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I just lost 20 pounds on a very low-calorie diet and am now am eating more “normally” — 1,200 calories a day. But I’m finding that I’m gaining from .2 to .4 pounds a day. I’m afraid that the weight I’ve lost will creep back on. I exercise at least 4 times a week, including a mix of weight training and cardio. I am a 49-year-old female. Help!

Eating a very low-calorie diet slows down your metabolism. For most women your age, 1,400-1,800 calories daily can produce weight loss at a slow to moderate pace, depending upon activity. At lower calorie levels, vitamin and mineral supplementation are advised. Your metabolism is probably still sluggish, since our bodies slow down in times of low fuel to protect us.

If you are consistent with the 1,200-calorie-a-day intake and with daily exercise, your metabolic rate should speed up. Your weight should stabilize and you may begin to lose a little more weight. Ideally, calories should be at a higher level to meet your nutritional needs. You can gradually increase calories. At a healthy weight, most women in your age group that are physically active can eat 2,000-2,200 calories per day and maintain weight. And, don't weigh yourself more than once a week! Day to day, most of what we see is fluid shifts.

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