How to Calculate BMR and Calorie Limits After Weight Loss

How to Calculate BMR and Calorie Limits After Weight Loss

Question:

 Hello, I’m a male, age 37, my height is 5’11”, and I weigh 263 pounds. I’ve been sticking to a 1,400-calorie plan pretty strictly with a calorie counter app and weight scale, and I have lost about 32 pounds. This past month I’ve noticed that the weight loss has slowed significantly and is fluctuating much more than the months prior.
Now that I’m 32 pounds lighter, how can I calculate a new BMR? 

Along with the weight loss, I am significantly more active as well. I do work an office job 9 hours/day, 5 days a week. But I also get to the gym 6 days/week and do somewhere between 30-45 minutes of strength training and 30-45 minutes of cardio, as well as 6 personal training sessions a month. I usually finish my eating for the day around 8/8:30 pm, and fast until 10 am the next day, sometimes waiting until lunch at 12:30 pm.

I’m kind of lost on if I should keep going with what I’ve been doing, or adjust my nutrition routine? And if I should adjust it, what’s the best route to go? Keep fasting? Bump up my calories? More protein? Thanks for your help. 

– Steven M.

Answer:

You’re doing great on your own, Steven! Weight reduction exceeding 2 pounds per week is not considered solely fat loss but also lean and water weight. If your rate of loss has slowed after a couple of months, that’s expected. You don’t really reach a “plateau” until you’ve not lost for several weeks. As you gain muscle the scale may not reflect any change. How has your body composition changed? You’ll want to look at both your body fat % and circumference measurements to get a sense of true progress.  

Based on your stated anthropometric measures and physical activity, I estimate your energy needs to be about 2350 calories for weight loss; a fair jump from your 1,400 per day limit. Rather than use basal metabolic rate, I’d recommend using resting metabolic rate (RMR) which includes bodily functions as your base level of calories to consume. That figure is closer to 2100 calories per day, based on Mifflin-St. Jeor equation. Still a bit greater than your current intake. 

To answer your last questions, I’d recommend initially bumping up your calories to 1,600/day by adding nutrient-rich whole foods (think veggie salad, beans and avocado), continue your routine and track your changes for the next month before deciding on next course of action. 

– 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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How to Enjoy the Tastes of Italy Without Destroying Your Diet

How to Enjoy the Tastes of Italy Without Destroying Your Diet

Question:

I’m headed to Italy for two weeks on vacation. While I want to indulge a bit on wine, pasta, and pizza, I don’t want to lose all the gains I have made. What is your advice for a calorie responsible, yet delectable, Italian vacation?

– Jim J.

Answer:

  • Italian food can be the model of a Mediterranean diet if it includes fresh vegetables, fish, fruit and nuts.

    Here are my tips for traveling or dining out Italian-style:

    • Look for primavera dishes and those with frutti di mare (seafood) or beans.
    • Limit cured meats like pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon.
    • Keep wine intake close to the amount you consume at home. It’s possible to taste a variety of wines without having a full 6 fl. oz. glass of each!
    • Skip the bread before/with meals, except for regional items (e.g., Pane Toscano, Coppia Ferrarese, or Pane di Segale).
    • For pasta, eat small portions while indulging in specialty sauces and toppings.
    • Keep cheese as a flavoring and topping, not the main ingredient. Sorry, lasagna!

    The point is to only “spend” your calories on something that’s unique for that venue. In buona salute!

– 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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Calorie Consumption for Muscle Gain

Calorie Consumption for Muscle Gain

Question:

Hello, I am a 147 lb, 24 year old, male. I am very active in terms of working out and playing sports. How many calories should I eat daily to maintain my body weight and gain more muscle? I was 198 lbs and have dropped down to this weight. Thank you.

– Rafi H.

Answer:

Most equations would put your energy needs in the range of 2,800-3,000 calories per day, based on a height of 5 foot, 9 inches. Subtract 30 calories for every inch shorter or add 25 calories for every inch taller. That’s assuming your weight loss was intentional as you say you’d like to maintain now.

Your body doesn’t know such equations exist and your digestion, metabolism, genetics and hormones will act on their own. My recommendation would be to get a good look at how much you’re currently eating before making changes. You can do so using PersonalTracker from nutrihand.com or the Diet Analysis & Food Diary tool at happyforks.com.

Once you get a sense of your actual energy intake and carbohydrate, protein, and fat percentages, you can determine where you may need to make changes in macronutrient breakdown to build muscle.

– 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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Diabetes and a Sweet Tooth for Fruit

Diabetes and a Sweet Tooth for Fruit

Question:

I am a 65 year old male. I weigh 295 pounds with borderline diabetes (A1c 6.2). I love watermelon because it hydrates and satisfies my sweet tooth. Can I eat too much watermelon?

– Joseph H.

Answer:

Of course, you can eat too much of anything, even food with natural sugars! Watermelon is a more dilute fruit — its high water content (90%!) means less sugar per volume compared with other fruits. A single serving of watermelon at 2/3 cup (100 grams) provides only 7.6 gm carbohydrate. Eat a few servings and you’re back to a higher sugar intake.

Besides just focusing on controlling the sugar load, you should also consider balancing meals and snacks. It’s possible to modify the digestion/absorption speed of the fruit you eat. Consuming fat and protein (or fiber) with simple carbohydrates acts to slow digestion and absorption, thereby blunting the rise in blood sugar response. Example: add part-skim mozzarella, olive oil, basil & balsamic vinegar for a watermelon caprese salad.

Keep in mind your total calories, so reducing portions of fat and protein elsewhere in the day may be needed.

See our previous answers regarding fruit: Which Fruits Contain the Most Sugar, Which Fruits are Best to Eat and Do I Need to Limit Fruit.

Resources:

  1. Basic Report: 09326, Watermelon, raw. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Legacy Release. USDA. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/09326 Accessed 9.3.2019
  2. Best Snacks for People with Type 2 Diabetes by Zawn Villines. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317094.php  Updated April 5, 2019. Accessed 9.3.2019
  3. Healthy Eating With Diabetes: Your Menu Plan by WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/head2toe-15/diabetes-meal-plan February 13, 2017. Accessed 9.3.2019

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

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How to Handle a Weight Loss Plateau

How to Handle a Weight Loss Plateau

Question:

Hi. I’m a member at LA Fitness.  I started this weight loss journey 6 months ago. I weighed 287 pounds. I’m currently 210 pounds. I have been eating under 20 grams carbs per day and 1-3 grams of sugar per day. It’s like a version of keto. But I don’t do high fat. No cheat days. I work out daily. I’ve hit a plateau with my weight. What can I do?

– Stephanie S.

Answer:

  • My question is: How has your body composition changed during your journey the last 6 months? Have you kept track of your measurements in addition to the scale? With a significant weight loss of 27% either you’ve lost some lean body mass (reduces metabolism), retained it, or have gained lean mass (hides fat loss on scale).

    Strength training is a critical component of your exercise routine. You say you work out daily. Remember that the workload must be progressive – your body is stronger now than last year, so more resistance is needed for the same effect. The idea is called the overload principle. When you continue the same routine for your workouts after your body has adapted, you fail to make further progress.

    Stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to rising cortisol levels which may impact metabolism and weight.

    With very low carbohydrate, high protein and moderate fat intake it’s just as likely that you’re under-consuming calories now as it is you are overconsuming calories. Eating too little suppresses metabolism while eating more than you need prevents fat burning. Seemingly healthy keto foods like bone broth are higher in sodium which may cause you to retain water weight. Remember to focus on real, whole foods and avoid processed food products.

    Breaking through a plateau may take a few weeks and everybody is different, so you will experience a shorter or longer duration of plateau than another person. If you still don’t see a change in body composition after a month of progressive exercise and fine-tuning your diet, consider starting over from where you are at now using the Body Weight Planner to determine calorie needs. Plan for only a 1-2 pound loss per week to avoid rapid weight loss (greater than 2 lbs./week) which contributes to muscle, water, and bone density loss.

– 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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