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Weight Loss
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Hungry all day - can't stay at 1200 calories

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Hello All,

I am hoping someone can help.  I am hungry all day long so I am having problems staying with only 1200 calories per day.  I am 5' tall, 130 pounds (goal of 105-110) and I workout approx. 4 days per week (500-600 calories burned per workout).  I try to have small snacks throughout the day but I am trying to cut back on such snacking because it is keeping me over the 1200. 

Now I know what you might want to say - your metabolism just might be craving more calories.  Couldn't possibly be so.  I end up eating around 1400 calories per day.  I have now been at 130 for 2 months (I actually gained 6 pounds in December 2007 b/c of holidays and quitting smoking) and I can't make the scale (or my size) budge. 

Don't know what to do.  Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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What are you eating on a typical day?

EDIT: You may want to check your nutritional values. Besides calories are you getting enough protein, carbs, vitamins?

Perhaps a zigzag or cycle approach would help?

 Sometimes what we want to be and what we're meant to be don't always coincide. Sad but true.

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Maybe you don't want to hear this, but you're plain not eating enough on work out days

Are you replacing the calories when you burn 500-600 4 times a week working out? Although it seems opposite, you need to eat to replace those. So, if you aren't your body is clinging to everything it has, and the scale won't budge.

If you are replacing the calories, then I agree with the above poster - seeing a typical menu might help. It took me some adjusting, at first I ate higher calorie foods that would take up the bulk of my days' worth and leave me empty, but in the end I'd figured out pretty well how to make those meals stretch. Low fat granola bars, more "filling" fruits such as pears and bananas, whole wheat pasta and bread, etc....

If you are eating approximately 1,400 calories, and are burning 500-600 calories through exercise, then you are actually only getting around 800-900 calories.  From everything I have read on CC this is not enough.  Your body needs at least 1,200 just to perform its basic functions.  Therefore, you would need to eat more to make up for the calories burned during exercise.

If this reasoning is wrong, someone please feel free to correct me!   

I ate much less calorie wise last year and got down to 120.  It wasn't until I quit smoking that I gained the 10 lbs.  So now I'm trying to lose that weight plus the original weight.  Anyway, I ate much less than I am now when I lost that weight so I'm thinking that my height plays more of a role than people give credit to.  There is no way that I require as many calories per day as a woman who is 5'11" or even 5'5"

 Anyway.  Here is a sample menu:

Morning: Instant Oatmeal or Southbeach Meal Replacement Bar, Apple, Cup Milk

Lunch:  Turkey Sandwich on Rye or Lean Cuisine (approx. 300 calories) or salad

Afternoon Snacks (problem time):  FF Hot Cocoa (25 calories), Fruit, 100 Calorie Pack of something, 2 Snack Size York PP

Dinner:  Lean Cuisine or Chicken breast / Potato / Broccoli

I also have a South Beach Snack bar right before or after I workout - depending on when I workout.


I'm wondering, again, what your protein and carbs are if say you are having a salad for lunch? Salad alone will not fill you up and you will be hungry.

Are you supplementing your turkey sandwich with say lettuce, cucumbers, sprouts, pickles, etc. to make it more substantial and filling? Even your lean cuisine is not visually filling and therefore may not be satisfying you.

I also agree with other posters, you may need to bump up your intake on workout days.

EDIT: Is there a chance you've acquired muscle, which is heavier than fat?

thanks for all your replies.  It is possible that I have gained muscle.  I do tend to gain muscle very quickly.  I never go by the evil scale by itself though.  I also go by my clothing and my clothing is actually getting tighter not looser (even though my weight is the same).

I always make sure that I get enough protein.  When I say a "salad" I mean a salad that has grilled chicken and/or lima beans, sunflower seeds, etc.  And my turkey sandwiches have lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. Only so much you can fit on a sanwich when it's not a sub roll.  LOL.

 I only buy lean cuisines that I like b/c frankly some of them are gross.  I also put them on a plate and spread it out to make it look more like a meal.

I guess maybe try decreasing this week to see if any change and increasing it next week if no change this week?  Trying all the different calorie intakes as an experiment?  Only problem is that a week is not long enough to see results. 

Ugh.....sigh.  Just don't know.

