Weight Loss
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How many calories do I need when I don't do ANYTHING all day?

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I recently moved to a new town and I'm searching for a new job. I have a horrible schedule: I sleep about 10 hours a day and the rest of the time, I sit around job searching, surfing the internet, watching TV, and cooking myself meals. Seriously, this is ALL I do. I'm currently not exercising.

I'm spending the time that I do not have a job not only job searching but learning how to cook. I measure out every thing, I weigh all my meats, and I'm doing quite well, in my opinion. I really want to get into a habit of eating right and cooking every night before I go back to work.

I know everyone suggests eating at least 1200 calories a day (I'm female, 26-years-old, 5'6", 143 pounds, and medium frame) but 1200, to me, seems like a lot. I remember when I did work full-time, I was always walking around at my job and I could tell that was doing something whereas now, I'm not doing much of anything but light cooking and cleaning to burn calories.

Since I'm not moving around much, I don't get hungry like I used to. For one week, I've tracked my food intake, calories, weight, etc. I eat when I'm hungry, I use portion control, and I'm trying out an experiment to see how many calories I need at my current "lifestyle." If I eat around 950, I lose. If I go over 1100, I gain.

Is it okay to eat 950 right now?

EDIT: I'll start eating 1200 a day and go from there. Thanks for all the help! No need for anymore replies.

16 Replies (last)

The weight you gain eating 1100 is mostly water weight - I think it's about 3lbs for every lb of carbohydrate released by the bones into the bloodstream after receiving the extra calories.

If you are not hungry at 900 calories, then your metabolism is trying to slow down to adjust to how little you're eating - you will often hear anorexics talking about how they can eat 300 calories and not be hungry, the body adjusts itself.  This does not mean that they are full, their bodies have just become accustomed to eating so little that any food satisfies them.

The 1200 calorie mark is set because this is the minimum level at which women can ingest all of the necessary nutrients.  There are a lot of people on here that have lost a lot of weight, never going under this number.  Trust me, you may gain a couple of pounds in the short term, but in the long term your chances of losing weight will be greatly improved.

I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but why don't you start exercising and shoot for the 1200-1250 mark?

In my totally non-scientific opinion, I don't think that would be a problem. My "day 1" journal entry talks about this, but I don't think that people need as much when they do absolutely nothing. When the numbers were considered I don't think anyone took into account that there are people out there that do absolutely nothing. I don't think some people can even fathom that. If food is fuel then why do you need as much food as someone that is driving 5 miles a day when you are only driving 0.5 miles a day. . . pushing it!

I feel like I'm in the same sedentary state, and what I have tried to do this last week at least was to eat small snacks constantly throughout the day so that my body wouldn't feel like I was starving it on purpose and therefore not go into defense mode. I can tell you that I never have been hungry. . . only after a meal of CARBS! And the only time I feel like straying is at night because that used to be the time that I loved to snack and junk out. . . so that was just due to non-hunger, but emotional cravings. I lost 8 pounds in 1 week this way, but take into consideration also that this is the beginning of my weight loss so that could also play a factor.

I have to disclaim though because I am no doctor, How I lose weight may not work for everybody, and I know where my limits are, I don't push it to the point that I feel weak or dizzy or anything. I eat more depending on if I'm more active that particular day, and I listen to my own signals.

Good Luck!

The tools on this site say (according to your height, age and weight) That you burn 1,700 calories on sedentary. If this is to much for you eat around 1,200 but don't go below that.
alicandra, you made a very good point about the body adjusting. I leave this place for a couple months and I forgot all these points! Thank you!

stef211, I should exercise :P

amyvalentino, sounds like we're in the same boat! I read your journal and your bio. I was afraid it would sound like I'm anorexic as well, not consuming at least 1200! I can remember when I was working and 1200 sounded like so little! At least you're a mom so you have someone to run around after :)  I lost four pounds in the first week but two of those were on the first day. I tried the South Beach Diet (the only "fad" diet I've ever tried) and yeah, I only lasted one day. I'm not a big carb person but I can't live without fruit! I couldn't have made it two weeks without fruit. However, if you take a look at Phase 1 of the SBD, I think it really grasps what you should and shouldn't eat. You should limit yourself on carbs and certain fruits and really take in as much good protein and veggies as you can. It's nice, for me, to have a list of things instead of just saying, "Eat protein, fruits, and veggies." I had pasta on Friday and potatos on Sunday. Only "bad" carbs I've had thus far! Good luck to you too!

Are you sure you aren't depressed?  I don't mean to sound harsh, but sleeping 10 hours a day and sitting around watching TV and job surfing on the internet isn't going to get you anywhere.  You need to get out of the house...have you tried a job agency?  Even starting with an agency that fills temp positions would be a start, but you need to get out of the house.  Do NOT go below 1200 calories a day, even if you don't feel hungry at lesser calories, you are doing your metabolism harm.  And, make sure those 1200 calories are good foods, not junk that has no nutritional value.  Your body needs fuel and part of that is exercise, sunlight and fresh air!

