Why am I losing weight when I'm eating more?
June 10, 2012 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Why am I continuing to lose weight when I've been increasing my caloric intake, and haven't changed my exercise habits at all.

I don't have a verifiable timetable, but I know about half a year ago I was around 135 pounds, at 5'10" or 11". Doctors offices and my parents scale have verified this weight. The past month and a half or so, I've been checking my weight on the pretty high-tech scale at work, and around 6 weeks ago I was around 128/130. That was during a particularly rough time for me, and I was barely eating anything. The past week or so I've been doing a lot better, and I've been consciously increasing my calories. Yet I've lost more weight, and I'm now at 125.

I do have a fast metabolism, and I've posted on here before about what foods to eat for the most bang for my buck. I'm eating those kinds of foods now. I'm transgender, and on estradiol and spironolactone, but my endocrinologist said I should be gaining weight. That's clearly not happening. I am not working out in any way, shape, or form.

I'm at a loss. The steady decline is more worrisome than the sudden drop, because that's only been in the last week or so. But I can't understand why I'd be losing weight, and I can't find any explanation online since everything I read is about losing weight on purpose. I'll go to my doctor if I need to, but I get blood work done regularly, and my thyroid and metabolism apparently is fine.

Does anyone have any idea what this could be, and how I can fix it?
posted by trogdole to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'll go to my doctor if I need to, but I get blood work done regularly, and my thyroid and metabolism apparently is fine.

I would urge you to go back to your doctor ASAP, and don't let him/her put you off on the basis of the fact that your blood work looks good. This kind of (ostensibly inexplicable) weight loss can be a symptom of any number of illnesses, some of which can be quite serious, all of which you want to identify earlier rather than later.
posted by artemisia at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you weighed yourself at 128/130 6 weeks ago but have only changed your diet in the last week, isn't it possible you actually bottomed out much lower, say 120? The way you've presented it, it's possible that at 125 you actually have gained weight.
posted by sbutler at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but I've been checking my weight periodically over the past few weeks. Generally once a week or so, and for the past few weeks, besides today, it's been around 128/130.
posted by trogdole at 3:08 PM on June 10, 2012

Yeah, if your data doesn't include the day you started making changes for the positive, I wouldn't be super concerned yet. Call and ask for an appointment for the end of this week or the beginning of next week, and weigh yourself something like every other day or every third day, tracking your food consumption and exercise/sleep on a daily basis.

(For me, the impact of stress on my health, including my weight, outlasts the stressors and the stuff I've done to fix them. Like, I'll have stomach upset for multiple days after I've totally resolved an issue at work that was worrying me. Your body can't stop on a dime.)
posted by SMPA at 3:10 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Okay, one other thing to consider is how did your diet change in the last week? Even though you're consuming more calories, different foods are going to affect your weight in different ways. Especially when we're talking a difference of only 3 pounds.

Suppose... during the stressful period you were eating a lot of fast and pre-prepared food. Most of that's high in salt content. But in the last week you've switched to more raw food, prepared at home, fewer snacks, and more protein. Less salt. The 3 pound difference you're seeing could easily be water weight/water retention. Even though you've added more calories lately.
posted by sbutler at 3:16 PM on June 10, 2012

As a group, people are really bad at estimating what they are eating, grossly under and over-estimating quantities and total calories. If you want data for your own analysis, you really need to track your food consumption daily, and weigh yourself daily, using something like FitDay or Daily Plate (both free) for tracking. You will get the nutritional data you (and potentially your doctor) will need.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2012

I don't know anything about the hormone therapy you're on but is it possible you're losing muscle mass as a natural side effect of them?
posted by fshgrl at 5:48 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Some wholesale dietary changes can cause a drop in water weight over the first week. Could you post some more details about what specifically changed in the last week?

You sound like you're not a newbie, so this question is probably unnecessary: are you measuring yourself under the same conditions every time? I.e. same weight of clothing (or naked), same time of day? For example, try weighing yourself naked after using the restroom shortly after waking up but before breakfast - this will help control for routine fluctuation of several pounds over the course of a day.

It may also help you to begin tracking body fat percentage for more insight - you can get it with just a tape measure even.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:42 PM on June 10, 2012

How long have you been on HRT? Loss of muscle mass could certainly be a factor. I dropped a lot of weight over the first two years I was on HRT.
posted by Pryde at 8:03 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have a lot more muscles than you used to? They require calories to maintain.
posted by devnull at 5:44 AM on June 11, 2012

Response by poster: I've been on HRT for six months almost, so I feel like muscle mass shouldn't have dropped that much yet. But I didn't have much muscle to begin with, so I don't know if I would've noticed anyway.

I think the suggestions about what I've been eating is probably the right idea. I went from eating out every day to eating things like grilled chicken, steamed veggies, peanut butter toast, and stuff like that. So water weight may be a big factor.
posted by trogdole at 7:45 AM on June 11, 2012

I went from eating out every day to eating things like grilled chicken, steamed veggies, peanut butter toast, and stuff like that.

If you've gone from eating fried foods and Big Macs to grilled chicken and steamed veggies, why would you think you wouldn't lose weight?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:54 AM on June 11, 2012

Oh yeah, switching from eating out pretty much anywhere to eating in with that kind of diet would do it. Restaurants use gobs of fat and sugar.
posted by moira at 8:43 AM on June 11, 2012

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