I had to give up the Lean Cuisines recently.  I loved the Panini's for lunch because they were good and easy, but it just wasn't enough for me.  I was  always hungry after those meals.   Now I have have either a vegagetable sandwich or a tuna salad for lunch with some sort of fruit and water.  Now I have to remind myself to snack later on the afternoon.

Good luck.


Try calorie cycling.

On days you don't work out, have 1200-1300 calories.  Make sure you get lots of fiber to help keep you full.  I found that things I thought would be filling, weren't and when I looked them up, didn't have as much fiber as I thought.  Check the nutritional data, even if you think you know what's in it.

Then on days when you work out, bump your calories up about 400 to 500 more calories, so you'd be eating like 1600-1700 calories.  This will compensate your body for what you are burning in the gym so that you are still getting at least 1200 calories and your body won't go into starvation mode.

On top of that, the cycling supposedly "confuses" your body a little bit and kick starts the weight loss again. 

The same is true of working out - if you're doing the same thing all the time, your body may be getting really efficient at it and not burning as many calories as it should.  Try doing something different, and also try intervals - like doing strength training with some hand weights, then after a couple of sets, jump up and do some jumping jacks or fast push ups - something very vigorous and hard - to get the heart pumping.  Then go back to your strength training.  Do a fast interval every 2-4 sets of strength reps.

Try that for a few weeks and see if it doesn't get you going!

Thanks!  I'll try that.  I do remember when I lost weight last year that I actually lost weight some weeks when I had a few really big cheat days after having so many good weeks.  I guess my body just wanted to make sure it would sometimes get more food.

 I wish I liked veggies and fruit more.  Then I feel like I would be full all the time.

The CC Burn tool says you should be burning about 1700/day without the exercise.  So that's about 1900-2000 on average with exercise, so 1400/day is about a 500 calorie deficit.  With that rate, you should be losing about 1 lb/week.  (You may need 4 weeks to see this, since less than 4 lbs can be lost in the "noise" of daily weight fluctuations.)

Are you sure you're counting the calories right?

Like the others said here, try eating higher fiber foods to help you feel full longer.  Drink lots of water with that.  Also, you might try more fresh foods and less packaged stuff. 

I would LOVE to try more fresh foods but I don't get home until 8pm - and if I workout that day I'm either getting up early or out late so no time to make food myself.  Plus it's just me in the house so if I make a meal that serves 4-6 people it's harder to portion the correct amount and / or not have it go to waste. 

So I should be losing about 1lb per week and I'm not..... Hmmmmm.  I guess I'll just keep trying.  But it's been 8 weeks so something should have kicked in by now I would think.

Some meals are great for making 4-6 serves and putting in the freezer - like a lean cuisine, but better because it's healthier and yummier. Things like curries (and you can make healthy curries if you make them yourself), pasta sauces, soups and casseroles. Then it's pretty easy to add some steamed veggies or a salad as a bit of filler on the night that you eat them and you have a pretty healthy, cheap, and filling meal. If you want any ideas for recipes that you can make up a big batch of and keep in the freezer for later, let me know, I'll send some through.

Try having celery or cucumber for snacks, they tend to fill you up and have so few calories that I don't bother to count them.

Also try low GI eating, it looks like you might be doing that anyway, but it is worth looking at the GI of your food. Low GI foods will keep you fuller longer (they aren't necessarily healthier, so make sure you check the calories as well), which will mean you're less hungry. So having some cottage cheese, or a laughing cow cheese will probably keep you a bit fuller than an apple will in the afternoon.

I ended up losing weight by eating more, but I am a fair bit taller than you (5'8, 145lb), so I can't give you any better advice in terms of what to eat than what the counters say. Keep in mind that they can underestimate your calorie burn - I think they underestimate mine by about 600cal. If I eat 1400 - 1500 I lose weight slowly, If I eat between 1500 and 1700 nothing happens, between 1700 and 2100 depending on my workout and I lose weight. 

