I gain weight so fast and cannot lose weight what is wrong?

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I'm female, 18 and 5'5,

In July 2015 I was 148 pounds. I started fasting and eating below 500 caories a day, I quickly lost weight. By late August i was 110 pounds. I was noticably slimmer. I maintained this weight until i went to university... I started eating whatever i wanted and having takeaway's every day. I quickly gained weight back. By December I shot up to 137 pounds. I looked only slightly smaller than i used to be!

So i started restricting my calories to 500-700 again and in a month i weight down to 125 pounds (lost more than 10 pounds).

I don't see much of a difference in the mirror though, and this time i am finding it hard to stick to eating a certain amount. I constantly reach for fatty and fast food (i'm back at university now, so it's hard to control).

This happened a few weeks ago which striked me as odd.

Monday - 125 pounds. I ate nothing for the whole day,

Tuesday - 112 pounds.

Wednesday - ate around 1500-1700 calories. I went back up to 125 pounds.

Thursday - Ate 500 calories. 112 pounds

Friday - Ate 500 calories. 111 pounds.

Saturday - 110 pounds.

Sunday - Ate 700 calories.

I have been maintaingroughly 110 calories constantly now, even after binge eating a couple of times.

Typically whenever i eat very little for 1 simple day my weight the next morning is 10 pounds lower. How is this possible?

Also, whenever i eat a takeaway for dinner now, after eating it i look NOTICABLY bigger, not just my stomach but my whole body.

Please help, i'm confused by the changes occuring in my weight and the way i look.

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7 Replies

  • Posted

    I wrote this for someone else, but it's really not helpful when people post their calorie intakes. It's fine for me, as I was hospitalised for my anorexia, because it got that bad, and so I have seen how bad it can get (I bet the anorexic part of you will see that as competition...get my point?), but other people can see this information as a recipe for fuelling their eating disorder further.  Personally, I'd prefer it if you resubmit this without numbers.

    Anyway, rant over. There are some really key points here.

    - If you are weighing yourself daily, it will tell you nothing. Weight fluctuates between 1-3kg and so even drinking or sweating less/more will have an enormous impact. That doesn't mean you've lost or gained weight, it just shows this as a different number on the scale.

    - Limiting yourself to the amount you are describing will actually mean you'll end up bingeing more, and find yourself craving energy in its highest form (no matter how much you don't want to admit it). You'll feel more out of control than if you ate small, little and often. Your weight loss will also slow right down, because it will have gone into starvation mode, and so therefore when you do eat, you will gain more as your body seeks to repay the damage done.

    - On such a low, imbalanced diet, your moods will be all over the place and I won't bore you with the other physical damage you are doing (honestly do you really want to get to a place where they deprive you of ever bit of self respect, and tube you, because you can't eat by yourself and watch you go to the loo / shower?...and I've seen people on forums ASPIRING for hospital like it's some medal. IT'S NOT. It sucks, and the moment you are there you are so desperate to get out. Get better whilst you are in outpatient.

    - If you eat takeaway for dinner then it's impossible for you to have "gained" weight unless you ate 21000 calories worth of takeaway which would = 1kg weight gain. Do the maths, and work out how much it takes. What happens is that your body retains the fluid and processes it. If your metabolism has shut down, which on the above info it will have, eating a takeaway will take a lot longer to process things, so yes your weight will appear higher.  If you're someone like me who is in recovery now, each time my dietitian weighs me (fortnightly), I am always extremely surprised by how little it has increased (I am on a weight gaining plan to get to my target weight)...I don't know my weight in between as I'm not allowed to weigh myself, we only use her scales. I am amazed, especially when I think...but I've eaten x + y + z, and I've been having my night snack every night and I've even been eating bread rolls!  You're making things harder at present by stalling your metabolism.

    - Body dysmorphia will make you see things as bigger, because when you are afraid of something you see it bigger than it is. I get this all the time, I feel my thighs are big or my face has expanded after eating. It's a load of rubbish...it's just our minds tricking us, in the same way as I see and hear a wasp/bee closer and bigger to me than anyone else because I am petrified of them.

    - Are you referring to your stomach, or intestines? Your stomach is on the left below the heart, your intestines are around your abdomen, which is what people commonly incorrectly refer to as having a "flat stomach" (which is not the stomach at all...). Food takes 8-12 hours to be digested fully, so if you have just eaten, it is impossible for it to have reached said area, as it won't be properly being digested in the actual stomach yet.  What will have happened is the stomach being full pushes water against the intestines which in turn bloats them. This all disappears when you go to the loo.  None of this is weight gain, but commonly the bloated feeling is associated with uncomfortable feelings and feelings of "fat".

    - maintaining at 110 calories won't last. You'll binge more. Trust me, I ended up losing weight eating more calories and regularly, because I wasn't eating rubbish as a result of fasting and then uncontrolled binges. It's not about being a brilliant anorexic, it's the body's natural reaction.

