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Putting on weight even though I'm burning more than I eat?



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Hey all,

I have a bit of a dilemma. According to the FitBit watch I wear everyday, I burn on average around 3000 calories a day. I eat no more than 1,300 calories however, and drink my 2 litres of Water but I'm unable to lose any more weight? I've been at this plateau for about 3 months now (which is annoying because I'm a stone away from my goal weight), either staying at exactly the same weight or adding 2/3 pounds a week and it's so frustrating.

I can't find any info on why this may be the case, so I thought I would ask you guys to see if you could shed any light? If I'm burning more than I'm eating, surely I could be losing weight instead of gaining? I know muscle weighs more than fat and that it could just be me gaining the muscle I've been trying to build from strength training, but it's incredibly disheartening.

The only time I seem to lose weight now is if I go on a 3-5 day liquid diet, but I shouldn't have to rely on doing that every week to lose weight, surely?

More info below for context:

- 8 months post op

- A stone away from my goal weight

- I consume as much Protein as I physically can a day (between 40-70g a day) Vitamins and water

- I work out 4 to 5 days a week, mostly strength training with a bit of cardio

- I'll probably have carbs 2/3 times a week. Sweet potatoes mostly. Perhaps a sandwich if I'm out.

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First congratulations on your life changes and healthy goal achievements!

I very much enjoy working out and being active too. Just don’t trust whole heartedly what sport devices say word for word. They are really tracking trends and general steps. They tend to overstate actual calories burned. They also don’t account for older-than-50 bodies that burn calories far more efficiently. Several things could be at play so you will still have to do your detective work.

Try talking with your dietitian or nutritionist. You may need more Protein. You might be triggering your body into starvation mode too, and need to slightly increase your food intake. Make sure you aren’t coming down with a cold that increases inflammation like Covid. Are you getting 7 hours of sleep per night regularly? Is your bloodwork good? Taking Probiotics?

I stalled at the same time and found my bloodwork was off. But, I also talked with my surgeon who “walks his talk.” He suggested switching up my workouts. I used to live for the weightlifting high, but only lift 2 days a week now. I do more outdoor activities like rowing, biking, and hiking. Walking with poles burns far more calories. I’ve rediscovered walking with all my daily Water in a backpack ups my morning walk too. Two years out I’m still finding my balance of food to exercise and still loosing weight. You’ll find it too.

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First congratulations on your life changes and healthy goal achievements!

I very much enjoy working out and being active too. Just don’t trust whole heartedly what sport devices say word for word. They are really tracking trends and general steps. They tend to overstate actual calories burned. They also don’t account for older-than-50 bodies that burn calories far more efficiently. Several things could be at play so you will still have to do your detective work.

Try talking with your dietitian or nutritionist. You may need more Protein. You might be triggering your body into starvation mode too, and need to slightly increase your food intake. Make sure you aren’t coming down with a cold that increases inflammation like Covid. Are you getting 7 hours of sleep per night regularly? Is your bloodwork good? Taking probiotics?

I stalled at the same time and found my bloodwork was off. But, I also talked with my surgeon who “walks his talk.” He suggested switching up my workouts. I used to live for the weightlifting high, but only lift 2 days a week now. I do more outdoor activities like rowing, biking, and hiking. Walking with poles burns far more calories. I’ve rediscovered walking with all my daily Water in a backpack ups my morning walk too. Two years out I’m still finding my balance of food to exercise and still loosing weight. You’ll find it too.

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I’d question the fitbit too. You’d have to run for around four hours to burn 3000 calories & lift weights for about 8 hours.

https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/how-to-burn-3000-calories-a-day/

Remember, exercise contributes to only about 10% of any weight you want to lose. Many benefits to exercising of course but don’t make it your focus for weight loss. I didn’t ‘exercise’ & I lost all my weight & more but that was because my body’s new set point was a weight lower than my goal. But I am an outlier & beat the average stats of losing about 65% of the weight you are to lose with a sleeve.

I agree with @learn2cook’s suggestion to speak with your dietician & your surgeon may help too.

All the best.

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14 hours ago, learn2cook said:

First congratulations on your life changes and healthy goal achievements!

I very much enjoy working out and being active too. Just don’t trust whole heartedly what sport devices say word for word. They are really tracking trends and general steps. They tend to overstate actual calories burned. They also don’t account for older-than-50 bodies that burn calories far more efficiently. Several things could be at play so you will still have to do your detective work.

Try talking with your dietitian or nutritionist. You may need more Protein. You might be triggering your body into starvation mode too, and need to slightly increase your food intake. Make sure you aren’t coming down with a cold that increases inflammation like Covid. Are you getting 7 hours of sleep per night regularly? Is your bloodwork good? Taking Probiotics?

I stalled at the same time and found my bloodwork was off. But, I also talked with my surgeon who “walks his talk.” He suggested switching up my workouts. I used to live for the weightlifting high, but only lift 2 days a week now. I do more outdoor activities like rowing, biking, and hiking. Walking with poles burns far more calories. I’ve rediscovered walking with all my daily Water in a backpack ups my morning walk too. Two years out I’m still finding my balance of food to exercise and still loosing weight. You’ll find it too.

Hi and thank you so much for the above! I didn't know that about the watches, thank you for this insight.

I think I do need to up my Protein - I find it difficult to get a lot of it from food as I don't find myself that hungry that often. With regards to sleep, this may be my fault I fear. I tend to get between 4-6 hours a night every day, and I take probiotics maybe once a week in pill format? I need to book an appointment for bloodwork as I haven't had any done since the surgery.

Thank you so much for all these suggestions!

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just wanted to add that strength training doesn't burn many calories (although it's great for your muscles!). Cardio does burn calories, but you have to do a lot of it to really torch them. At my current weight, it takes about an hour of fairly intense cardio (biking, Zumba) for me to burn just 300 calories (although I agree with the others that the calorie counters and machines as well as fitness "watches" are really just estimates)

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Do not go by the fitbit, I used to have one and it counts your resting metabolic rate, meaning the 3k calories its showing you burned include your breathing and your bodily functions not your calories burned by exercise. It also will randomly record an exercise or activity if you move your hand too much etc.

I was advised by my dietician to increase my carb and Protein since I was doing HIIT or strength training 4-5 times a week, so now I try to do 80g of protein with a shake. I do for carbs sweet potato, quinoa, protein bread or wrap, oatmeal (fiber) and cream of wheat.

I tend to weight more or less the same when I train hard since there is Water retention for muscle repair, so make sure you are drinking above the recommended 64oz to avoid this.

It also helps to look at your weight total per month, not by week or weigh in when you are training, and to start taking your measurements to help see how your body is changing.

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It's probably the strength training, you will still lose the weight doing strength training, but slower than if you did cardio. Strength training, however is perfect for building muscle, which will ultimately change your metabolism for the better, it just takes time.

You are likely building muscle and and losing fat at the same time, but due to the muscle increase the scale numbers are showing no weight change. Consider getting a scale that measures fat and muscle as well as weight.

Are your clothes getting looser? if so that is your sign that you are in fact, building muscle.

I was running into this problem as well when I had to meet weight goals pre-surgery because I prefer weight training to cardio. So I would stop doing weights and start doing cardio and the weight started coming off faster.

After my surgery, I will be going back to weights.

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It could definitely be the muscle gains offsetting the fat lost numbers on the scale, which is why the scale number isn't everything. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe muscle weighs about 1.5x as much as fat, so as you approach your target weight you very well could be continuing to get healthier despite the number staying the same or slightly gaining. That's why the NSV's become more important after the initial loss!

It's also worth considering how much excess skin may be present. If its a significant amount, you could estimate the weight of that and subtract it from what you see on the scale to get a better idea and avoid discouragement. In that case, the excess fat is gone, and all that's left is the number.

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On 10/23/2023 at 1:27 PM, catwoman7 said:

just wanted to add that strength training doesn't burn many calories (although it's great for your muscles!). Cardio does burn calories, but you have to do a lot of it to really torch them. At my current weight, it takes about an hour of fairly intense cardio (biking, Zumba) for me to burn just 300 calories (although I agree with the others that the calorie counters and machines as well as fitness "watches" are really just estimates)

Thank you for this! According to my watch, I burn between 500-600 calories for an hour workout (but now I don't know what to believe re: the watches now!) My fitbit says it takes into account calories burned while sedentary/resting/moving about too.

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19 hours ago, MaameWata said:

Thank you for this! According to my watch, I burn between 500-600 calories for an hour workout (but now I don't know what to believe re: the watches now!) My fitbit says it takes into account calories burned while sedentary/resting/moving about too.

it's hard to say how much you're actually burning that doesn't include sedentary/resting etc. I think Fitbits (and other trackers) give you a general idea, but they're not super accurate. And how many calories you burn in an hour depend on how much you weigh, your metabolic rate, what you're doing, and your intensity. I've been tracking my calories like a hawk for years, so I think the 300 kcal an hour I seem to be getting from fairly intense cardio is probably in the right ballpark. It takes about 1600 kcal a day for me to maintain my current weight, but if I'm exercising a lot during any given week (about an hour a day), I can eat up to 1900-ish without my weight starting to head up (of course, you have to take into account normal weight fluctuations, too - but at any rate, I do seem to be able to increase my calories by up to 300 or so if I'm doing a lot of cardio).

also, the person who said that over the long run, strength training will increase your metabolism is correct. The more muscular you are, the more calories. you'll burn even at rest. So strength training by itself doesn't burn all that many calories, but over time, it'll boost your metabolic rate.

Edited by catwoman7

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