Cutting Calories While Maintaining RMR

Cutting Calories While Maintaining RMR

Question:

I am a 29-year-old male, I’m fairly active, and would like to lose 5% of my body fat. I decided to start tracking my daily calories and set a goal of creating a 500-1,000 calorie-per-day deficit. I know that my resting metabolic rate is 1,850 calories and I’ve been tracking all my steps, exercises, and time spent at the gym to sum into my total calories OUT. Typically, I burn ~2,000+ to 2,500+ calories depending on the day. The problem has been that a 1,500 to 2,000 calorie diet usually leaves me feeling very hungry, and sometimes low on energy. I cut out dairy, bread, and sugar but I still eat lean meats, rice, quinoa, and veggies. Is my 1,500 to 2,000 calorie intake too low, or do I just need to find different low-cal foods to fill me up?

– Bill Z.

Answer:

Bill, your question seems to already have answered itself in the description of your situation. You state you are usually hungry and low on energy, which would imply you’re eating less than normal, which you are trying to do. You’ve determined how many calories you’re expending but did not seem to track your previous energy intake to get your average baseline consumption. You’re working under the assumption that your personal body chemistry was following an equation* to begin with (rarely the case). Thus, your self-determined deficit appears to be from an expenditure calculation and not from analysis of your original diet intake.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s very likely that you were maintaining weight before on a much higher calorie intake, thus 2,500 Cals/day could be reduced enough from your true metabolic rate to assist with weight loss. By eating 2,000-2,500 calories/day for a while you will soon find out a) if satiety and energy improve, and b) whether weight loss is achievable at that level.

“To achieve weight loss while also maintaining RMR, calorie intake should be reduced by no more than 500 calories per day…” – Mark P. Kelly, PHD of the American Council on Exercise

* Whether your stated 1,850 RMR was calculated or extrapolated from a brief indirect calorimetry measurement, it may not reflect your actual physiological energy balance over 24 hours as it doesn’t take into account personal factors like digestion/absorption efficiency, level of stress, and sleep quality.

Resources:

  1. Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It—And Raise It, Too ACE Certified News, October 2012.
  2. Variability of Measured Resting Metabolic Rate. HA Haugen, et al. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 2003; 78 (6): 1141-1144.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Weight Loss Advice for Vegetarians

Weight Loss Advice for Vegetarians

Question:

I am a vegetarian and I’m finding it very hard to lose weight and gain muscle as much of the food that is available to me is either very high in carbs or made of some sort of soy protein (which I know isn’t the best for weight loss). Do you have any pointers or tips to help me eat cleaner and lose weight?

– Sophia K.

Answer:

As plants are mostly carbohydrate-based, you’re bound to eat a greater proportion of your calories from carbs as a vegetarian. There are plenty of higher protein and higher fat grains, legumes, and vegetables, though! Use quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, and cannellini beans in place of pasta and rice. Try a variety of nuts and raw or toasted seeds to complement an assortment of vegetables and seasonings. Incorporate avocado, olives, and coconut to fill out your meals and provide healthy fats and promote satiety.

If you’re looking for items premade with an alternative protein but are not finding non-soy options locally, you can always order such products online. To eat cleaner, you’ll need to prepare more of your own food from raw ingredients rather than shop for products. In the greater Toronto area there are some good health food stores in which you can find seeds, nuts and bulk grains and legumes.

Here are a couple of my favorite moderate carbohydrate vegetarian meals:

  • 1 C. homemade chia pudding made with pea protein milk, ½ C. mixed berries, 1 Tbsp flax seed, 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut [approx. 330 calories, 21 gm fat, 34 gm carb, 16 gm protein]
  • 1 C. vegetarian chili (½ beans, ½ vegetables), 1 oz vegan cheese, 1/3 avocado, 1 C. homemade coleslaw [approx. 502 calories, 25 gm fat, 51 gm carb, 11 gm protein]

Read our answers to similar questions here: Gaining Muscle, Losing Belly Fat: Vegetarian Edition | Q+A and My Weight Loss Has Plateaued… Any Advice?

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Weight Loss Supplements

Weight Loss Supplements

Question:

Is there a supplement recommended for weight loss?

– Christian H.

Answer:

Speaking only of pills, tablets or individual ingredients (not enhanced protein powders) there are a few items that show promise for weight reduction. Do not take these as my recommendation or endorsement — I am just trying to answer your question. Because there is a lack of strong evidence of efficacy, none can be recommended specifically for weight loss. Most physicians agree that no weight-loss supplements meet criteria for recommended use.

