Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Weight Loss
Moderators: spoiled_candy, Mollybygolly, devilish_patsy, nycgirl

Is it possible to mess up your metabolism by shifting your calories too low with the zig-zag method?

Quote  |  Reply

I'm 16 years old, 5"8 and 135 pounds and I'd like to get back to my previous weight of 125lbs (yes I know it's kind of skinny but I was truly happy with my weight there).

Anywho, I was looking at this site: ulator.htm#

and it shows calorie shifting for "extreme fat loss". Maybe I'm just a little too anxious to get back to my previous weight  but I'm wondering if I used the calories for "extreme fat loss" will I hurt my metabolism? Will I just regain the weight back because of how low it is or does the shifting prevent that?

I'd appreciate your opinions because I'm really unsure and I wouldn't mind having to wait longer to lose weight if it ment not hurting my metabolism.



16 Replies (last)

Yes, there are thousands of ways to wreck your health for the rest of your life.

You are 16 and have 9 more years of critical growth (all the way up to age 25). Restricting calories at all during this time will wreck your bones, hormones and brain development and you don't get a do-over on that when you realize you made a mistake.

Yes you will hurt your metabolism too. Extreme fat loss = extreme damage.

Anyone under the age of 25 should only diet if they fit the following two criteria: 1) they are clinically overweight and 2) that weight is causing immediate or imminent health issues (high blood pressure, cholesterol, pre-diabetes...).

Do you really, really want me to believe that your true happiness is solely determined by a number on the scale? I doubt it. I expect you have many dreams and goals you want to achieve in your life. And I really doubt the image you wish to project is that of being the girl who only ever cared about her weight.

I also doubt you imagine a life of osteoporosis (breaking bones when you step off the curb) before you hit 30; or anxiety and depression that imprisons you with feelings of hopelessness and despair because your neurotransmitters have stopped working; or high blood pressure and clogged arteries because you starved your brain, which caused stress hormones to pump constantly through your body because your brain could no longer keep them in check.

And that's not even half the list. Then there's also the russian roulette opportunity that you develop an eating disorder. You have a slightly more than a one in three chance of doing so just by restricting your calorie intake at all.

Genetically pre-determined but undetectable beforehand, some people's neurotransmitters in their brain permanently shift as soon as they restrict calories. Those neurotransmitters go on to generate all the obsessions, compulsions and anxieties surrounding weight loss and fat.

Am I trying to scare you a bit? Yes.

If you truly, truly cannot find a way to accept your growing, healthy body and absolutely must get back to a mythical weight that was once (when you were younger and less developed, by the way), then consider seeking out professional counseling or therapy so that you can adjust successfully rather than careening headlong into an extreme weight loss journey that will lead you down a path of disability, chronic illness and early death.

Not what you wanted to hear, but I'm hoping you will think on it and maybe realize it was more what you needed to hear once you think it through.

"Genetically pre-determined but undetectable beforehand, some people's neurotransmitters in their brain permanently shift as soon as they restrict calories. Those neurotransmitters go on to generate all the obsessions, compulsions and anxieties surrounding weight loss and fat."

Yikes. Can I ask for a link to that study?

That would explain me... I lost 65 pounds in four months when I was 13, and have definately paid the price.

There are several studies that prove the genetic link for eating disorders (twin and family studies and such).

The challenge has been to disentangle all the psychosocial impacts from genetic predispositions and possible triggers. When almost every girl restricts calories for the first time by age 9 because of social pressures to be thin, it becomes difficult to determine what is nature and what is environment.

Like most things in life, it is both genetic and environmental. Basically calorie restriction temporarily shifts everyone's neurological and endocrine (hormone) system. However, pre-existing anomalies in a potentially eating-disordered brain make the shifts permanent.

"New imaging technology, that marries Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging with selective neurotransmitter radioligands, confirms that altered serotonin neuronal pathway activity persists after recovery from an eating disorder and supports the possibility that these psychobiological alterations might contribute to traits, such as increased anxiety or extremes of impulse control, that, in turn, may contribute to a vulnerability to the development of an eating disorder." cnsnd/2003/00000002/00000001/art00010io

That does not mean patients suffer with an active eating disorder for life -- far from it. But it does mean they need to always be aware that calorie restriction of any kind (sometimes even fasting for a medical test) create particular risks for them.

