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What do you expect would happen if eating paleo but <1,000 cals/day?

by (13)
Updated 44 minutes ago
Created October 21, 2012 at 8:50 PM

I am eating paleo because I have a bit of weight to lose (about 10 pounds) and want to eat apropriately for my body and get the most nutrition in a lesser amount of calories.

I would prefer to lose the weight as soon as possible, so am wondering if I ate paleo (read: lots of fat), but ate less than 1,000 calories a day, sometimes as low as 500, what do you expect would happen?

Would this make my body hang on to all the fat I eat (and I would end up gaining or staying the same)? Or would the same paleo principles apply, I would just lose weight faster?

If this makes a difference, I am recovering from a bad back and currently walk about 20 or 30 minutes each day.

note: based on an online calculator, I burn about 1,800 calories a day.

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1786 · October 26, 2012 at 1:45 AM

it's not necessarily about eating more, but about nourishing more. if that means more calories, that's what it means, but if it means equal or lesser calories but different food choices, more of a certain micro or macro nutrient....

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1786 · October 26, 2012 at 1:43 AM

its a good point in fairy tale land. if you want to continually delude yourself, that's great, that's your choice. but don't piss on my leg & tell me it's raining. the quality of life, even if it may be LONGER life, is so pathetic on sub-optimal caloric diets that it could be look upon as a serious behavioral disorder. occasional fasting for numerous reasons is fine, but this post is seriously comic in its cliche-ness.

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11111 · October 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM

+1 - as for myself I can vary from not eating anything all day long to eating like a horse - it just depends on the day, my activity level, etc - I just listen very closely to my body - has taken me years to get to be able to give my body what it needs when it needs it - not when/what society dictates.

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 12:42 PM

And "I can't imagine it takes very long to lose 10 lbs"- that super depends on your body type and how much you weight in the first place- if you are 110 lbs, losing 10 lbs is a pretty good portion of your whole body. 200 lbs, less so. It takes me, as a vaguely shortish smallish female, over 2 months to healthfully (ie minimize lean tissue loss) lose 10 lbs.

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Either way- not very effective to cut calories so dramatically for weight loss and sustain it, even if it's "only 10 lbs". It might not be the biggest deal IF the op is in top notch mental health with no existing deficiencies (ie hasn't been eating SAD forever with no nutrients), BUT either way, weight loss will be temporary and will be regained as calories go back up to normal. Probably not what the OP had in mind as "a 10 lb weight loss" would be "maybe a month or 2 of 10 lb weight loss". She's not talking about fasting for health here.

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2422 · October 22, 2012 at 3:55 AM

Is it safe to give advice like this without knowing the OP's mental health status? How would the OP know if his/her view on body is not delusional when mental disorders are characterized by the affected indiviuals' irrational behaviors and patterns of thinking?

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2422 · October 22, 2012 at 3:38 AM

@foreveryoung, please be more mindful of those who are suffering from eating disorders. Your comment can be very damaging and triggering for some people.

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14877 · October 22, 2012 at 1:39 AM

@ CG- LOL. @JeJ- thanks good points. I can't imagine it takes on very long to lose 10 lbs when trying to, so I figure a very short term strong deficit won't do any harm at all. I just don't think it really matters too much and we over think it in general. I don't think we would have made it this far as a species if going 30 days on a very low calories caused us to be malfunction and cause irreparable damage.

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6107 · October 22, 2012 at 1:23 AM

"...eating larger protons in general." Do protons come in different sizes? If so, I'd like some of the medium-sized ones, I think. They seem like they would be just right.

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6107 · October 22, 2012 at 1:18 AM

^^^^ Oh, YOU TWO again.... ;-)

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:12 AM

Also: http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/08/severe-calorie-restrictions-probably-dont-prolong-life/ It's not cut and dry anymore, mice don't always translate all that great to real life.

