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to think 1,200cals per day should only maintain your weight if you've buggered up your metabolism?

(147 Posts)
DottyboutDots Mon 06-May-13 17:45:17

My friend and I are both trying to lose weight. She does around 800cals a day on the elliptical, while I swim and play squash.

She claimed that a woman approaching 40 can only eat 1200 cal a day and stay slim. I countered with, well I ate 1500 (adjusted with eating my excercise cals) a day on and off for a year and lost 3 stone.

Her examples are a) her mother who has eaten the same exact two meals a day for 20 years with a third option that she changes and is slim and b) our two friends who have openly admitted having food issues and don't eat very much.

She then mentioned that our overweight gynae (we met having our 3rd babies) had agreed with her. I said look to the messanger on that one.

Surely, there are healthy, slim women who eat more than 1,200 a day and stay slim. Please say there are, I need hope that the rest of my life is going to be a gastronomical desert.

Megsdaughter Mon 06-May-13 20:03:53

Using myfitnessal, on a lightly active job (Im a nanny), and doing little exercise apart from walking the dog, and at 55 years old, I am on 1200 calories a day, aiming to lose 1.5lbs a week.

Since new year, I have lost 44lb, so it definitely isn't enough for me to maintain my weight grin

GraduallyGoingInsane Mon 06-May-13 20:08:24

I think if you're trying to lose weight it's a good number to aim for, purely because most people miscount or forget a fair few calories each day. Aiming for 1200 means you probably come in around 1500.

I use my fitness pal to keep count and come in between 1200 and 1500 most days. But then if I think hard there's the cups of tea I forgot to add, with the milk. There's the spoonful of spaghetti sauce or soup I tasted whilst cooking, there's the sweet I took when offered etc. Counting 1200 out means there's scope for incidental calories!

lougle Mon 06-May-13 20:12:31

I'm around 9st, 5'8" and my BMR according to that site is 1342 calories per day.

I'd have to be 5'0" for my BMR to be 1200 calories.

Sparrowp Mon 06-May-13 20:14:13

My metabolism got messed up by being on benefits. I had to eat so little I literally had to give up moving around and exercising.

Before: ate loads, loads of physical activities.

After: dont eat, dont move a muscle. Very unhealthy.

Sparrowp Mon 06-May-13 20:16:41

And all the not moving made me put on weight! gah!

Chigley1 Mon 06-May-13 20:22:22

I am 40, 5'0" and my BMR is 1175 calories, so I presume I eat around that amount. I eat fairly well but never overeat. I am a pretty constant 7 stone. I do not exercise. People are always telling me I'm too skinny, and I think I could probably do with a few more pounds.

GillBates Mon 06-May-13 20:25:26

I am interested in whether people who regularly eat very low calorie end up messing up their metabolisms long term and then gain weight easily if they eat "normally". I have a friend who is very skinny, 5 foot 4 and weighs 8 stone, she hardly eats anything and has been like that for years. We recently spent a weekend together and she ate was she thought was massively excessive amounts of food (still less than I eat on a good day and I'm 5 foot 9 and a slim 10 stone) and said that she gained 3lbs over the weekend and had to live on apples and cottage cheese for a few days to lose it. Not healthy!

I have always eaten well, average amounts and treats fairly often. I do gain weight quickly if I eat too much but still eat at least twice what my friend eats and stay slim. Has she ruined her metabolism? I'd be interested to know if there is any scientific basis for this.

ChasingStaplers Mon 06-May-13 20:50:39

Just did that link and apparently my BMR is 811 calories a day!

Thank goodness I'm breastfeeding and have two preschoolers to look after or I'd be the size of a house.

(I am reading it right, aren't I?)

ChasingStaplers Mon 06-May-13 20:53:43


Just realised I missed a number out.

Actual BMR is 1,434 which sounds about right. I've always cut down to 1500 calories when trying to lose weight, which has always worked.

FairPhyllis Tue 07-May-13 07:31:06

BMR is the bare minimum your body needs to carry out its functions (keep heart and respiration going etc) without you moving a muscle. It's not the same figure as what you need to eat to maintain weight, even if you are mostly sedentary - even if you don't do exercise you move around the house etc. I reckon even for most sedentary people their TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is say 2/300+ calories more than BMR.

I mean, I lose weight eating 1500 a day, and I am not a tall woman. I do not believe you can maintain on 1200/day unless you are tiny.

ellajayne Tue 07-May-13 07:47:44

I can believe it. I am quite sedentary (or was until I got an exercise kick up the bum recently) and if I ate more than 1600 calories a day I'd maintain and I am 5ft10in and clinically obese.

To lose weight I need to drop my calorie intake to 1400 and walk daily for 30 minutes plus add in yoga three times a week. It's just how people's bodies work. We're all different.

