A few weeks ago I was perusing the message boards on My Fitness Pal when I noticed a lady’s success story posted and she talked about what she did while she was losing weight. In her description she mentioned as she lost weight she increased her calories. That was the only information she gave and none of the other posters asked her what that was about, but I instantly thought, “What??? How does that work? We only lose weight by cutting calories! And if it does work, how do I do that?” And I instantly Googled it, but didn’t really find any information on it. Then I found myself in the middle of the big “P” and started searching the MFP boards for ways to conquer plateaus. I kept coming across people discussing their BMR, RMR, TDEE and increasing calories or zig-zagging. Thankfully they posted links to other boards, blogs and websites and I started learning so much! I am an educator and I truly love learning new things, so I was hooked on researching. If I had a spare moment I was reading the boards and other people’s weight loss stories. I decided to try some of the tips I read and it worked! My plateau is busted. So let me share, because this has blown my mind! It excites me to learn new stuff and I hope you learn something too!
First, a little acronym explanation: BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate, RMR = Resting Metabolic Rate and TDEE = Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Basically, your RMR & BMR are the same thing & mean the calories you would burn if all you did was lay in bed all day. So for example, according the BMR calculator I used, my BMR is 1686. TDEE accounts for all the activity you do – allllll of it – but you must be honest in reporting how much you exercise. According to the TDEE calculator I used, my TDEE is 2606.
To know what your weight loss calorie goal should be, subtract 15% from the TDEE. 15% of my TDEE is 390.9 (let’s just say 390). So my weight loss calorie goal is 2216. This blows my mind, really – that sounds like a lot of calories! Now, here is the most important thing I learned: NEVER EAT CALORIES BELOW YOUR BMR. Our bodies don’t like it! If your body needs 1600 calories to just lay around all day and you only feed it 1200 calories, it freaks out! That’s what I was doing. My MFP goals were set for 1250 calories a day, but my BMR is 1686… no wonder I plateaued. My body was telling me I needed to eat more food! However, since I’ve been eating at just 1250 for a month or so, I cannot just pump up my calories to 2200 and think I can lose weight. I have started slowly increasing my calories. Last week I increased by 250 to reach 1500 and I’ve lost 3 pounds! Next week I will increase by another 200 to be at 1700, which will get me right about my BMR. If you have been way undereating your calories as well, do not be surprised if you do see a slight increase in weight. Since I have been basically starving myself for over a month, it will take a while for my body to believe that I am actually not going to starve it anymore. From what I’ve read, it can sometimes take a month for the body to respond. And we all know how patient I am… so the next step of my journey could be interesting!
So I am down 24 pounds now and I would really like to have lost 32 by the time I turn 32. I have 22 days to lose 8 more pounds! In the past I would have slashed my calories and worked out like mad, but now I am going to concentrate on eating more (how great is that??) and maintaining my current 4-5 day a week exercise habit!