Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Maybe I'm Not Eating Enough

Lately I find myself wondering if I am just not eating enough on phentermine. I mean, I know appetite suppression is pretty much the goal here, and it does work for that! I don't get very hungry until about 4pm most days, and then I just hang on and drink water until dinner around 6. That's great for not overeating, but I wonder if undereating, short term like this, could have a bad effect on my metabolism. Since it's only a few months I tend to think of it as a kick start. But I also try to have a day here and there, maybe 2-3 times a month, when I eat way more. On purpose. Even if I am not hungry.

I don't count calories, carbs, or anything else. I don't need to, and you know I am not a huge fan of tracking anymore. But I do sometimes notice, "hey, I don't think I have eaten much today" and then go back and add things up in my head to get an estimate. A lot of the times my day looks like this:

AM: coffee with half and half or sugar free creamer - 50 cal

Sometimes I have breakfast after that. About half the time, I don't. If I do, it is either a sugar free Greek yogurt (80-100 cal) or 1-2x/week I have 2 bacon and either avocado or an egg (150-200 cal).

Then for lunch it is pretty light. Either soup (150), a cottage cheese/fruit cup (100), or a few slices of ham wrapped around a light string cheese (100-120). I drink lots of water. I was eating a piece of fruit at lunch sometimes (50-100 cal) but haven't lately.

I usually have a little something, and I mean little, around 2 or 3 o'clock. Maybe a light string cheese (45), a few smoked almonds (50), or a slice of meat (40). I might have another cup of coffee (50).

So by dinner, most days I am only eating 250 to 400 calories. Then dinner is my "big" meal, like a serving of meat and 2-3 servings of low starch vegetables. I will have a SMALL portion of a carby food at dinner if I want it. We are talking 1/4 cup of potatoes or 2 bites of a corn muffin, that kind of thing. I sometimes have a bedtime snack but usually that is just plain herbal tea (0) or a few nuts.

That's pretty low calorie. I actually did add them up a few times over the last two months and only got 600 or 700 calories in a day. Other days I am closer to 1000. There are days I indulge, but I can count those on one hand: two or three times I've had a fast food burger with bacon and cheese, but I never eat the bun and only get water with it. On a family birthday, I had a very thin slice of birthday cake. And once I bought Halo Top ice cream and yes I did finish the pint... over the course of a week.

Everything I know about nutrition says, NOT EATING ENOUGH. My body says, I feel great! My history says, eating too little will screw up your metabolism. But will it, short term? Even if I throw in a 1500 calorie day here and there (not of junk, but of protein and fats and produce)? Not really sure. I know THIS is how I want to eat when I am off the phentermine, but I will have more of an appetite then. I think if I continue to eat this way but my hunger then leads me to eat MORE of these foods, that is the right path to be on, I probably won't be able to eat so little without the phentermine, but I can just increase the portions and add more of the healthy foods I am eating, but continue to keep the sugar and carbs at a minimum. I do know from years of calorie counting that I have to go pretty low calorie to lose weight (my body is a master at homeostasis! I even was able to stay at 270 pounds and not gain while bingeing on 5,000-10,000 calories a day! Yet I lost almost no weight at 220 pounds eating 1500 calories a day. It's definitely not simple math.) I know the answer to this is being active and more exercise, so hopefully the biking and walking will help as I go off the phentermine. I will probably also add back some strength training then, too.

Tonight's dinner: grilled bratwurst (1 for me!) with pan fried sliced potatoes and onions (about 1/4 cup) and roasted vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Delicata squash, whatever else is in the fridge... as much as I want!) Feedback on my eating is welcome :)


Anonymous said...

For a few months, I think you're fine. The metabolic damage from starvation diets comes from long term use, and I believe as long as you increase your intake after 3 months, it won't hurt you and will give you a nice boost on your weight loss.

Kristi said...

I maintain my 170 loss by eating 1000-1100 a day, period. It isn’t a lot of food and I don’t eat processed carbs at all. I walk between 5-8 miles a day every day. I still must do this all to keep my weight the same. Any change in that results in a gain for me. Ive stayed this way for almost 3 years. I think as you lose a lot of weight, my body at least, will never go back to eating 1500-2000. Just something that I have to understand and love with. It is more important for me to keep it off and never have to lose it again than it is to eat more or walk less.

Anonymous said...

For the amount of time you're talking about, eating significantly less because of the drugs you're taking will not have an adverse effect on your metabolism. A person needs systematic abuse (over- or under-calorie) to create metabolic issues. And frankly, as you are someone who I assume has dealt with binge eating disorder, this -- "I also try to have a day here and there, maybe 2-3 times a month, when I eat way more. On purpose. Even if I am not hungry" -- is MORE damaging to you. Just let the drugs work as they are supposed to.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, you know you are not eating enough. No body can be healthy on 700 calories a day. Even your doctor would tell you that. You need a bare minimum of 1200 calories a day to not cause damage to your body. I would say 1800 would be healthier for you, especially at your weight and while exercising. Please rethink this and eat three good sized meals each day. A yogurt is not a breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Depends on what you mean by eating "way more, on purpose, when you're not hungry."

