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Unread 03-07-2013, 08:07 AM
JLLundberg JLLundberg is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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Default The right macros/diet/calories for a very overweight but very active woman?

I'm 5'8, female, 26, and 194 lbs and I'm working on losing about 50 lbs. I've lost about 45 lbs over the last 2 years, mostly through exercise and slight restriction/calorie counting at times. Now I am looking to lose those last 50 lbs or so as I want to become a more serious athlete and start competing in swimming again, something I did when I was younger.

I've been eating around 1500 kcal a day for the last month now, high protein and moderate fat/carb intake. In the beginning I started at 202 and within two weeks I dropped to 191, but then as I ramped up my training even more (and started eating a lot more protein), I ended up back at 194 lbs and have since stopped losing any weight. I've been using a women's recovery supplement on my hard workout days, and now have starting using a casein supplement a couple of times a week before bed.

I have lost an amazing 4 inches off of my waist and 2-3 inches off of my hips. But I am wondering if I am approaching things right. Is 1500kcal absurd on my hard days where I train intensely for 3 hours (1.5 hours biking and 1.5 hours swimming) ? Why am I losing so many inches off of my figure but no weight? Should I be eating more carbs for the amount of intense exercise I'm doing? Am I messing up my horomones and body? Exercise is all-important for me but so is the weight loss and I want to find a way to make these two things work together. I'm okay with only losing a pound a week, but I'd be even happier with 2 lbs a week.

A general week for me is 4x swim practice (1-1.5 hours), biking to/from work 3x a week (1-1.5 hours total), and then on days I don't swim or maybe don't bike, I try to go running for 30-45 mins. On some weekends I go hiking with a full pack on ,for extra exercise. I usually take 1 rest day a week. I also do yoga 3-4x a week to help with muscle soreness and flexibility.

Thank you in advance for any advice
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Unread 03-07-2013, 11:06 AM
billb7581 billb7581 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 540

THis article looks like it applies to you...i dont think your eating enough to support all that activity.
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Unread 03-07-2013, 02:09 PM
samfire samfire is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 70

I would alternate the 1500 calorie days with 2000+ calorie days and see what happens or maybe a carb refeed every few days.
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Unread 03-07-2013, 02:25 PM
JLLundberg JLLundberg is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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Default Makes sense.. kind of?

Originally Posted by billb7581 View Post
THis article looks like it applies to you...i dont think your eating enough to support all that activity.
Thanks for the link! I think I will cut back a little on the cardio (focus on swimming and biking and leave out running which is very high-intensity for me) and eat more calories on the days I do work out. I am luckily a pretty relaxed person and I also have been trying to use yoga to reduce stress levels, but I can always improve.
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Unread 03-07-2013, 05:43 PM
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Amnesty Amnesty is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 684

I can't tell you what will work for you, but know that I feel you. THE biggest question for me, when this happened to me, was "Why am I losing inches but not weight?", and I still don't know the answer to that. I'm 5'2", and I started a jogging program. I went from 230 lbs to 220 lbs, and then shot back up to about 225 lbs. I lost inches, like you, but I could never get myself to lose any more weight. I ate about 1300-1500 calories per day with a lot of it being whole grains and lean protein-filled meats (chicken breast, brown rice, wheat crackers, etc.). After two months of that, I just stopped and tried maintenance.

All I can say is, if what you're doing isn't working, try something else. I intend to do that myself once I get done with a rapid fat loss run. Jogging is intense cardio for me at my height and weight, and it was all I did. I can't even imagine adding swimming and other things to it the way you are. I'd definitely try eating more if I were you, and examining your macros to see if they are what they should be.
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Unread 03-07-2013, 07:03 PM
jimireeves jimireeves is offline
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Posts: 123

Too much exercise and not enough calories.
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Unread 03-07-2013, 10:31 PM
rhwbullhead rhwbullhead is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 636

I might be showing a slight bias towards cardio, but I disagree with the others. At that body fat, you can get away with a lot of activity with little muscle loss. That being said, a big calorie deficit can cause water retention, especially with the big water weight fluctuations women experience. In that case, as the article says, the fat is still loss but it is masked by water fluctuations.

There were times in my fat loss process where I worried too much about "starvation mode" or burning LBM and that was when I was 30 and 50 lbs more than where I'm at now. I realize now that I could have just lost fat faster if I had kept it in.

Personally, I would make sure I'm tracking everything right. This is often repeated but as meticulous as I am right now (and I OCD with calorie tracking now, more than I've ever been) I sometimes miss stuff. I forgot a tortilla yesterday that I added to today's total. Usually, I don't miss hard stuff, but sauces can add up. The soy sauce and siracha sauce I use in my stir fry is like 140 calories right there and I'm not even using oil. Weighing serving sizes in the measuring cups can show you if you're near the supposed servings. I was drinking so much crystal lite a few months ago that I calculated I was getting 120+ calories a day from it when I started counting (each half gallon packet is 40 calories). I'd use a quarter cup of ketchup on stuff (that's 40-80 calories).

It's good you're being active and focusing on body recomp. I'd caution that it's often easy to compensate for the calories burned in those activities.

What is this "woman's recover supplement?" If it's some sort of post work out shake, that and the added calories from casein might be causing you to be at maintenance levels.

What do you do when you're not exercising? We all burn few calories sitting at a desk, etc, and that and sleep make up the majority of our day.

I'll just close by saying that you might be in a deficit but it might take a few weeks for fat loss to show up on the scale due to being masked by water retention from high activity.

Lyle, I believe, has stated the the most the body can adapt down basal metabolism is 15% (that's not accounting for the loss from burning less calories from loss of actual body weight) so if you do enough activity, you can compensate for that anyway. Also, that 15% came from lean people. At higher body fats, the body is less likely to shut down.

Just wanted to add that a lot of cardio has definitely cause water retention for me as Lyle has written is possible/likely. For example, I went on maintenance around Christmas and I leaned out and lost scale weight rapidly. Finally, I'll reiterate that I have a bias towards doing a lot of cardio so that might be reflected in this post, but I think what I've said has some merit.

Last edited by rhwbullhead : 03-07-2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: added personal water weight anecdote
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Unread 03-08-2013, 12:44 AM
JLLundberg JLLundberg is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 3

rhwbullhead, I can see where you are coming from, and I'm not going to just suddenly stop doing cardio. My swim practices have my heart rate up quite high for very extended periods, and I still plan to bike or run on the days I'm not swimming, but I'm just going to try and not do multiple cardio activities on the same day as I had been doing (i.e. biking and swimming).

I was reaching over a 2000kcal deficit on my really intense days and I think that is maybe just too hard on my body. I'm going to aim to keep my deficit 1000kcal or less.

You are right that calories can add up overall but I don't think that is the issue here, because I was eating more before and losing weight. I think its more water retension as you mentioned, but also potentially too high cortisol levels. The recovery thing is a post workout shake, mainly protein, 200kcal a serving, the casein is 120 kcal a serving. I measure it and I count this in my daily calorie intake on the days I use it. Also, I find that I am sometimes not hungry anymore, making it difficult to eat big portions in general, which is why I like the shake because it's easier to get down and I need the protein.

I don't see any harm in any case in slightly decreasing the cardio, and slightly upping my calories. If it doesn't work, I will try something else. I'm not in a hurry.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 02:54 AM
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forsaken3400 forsaken3400 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 225

Have you considered EC stack?
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