Too Little Calories Too little Physical improvement

(Michelle isaacson) #1

I was Ketoing along with OMAD and felt even with my health issues and severe illness I was maintaining Nutrition. I have been in PT for over a year and in May developed Steroid Myopathy and my muscles went to :poop:. I rehabbed all summer and in October my PT asked about my nutrition as I was not making the muscle gains we expected. I told her I eat well and Keto. She suggested I start keeping a food journal. I was crushed; on average I was eating 600-800cal per day.

She felt like I didn’t have enough Food for Fuel and it was hurting my gains.
The problem is I am not hungry and have enjoyed the OMAD; which now I do Coffee in the am and Eat during the evening hours.

  1. So, how important are actually calories?
  2. For Ketogenic dieters how would we know if we need to eat more?
  3. Does the body in Ketosis start eating muscle for energy?
  4. I wonder if I have developed a mindset against eating more?

Thank you all so much!

Note I am with 5# of Ideal Body weight (I am 158# with about 15# of Loose Skin)

Question from another newbie!
(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #2

Calories are very important. If you have muscle loss to combat, you need protein, in order to provide the amino acids needed to build new muscle, and you need fat, for the energy to fuel the muscle repairs.

Eight hundred calories is half the caloric intake (1600 cal) given the subjects of a famous study on starvation during World War II. So you are clearly not eating enough.

In the process of starvation, for a while the body prioritises hanging on to fat, so yes, the muscle starts to waste a bit. The concentration camp survivors from World War II, who look like nothing more than skin and bones in the photographs, were all in the late stages of starvation and had no reserves left at all. How exactly the body prioritises what to consume first depends on the level of caloric intake and other factors. The goal, of course, is to hold on until the famine is over, and we can return to abundant eating.

Interestingly, fasting totally (no calories at all) calls forth a different response from the body, switching to fat reserves without reducing the metabolism.

If you find that an 800-calorie diet actually satisfies your hunger, you may need to do something called “reverse dieting,” in which you try to eat a bit more at each meal than you feel you want. This will help wake up your metabolism and reset your appetite and satiety hormones. Your body has adjusted your metabolism to match the amount of food you are giving it, and you need to encourage it to adjust back upward by giving it a bit more at a time, until you are eating normally again.

Your nutritionist can probably give you a better idea, but you probably want to be eating close to 2000 calories a day, not 800. Also, you want to be eating probably around 2.0 grams of protein per kilo of lean body mass (you could even make it per kilo of total mass, at least for now), in order to provide enough for building muscle. Then eat a bit more fat than you think you want, until your appetite has reset itself. So if you weighed 70 kg (154 lbs.), you would want to eat 140 g of protein, which would be roughly a 560 grams (about 20 ounces) of meat (most meats are about a quarter protein by weight, the rest of the weight being fat and water). That would give you the necessary protein, and a lot of the fat, you need.

Note that 140 grams of protein will give you 560 calories (4 cals/g), and the remaining 1500 calories you probably need would be provided by 166 g of fat (9 cals/g). But as I said, start by adding just a bit more fat than it takes to satisfy your hunger, and keep doing that until your calorie intake is more in the proper range. Again, your nutritionist ought to be able to help.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #3

To what @PaulL has already said…

As mentioned in my post that you just hearted here, some of us do not have ‘normal’ hunger/satiety signals. 600-800 cals per day is insufficient for any adult human being to survive very long. So it’s good that you discovered it in time to recover. Depending how long you’ve been eating so little, your metabolism has slowed. Your PT can probably advise you where to to test if you want to find out.

For those of us without normal hunger/satiety signals there are alternatives to help determine how much we need to eat and how much is enough. Feeling cold, weak, tired, dizzy, nauseous can all indicate the need to eat. When you experience any or all of those symptoms you need to eat more. If you’ve been eating so little a significant time, however, these signals can disappear.

We can also use weight change to determine how much to eat. As your PT noticed, you weren’t gaining muscle mass - only to be confirmed by you low food intake. Depending how long you’ve been eating so little, your metabolism will first eat your stored fat, then proceed to your lean mass, ie muscles, skin, bones, connective tissues. Catabolizing your lean mass is not good.