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:09 AM

Substantial loss of life. Heart rhythms and suicide. Seriously, your mother is at an enormously increased risk of death, don't ever stop taking her disorder seriously. http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/story.html?id=670d0d49-f24d-4161-9aa3-96f8e32e0244

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:07 AM

^Are you freaking serious? Life expectancy is WAY shorter for anorexics, don't be so effing callous. For anorexic females life expectancy is a 1/4 of a century less than the rest of the populations.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18612251

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:03 AM

I think people get hung up because say bye-bye to lean tissue if practiced for extended periods of time, and most people have preexisting nutritional deficiencies that then make fasting basically "Malnourishment Plus!". If you are in good health and aren't out to lose a lot of weight, go for it. The fact that the OP wants to do this for the 10 lbs, not the health benefit of fasting- probably not the best attitude to go gung-ho into it.

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14877 · October 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Hey, we're animals too though, are we not? Also, even empirical data of calorie restriction on humans shows increases in longevity. Hell, my mother has been anorexic for 30 years and I'm pretty sure will outlive my future children.

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10490 · October 21, 2012 at 10:28 PM

I was being a bit facetious there, dear. But she didn't specify how long she intended to do it or her current height/weight. Even if 1000 calories is appropriate for short periods, as low as 500 on a regular basis sounds really awful. I'd also rather err on the side of something that just keeps 10 pounds on a person a little bit longer than something that may jeapordize their health. P.S. - I still love you too! ;)

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14877 · October 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM

^ Not true. Look up the DSM criteria for a diagnosis- there is a lot more to it than just a short period of calorie restriction to lose 10lbs. P.S. I still love you ;)

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14877 · October 21, 2012 at 10:14 PM

^ Not true. Look up the DSM criteria for a diagnosis- there is a lot more to it than just a short period of calorie restriction to lose 10lbs.

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748 · October 21, 2012 at 10:11 PM

such a good comment. if your eating a low amount of calories because you are generally not hungry (not because your forcing yourself to) there shouldn't be anything wrong with. The only way it would be unhealthy is if it brought you to reach an unhealthy weight or binge because you were FORCING yourself to eat that little (similar to foreveryoung's comment below). The benefit of eating less NATURALLY without force = happiness and WEIGHT LOSS!

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748 · October 21, 2012 at 10:07 PM

very good point foreveryoung. love that comment.

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10490 · October 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM

I expect you'd get an anorexia nervosa diagnosis.

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14877 · October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM

Actually, she'll likely experience the many well documented health benefits that occur with both acute and chronic calorie restriction, such as improved insulin sensitivity, reduced body fat mass, decreased CRP and trigs, lowered cholesterol (in long run, not short run), and potentially increased longevity (from either the hormonal changes and/or the slight increase in telomere length). It's only a bad idea if she can't sustain the self-control and ends up bingeing and or if she loses too much weight to the point where it is no longer healthy.

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7 Answers

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1
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15385 · October 21, 2012 at 9:54 PM

I was 6' 228# when I first went Paleo and I found that a low-carb Paleo diet really reduced my appetite, to the point that I was eating about 1200-1300 calories per day and really was not that hungry. I didn't feel deprived at all, in fact was loving all of the protein and fat, which I need a lot of but don't get on other diet plans.

The body mass evaluators say that someone my size could eat 2000-2500 calories per day without gaining weight, but that is absurd, I would have swelled up like a Macy's day balloon, and there's no way I could have eaten it all anyway because I didn't have the appetite.

These days I do crossfit 3-4x per week and am definitely eating more than 1200-1300 calories but am probably well below 2000 still.

If you eat ~1000 calories per day and find yourself still hungry to the point that you're starving all the time, I think you'll probably get a bump down in weight but then your body will slow down its metabolism and you'll feel miserable all the time without losing weight. I think the best way to lose weight to is to be a little bit hungry some/most of the time, but not starving all the time.

There are those here that say that you have to eat more in order to lose weight, which doesn't make sense to me unless eating more allows you to exercise a LOT more.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · October 26, 2012 at 1:45 AM

it's not necessarily about eating more, but about nourishing more. if that means more calories, that's what it means, but if it means equal or lesser calories but different food choices, more of a certain micro or macro nutrient....

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2
11111 · October 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM

+1 - as for myself I can vary from not eating anything all day long to eating like a horse - it just depends on the day, my activity level, etc - I just listen very closely to my body - has taken me years to get to be able to give my body what it needs when it needs it - not when/what society dictates.