Some of the links I provide below are a bit wordy, but they essentially show the work done to isolate the genes involved and how the neuroendocrine (brain and hormone) differences in anorexic and/or bulimic patients differ from the population at large. 01281a.html d/anorexia_nervosa.pdf cleURL&_udi=B6VC9-3VV41B0-6&_user=10& amp;_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_s ort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchS trId=1153152731& le&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_u rlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=f0efad9e07 9591fe12cad1de9f9b54ca 016503270500409X 1/5169.pdf

Quote  |  Reply

Did anyone else use the calculator in that website?  It gave me a way higher total then Calorie Count suggested.  Even the calorie suggestion for extreme weight loss is 500 calories more then I thought I was supposed to be eating.


Original Post by jbirgitte:

Did anyone else use the calculator in that website?  It gave me a way higher total then Calorie Count suggested.  Even the calorie suggestion for extreme weight loss is 500 calories more then I thought I was supposed to be eating.


calorie count seems to really underestimates the calories you need unless you are extremely overweight or 50+ years old.

This is all getting a little crazy I think!

The girl just wants to lose a few vanity pounds! If she was at a weight she was happy with before and doing well, then whats the harm? I mean I don't have a picture of her so I wouldn't know if it was that skinny that it would look like she would have an ED. But everyone's metabolism is different, and different bodies/people can function properly at different weights. No she's not obsessing over her weight, and is not going to be known as the girl who only ever cared about her weight, that's absurd. Do you personally know her? No. Did she ever even IMPLY that she was going to obsess about it? No.

Of course, OP, if you were much younger than you are now when you weighed 125, I wouldn't aim for such a low weight. Maybe just go for around 5 pounds lower.

Eat lots of proteins, vegetables, fruits, and vitamins. Be healthy!

Original Post by antibinge:

Original Post by jbirgitte:

Did anyone else use the calculator in that website?  It gave me a way higher total then Calorie Count suggested.  Even the calorie suggestion for extreme weight loss is 500 calories more then I thought I was supposed to be eating.


calorie count seems to really underestimates the calories you need unless you are extremely overweight or 50+ years old.

 ^^ This is one of the reasons so many people are trying to eat 1200 calories.

ETA: OP, you are an adolescent and that calculator is for adults.  Please use a proper calculator in order to get proper numbers.

You are sixteen years of age and not fully mature yet.  You were even younger when you weighed 125 lbs. and at 5' 8" tall, your current weight of 135 is even very very lean.  So, in my opinion, you should leave behind yearnings for your previous more childish "self" - and look forward to your more mature years.  You are a tall woman and you will be able to carry a weight of 135 lbs to over 140 lbs. for many years to come and enjoy a varied and delicious diet.  I would think that even "maintaining" your current weight would be "goal enough" - and to not look backwards but forwards.  You have received some good advice - and I would seek advice from your physician as well.  No medical person in their right mind would ever advise you to "lose" any more pounds at your present weight.

Hi I'm 17 years old :)

Okay so currently you weigh 135 pounds. You are at a perfectly healthy weight to be a tall girl. (sorry that's tall to me because im about 5'4)

If you were to lose ten pounds and weigh 125 your BMI would be 19.0 which is still considered normal weight and healthy. I say if you feel comfy at 125 go for it! ( :  but please be very careful and don't crash diet. I understand your struggle i weight about 9 pounds more than you do and my goal is 125 :)

just don't lose anymore than that because if your bmi drops to 18.5 than you would be unhealthy and underweight.

good luck girl and add me if you ever wanna talk ( :


You're 16 years old and already on the thin side.  And yes, you weigh more than you did last year.  That's called growing.  It's normal.  It's healthy.  Can you honestly say that you want to spend your time counting calories?  For me, counting calories is a necessary evil, and I'm 33 and am actually overweight.

Enjoy your life.  Be healthy.  Focus on eating a healthy diet and staying active, and you'll never have to worry about losing weight as you get older.  I can't tell you how much I wish I never started dieting when I was a teenager, and I was an overweight teenager.  You're not.  I've spent 20 years battling my weight, mostly because I started dieting as a teenager.  Trust me; you don't want that for yourself.  Learn to love your body for what it is.  I'm finally learing that now, and I wish I had done it much much sooner.

When I was 16 (5'4") I weighed 130 lbs and could have been fine with losing 5 lbs.  I don't think your goal is extreme or unreasonable.  I just think your method is a little off... 

- This is really a crackpot diet scheme.  Its not a sustainable lifestyle.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone at any age.  Restricting that far will slow down your metabolism and more calories will be stored as fat on the higher calorie days.  Its important now to learn how to feed your body healthy vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean protein.  Google clean eating for tips on portion sizes and balanced meals.

Weight is just a number.  Its more about how you look. Muscle weighs more that fat, but also burns more calories and keeps you lean, strong and healthy.  Some one could weight more but look better because of more muscle mass (hypothetically speaking). I think right now you should be looking at fitness through exercise, not calorie restriction.  The muscle mass you build now will help you through the rest of your life.

I did eventually weigh 120 lbs at 18.  But this was done through working out every day, with a combination of healthy weight training and interval aerobics, and eating small healthy meals.  And I didn't have any target number in my head.  I just worked out and ate healthfully.

I hope you reconsider this extreme diet and look into healthy lifestyle choices that will benefit you IMMENSELY if you can keep good habits for life.

Here's my feeling on the matter - just pay attention to your body! If you find it is EASY to lose the weight...your body is probably okay with shedding pounds. When it suddenly becomes difficult (you seem to be unable to lose more and start having dreams about food or more cravings than normal) your body is probably telling you STOOOOP here is good thanks!

Now, I didn't lose weight until after I turned 25. I was 15 lbs over where I am now. I found it really easy to lose the first 15 pounds...I was never very hungry and when I was I would eat some small bites. I think I was on what I would call extreme calorie loss. I lost an additional 5-7 lbs, and at that point it became a struggle. I've gone back up 5-7, and I figure that my body is happy here. Since I've stopped dieting and turned to balanced meals/eating right, my body has settled at the weight it considers right, and I don't fight it. I eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not.

Just don't get into a binge. Once you obsess about food it becomes a magnet for a bunch of other feelings you NEVER would associate with eating before.

Hey girly,

I'm 5' 7.5 and I've been that tall since I was 15. When I was growing up we were in the poor house, so I was super skinny, the best part of school was lunch! Anyway, to the point, at 15 5' 7.5 I weighed 117, I had gained 10 pounds over 1- 1.5 year. I really loved cause it felt like I was getting a much more feminine figure, I wanted hips sooo bad. I don't think that 135 is a bad weight nor do I think 125 is a bad weight for your height I just want to caution you to take the slower route for bone growth mainly. Let me explain, because I didn't eat the way I should have I have very week bones, I've broke 7 that I can think of right now, they are very brittle and I can't change that. I'm 31, andwhen I was in my early twenties I weighed 133, I now was able to eat like a person not living in famine, I finally got into the gym because I hated not havinga n ounce of muscle or tone to my body. I them gained to 137 and looked the best I looked ever (I felt like a brick house). My weight gain was possively muscle. Of course my metabolism slowed in my late 20's, probably from not eating properly, and other college activities. All I wanted was to look fine while I played. I've had my thyroid checked, it is functioning slow now but I haven't been put on meds.

So, my opinion is..... take it slow, don't skip meals and only eat once or twice a day on a regular basis, and know that a a developing soon to be women, your bones are gonna be with you for along time, make that a priority. (calcium from food- not pills & Vit. D)

If your curious, in order I've broke between the ages of 11-28 my pinky metacarpal (11), tailbone (14), tibia & fibula (@ the ankle) (15), ulna (forearm) (20), collar bone, and thumb metacarpal, oh yeah and my knee cap, which makes 8 (these 3 @ same time @ 28).


I started dieting on and off when I was 16. I had a messed up body image and I only weigh about 110 lbs, and thought I was huge. Dieting messed up my metabolism and I encourage you not to diet until you are older because you are perfectly healthy and skinny as you are now. I gained and lost the same 30 lbs in 5 years until I stabilized my metabolism by stopping the dieting madness... so please be aware of your metabolism, treat it kindly or it will come back with a vengeance, dieting so young also messes you up emotionally. I still am not 100% content with my body and probably never will be. I look back at pictures of me as a teenager and I absolutely cannot believe how tiny I was, and how if I hadn't dieted and worried so much I would probably still look like that!

When I was at my thinnest as an adult I weighed 135 and I'm only 5'6"- and no one believed I weighed that much.  I am sure you are at a perfect weight.  If you want to look thinner I suggest eating clean healthy food and start lifting weights.  You may even add a few lbs but they will be in the form of muscle and bones and blood vessels which will actually help you improve your health when your an old lady like me.

When I was 16 I probably weighed 120 lbs and was thin but far from healthy.  I honestly think my shape today at 51 is 110% better than it was way back then - if I only knew then what I know now what awesome shape I could be in now.

Reshape your body with exercise and not calorie restrictions if nothing else eat more healthy foods and get off the scale and lift a barbell!!!

I was about the same size as you at your age... I remember thinking I was big, or could lose a few pounds too.  But now looking back I realize I was so tiny!!

What is bothering you about your image now?

I dont think you should be restricting what you eat.  If you think your thighs are big, or your stomach isnt flat.. You should just work out and get into good shape.  You will feel better about yourself in more ways then one.

16 Replies