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The only thing I can think to suggest that hasn't already been suggested is to maybe add some more cardio to your workout. You can burn a lot of calories quiclky with running and then you can add some of what you burned to your diet which means you will not be so hungry. Since it seems that you have a busy schedule more cardio could possible help you out. I hope this helps you out. I would like to know your solution when you find it.
You definately need to eat more "real" food.  The lean cuisines, meal replacement bars, bread, the 100 calorie packs, the candy etc are not really good food to eat.  If you are trying to stay at 1200 cals, I would say that almost ALL of your food should be in the form of real fresh food.  Have the oatmeal for breakfast, but have the plain and add your own ingredients.  Have a salad with grilled chicken, shrimp or some other protein for lunch.  For snacks, have plain yogurt, veggies like carrots, celery and grape tomatoes.  For dinner, a good deal is to make soup on say Sunday, and have that all week.  You can add a salad to that with some feta cheese.  Or, you can do grilled protein like chicken or fish and a vegetable.  I would get rid of the potato.  Really try to stay away from the processed carbs and sugar.  They cause cravings and can affect your weight loss.  Your body responds better to natural foods.
#12 hhaussler Feb 19 2008 16:16 I would LOVE to try more fresh foods but I don't get home until 8pm - and if I workout that day I'm either getting up early or out late so no time to make food myself.  Plus it's just me in the house so if I make a meal that serves 4-6 people it's harder to portion the correct amount and / or not have it go to waste. 

Just want to put my two cents in here...  My husband and I have made a lifestyle change. Saw this guy on a tv talk show last May and decided to check out his book. (The Cardio Free Diet)Found it had 28 days of menus with recipes for one person. I got my idea from some of those recipes. Now that is how I cook most of our meals. I use one frypan for him and one for me. I cut all the veggies measure what I need, weigh the chicken, cut it up, put it in the pan and cook it. then add the veggies with a bit of water, cover and cook for 1-2 minutes, Stir and add a sauce. (I make mine with 1/2 tbsp of each of soy sauce, oyster sauce and fish sauce and another tbsp or two of water and sprinkle on some white pepper. Igot this idea from my favorite recipe for Thai veggies) and cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Put it on a plate and enjoy.

Now, we do like our veggies. I have printed out a list of them and put their calorie value for one cup amount. That is taped to my inside cupboard door.  From this I decide what I am putting in my frypan. When we have fish I usually microwave a couple of pieces for us., but shrimp I cook in the pan with the veggies or add them near the end if they are already cooked since all they need is to heat up. I weigh the meat on a scale. I measure all the veggies. When we have pasta it is whole wheat and I weigh 1/2 the suggested serving for one. I add up all the calorie counts and aim for an amount between 300 &400 calories.

I hate feeling hungry, but there is so much to eat with this diet that I am happy.  Protein is important. It is harder to digest, so we feel full longer. Fiber is good for this too.

I found some recipe books second hand that have calorie counts in them. I like to make something and then take it to work the next day for my lunch. That is how I use up the extra servings. After I cook something I actually divide it up into the number of servings that it is listed as having.

I hope this helps. Email me if you have questions for me.

"I do remember when I lost weight last year that I actually lost weight some weeks when I had a few really big cheat days after having so many good weeks. "

This should be telling you something.

What you are doing now isn't working. The 1200 minimum is for someone who is sedentary, and that's just to maintain bodily functions, not to fuel hard work. Seriously, on the days you burn 500-600 calories by working out, eat 1700 calories or so. Try that for two weeks, see what happens. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you'll see results!
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I have 2 suggestions.

one is that you may not be logging your food in correctly.  Little things like mayonaise on your sandwhich, adding milk to your oatmeal or little snacks throughout the day add up if you aren't honest.  A lot of people forget about the "little things" and they can make a big difference.

My other suggestion is to look into the bodybugg. I've been using it and it has made a BIG difference.  The main thing the bugg does is tell you how many calories you are burning throughout the day.  When you say you burn 500 calories working out - I think it may be in overestimation.  I used to go by the calories on the cardio machine but since using the bugg I've found that they are WAY off. I'm heavier than you and I would have to work out for a few hours to burn 500 calories at the gym.  Anyway look into the bodybugg - I was a sceptic at first but have lost 21 pounds in 3 months!


The 1200 calorie recommendation is for a sedentary 5'1" woman.
Hi!  You could see a nutritionist who can help you plan your meals so you won't be hungry.  Sounds like you're not getting enough fiber and protein.  Or, if you don't have the time to prepare healthy meals or to shop for the ingredients, you can try a plan like Nutrisystem.  Downsides to Nutrisystem are $$$, you'll need to watch the sodium and some people just don't like the food.  I think the food is pretty good, but I'll eat anything!  I'm doing Nutrisystem now and I am never hungry.  The diet is around 1200 calories if you follow the plan. 
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