If You Want to Lose Weight, You Have to Start Eating!

eat to lose

One of the most common comments or concerns of those starting flexible dieting is about the amount of calories or macros they are expected to eat.

Here’s one such comment:

I’m 24, 175 cm (5″10), 224lbs. I am fairly active (I workout 4-5 times a week) and your calculator puts me at 2033 calories a day, 154c, 227p, and 56f. I just think 2033 calories is fairly excessive and I’ve been on diets all my life and have never passed the 1300 calorie range as I am considered overweight.

It can seem really strange to eat so many calories when you’ve been told all your life that the only way to lose weight is to follow a low calorie diet.

But, for many, eating more is actually the key to losing more. Here’s why.

Why You Must Eat More to Lose More

In the above example, this woman was accustomed to eating 1300 calories. She would probably burn about 400 calories at the gym, which would only leave her 900 calories to fuel her bodily processes and general movement on exercise days.

According to our calculator, her sedentary calories are 2218 just to maintain her current weight. Therefore on exercise days she is putting her body in a 1318 calorie deficit.

Our basic understanding of weight loss principles would say, “wow, she should be at her target weight in no time!” but, the body doesn’t quite work that way unfortunately.

Your body is a very complex machine and its goal is survival, even at the cellular level.

So what’s the body to do when it needs 2218 calories, but you are only giving it 900?

Starvation Mode

A few days of drastic calorie deficit are fine and cause no changes, but for those that consistently eat at dangerously low calorie amounts the body switches into a conservation state or what some people call starvation mode.1

Our bodies are very clever and we still don’t yet fully understand all of the ways it can survive when placed in stressful situations.

This explains why some people who have been stranded at sea can survive for months on practically nothing. The body begins to slow down the metabolism in an effort to maintain homeostasis in light of a drastic calorie deficit.

A similar thing happens for extreme dieters. The body slows things down, slows the burning of fat, and actually begins to breakdown muscle tissue for energy especially if the dieter is also engaged in weight training.


Muscle Cannibalization

Muscle Cannibalization is simply when your muscles are broken down by the body and used as fuel for other parts of your body.

Drastic calorie deficits can cause this as well as not eating enough protein. Your body can break down one muscle group to build and repair the group you just worked out and then vice-versa later in the week when you work out the other muscle group.

One study showed that instead of fat loss occurring and then muscle loss during starvation, they both can happen in parallel to each other.2,3

To prevent this from happening a dieter must eat enough calories and enough protein to prevent this from occurring.4 Dieters want extra energy to come from their fat reserves, not their muscles or they’re defeating the purose.

The Solution is To Eat!

Unless a dieter is morbidly obese and under the direct care of a physician, he/she should never have a calorie deficit of more than 400-500 calories or 20% less than their TDEE calories with the calories burned during exercise factored in.5

For those that are already pretty lean, but just have 5 pounds to lose, calorie deficits can be even smaller.

So, make sure you are eating enough to support your bodily processes and the growth and activity of your muscles, but not too much that your body won’t burn a small amount of its fat reserves each day to make up for the slight deficit you are in.

It can be really challenging for some dieters to eat more, especially if they have been doing low calorie diets for a large portion of their lives. It can also be challenging for people to eat the amount of carbs recommended with flexible dieting especially for those that have had “carbs are bad” drilled into their heads for so long.

It’s time to start eating again and come into a better relationship with food. Slow and steady weight loss is the goal with flexible dieting and this, unlike other diets, is sustainable over the long-term because you are able to eat and not feel deprived.

Here’s a comment from someone who started to eat again.

Thank You so much! I’ve been on it for a week. I meet my macros, but having a hard time getting all the calories in, I’m not eating under 1300 anymore but always end up around 1500 at most – it’s not much difference but my body feels great; I recover much better and I am eating more carbs than before but not yet the 205 recommended. I’m still at 60% this week but next week I’ll amp up to a 70%, my body has already started to change.

Manage Expectations

I also want to express the importance of managing expectations when doing the flexible diet or any diet.

There are many different body types and most people may never be able to achieve the body that has been Photoshopped on the cover of our fashion or fitness magazines.

