Weight loss woe

Hi guys,

I am really struggling at the moment. I’ve had various ups and downs with my weight in the past but I have been consistently pretty active for the past few years and was a 5 x a week gym-goer before lockdown. When lockdown started I did online workouts, running and long walks to try to make up for the activity but my snacking got pretty out of control so I am coming up to 5 weeks of calorie counting and using Huel (initially once a day, now twice). My weight is just going up instead of down, and although I tried to stay calm and allow for normal fluctuations it is still heading very much in the wrong direction. What is weirder is that I had an initial drop in weight before this climb.

The day I started weighing was the day after a nasty binge, so I expected an initial water weight drop, but I can’t understand how I have now climbed to over my starting weight - and almost 5kg from the lowest it got to.

People have mentioned your muscles retaining water if you start a new regime but I haven’t really changed my activity levels, because they were already high, so this is not an adjustment period for me. Also, I am not able to lift in the gym like normal so I don’t think this can be muscle weight (if anything, I am worried I will be losing muscle mass in lockdown). I’ve checked my TDEE etc and I am being really obsessive about my calorie tracking, down to each tablespoon of milk I put in my tea.

I started taking a programme of probiotics to see if it helped, no real difference yet. I wondered if my stomach may have felt slightly flatter but to be honest it is hard to tell and with the scales showing such a fluctuation of 5kg I don’t know what to think.

I’m a 5’5 woman eating c. 1,400cals a day. My weekly activity looks like:

5 x 20-25min run
5 x 60 min HIIT/aerobics video
7 x 90 min walk
7 x 20-25 min yoga

I have started cutting my Huels down from 400 calories each to 350 with a view to going down to 300 if that doesn’t work, to aim for 1,200 or 1,300, but I already get fatigued and I want to have enough energy to stay active.

I am really at a loss here. Do you think I need to stick with it longer than a month? I am starting to get quite worried by the fact that I haven’t just plateaued, I have gained.

Sorry for the whinge, I am just really demotivated and upset by this.

Wow that’s a lot of exercise Pip!

A month is enough time to see a trend in weight. It looks like an increase of around 2kg going by eye on your graph.

So, a couple of things. Tracking how much calories you “burn” through exercise tends to be really inaccurate, so if you’re incorporated that into your calorie tracking that could easily be the issue.

Probiotics aren’t going to do anything here so you can save your money on those!

Honestly, your BMI is in a healthy range (going off super basic parameters) and it’s possible that you’re gaining muscle which is why you’re not seeing weight loss. Maybe reevaluate why you want to lose weight in the first place. Are the reasons good ones or are you trying to make up for the negative image you see of yourself?

You exercise a lot and you sound like you enjoy it so you don’t want your diet to be affecting that, it also sounds like you go quite hard into dieting so try and loosen the restrictions you place on yourself and your diet - no need to use terms like “nasty binge”.


I’m no expert, but if you’re not getting enough calories, will your body try to preserve as much as it can? Survival mode? Essentially doing the opposite of what you want?

@Dan_Huel I know that tracking calories burned is inaccurate so I tend to ignore that. But MFP is suggesting 1,360 cals a day to be at a deficit for a steady weight loss, and my Fitbit is estimating between an additional 600-900 calories a day burned in exercise. Even if I was only burning half that, I should be at a big daily deficit.

I have been trying hard to be patient and kind to myself but this is just so frustrating - I have always been a big proponent of CICO and to be sticking to it and see it not working is so hard! I wouldn’t be so fed up if I felt better in myself, but I don’t, especially - I really don’t feel like I am 5 weeks into eating “well” and making better choices.

@Eric_E_Dolecki I think you have to be really under-eating to hit that stage, and thought 1,400 cals a day seemed fair enough! I really don’t understand what is happening.

Pip is right Eric “starvation mode” isn’t something that happens through dieting it’s a really extreme response and even then it’s the body’s last-ditch attempt to stop something that it can’t do much about.

Calorie tracking can be tricky because there are so many factors involved. I will say again if you don’t feel good, it’s affecting your exercise and you’re not eating well is it something that you really want to be doing?

I can’t offer you personalised advice over the internet so I would recommend getting in contact with a dietitan or a registered nutritionist if you really want to give this a go. They can help you you on a 1:1 basis.