    - You confuse me, because it's almost as if the eating disorder is talking in your post asking for tips. This isn't that type of forum. 

    I don't know if you want help to recover, or whether YOU are still attached to your eating disorder. The only way you will see improvements is by fighting the eating disorder. Even by reading your post, it sounds like you aren't ready.  I hope I'm wrong.

    Sorry if this was blunt and harsh, but sometimes "tough love" is what is needed.


    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply, i really appreciate it smile

      I dont think i have a eating disorder, nor am i anorexic. I guess i was just posting to get some advice. I can eat "normally" and consistently if i wanted too but i am dead set on losing weight, because i have a lot if excess fat around the abdomen.

      The only reason i eat so little is because whenever i eat above 700 calories my weight stays the same. I guess that is probably because i have lost a lot of muscle and my metabolism has slowed down.

      I dont think i am in starvation mode as i always include cheat meals and have a few days a week where i do a refeed. I do also have many very small meals throughout the day.

      When i calculate my bmr it is 1350. And because i have a lot less muscle and my metabolism has definitely slowed because of my crazy dieting i would say it is probably closer to 1000 calories. The general rule is to cut your calories by 500 when trying to lose 1 pound a week so that is what i did. I really dont need many calories at all to maintain my weight, which sucks because i cant eat very much.

      My problem is i really love food haha, for the last ten years i would typically eat 3 very large meals a day and be constantly snacking on crisps, cake and chocolate. I was addicted to sugary drinks and would never drink water. I drank atleast 3 cans of coke a day. When i was in my teens, 15-18, i started eating really bad because i had no idea about calories or weight gain. I was not aware of my weight or body at all. My mum is a single parent and so would always be working, so i would typically have like a mcdonalds burger for lunch, another burger and fries for dinner. Then a whole packet of crisps, chocolates ect. It wasnt pretty (looking back now), but back then i didnt know that that was bad. I went from a size 6 to a size 12-14 in that period. Hence why i was so desperate to lose weight last summer before i went to uni.

      The low calorie diet worked for me and i maintained that weight quite easily. It was only when i started to not watch what i ate anymore that i started to gain all the weight back.

      I just dont understand how i lost 1 stone overnight by fasting for 24 hours a few weeks ago.

      I am definitely not trying to get tips for more weight loss, but i am continuining with my weight loss journey. I know the way i am going about it isnt exactly amazing but it hasnt done much damage in the pastand it worked. I would like to understand more about low calorie diets though.

      I never considered that i could be anorexic, but after meals i always look in the mirror and think i look a lot bigger. Of corse the abdominal/intenstine area looks huge and bloated, but my hips also look bigger and so does my upper body. I know that doesnt make any sense though.

      But i am by no means small. I wear a size 10 and i do have a lot of fat that i need to lose to be healthy. I dont reallt want a flat stomach, i would just like to lose some of the fat i am still carrying.

  • Posted

    I started writing a reply this morning for you, and then my phone crashed.

    I'll start with you BMI, which I have just calculated.

    Your BMI based on your current measurements equates to 17.3 (this is calcuated by 168cm which is equivalent to 5'5, and 110pounds which equates to 49kg). Not only is this well below what is healthy, it falls into the category that would diagnose you with anorexia nervosa, if other symptoms aligned as well. Obviously your weight doesn't just define anorexia nervosa. 

    On BMIs for a causcausion female, the optimum BMI is between 20 and 25. Not 18.5-25. The lower band (18.5-20) is added to include the Asian population, who have a lower bone density.  The difference between your current BMI and where you should be is quite significant.  You should ideally be a weight of 56.5kg which equates to your original weight of 125 pounds.  That would give you the very bottom of your BMI range at 20, which still gives you room to eat and gain whilst still being healthy.

    Without sounding like a knowitall, you have quite clearly calculated your BMR incorrectly. A daily intake of 1350 is extremely rare, and that would require you to be completely sedantry like on bed rest for pretty much the whole day, so that you aren't burning calories. You wrote that you're 18, and at university. Therefore you will have a pretty active lifestyle, even if you aren't out partying or participating in much else all the time, you still require extra energy for studying and interacting with people. Therefore you will be needing much closer to 2000 calories.

    So why then is your body increasing and decreasing so much?

    Firstly 1200 or below is starvation mode. Why has every fad diet failed to stand the test of time (several decades?), because they are all below 1200 and none of them work. Any weight loss prescriptions for people who actually do need to lose weight are more than 1200 or on it, NOT less. This is because below, you send your body into starvation mode and do more harm than good. Your vital organs, including your metabolism goes effectively into "safe mode" and starts conserving energy because quite literally there is not enough.  Out of the calories you require, 85% goes towards keeping your organs going, and your body functioning...forget any weight changes and activity...that's only 15% of your intake. So if you reduce your calorie intake to (pardon the pun) to eat into the 85%, your body has to get its fuel from somewhere.