FasterStronger Tue 07-May-13 08:05:39

there is lots of bad science on this thread.

anyone who is mobile who thinks they eat significantly less than 2000 cal per day and stays the same weight is getting something wrong - most likely how many calories they are consuming.

and if you are overweight, you need more than 2000 cal per day to stay the same weight.

and you don't 'bugger up your metabolism'. no doctor ever diagnoses a broken metabolism.

and exercise don't not use that many calories - the biggest use of calories is being alive.

I think our understanding of correct portion sizes has been lost in recent decades so someone can not think they are overeating but they actually are.

Samu2 Tue 07-May-13 08:35:05

I can only eat 1,300 cals if I want to maintain my weight unless I do a LOT of exercise that is. People over estimate just how little exercise can burn as well though.

I am short, small built and slim and I often wonder if my fast weightloss is what did this or that is just how I am. I do have an under-active thyroid though. I managed to lose 5 stone without even realising I had it but I guess that doesn't help how I can only eat a small amount to maintain.

I go to the gym 3-4 times a week now so I am hoping it is going to help.

Restorer Tue 07-May-13 08:46:26

I think almost no-one really eats as few calories as they think they do.

Eg i eat 3 healthy meals a day, not dieting, probably 2000 calories a day. Even if you're being 'good' there are always extras, that cake because it's someone's birthday, a glass of wine to be sociable, the latte because a friend needed to talk, some fruit to be healthy, the biscuits/sweets that were on the table in your meeting....

HotelTangoFoxtrotUniform Tue 07-May-13 08:54:50

I think our understanding of correct portion sizes has been lost in recent decades so someone can not think they are overeating but they actually are.


When we lost weight (3 stone each a few years ago) I weighed everything I cooked and we were horrified at how small the portions were to start with. Fortunately I'm now horrified by how large the portion sizes are when I go out to eat/round to friends houses.

How often do we see threads where people say "I eat healthily but can't lose weight/am size of a house" and they can't possibly be eating as little as they claim. Portion control is what it's all about.

LeaveTheBastid Tue 07-May-13 09:01:07

Completely agree with fasterstronger.

I lost 6 stone over 18 months eating 1200 calories per day. I still lose weight eating 1200 a day when I have let myself slip a bit. Desk job, but the usual running around at home/after toddler, and I'm allergic to proper exercise.. The thought of killing myself running for half an hour to burn off a couple of slices of bread if I'm lucky brings me out in hives.

I think people greatly underestimate how much they actually eat, and equally overestimate how active they are. Recipe for disaster in terms of weight loss.

Samu2 Tue 07-May-13 09:05:01

I know exactly how many calories I eat because I weigh and track everything that goes into my mouth.

Samu2 Tue 07-May-13 09:06:19

Pressed enter too soon.

I used to think I ate quite little until I gained a heap of weight and when I weighed my food I was shocked by the amount of calories I was consuming in one meal.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 07-May-13 09:07:44

YANBU. 1200 is the World Health Organisation definition of starvation. Below that and, whatever's happening to your weight, you can't get enough nutrition from your food.

poozlepants Tue 07-May-13 09:09:12

I am 44 and have PCOS. To lose weight at more than 1lb a month I need to eat less than 900 calories a day and exercise. If I ate more than 1200 calories I would put weight on and that's with me being active the best part of the day and esercising 4/5 times aweek. Different strokes and all that. It's been worse in the last few years presumably because I'm older. Exercise alone doesn't make me lose weight it has to be diet. Exercise however does help maintain weight loss I think.

strongandlong Tue 07-May-13 09:10:43

this calculator allows you to adjust the amount of time spent on various types of exercise and gives BMR and TDEE values.

I come out with a BMR of ~1500 and TDEE of ~3000. I think that's fairly accurate. I spend most of the day standing up, so that keeps my TDEE fairly high.

The important impact of chronic low calorie consumption, is that if affects the amount of moving around you do (not exercise, but things like whether you choose to take the stairs or to get up for a glass of water or not bother) - Non exercise thermogenesis to use the jargon. Most of these decisions are subconscious and this, cumulatively, has a huge impact on your overall number of calories you burn/need. So you don't need actual metabolic damage for a restricted diet to reduce your energy expenditure.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 07-May-13 09:11:01

People quoting BMR.... please note that BMR is the bare minimum energy your body needs to simply sit/lie completely still and for your vital organs to pump blood, breathe, etc. It doesn't cover any kind of movement at all.

LeaveTheBastid Tue 07-May-13 09:12:06

1200 calories is the definition of starving? hmm. Jesus Christ there's a first world problem if I ever heard one.

Yesterday I missed breakfast as I had a lie in, scoffed half of a chilled melon whilst sunbathing for lunch, ate 2 juicy horsey venison burgers in buns complete with a huge side salad and condiments, then had a maltesers chocolate bar. Including milk in tea I came in just under 1200.

I would not call that "starving" by any stretch of the imagination.

kelda Tue 07-May-13 09:12:51

I find it depressing that so many women still calorie count. I haven't done that since I was a teenager.

kelda Tue 07-May-13 09:13:07

Sorry that was unhelpful.

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