For women, nature is actually working against the quest for a low body fat percentage. A woman’s hormones are constantly preparing the woman’s body for childbearing and this means a healthy layer of body fat.6 Just look at the body fat percentage differences among men and women.

body fat percentage

So, focus on getting healthier by eating nutritious food, eating enough food, and being more physically fit because usually only those that get paid to look like ultra-ripped athletes actually have the time and resources it takes to look that way.

In closing, I can’t express the importance of working to change your low calorie and low carb mindset and begin eating again. If you want to break free from a slow metabolism and break the weight loss plateau then you have to give your body enough fuel to leave the launch pad.

Need More Help?


    Scientific References:

  1. Schwartz, M. W., & Seeley, R. J. (1997). Neuroendocrine responses to starvation and weight loss. New England Journal of Medicine, 336(25), 1802-1811.
  2. Owen, O. E., Smalley, K. J., D’Alessio, D. A., Mozzoli, M. A., & Dawson, E. K. (1998). Protein, fat, and carbohydrate requirements during starvation: anaplerosis and cataplerosis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68(1), 12-34.
  3. Chaston TB, Dixon JB, O’Brien PE. Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity (2005). 2007;31(5):743–750.
  4. Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Journal of Applied Physiology, 64(1), 187-193.
  5. How to Set a Caloric Deficit for Fat Loss
  6. Price, T. M., O’Brien, S. N., Welter, B. H., George, R., Anandjiwala, J., & Kilgore, M. (1998). Estrogen regulation of adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase—possible mechanism of body fat distribution. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 178(1), 101-107.
  7. Lead image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alfon18/2366993667/
  8. Image 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gwendalcentrifugue/8577595400/


  • Amy

    What if I really can’t eat that much of fat, is it worse if I eat more carb than the standard of me suggests?

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      I don’t understand why you can’t eat that much fat? Is it for health reasons? Eating some nuts or avocado can help get you there in a healthy way.

      • Amy

        I have been eating low fat for several years so eating too much fat makes me uncomfortable, but i am trying to eat more and add peanut butter into my diet. So i want to ask between hydrogenated oil and palm oil, which one is better for nut butter?

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Palm oil is a lot better as hydrogenated oil contains transfat. The best nut butters are the ones that only contain the nuts and no “added oils” You usually have to stir these at first and then store them in the fridge.

  • http://fitnessifying.com Lynn Swartz

    It’s also important you eat the right food if you eat more. I myself have this great book to aid me in the kitchen. http://www.fitnessifying.com/Paleo

  • Stefanie Di Giovanni

    Hi there! I have a few questions…How do I calculate macros if you are typically under eating. If I look at my current intake of say 1200 cals (not actual calories) versus what I should be eating say 1600 (what the calculator says) because of my activity levels where do you begin with flexible dieting? I’ve read some people go straight to their TDEE whereas others slowly get up to their TDEE and then begin a cut if they want to lose weight. Will I be shocking my system with a big increase in calories if I have been under eating for awhile?

    Also,for activity levels. I see that you say there are individual differences, I haven’t worked out in a few months due to an injury and as I begin to workout my intensity is high for me (because I am used to doing little to no activity) but compared to others it would probably be considered light activity. Which stance do I take moving forward with the macro calculator?

    Thank you in advance!

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Stefanie, If you are worried about increasing your calories, just increase them gradually. As for your activity, do you have any idea of how many calories you are burning? This will determine your classification.

      • Stefanie Di Giovanni

        Oh ok, how much of an increase would you recommend? And a weekly increase?

        For activity levels I think its low, mostly jogging and some weight training.o don’t know how many calories burned, how does one find that out?

        Thank you!

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Perhaps increase your calories by 100 each week until you get to your TDEE. You can track your exercise with a good app like MapMyFitness. Alternatively this webpage can help. http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calories_burned.htm

  • Tisa Smith

    This is an awesome blog post found here… Keep posting such an amazing information. It contain very unique and very helpful thanks for sharing.


  • Kristi

    I can’t seem to eat the amount of protein and calories I’m supposed to be. I’m always ending up at the end of the day with 350 or so calories left and over 100 grams of protein, but right on track with fat and carbs. Can I raise the carbs and lower the protein to find a way to get in those extra 350 calories without going over on my fat or carbs? I’ve tried adding healthy protein to every meal, but it seems impossible to eat that much protein in a day. Thanks for you advice! I really want this to work for me!