    Your metabolism slows down, so it won't work as efficiently as it did before. Therefore when you do eat it holds onto the food rather than processing it as efficiently as if it had done if you were eating regularly...therefore you will see a greater fluctuation on the scale.

    If you eat regularly throughout the day, your metabolism works better, and you don't see inconsistent results. But...you have to be out of the starvation band...

    There is another side to this as well, looking at what you've been eating and how much.

    If you've been eating 110 calories, or even 700, you cannot be eating much in the way of carbs, which are essential for maintaining your weight, and preventing binges.

    Binges aren't about being out of control, and undisciplined they are a sign that you aren't giving your body the right fuel on time. You body requires both oxygen and sugars to survive, so if you deprive your body of air, e.g. hold your breath, your will be out of breath while your body tries to catch up. The same is with energy. If you deprive your body of energy e.g. bread, oats, rice and so on (these starchy carbs are long term energy sources) your body will seek the most energy dense foods that it can find.  This is how the body works. 

    My advice would be to increase your calorie intake to a band of 1300-1400 on a regular basis. Ensure you eat 3 x a day and maybe include snacks.

    I'm currently working with my dietitian slowly to increase my weight, so hence I'm eating well under my limit. She's been increasing my calorie allowance bit by bit, to help me adjust. Currently I'm on a band of 1400-1500 (I expect when I see her on Friday it will increase again).

    My meal plan tends to include:

    Oats so simple + fruit compote (homemade) (around 230 calories)

    Cereal bar as a snack/banana (100-120 calories)

    Soup + bread roll (350 calories)

    Snack (as above, the opposite of what I had before)

    Dinner: Could be anything, but I'll try and aim to have some sort of carb, although this I find difficult. (Around 300 calories at present).

    Night snack: hot chocolate with skimmed milk (200 calories)

    I don't binge any more, although tend to need a snack if I find I haven't managed a roll with lunch...this completely validates my argument above. 

    My moods, and anxiety are much better, and my weight is completely regulated. Yes it is increasing, because I'm eating more than before. But the increase is only small. When I reach my target weight alongside an intake appropriate for my activity level (which will probably be above 2000 calories) my weight will fluctuate, because weight does that 1-3kg, even over a day depending on anything from water to sweat and so on, but it will stabilise.

    The point about when you eat dinner, is a classic sign of body dysmorphia. You cannot have gained weight after eating a takeaway..unless you have eaten 21000 calories worth of takeaway = 1kg weight gain. Even that wouldn't actually show.

    It sounds like even though you might not have an eating disorder, some of your feelings you need to discuss with a health professional. You certainly demonstrate a long term unhealthy relationship with food, and I would recommend speaking to your GP about this, who might be able to assist you with some dietitic support.

    Hope this helps.


  • Posted

    You need a sensible and nutritional diet. 500 calories is not enough to sustain you plus it changes your metabolism allowing you to gain faster than before. Follow a good diet, exercise and quit worrying about weight numbers. It's all about feeling well and being healthy. See your MD and discuss. Be concerned mostly about getting enough nutrition.
  • Posted

    All of these are great points, but maybe I can offer a bit more advice. For one you should definitely create a "cut off" time. I usually stop eating around 9:00pm BUT if you feel that's not something you want to do, definitely watch your portion size. Cut down how much sweet stuff you eat in a week, maybe eat dessert only twice a week( 3 times tops) cus sugar definitely=fat...oh and so does bread. Also exercise every day. If you need to start off slow, maybe 3 days out if the week but be sure to up the anty after at least two weeks. Personally I work out at home either at night or, in the morning for an hour. Also be sure about which parts of your body you want to target. Personally I workout my entire body but, my main issue has always been my midsection...which i've come to find that's what people notice first (since it's the largest part of your body). In my oursuit

    • Posted

      I always get concerned when I hear advice pointing to cutting food groups. This doesn't work. I can write a thesis on why it doesn't, from personal experience and from expert perspective having had years of dietetic support, but I know it will be ignored.

      Cutting carbs generally causes greater weight fluctuations and can lead to binges.

      If you cut fats, then your body will require energy elsewhere so will end up bingeing on carbs as well.

      Yes, if you are overweight and eating more than you should this is the area you should address, because too much of anything (including fruit and veg) is bad for you, but the author of this post describes eating a 500 calorie diet and being underweight.

      Therefore, they need to be addressing nutritional education and the psychological reasons for wanting to lose weight when they are already seriously underweight.

      A note on exercise, your body can only burn what it has. If you run a car on empty, it won't work. With exercise it won't do any good unless there is excess to burn. Underweight you will burn muscle and it won't help with any toning you might want to gain from exercise.

      It's pretty basic, but as I said half the battle is convincing your mind that the diet industry feeds you drivel. 


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