One of the most common questions I get asked via email or comments is:
do I really need to eat 3000kcal.
I'm gaining weight eating 1800kcal do I really need to increase?
How much should I be eating?
How often and how much do i increase?
I thought I would try to answer this in a simple form. Correct me if I am wrong.
1) I think the MM method where you eat around 2800+ a day is a good method to follow. HOWEVER increasing from X to 3000 directly isn't good or recommended, according to me. The body needs to adapt.
2) no exercise in recovery. Think like this... if you are eating 1800kcal but out running an hour a day then your NET intake is around 1200 kcal a day. But your body burns 1500+/- just keeping you alive and because you exercise you should be eating around 3000kcal a day and to gain weight 3500kcal a day. ... that's how it should be.
3) also no exercise or activity during weight gain or recovery because as you get closer to your goal weight you are allowed to be more active again. That balances everything out, so you're not at a surplus because rhe normal daily activity or workouts you do balances that out. So you should still be able to eat more or less the same.
4) even if you are gaining weight by eating 1800kcal it's not enough. your body so desperately wants food and to STORE food as it has been in starvation mode. But if you INCREASE your intake and the body gets more food it will realise that the body isn't in starvation mode. That it doesn't need to store the food, infact it can use the food as energy and to repair the body. And eventually the weight gain should slow down even if you are increasing your intake because the body doesn't feel in danger. It knows that it is getting enough energy and regular energy. So keep increasing.... I would recommend 200-500kcal every 2-4 weeks until you are somewhere around 2500-3500 or more. Even if you gain weight, increase after 2-4 weeks. And if you don't gain weight by what you are eating (I. E aim for 0,5kg-1kg per week) then increase.
5) the body needs alot of energy to repair itself. Think about the damage that has been done on the inside. Your body needs regular meals and eniugh energy to recover. Your body, organs and metabolism WON'T recover properly if you eat too little. Not to mention, if you exercise while eating too little then your metabolism is still going to stay messed up, your body will still be stressed and will want to store all the food jnstead of using it to repair organs, damage and give you energy.
6) the brain needs roughly 800 kcal a day.
7) the body burns between 1200-1500kcal a day just by being alive.... if you were in a coma you would get tube feeding with around 1400kcal (+/-) a day just to keep your organs and body alive. Add in daily activity such as getting out of bed, walking to the kitchen, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom several times a day, making food, eating food.... all of that and you need around 1700-2200 kcal a day. Add in a 1 hour workout and you need around 2300-2800kcal a day. Add in 0,5kg weight gain per week and you need around 3000-3500+a day.
8) to repair your metabolism it's important to keep increasing, because of reasons mentioned above.
9) your body wants to keep you at a stable and healthy weight. It will WANT TO settle at a healthy weight and keep you there so weight gain should slow down as you get closer to a healthy weight, of your body is working right. (And you aren't binging )
10) even if you do keep gaining weight I.e it shows no sign of slowing down, then you can just decrease calories a little and that should work (unless, as mentioned you have developed binge eating disorder or have a hormonal problem or take medication which causes weight gain)
11) remember that YOU don't get to decide what weight your body is healthiest at... your body decides that. It might be higher than you want it to be, but what does that matter. If your body is healthy that's the important thing.
Hopefully this helps and reminds you that increasing calories isn't a bad thing. Your body needs it in recovery. Eating too little will just cause problems and not be beneficial! And even if it's tough NO EXERCISE DURING WEIGHT GAIN. You can get back to that when your body is at a healthier weight.
No turning fat into muscle. No trying to have little body fat % and lots of muscle. No trying to just gain muscle weight. No burning off calories or compensating.
Eat food, rest, let your body recover, fight your ED thoughts, learn to love your body. Exercise when you are healthier, then it's up to you if you want to build muscle or so, but wait until your body AND mind are healthier.