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Kristi, You could add in a protein shake and also lower your protein if your goal isn’t to build muscle mass and you could raise your carbs. See this article for pure carb suggestions: https://healthyeater.com/out-of-a-macro

      • Kristi Geere

        Thanks so much Ted. I’m going to order the protein shake you recommend that has 50 grams of protein and no fat or carbs. It also has 200 calories, so that should do the trick! I can’t wait to see the results of how this works for me!

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Great! Keep us posted.

  • Stephanie N Alex

    I have been under eating for years and am now wanting to lose body fat and build muscle. I used the IIFYM calculator to figure out what I should be eating on a cut, which is a lot more than what I usually eat. I am not seeing a change on the scale, either up or down,I feel and look stronger though. Is this because my body was in starvation mode and now has to adjust to the increase in calories? If I continue to stay at the same weight should I adjust my macros lower?o

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Stephanie, If you’ve been eating under for years, it will take some time for your body to adjust and your metabolism to heal. Stay the course and I also suggest using body fat percentage and pictures as a measure of progress. Keep up the good work and I’m glad you’re now fueling your body properly.

      • Stephanie N Alex

        Thank You!! That was a quick reply 😉

      • Madi

        I have been under eating the past 4 months and my metabolism became so slow i started gaining weight even though i was working out 7 days a week for an hour or more and eating around 1000 cals. About two weeks ago i started to eat normally and i gained 9 lbs in five days. I know it takes time for my metabolism to heal but any idea of how long it will take until i start losing weight again? I am still eating healthy and working out 6 days a week. I am 5’5 and 135 lbs and my goal is 120 which was my original weight before i went on an antidepressant which cause me to overeat.

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Hi Madi, Have you worked out your TDEE and Macros? That’s a great starting point and it will take some time. It was 4 months of undereating so it will be more than 2 weeks to get things going again. Make sure you switch up your exercise plan as well.

  • Ursula

    Hi. I am in the UK and would love to get this book. However, it’s not on Amazon and is in dollars. If i download will it automatically adjust to UK pounds?

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Ursula, Thanks for considering my book. Yes, your credit card will automatically convert the charge to pounds for you.

  • Ursula

    Any ideas?

  • rachel

    Hello there!
    I’ve been eating normal for years over and over but I gained way cuz I started eating lots of suger and carbs (sweets, candies..etc!)
    Two months ago I changed my way of eating and I went from 132 to 124 and didn’t gain it back never! Also my height is 162cm
    I weigh now 122 sometimes 124 but I eat under 1000 calories per day and I burn at exercising like 300 calories! I lost fat good but the only problem is my stomach never gets flat neither my waist(I meant here to make it smaller)
    Is it okay to stay like that?I mean “cal intake”
    Please help me!
    And what should I do to lose belly fat?I go to gym 6 days a week and 50 minutes each day !!!
    But I still have it !!

    Thank you very much:)

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Rachel, No it’s not. 1000 calories a day is not enough to support your bodily functions and your exercise. You are really setting yourself up for the development of an eating disorder. If you want to flatten your stomach you should eat more and strengthen your core.

      • Tirzawe

        I am almost 16, 174 cm and about 52 kg..
        I lost 7-8kg over a period of 3 months… I ate about 1000-1200 calories a day and excercised a lot.I now realise it was wrong. As I finished my diet I now want to consume more again but without gaining a ton of weight. I increased my calorie intake to about 1400-1500 a day and gained weight.
        Now my question is ; what do I do to maintain my weight? Slowly increase my calories like 100 a week or do I increase it drastically?

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Hi Tirzawe, It sounds like you should gradually increase at about 100 extra per day each week or two.

          • Tirzawe

            Okay, so you believe that would work better for me? Just because you usually recommend to just “start eating again”

  • Nichlaus Beaty

    Hello so I have some questions! I just started flexible dieting and I’m trying to hit around 250 carbs 160 protein and 65 fat. I am 22 6’1 and weigh 140. For months have been eating in a deficit and only getting about 1600 calories a day on top of weightlifting and hiit cardio. I guess I am ask
    ing is that do my new macros seem fit for someone who is lifting weights and doing some cardio about 6 days a week? Thanks!

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Nichlaus, Based on your stats you’d have to eat a lot more to gain muscle mass. On your workout days this could be as much as 3000 calories depending on how fast you want to gain and how lean you want the gains to be. Right now you are at 2225 which isn’t even enough to maintain your current body weight on your workout days.