The good news is keto is the best shot you have to change all this to the better. First thing, however, is to eat more. This is going to be tricky since your slowed metabolism will actually store what you eat as fat and continue happily to eat your lean mass. As Paul mentions, this requires a ‘reverse diet’ procedure.

@lfod14 may have some helpful ideas about this. He has some experience doing it. Best wishes.

(Robin) #4

Voting yes to all the above. I sabotaged myself early in the keto journey by not eating enough. Like you. So I looked up how many calories I would need to maintain my current fat self and how many I would need to maintain my goal weight. Wow. I was eating much less than my goal weight would require. Obviously, I needed to eat a LOT more. And I soon began to lose weight/fat again.

I know It goes against everything we have learned, but it’s true. Especially if your weight has yo-you’d over the years…. Your body does not trust you! So be stable, be consistent, eat enough to let your body know it’s safe. It will all work out. If you are not hungry and you have not eaten enough, eat anyway. I often sit down to eat when I have zero desire or appetite. But after a couple bites, I get into it. Relax. You got this!

(Edith) #5

And just to help put things in perspective…

If 70% of your calories are coming from fat, you are only giving yourself 240 calories a day to provide your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Fat does not have a lot of nutrients. You are probably drawing down on whatever vitamin and minerals reserves your body has. I’m not a nutritionist, but I’m guessing that you will start to show vitamin deficiency after a while with such a small amount of calories.

I don’t feel hunger the way I did before keto/carnivore. Now I just get low energy, woozy, or nauseous just like @amwassil mentioned.

High Ketones, Very low Net Carbs, <600 Calories per day and stalled

Very… You don’t become a light eater on keto… You need the building blocks, the nutrients… You can get a lot of energy from your fat reserves if you have very much but you need other stuff…

Ideally we feel it but some people don’t. But your numbers clearly show you don’t eat well. If you said 1300 kcal, I would be totally unsure. It’s way too low for me but it may be perfect for someone else…
600 kcal isn’t even enough for the bare minimum of protein and fat for most of us I think…

If it needs it, sure. Keto isn’t a miracle that works even if you don’t eat properly.

No idea about your mindset, honestly. Maybe you just feel comfortable as your body keeps working and doesn’t complain for some reason.

Now I read you don’t have much to lose. No idea why your body doesn’t scream bloody murder (mine would even with all my significant amount of extra fat) but we are all different and saw such cases. Even quitting keto may be a good option if there are no others (all the mentioned cases were like that, keto triggered too much satiation and overeating even when the one in question was already underweight), starving is definitely bad and one should avoid it.

Of course, 1600 kcal is far from starvation for many of us. It’s a very nice calorie intake for me (with the occasional high-cal day, I doubt I ever will lose them), perfect for a slow fat-loss :slight_smile: And many people needs less than me. While many needs 3000 or more, it’s quite individual, after all.

(Michelle isaacson) #7

Thank you! My Nutritionist said I need to be closer to 2,000 especially with my respiratory issues. I just had in my head CICO didnt matter. I missed the boat here… I will start today adding in an extra meal (Actually it is sitting next to me) get my system kick started. :slight_smile:

(Michelle isaacson) #8

Thank you all for your Reply!
@amwassil It was your post which prompted me to ask :). In my medical illness journey I have learned to “turn off” uncomfortable sensations to function as normally as possible.
That being said…I have felt weak, dizzy and nauseated almost daily…I thought is was my meds/Lungs.
I have chronic low Mg, Na and VItamin D.
I go and get Fluids with Vitamins monthly for a boost.
I am going to start on the reverse diet plan today…Now. I need my body to stay strong to keep me as healthy as possible!

Thank you! Yes, My body doesnt trust itself at all! In fact that is my goal for 2022 is to find more balance. :slight_smile:

You are 100% correct I do have nutritional deficiencies. Also, I didn’t realize I had all the symptoms.

My PT told me my body has to be screaming for me to listen and even then I still ignore. I am learning to listen to the screaming. :slight_smile: I will start adding in extra meals and get those calories up.

Honestly, I trust more of you peeps on this site than any dietician or doctor when it comes to nutrition.

(Michelle isaacson) #9

My other thought is could the not eating enough have caused crazy Lipid Increases?
Basically I have some action to take :slight_smile: