusses rather than boil kettle and sit down!

Have packed big bag of nuts and dried fruit for tomorrow so will have that to hand if I miss breakfast again and don't have much of a lunch - prepped chicken legs for lunch, to be eaten with buttered green beans and broccoli- and going to make bolognaise with beef, lentil and grated carrots for dinner Wednesday night.

Protein shakes I just can't handle. Hope nuts and apricots and raisins will suffice.

Am in West Indies. Small island. Not much to do except exercise here: cultural opportunities limited, SAHMs do classes to meet others once the baby group phase is done.

I don't actually weigh food out any more: I just know what 50g cheese looks like after months of logging on MFP and am now tracking it all to see macros and if I'm eating enough rather than to diet. When I cook 3 yr old portions of food it's hard to remember what adult portions look like! Everything fits onto a small plastic ikea plate
And is shared with DS!

Yes but Trucks it's pretty clear you aren't eating enough! Please - you are losing lean muscle at a pretty swift rate. If you are cold and shaking with hunger it is Not A Good Thing - forget MFP, forget macros. Eat more. A lot more. The nuts and fruit should be snack food, as well as breakfast, not in place of. By all means get yourself checked out for thyroid etc but to me, I'm sorry but you seem unwilling or unable to accept and change your dieting habits. If you don't look after yourself properly, who is going to look after your son? [ sad]

BIWI Tue 18-Feb-14 13:07:45

Why can't you make yourself a sandwich to take with you while you're waiting for your son's therapy to finish?

How many more times do people on this thread have to tell you that YOU ARE NOT EATING ENOUGH!

I'm sorry for the shouting, but it's very, very, very worrying reading your post and the way you are wilfully ignoring what people are saying, and still restricting your food.

I am in the room with him and the therapist; I am part of the therapy. I can't just start eating in the room with then. I am working.

Have taken on board comments am not eating enough and trying to eat more. There just isn't any flipping time in the day to fit it in.

Trucks your body fat, at around 14% is on the line where it becomes defined as dangerously low. Your periods seem to be stopping. You are cold. Your body is going into survival mode, trying desperately to preserve the fat it has left (hence muscle loss). You will probably start noticing your performance in exercise deteriorating, your skin, hair, nails and digestion may be suffering. Much worse than this though, you are risking hormonal imbalances, a compromised immune system, osteoporosis later on, psychological problems. What, out of all these horrible things and more, doesn't make you think maybe you can force down a meal like breakfast when you aren't really feeling 'hungry' (I'm not sure you know what that is, I think perhaps you have disassociated yourself so much from the feeling, or are slightly high on the control and/or deprivation) or make the time to add more substance to meals and make sure you snack? I'm not having a go, but your reasons for not eating enough really just sound like excuses and as BIWI says, it is very worrying. Please get some help sad.

BIWI Thu 27-Feb-14 08:25:01

Trucks - have you been to see your GP yet?

Not yet, had visitors staying for a week so ate more and exercised less. Put on 2lb and taken training schedule down from 10 hours to 6 for next 3 weeks.

BIWI Mon 03-Mar-14 13:44:59

Going in the right direction then - that's really good. I've been worrying about you!

BIWI Mon 03-Mar-14 13:45:45

(Sorry - that sounds a bit stalkery blush)

FavadiCacao Tue 04-Mar-14 20:53:13

It's so difficult when you have a child with SENs to look after. I remember making the same decisions as you in that, if I were granted a few spare minutes, I would use them to do something positive for me and yet something that would not make me feel guilty (exercising, meeting people for a coffee was fine but a snooze was a no-no).

I think the last week has shown you that a less regimented routine (although I suspect still hectic due to catering for your guests) might be the way forward for you.
Your meals remind me of mine when ds was young: they were all balanced and nutritious for my children but I was eating the scraps! Could adding a sauce help you in adding the extra calories you need, without making you feel over full? Half a banana is a toddlers portion but blended with a little cream might be easier to ingest. How about a veg, veg/fruit smoothie? Fruit and veg can be very filling but as a drink might give you carb refeed after excise with all the extra vitamins and minerals without excessive bulk.

flowers

jan2014 Tue 15-Apr-14 16:18:42

<waves to Biwi....yes slipped off the low carb wagon!>

Trucks i just wanted to come and say that a time ago i lived very similarly to you. i ran around constantly. i exercised constantly. and i didn't eat enough. this went on for a prolonged period of time, and i didn't listen to the people who were trying to help me. i ended up very ill, and now i do eat so much better (still have food issues) but i now have chronic fatigue and can't do any exercise. i think basically i just burnt myself out, and my body just crashed and wouldn't get going again. my point is this.... you need to think seriously long term about your health and the way your living now, cos the choices you are making now, will affect how you will live in the future. if you feel in your heart you are over doing it, then it will be worth it in the long term to drop one or 2 classes and eat more, for you and your families sake. im not saying you will go down the route i did, im just saying to be careful. too much exercise without enough nutrition at the same time is very damaging - i now have osteoperosis as a result. please just be careful and if you can do something to change this now, do it! smile

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now