      • Nichlaus Beaty

        Ok first off thanks for the speedy response! For my goals, I am not looking to bulk or anything of that sort. I want to maintain a lean frame but add more muscle. I feel extremely full just eating 2000 calories! What would be some suggested macros you could give me to start off with?

        Thanks man!

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          You’re welcome Nichlaus! Like I said, you just won’t be able to add muscle if you’re not eating enough to support your metabolism + workouts. The energy to build muscle has to come from somewhere. If you want me to calculate your macros for you, you’d have to sign up for my coaching package available here. https://healthyeater.com/ebook I would love to work with you in order to reach your goals.

  • The unknown player


    I’m 5″8, 235 and 34 years old, I’m walking, and doing squats and push-ups daily. (My fitbit has me averaging 15,000 steps a day). My diet (myfitnesspal app) has my eating 2100 calories a day and it increases throughout the day as I work out. I’ve tied protein diets in the past and they have worked (but I never followed any charts). I just ate veggies and meat for 2 months and lost 30 lbs) should I keep track or go back to what i did a few years ago.

    And what foods are best in the carbohydrate department to help increase calorie intake with my diet. I find it hard to reach my carb intake daily, but have no problem getting the protein I need. ( I’m also eating plates and plates of spinach and vegetables daily).

    Thanks Ted.

    • The unknown player

      I’m male

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hey there, I think tracking is the way to go. It gives you the power to have a treat or a “cheat meal” without it ruining your progress or feeling like a failure. It takes all the guessing out of the equation and you understand exactly what you are putting into your mouth and the macros it provides. I have a great list of carb rich foods here: https://healthyeater.com/carb-protein-fat-rich-foods for you to refer to and If you want to get started with flexible dieting, I’d recommend my book: https://healthyeater.com/ebook and even consider the coaching option. But, I wanted to say keep up the great work and I’m glad you’ve started the journey to get healthier and more fit!

      • The unknown player

        Thank you Ted, looking at both links now!

  • Valerie

    Okay, so I’m vegetarian for about 2 months. And I eat around 1200kcals and workout every day 50 minutes and It says I burn 500kcals bc I push myself hard. I’m female, 15 y/o, 5’3 and 54kg I guess. I have a very flat stomach and some visible abs, but My thighs r a little big and I want to slim them down. What should I do?

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Valerie, Start eating more, you aren’t eating enough to support your metabolism and exercise. Use our calculator to see what you should be eating based on your stats. https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

  • Ram

    I struggle to get the calories in. I weight train 45mins and run 15mins 4/5 days a week, and I train hard, really hard, like a HIIT session. I put on weight when I dont enough, and then it comes off when I pig out. I eat a lot, but I cant keep up with the food.
    I weigh 186 pounds and 1.8m tall.
    Today, this is what I’ve eaten,:
    1 scoop protein with 250ml semi skimmed milk and muller light yogurt.
    1 egg and 3x quorn sausages in a bread roll
    King prawns curry and rice
    2 chapatti, 2eggs, okra (ladies fingers), 3x chicken drumsticks
    1 scoop protein shake with water
    2x Jacket potatoes with tuna mayonaisse (first time today I used mayo to bump up the calories)
    2 chicken breast burgers with home made relish
    Ice cream with chocolate sprinkles
    3 coffees through the day with sugar and milk
    3.5 litres of water through the day

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Ram, How many calories does that add up too? Seems like over 3000 to me.

  • Amanda Liberty

    I am on a weight loss journey
    I started at 315lbs and I am down to 250
    I have struggled over the years with my weight going up and down, and tried many a diet. but I am not interested in faddy diets anymore. I have recently lost 20lbs doing it by just reducing my calories, and increasing excersise

    I am trying to eat more proteins and I changed my breakfast from cereals to things like eggs, lean ham, yoghurts, cheese.
    I want to make sure I am getting enough nutrients
    I am using an app MyFitnessPal to log my food diary. According to that I need around 1900 calories to maintain my weight, so I have been aiming at 1300, but I read here that this is still a little low? I want to lose weight carefully and not rush it.

    My issue is now that i STRUGGLE to eat 1300. Without the sugary candies, chocolates and cakes I used to eat (these are my downfall) I am eating plenty of fish, chicken,seafood. lean meat, fruit and vegetables, yoghurts eggs, rice pasta (rice more than pasta) and my occasional sugary treat. I drink mainly water.
    I have pretty much cut bread and potato out of my diet, and I am very careful with cheese.
    Because I cut cereal out I find my intake of milk has gone down. I wonder whether to drink a cup of milk a day
    I just want to make sure I am getting good nutrition. Are there any food groups/ choices that you think I could do to add?

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Amanda, Great job on your weight loss! Yes, you should be in no more than a 20% deficit. You can try sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, protein shakes, pumpkin, and fresh beets to help you bump up your calorie intake.

      • Myka

        Dates are a great calorie-dense food. I am a vegan so I’m always worried about not getting enough calories, so I like to eat a few dates every day. They are high in sugar, but it’s natural sugar so I don’t worry too much about it, especially if you’ve cut out sugary desserts and processed sugars. Eating enough dates can even stop cravings for those foods!

  • Superal

    I’m 5’8 and weigh 254lbs… I lost a hundred pounds using extreme calorie construction but of course gained it back. I’m meeting with a personal trainer who has my calories set at 1500 and macros being 40%c 30%protein 30%fat… I work on my feet plus workout 4-5 times a week and I’m exhausted and the weight is barely moving. When I use the iifym calculator it puts my calories to eat at 2000 and 40%f 40%p and 20%c…. Does this sound right? I’m scared to gain more weight eating that much

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Superal, You do have to eat in a way that supports your metabolism and your exercise while maintaining a safe calorie deficit. An arbitrary amount like 1500 doesn’t account for this. But, I will say that since you have more than 100 pounds to lose, this can skew the calculator’s results. See here: https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-obese

  • Gilbete V Lemieux

    Hi 🙂 I’m 5′ even and weight 130 lbs. I’d like to lose about 20lbs and tried doing a 1200 cal diet. I’m not losing anything! I did your TDEE calculator and it puts me at 1150 cal. Another one that I had did previously had me at 2300 so I’m a little confused. Should I be eating 1800 calories (500 under 2300) or should I be eating 1150 cal? I’m currently not working out but will be starting soon.

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Gilbete, at 5 foot and 130 pounds, with no exercise your TDEE isn’t 2300. I’m 165 and 5′ 10″ and my sedentary TDEE isn’t even that much. In your case, not eating enough doesn’t seem to be the issue. Have you had your thyroid levels checked?

  • France Parent

    OMG ….those are all lies. Calories in, calories out is all you need. One pound equals 3500 calories….if you eat 3500 more calories than you burn in a week, you will gain 1 pound (ex; average woman burns 1800 without exercise…eat 1300 a day to lose one pound) If you eat 3500 less, you will lose 1 pound…that is scientifically proven….and it ends there. Chances are, people are eating way more than they think. It does not matter where your calories come from except that healthier calories will make you healthier. Period. As an example…you can gain weight on Atkins by eating more calories, because Atkins was created for morbidly obese individuals (300 plus)…so of course they lost weight cause they were eating less calories after all. But if I wanted to sell a diet book, I would lie to you about all kinds of fairy tale diet myths, and in the long run, my book would still be about calorie restriction after all. 10 chapters on selling you my diet book and 4 pages about the meal plan itself. You want to bet on this ? Grab a 1200 calorie frozen pizza. Eat 1 a day (nothing else !!!!) for 7 days…do this for one month…you will be down many pounds depending on how much overweight you presently are. So the heavier you are, the more you will lose (because at 1200, you are drastically cutting out calories compared to a lighter person that already eats less than you). And because you are eating 1 box a day, and nothing else, you can’t underestimate your calories without you knowing it….happy dieting !!! 1300 calories a day is plenty for most women….’starvation mode’ is a myth unless you eat 0 calories. 1300 a day seems like little cause most people are overeating all the time.

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi France, It would be nice if everyone fit that equation but they don’t. People can enter starvation mode from consuming too few calories over a long period of time and this is documented and researched.

    • Bj

      Not at all true. Fact is the less I eat the harder it is to loose. I averaged 1000 cal per day. Burned 2600 and gained 4 lbs. as soon as I increased the calories to 2200-1300 and made a large portion protein with the balance in veggies and fruit it started coming off again. It is about the proper balance for your individual body. I always eat healthy and it has baffled my doc. But once I got the balance it worked out. Bottom line was my protein intake suffered to reduce the calorie intake and that is a mistake for anyone.