C23148e16a4dd05351d1902a69097d65
748 · October 21, 2012 at 10:11 PM

such a good comment. if your eating a low amount of calories because you are generally not hungry (not because your forcing yourself to) there shouldn't be anything wrong with. The only way it would be unhealthy is if it brought you to reach an unhealthy weight or binge because you were FORCING yourself to eat that little (similar to foreveryoung's comment below). The benefit of eating less NATURALLY without force = happiness and WEIGHT LOSS!

81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843
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538 · October 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM

This is a terrible idea, based on some of the things you say in your OP you clearly need a better understanding of biochemistry and metabolism in general. Please read all you can and don't make any irrational decisions. Do not listen to 'foreveryoung' when they speak about well documented benefits of calorie restriction as they have never been proven in humans and have been called into question on a fundamental basis as of late within the scientific community.

Marks daily apple and the Eating academy has some of the most "digestible" information to get you going on the right path.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
2422 · October 22, 2012 at 3:38 AM

@foreveryoung, please be more mindful of those who are suffering from eating disorders. Your comment can be very damaging and triggering for some people.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:09 AM

Substantial loss of life. Heart rhythms and suicide. Seriously, your mother is at an enormously increased risk of death, don't ever stop taking her disorder seriously. http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/story.html?id=670d0d49-f24d-4161-9aa3-96f8e32e0244

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:07 AM

^Are you freaking serious? Life expectancy is WAY shorter for anorexics, don't be so effing callous. For anorexic females life expectancy is a 1/4 of a century less than the rest of the populations.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18612251

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · October 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Hey, we're animals too though, are we not? Also, even empirical data of calorie restriction on humans shows increases in longevity. Hell, my mother has been anorexic for 30 years and I'm pretty sure will outlive my future children.

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18635 · October 21, 2012 at 9:18 PM

It would be difficult to eat enough protein and get the nutrition you need to stay healthy on less than 1000 calories/day so I would presume you would break down more lean tissue than you may like. Not optimal. But, if your bent on doing it focus on having a couple servings of liver each week.

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50 · October 22, 2012 at 1:05 AM

I don't think it is a good idea. I ate more than that when I was suffering from anorexia. 500 calories is extremely low and it is extremely doubtful you could get all the nutrients you need on that amount. Also, it isn't a very good long term solution. You'll either need to continue eating an extremely low calorie diet forever, which I believe to be dangerous, or you would up the calories again and gain all the weight back plus more fairly quickly. When you cut calories that severely, there is more than just a down regulation of metabolism. Your leptin levels also plummet. Eventually you will be extremely hungry. As others have already said, the body is really efficient at dealing with starvation...but this is not necessarily a good thing for weight loss. I know what it feels like to be that hungry, and the only way I was able to resist it was through my own paralyzing fear. Why do you think so many people with anorexia eventually become bulimic? The body does not like being starved. It will fight back.

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 12:59 AM

I think the most difficult part of this is being well nourished. This is basically a fast, which are safe if done when you are in good health (no existing deficiencies, good mental health status, etc). Done in the absence of good preexisting health, and with poor nutrient content (ex eating hardly anything, but only muscle meat with watery veggies, versus organ meats, shellfish, and nutrient dense veg), it would be considered malnourishment and not optimal for health.

If you do decide to do it, I would want to see liver (and other offal), shellfish, and egg yolks galore.

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14877 · October 21, 2012 at 11:14 PM

As long as you actually do need to lose 10lbs and your views on your body are not delusional, then your plan is just fine. People get hung up when they see low calorie diets, but that's mainly because in developed nations we're so accustomed to being overfed and having continual access to as many calories as we wish. Another hang up is the fear of a down-regulated metabolism, which is a myth I'll dispel right now. A down-regulated metabolism/thyroid is not the same as a damaged metabolism/thyroid. The latter results from partly genetics and partly environmental and ingested toxins (from food, pharmaceuticals, and pollution) . THe former is a natural, normal, and healthy response to a reduced calorie influx, and is quickly reversed once normal calorie consumption is resumed. (Some people call it down-regulation, but it could also be seen as improved efficiency just as well, as your able to put fewer calories to work to keep your body running).