GREATEST research / LARGE number of participants

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – minimal effect on body weight and body fat
  • Green tea extract (Camellia sinensis) – possible modest effect on body weight
  • White kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) – possible modest effect on body weight and body fat

FEW studies / SMALL sample sizes

  • African mango (Irvingia Gabonesis) – possible modest reduction in body weight and waist circumference
  • Caffeine (as added or from Guarana, Kola nut, Yerba Mate…) – possible modest effect on body weight over time
  • Green coffee bean extract – possible modest effect on body weight over time

References:

  1. “Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss” fact sheet by NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, updated Nov. 1, 2017 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/
  2. Common Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss. RB Saper, DM Eisenberg and RS Phillips. American Family Physician. 2004 Nov 1: 70(9): 1731-1738

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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Avocado and Honey as Meal Replacements

Avocado and Honey as Meal Replacements

Question:

Is it safe to use avocado as a daily meal and sufficient nutrition per day? How about honey? Is it full of carbohydrates and should be avoided?

– Ahmed

Answer:

An avocado as a meal might tide you over once, but it’s not sufficiently nutritious to replace the other components of a meal, namely protein, and minerals. An avocado added to meals, totaling one per day in place of other fats within an energy-balanced diet is fine. Avocados from Florida are generally lower fat (best for slicing) and those from California – generally Hass variety – tend to be fattier (best for mashing). Avocados contain the type of unsaturated fats known to lower blood LDL cholesterol. A serving of 1/3 medium fruit has 8 grams of fat and is a good source of fiber, copper, and vitamins K, folate, and pantothenic acid. Avocados are also notable for potassium, containing as much in one fruit as a potato, a cup of cooked Swiss chard, or 2 bananas.  Avocados enhance satiety thereby contributing to a lower total caloric intake overall.

Structurally, honey is made mostly of glucose and fructose (the 2 base units in sucrose, aka “table sugar”) and 17% water. At only 21 calories per teaspoon, there’s no nutritional reason to avoid honey outside of an allergy in those over 1 year of age. Honey can be used as a sweetener to replace table sugar without its negative health impacts, provided that portions are kept modest.  In fact, there are many health benefits to honey in the diet including soothing cough and sleeping difficulties and improving the immune system. Use raw, 100% pure unfiltered honey to get the most medicinal properties (antibacterial, antioxidant).

Resources:

  1. Everything You Need to Know about Avocado. A Bjarnadotir. 8/1/2017 Avocado: Nutrition and benefits – Medical News Today
  2. Avocado Nutrition Facts & Label. https://loveonetoday.com/nutrition/avocado-nutrition-facts-label/
  3. Everything You Need to Know about Honey. J Nordqvist. 2.18.2018 Honey: Benefits, uses, and properties – Medical News Today
  4. Medicinal Uses of Honey: What the Research Shows. J Edgar. WebMD Medicinal Uses of Honey: What the Research Shows

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Peanut Butter’s Sticky Truth

Peanut Butter’s Sticky Truth

Question:

As I cut down on my meat consumption, I am eating a lot of peanut butter. What is the big difference comparing, say Skippy and 100% peanut butter? Does natural and organic matter? How about calories?

– Kevin

Answer:

Great question, Kevin! There are a lot of peanut butters to choose from. Traditionally, PB has a smidge of oil, sugar, and salt added for flavor and processing to get that super creamy, easily spreadable quality. Some food stores have a pre-loaded grinder for you to make the peanut butter yourself without adding anything, and the result is a bit grainy. Nutritionally, there is little difference per 2 tablespoons serving between commercial and homemade PB. Now, if you eat almost a cup of conventional jarred PB per week, you would be getting more salt and carbohydrates, but fewer calories and protein than PB made straight from ground peanuts*.

There are sugar-free and salt-free jarred options available, you just have to look for them. One natural brand I like now offers PB pre-stirred “smooth” so the natural oils don’t separate out to the top and it’s not grainy. Organic peanut butter probably has less pesticide residue, but there is little nutritional difference, depending on the brand.

*According to the USDA Food Composition Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, April 2018, for 200 grams (first brand listed for last 2 columns descriptors):

Smooth Peanut Butter (conventional) Unsalted Creamy PB (peanuts only)

Organic Unsalted Creamy PB (peanuts only)

1176 Calories 1312 Calories 1250 Calories
43.9 gm protein 50 gm protein 50 gm protein
99.1 gm fat 100 gm fat 106.3 gm fat
48 gm carbohydrate 37.5 gm carbohydrate 37.5 gm carbohydrate
11.4 gm fiber 12.4 gm fiber 12.4 gm fiber
13 gm sugar 6.3 gm sugar 12.5 sugar
952 mg sodium 0 mg sodium 32 mg sodium

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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