  • Emma Stevens

    A friend of mine has done this and in her first week. She has gone from eating 1000-1100 calories to now eating 1700 (recommended for a light weight loss as she only wants to loose about 7-10lb) but this week she has found she has burned less calories in classes (could be due to the heat through) and put 3lb on. What would be the reason for this. She burns 2200 cal in the gym a week through various workouts, pump, combat and balance.

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      If it’s hot, she’s probably drinking a lot of water which is part of the reason, the other is that her metabolism won’t turn back on overnight. It takes time for things to get going again after eating such a low calorie amount for so long.

  • France Parent

    sorry, but if there was an actual ‘starvation mode’ without eating zero calories, then people suffering from anorexia would not exist. Please read https://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/ and that is the whole and only truth about losing weight. Calories in, calories out

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      People with eating disorders are on the other end of the spectrum and eat 500 calories or less per day. This isn’t what we are referring to. As I said this is backed up by research and I’ve seen this countless times with people I work with. When they start eating more, they start losing weight again.

  • http://www.brandsflow.com/ Lisa Carter

    This is best practice to loose weight.

  • Isabella Pickens

    That works great, also another great way to lose calories without spending all day in the gym, is to get up every hour and walk around for 5 minutes. By the end of the day you would have done 30-60 minutes of walking depending how much you do it. I followed this plan http://tinyurl.com/YogaAndWeightLoss which is designed to shred fat IN ONLY 21 MINUTES A DAY in under 6 WEEKS and I now look like Cameron Diaz! My only problem is my husband won’t leave me alone now!

  • Laura-Jane Harris

    Not sure where I am going wrong my bmr is 1548 and my TDEE is 1571 with 10% weight loss factored in. I work out 3-5 x per week intense tabata for 30 mins.
    I’ve been consuming 1350 caps per day with high levels of protein and my weight is going up each week instead of down?
    Please help.

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Laura-Jane, It seems like you aren’t eating enough but not sure why your weight would be increasing at only 1350. Usually, people just plateau but not go up in weight. Are you sure you’re tracking your calories correctly?

      • Laura-Jane Harris

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve been logging everything in my fitness pal. I think I have been under eating then. Since reducing my calories I’ve increased my exercise levels to 3-5 sessions a week from previous nothing per week. my clothes are still as tight certainly not looser but my weight is increasing in lbs.
        I’m confused about the TDEE it says I should be on 1571 a day with my level of activity but does that mean on my gym days I still eat the same level of calories or should I be consuming more to take account of the calories burned or has the TDEE already factored that in over a week?
        I’ve not been eating extra calories for gym days as it is.

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          Your TDEE has already added in the calories for exercise if you selected your exercise level on our calculator, so you simply eat at that level on days you exercise.

  • Natisha Govender

    hey there guys, i am in real need of help nothing seems to be working. i began exercising and cutting sugar and carbs and noticed i lost 2kg in a week and a half, but my calorie intake was really low but then i began to stay stagnant and began to gain weight, so i introduced the carbs and sugar back but in a moderate amount wit exercise 3 times a week but still no results. ive calculated my TDEE and it is roughly around 2290 so 20% of that i should be consuming1832 calories. im trying IIFYM but not sure how well it will work. and if i continue to eat sugar and carbs will it work to my advantage or not? please help

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Natisha, Flexible dieting allows you to eat carbs (sugar) and still reach your goals. If you stalled your metabolism by eating too few calories it won’t turn back on overnight. You may have to eat at the 1832 level for several weeks before things will start moving again.

  • jerzy

    I have been having trouble finding out my optimal calorie intake, I average about 10,000-15,000 steps a day, have been training for over 8 years, am 180lbs around 13% bodyfat and have been eating around 2,000 calories as a male at 5ft 9″. I do not want to lose weight and am trying to re comp and just lose fat and build muscle. I was seriously considering bumping up my calorie intake to 2,700-3,000 calories a day. I eat ketogenic because it makes me feel the best, but I am not seeing the results I want eating these low calories and my strength suffered a lot. Initially I lost a lot of weight from 198-179 but I lost strength and I think muscle to. What would you say for someone that works out 5-6 days a week doing 3 days of 1 hour strength training and 2-3 days of 1 hour cardio sessions?

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Jerzy, You need to be eating enough that supports your metabolism and your training, yet allows for fat loss and muscle preservation/building. I highly recommend you picking up a copy of the muscle gain edition of our Flexible Dieting Solution. It will guide you step by step and help you reach your goals. There’s also a coaching option available if you need personal guidance from me. https://healthyeater.com/ebook

      • jerzy

        Ted thank you for a reply, I have desperately tried a ketogenic diet and all of this stuff turned into a terrible obsession over macros, counting and everything instead of enjoying and listening to my body! It’s time to let go and change. I appreciate your response and this article

    • Rene Brooks Whittemore

      You need to find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate, meaning how many calories your body will burn just at rest. http://www.lowfatlowcarb.com/bmr-calculator/ this calculator will tell you what the BMR is and how many calories you will need daily and with exercise. Hope this helps.

  • Snoozette

    Hey, just read the article, and although it greatly upsets me, it’s indeed true. I could very much relate to the person in the very first Quote.
    My question to this would be how to best go about starting to eat more.
    I’m 5’4″ and weigh 178lbs, and over the last years I’ve restricted my caloric intake to about 700 calories a day. Even 1300 a day sounds incredibly scary to me. How can I best …ease into eating more? :/

    I appreciate your time,

  • Gerges Miriam

    im 21 years old female , 5’1 so im really short and im weighing 113 lbs i really have large hips , belly … , i used to be 132 lbs i used to eat 2800 a day and i lost weight on 1200 with 6 days of exercise (treadmill , aerobics , spinning , walking , lifting…) i lost weight ONLY FROM my upper body to the point of having no more chicks , my bones were popped out of my skin in the upper body but real curvy in the lower one which gave me a horrible look , i still wanna lose weight and hit 105 pounds but im fed up , im now eating 1600 a day sedentary ( cannot exercise because of college , financial problems , low blood sugar ) and thats my maintenance ive been this weight for 2 years straight and i cant even have a small treat a day , i cant eat normally , i have low blood sugar caused by the diet and chronic stress also caused by the diet i dont have thyroid problems i dont understand losing only 19 pounds and losing a lot of calories i can eat a day, my doctor said im developing an eating disorder EDNOS and my diet has caused hair loss( bald spaces) , im hangry all the time , i try to eat 5 meals a day but with 1600 its just impossible im paying attention to all the macronutrients nothing fills me up whether it’s protein fat carbs i changed my diet several times to find out what fills me up the most nothing works i thought i need more calories because im HUNGRY i ate 1800 and gained i really dont know what to do , i was told that if i eat what ive been eating-that is eating 2800 a day-i would gain more weight not only go back to pre diet weight which 132 but i will gain way more than that ! is that true ? what is your advice ? THANKS

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Gerges, Sorry to hear about your struggle. Where did you get the 1600 calorie amount? According to our calculations your sedentary maintenance TDEE would be 1366. You’ve been eating too much at 1600 if you don’t exercise. See here: https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

      • Gerges Miriam

        Thanks for the reply ! 1600 is my maintenance i dont gain weight at 1600 if im sedentary i lost weight eating at 1200-1400 or so ! ive been eating 1600 for almost 2 years i couldnt get used to it no matter how or when i eat it im really hungry ! so if i go back to 2800 would i settle at 132 or gain more pounds taking into consideration metabolic adaption ? i wanna lose more weight but gave up i cant lower my calories way more

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          But 1600 isn’t your maintenance if your sedentary. It’s 1366.

  • Katerina

    Hi Ted, I randomly found your page and it’s fantastic! So much wonderful information! I am immediately spreading the word about you to all my friends!

    I just recently moved from Europe to Canada and I can’t believe my eyes! Scale number went up and I realized how bad I have been eating here – things I’ve never been used to sweet sugary drinks etc. I started to feel so sluggish here…So I cut all that out and focused on eating balanced meals and all the right stuff. Then I got Fitbit for Christmas as a gift and it feels so absolutely empowering. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a tool to understand what I have to do to lose weight! So amazing!

    Here is my worry:

    I am tall 6’9 and weight 188 pounds, luckily for me, my fat is somehow stored in all the right places so it actually looks kind of good, but I still want to lose 10 kg to be optimal and healthy and get nice and strong and toned.

    Since January I added some strength and cardio every day and cut on foods which I ate mindlessly. The mindfulness of eating right now feels so so empowering to me! I never felt this much in charge of it and it feels great!

    So by doing this I have been aiming for 1000 cal deficit a week. Burning 2500 a day eating 1500 a day. I’ve done it for a month now and it feels good. I can see the results and I don’t feel like I would be starving. I just eating when am hungry and don’t eat when I am not.

    But as I am going through your articles and comments, it seems like based on these numbers you have here I am not really eating enough. This is so confusing for me because I thought I was doing the right thing. I try to listen to my body and give it what it needs.

    Could you please tell me what you think? This is my first time ever I am doing anything like this and I felt so motivated until now.

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Katerina, Glad you found us and welcome! Thanks also for spreading the word. 🙂 So you are in 1000 calorie deficit per day? That is a little more than what is sustainable long-term.

      Also, be aware that FITBIT has been shown to overestimate calorie burn so that also needs to be considered when calculating your TDEE and macros. There are actually very few people that can “intuitively” know how much to eat. Feelings of hunger or non-hunger can be caused by many reasons and they aren’t always indicative of what the body needs. A more scientific approach is always the way to go.

      If you want me to help you with your TDEE and macros please consider coaching with me, but if you want to do it on your own, we have a lot of resources on the site to help and my book is also a great resource since it takes you through everything step-by-step.

      • Maryhen Diaz

        Hi Ted, thank you so much for your advice!! On January 7 I started a low carb diet. I’m 38 years old my height 5’5 and my weight was 183.. It’s been 4 weeks and my current weight is 177 lbs, I haven’t lost pounds as fast as I was expecting.. I do kickboxing 2 to 3 times per week and eat healthy small meals.. (salads, meats, grains, fruits but no rice, potatoes or pastas neither sweets) I don’t follow any diet since this low carb diet has worked for me in the past.. I just noticed that I’m not losing 2 to 3 lbs per week as I was losing in the past with the same diet..Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

        • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

          You really need to approach this scientifically by understanding how many calories your body needs on a given day and then tracking and eating what’s appropriate to lose weight at a safe and sustainable rate. Flexible dieting teaches just that so I would advise you to consider it.

          • Maryhen Diaz

            Thank you! I would certainly consider it.. As I was reading one article I found out that losing 1-2 lbs per week is appropriate.. The diet that I’m on right now is giving me exactly that, losing 1-2 per week.. I just felt that I was doing something wrong since I completely change my meal size portions and my whole diet.. But now, I know this is a healthy way of losing weight.. I was desperate to lose more weight every week and because I wanted to see results fast, last Saturday I started the Military Diet.. Well, it turned out that I had to stop with this insane diet at my very first day!! By dinner time I was starting to feel really weak and sick!! So, I figured that I’ll continue with my own diet and just be patient until I reach my goal!! I found your comments really helpful and informative, thanks again!

          • Maryhen Diaz

            Hi Ted, I tried to use my Macro calculator, but after entering all my info. for some reason it doesn’t take me to my results (next screen).. I’m 38, my weight is 177, my height is 5’5″ .. I practice kickboxing 2-3 times a week, so I guess this will be light activity? Formula: Normal and lose weight.. Can you help me with these calculations? Thanks so much (-:

          • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

            Hi Maryhen, There isn’t a “next screen” The results display at the bottom of the box when you click calculate or a goal such as fat loss. Are you sure you used our calculator here? https://healthyeater.com/flexible-dieting-calculator

  • Alicia

    Hi there,
    Due to my chosen profession of being a ballerina, I have to be very lean…our physiques play a massive part in a dancers life. I finally lost some weight but through a very low cal diet which meant that I am always tired and couldn’t loose the last 2 kgs that I wanted to. I read this and decided to give it a go however as I thought, I have put on weight straight away. I was eating 500/600 cals a day and increased it to about 900. I’ve only tried this for 3 days but I’m petrified of putting on weight seen as I worked so hard on loosing it (even though I may have done it the wrong way, by slashing my calorie intake). So my question is, how does this work? Are you supposed to put on weight and then loose it again or what? Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

      Hi Alicia, It’s pretty common for a person to gain some when they increase their calories after they’ve been eating too little. Even 900 isn’t enough for you given your physical activity as a ballerina.