You would and may be surprised at how little food the body can safely live off of without complications, provided the nutrient intake is kept high. People will have a lot of different views on this, but just from my own experience I would eat primarily fresh, non starchy produce (like romaine, onions, leeks, tomatoes, celery, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and berries, etc), some clean animal protein for muscle maintenance and general repair, and some healthy, nutrient dense fats (like mixed nuts for magnesium and vitamin E). I'd eat the produce raw or prepared in a soup and prepare the protein with as added fat as possible.
IMHO, these foods should really be the foundation of your diet regardless if your trying to lose weight or not. Once you've reached your goal weight, then you can start adding in more starchy vegetables, preparing your meat in and vegetables in other ways that include added fat, and just eating larger protons in general.

Hope that helps.

P.S. find a good herbal tea that you like to sip if you get too hungry. I'm a big fan of rosehips tea. It's not strong but it is warm and provides an excellent source of vitamin C.

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11557 · October 22, 2012 at 12:42 PM

And "I can't imagine it takes very long to lose 10 lbs"- that super depends on your body type and how much you weight in the first place- if you are 110 lbs, losing 10 lbs is a pretty good portion of your whole body. 200 lbs, less so. It takes me, as a vaguely shortish smallish female, over 2 months to healthfully (ie minimize lean tissue loss) lose 10 lbs.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · October 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Either way- not very effective to cut calories so dramatically for weight loss and sustain it, even if it's "only 10 lbs". It might not be the biggest deal IF the op is in top notch mental health with no existing deficiencies (ie hasn't been eating SAD forever with no nutrients), BUT either way, weight loss will be temporary and will be regained as calories go back up to normal. Probably not what the OP had in mind as "a 10 lb weight loss" would be "maybe a month or 2 of 10 lb weight loss". She's not talking about fasting for health here.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6
2422 · October 22, 2012 at 3:55 AM

Is it safe to give advice like this without knowing the OP's mental health status? How would the OP know if his/her view on body is not delusional when mental disorders are characterized by the affected indiviuals' irrational behaviors and patterns of thinking?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · October 22, 2012 at 1:39 AM

@ CG- LOL. @JeJ- thanks good points. I can't imagine it takes on very long to lose 10 lbs when trying to, so I figure a very short term strong deficit won't do any harm at all. I just don't think it really matters too much and we over think it in general. I don't think we would have made it this far as a species if going 30 days on a very low calories caused us to be malfunction and cause irreparable damage.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c
6107 · October 22, 2012 at 1:23 AM

"...eating larger protons in general." Do protons come in different sizes? If so, I'd like some of the medium-sized ones, I think. They seem like they would be just right.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:12 AM

Also: http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/08/severe-calorie-restrictions-probably-dont-prolong-life/ It's not cut and dry anymore, mice don't always translate all that great to real life.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · October 22, 2012 at 1:03 AM

I think people get hung up because say bye-bye to lean tissue if practiced for extended periods of time, and most people have preexisting nutritional deficiencies that then make fasting basically "Malnourishment Plus!". If you are in good health and aren't out to lose a lot of weight, go for it. The fact that the OP wants to do this for the 10 lbs, not the health benefit of fasting- probably not the best attitude to go gung-ho into it.

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-2
1786 · October 21, 2012 at 9:19 PM

hahahahaha....... honestly you would screw yourself royally big time.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · October 26, 2012 at 1:43 AM

its a good point in fairy tale land. if you want to continually delude yourself, that's great, that's your choice. but don't piss on my leg & tell me it's raining. the quality of life, even if it may be LONGER life, is so pathetic on sub-optimal caloric diets that it could be look upon as a serious behavioral disorder. occasional fasting for numerous reasons is fine, but this post is seriously comic in its cliche-ness.

C23148e16a4dd05351d1902a69097d65
748 · October 21, 2012 at 10:07 PM

very good point foreveryoung. love that comment.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc
14877 · October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM

Actually, she'll likely experience the many well documented health benefits that occur with both acute and chronic calorie restriction, such as improved insulin sensitivity, reduced body fat mass, decreased CRP and trigs, lowered cholesterol (in long run, not short run), and potentially increased longevity (from either the hormonal changes and/or the slight increase in telomere length). It's only a bad idea if she can't sustain the self-control and ends up bingeing and or if she loses too much weight to the point where it is no longer healthy.

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