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@Dan_Huel do you think I am mainlining an extra Huel in my sleep? :joy: :upside_down_face:

My body did this back when I was eating 1500 calories a day but also walking 8 miles (4 each way to and from work) and my job was quite active (teaching). I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t losing weight. The walk and job equated to about - 700 a day. As soon as I upped my calories to about 2000, I started losing weight again.

I mean, that would be the simple explanation :joy:. Sometimes nutrition isn’t simple though!

Tried cutting myself some slack, but today I was up to 66.1kg. This was after a weekend where I went for a 22km hike on Saturday, then made sure I got my 15,000 steps in on the Sunday.

I ran for 25 mins, did an hour of HIIT and aerobics this morning, then went for an 80 min walk. I almost didn’t have my breakfast Huel as I am starting to get scared to eat because the scales keep going up and up, but I was so hungry. I have started cutting my Huels down to 350 calories rather than 400.

I’m also really weirded out because my stomach has started to go a really odd shape - it’s like it has got flatter immediately above the pubic bone and then I am muffin-topping from the belly button upwards like a mushroom - as if I have been wearing tight trousers and have an indent, except it is there all the time.

I am on the verge of going to the doctor as I don’t understand what is happening. I feel so crappy!! :sob:

If you are really struggling then chat to a dietitian. They can offer you personalised, professional dietary advice beyond a basic doctor recommendation.

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I think I’ve had an epiphany…

I was on the verge of going to the doctor until I started to think through everything I had been eating and drinking and did some googling. And I think the culprit has been… liquorice tea. I’ve been drinking a few cups a day of this as it is naturally sweet. I had read it could cause high blood pressure but as I’ve never had an issue with this (if anything, it has been low in the past), I didn’t think it would be an issue. But I read that it basically buggers up the balance of potassium and sodium in your body if you have too much and can cause massive fluid retention (hence, I guess, more volume in your blood vessels = high bp).

Sadly I had already had a couple of cups yesterday before I realised this but I’m going to cut it out immediately and see what happens. But I think that has just got to be it!

So this is a warning to anyone looking for herbal teas - if you get liquorice, don’t have it every day, and definitely not multiple cups!

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Hi Pip - Pure liquorice in high doses can have adverse affects for sure but these high limits are generally viewed as more than 50g a day. Up to 5g a day is viewed as being harmless for adults.

its doubtful your tea has this - if it even has pure liquorice in it at all - most products these days labelled as liquorice are either DGL liquorice which is harmless or dont have any liquorice in them at all and use anise as the flavour instead.

I sometimes use pure liquorice as a flavouring in my Huel (I use it in a powdered form from a Danish company) and find that one teaspoon of it in the blender with two Huel meals is enough to get a good taste as its very strong in its pure form,

Well I’ve done a lot of googling and there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have had similar reactions to it. I guess everyone reacts to it differently?

I have drunk teas with liquorice in the past e.g. Teapigs liquorice and peppermint, but I have a) been drinking much more in the last 3 weeks or so and b) been drinking a different brand in the last week (Clipper) which is pure liquorice. I’ve never had the swelling/edema like this before in my abdomen so I would be interested to see how I respond to cutting it out for a week or so.

perhaps yes - but medically speaking - the only people who need actively avoid pure liquorice are sufferers of hypertension. As you say - a simple process of elimination should tell you one way or another if its the culprit.

I’ve dropped 2kg in 36 hours. I think we have found the culprit! The other tell was that last week I noticed my head throbbing when I did yoga and did a forward fold. I cannot believe I hadn’t made this connection before.

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thats great you’ve weeded the issue out - after our discussion I tried adding some anise to my Huel today - its kind of like one of those same but different things - sort of tastes like liquorice but not as powerful. could be an option for you with your teas if you like that flavour.

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Great shout! I think I have some anise seeds in the cupboard!

Oh my god, guys, I weighed in today and I have lost 4.4kg or nearly 10lbs since Monday!! Let this be a warning to anyone who ever considers drinking lots of liquorice tea as a sweet substitute! I feel so stupid now.


Wow! So bizarre that it had such a major effect. Glad you managed to work out what was causing it.

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