Lyn said...

last Anon~

Well, for example, I might make an omelet in the morning with ham and cheese and spinach in it, then add a yogurt for a snack. Then maybe have some carrots and hummus with my usual lunch, and some fruit for a snack. Then have a banana with peanut butter on it as a snack before bedtime. So maybe 600-700 extra calories (totaling 1500ish). No junk. I was thinking a higher intake day like that once in awhile might help my body to not get used to the lower level of calories.

Anonymous said...

Isn't taking an appetite suppressant only to eat when you are not hungry a bit like hitting the gas and then stepping on the brake?

kimberly said...

I agree with the others, phentermine is a limited time use, so shouldn't do any long term damage to your metabolism. I think the idea with the drug is to get your body used to eating less, so when you go off phentermine it's not a shock to your body. I'm interested to see your experience when you finish phentermine. It's something I never considered before, but seeing your loss I have to say is very tempting.

Lyn said...

last Anon~

hmm, not sure. If phentermine suppressed my appetite to, say, eating 400 calories a day, do you think that is a safe level to eat short term? Because there have been days I think I could have gotten by with that little. It just seemed excessively low to me so I add a little to get it up a bit. Since this is short term I will probably just go with it from here on out so I am used to smaller amounts and lower intake when I stop the phentermine so that increasing my intake when hunger returns does not end up too high calorie.

Anonymous said...

You should ask the doctor who prescribed the drug about this.

LHA said...

Lyn, I eat pretty similarly to the way you are eating in order to lose weight. I use intermittent fasting, only eating usually twice a day. I came to this because I really worked hard to see when I was truly hungry and eat only then. I am controlling carbs pretty closely too. I exercise a minimum of an hour four days a week, and daily if I can find the time. I always feel really good when I am eating this way, and energy is so much better. I have some days that don't go as planned, and I do eat more at special occasions and then get right back to what I know works. If I started eating 1800 calories a day consistently, that would be enough for me to gain weight especially if there were a lot of carbs. Decades of struggling with weight have taught me that I just can't eat the way I used to if I want to maintain my weight loss and hopefully lose more. This is not to argue with anyone else about how they eat or what they feel works for them. We are all different, and this is my reality. Good luck going forward!

Diana said...

Lyn, You know your body better than anyone. However, I'd go with whatever feels good. If you're feeling good, go with it. Take advantage of the decrease in hunger. I'm not sure about it wrecking your metabolism. You know I've gone on extremely low-calorie diets, lost a ton of weight, and my metabolism is just fine. When I was on Phen-fen for seven months in 1996, I tracked my food, and ate 800 to 1,000 calories a day and the weight fell off. That was 20 years ago.

Now I'm eating on average 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day, sometimes more, very occasionally a little less. So even at 62, I can still lose weight just fine. If eating low-calorie truly wrecks the metabolism, then mine would be wrecked by now. Although, I do exercise almost every day, cardio and strength, so that might be what has saved me.

Regardless, I'd take advantage of it if I was you. Get some weight off fast. Seeing results encourages more results. It's positive reinforcement. :) As long as you're getting enough protein and healthy fats, some fruits and veggies, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Lastly, this is short-term. Once the Phentermine stops working, you can up your food intake. You'll lose a little slower, but at least you'll have had a head start on your weight loss, which always feels so good.

By the way, I'm not sure if you're a fish eater, but I have just discovered cod. A good size portion is 140 calories, 0 fat, and has 30 grams of protein! An amazing food. I was reading about The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and he eats 2.3 pounds of cod a day. I thought he must know what he's doing (with his nutritionist and personal trainer). I don't eat anything near that amount of course, but I've rotated it into some of my dinners and turns out I love it. And weirdly, every time I have it for dinner, I'm full of energy the next morning and usually lose some weight. It's my new miracle food. :)

Take care and keep at it. You're doing great!

Anonymous said...

I would listen to your body at this point and not just eat for the sake of eating. You're getting to know what it's like to feel hunger and then to eat and feel satisfied. It is very good practice for when you go off of the medication. There are many people out there now doing the intermittent fasting and not eating anything until lunch - and that is basically what you are doing. You don't want to throw candy corn and tootsie rolls in your day just for the sake of getting more calories. It sounds like you are right where you need to be and feeling good and losing weight - just go with it! -Beth

Lyn said...


very good points and interesting about the IF. I would gain on 1800 too... so I have to get used to the idea of just eating less, permanently, even of the healthy stuff.


I love fish! I need to include it more often too. I'm sure your exercise level has a lot to do with how much you can eat. You're doing so great and I am happy for you!


haha, made me laugh with the candy corn and tootsie rolls :) No, I'm not adding candy for sure! Sticking to protein and produce and if I added something it was just nuts, yogurt, healthy stuff. The great thing about low carb eating is how the sugary junk doesn't appeal to me as long as I stay off it. I think you're right and it's fine for me to follow my hunger signals even if that means eating a lot less just for a few months.

Anonymous said...

I eat one meal a day only. I clean fast the rest of the day (only black coffee and water). This is also intermittent fasting (IF). It has been proven not to lower you metabolism. The phentermine is only going to be effective for a limited time, it might be worth you looking into IF and specifically one meal a day (OMAD) for when the drug stops working. I highly recommend Delay Don't Deny by Gin Stephens and The Obesity Code by Jason Fung. IF has changed my life and I now fell like I have total freedom from all the food issues I have had in the past.