Again, I'm not trying to hurt anyones feelings, but this just doesn't sound good to me.

Good luck!


1200 isn't really a lot of food. But she tracked her intake and found she gains if she goes over 1100 calories. If she ups her calories to healthier levels, is it a given that she won't gain real weight (as opposed to temporary)?

And if she does, what then?
I'm much older, but also in the same boat.  Not working, it's winter so can't get outside to walk.  Good for you for trying to eat healthier, another thing I'm doing now that I have time.

I've heard on here that 1,200 minimum was the total that your organs need to function properly. 

Do you log your food here and look at the analyzer to see if you're getting the correct percentages?  It's hard for me to do that, but I'm trying.  As an example, days when I have all the calories I need, but my fiber isn't high enough, I'll eat Fiber One or Kashi Golean cereal, to bring the percentage up even if it means more calories.
Wow, if you truly gain on 1100 cals then your metabolism must be seriously trashed.

I'm a full-time telecommuter so the lifestyle you describe is my lifestyle, essentially, unless I drag my butt out to go running (only about 10-12 miles a week), which I haven't done in a few weeks (for a variety of reasons). Yet, I've still been maintaining my weight for months on about 1700-1800 calories!!! And I'm not even a fidgeter either. ;-)

**AND** I'm 42, much older than you! And only 5'0 tall... and weigh only 107!!

Of course the weight might blip up a lb or two if I eat a high volume of food, too much sodium, or according to my monthly cycle... such fluctuations are normal; but the trend has been an average of 107 since October. On 700 calories more per day than what you are eating.
msrobbyn, no offense taken. I'm not depressed; just new to the town and I've been bored lately so I sleep a lot. (Some people require more sleep and if I don't get at least 8.5, I feel horrible.) I used to get about six or so before I moved.

ohio45, I use sparkpeople to track my food intake. I'm always way over on my protein intake (I love eggs!) and hardly ever over on my carbs or fat. I've been really good at tracking my food. I used to hate to do it but I figured I need to if I want to do this right!

jenmcc, I can't tell you if my metabolism is trashed or not. Again, I've only been eating this 950-1200 diet for a week now. I used to eat pretty poorly the previous weeks, ate about 2000 a day, and had the same lifestyle. It was pretty much pasta and pizza every day. Bleh.
Ah, if you've only been eating this for a week, that makes a difference. Likely if you continue you will lose. Right now your body is fighting to maintain the status quo - which means it is probably slowing down your metabolism to match your intake.

Go over to www.dietitian.com and plug in your numbers, including how many hours you sleep, etc, and it'll give you a pretty detailed report of what you need to maintain or to lose. I plugged in what numbers you provided (sleeping 10 hours and the rest sedentary) and it said 1678 calories to maintain.

Of course, use this as a guideline only. Everyone is different. If you started out fit with good muscle mass, then you may need more. If you started out unfit with poor muscle mass, you may need less.... OR you should concentrate on improving fitness; it makes a difference.

About two years ago, when I started this whole journey, I was gaining on 1200-1400 calories a day. This is what aging and a sedentary lifestyle does - it eventually catches up to you!!! I still lead a pretty much sedentary lifestyle, but I added in running 10-12 miles and in a matter of months it did make a difference. even though I slacked off recently (will pick back up again when the weather improves), I'm still doing okay.

So I would say if you really, truly, honestly are gaining at 1100 - if you give it several months and that is the result - then get your butt moving. You have more liesure right now to get going on an exercise program. Once you start working, time will be hard to find.

If you need an exercise buddy to get you motivated, email me! I could use some motivation right now myself, just to get out the door and go for a brisk-yet-cold walk!!!!
jennmcc, I really do need to get my behind moving! I'm usually not this lazy, I swear. I used to be a competitive swimmer in middle/high school, quit before I went to college, and I just let the laziness take over. I usually work out in the summer and then winter is another story... sounds like you know what I mean!

I know that losing at 1200 without exercise won't last but I figured I'd try it while I can :)
jen:  it's so hard for me to get outside in this nasty cold weather.    Someone said to bundle up, then sit in the living room and soon I will be so hot that I will want to get outside for some cooler air.  ahaha, yes, that worked one day.

Once I'm out I enjoy it..........just getting thru the door is the hard part.
gettingfit, i should add, to my 'you should exercise' comment... it's really easy to say. i'm about as bad about it, and the weather's nice here! Embarassed
i know you didn't want any more replies but i wanted to throw this in. if you zig-zag your calories, one day is fine to go under 1200 as long as the next day is over. it shouldn't put your body into starvation mode and keeps it on it's toes. that's basically what i have to do because i find it so hard to meet 1200. and even some days i like to pig out and go up to 1600. 1600 is what is recommended for me (i'm 5'3" 135lbs).
my personal opinion. . .is I would walk or run whatever your choice. After you finishing surfing, if at all possible, I would go out, one. . . you could meet some people you haven't met. Walking around will allow you to burn the calories you need to burn you don't have to walk much an hour will suffice!! Good luck on your job search. . . 
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