I remember when I met my nutritionist for the first time.
”Is it true that many people in recovery need 3000 calories?”
”Yes”, she answered.
I was surprised. 3000 calories. But isn’t 2000 calories the average intake? (No, it is not, even for a healthy person. Check out THIS. And for people in recovery - especially not. Check out THIS)
This was in late August, if I remember it correctly. I was told to start on 1200 calories, and then gradually increase. I did, but I panicked and fell back to my anorexia eating pattern.
In mid-september, I tried again. I started on 1200, gradually increased my intake until I reached 2000. I gained a lot of weight, but most of this was food in my system and water retention. When I increased my intake, I randomly lost 2 kg. This was all water weight that my body let go of because it relaxed more.
When I hit 2000 calories, my weight gain stopped after a while. I increased to 2500, and gained 0.5 kg (around 1 lbs) weekly. It is also important to point out that during recovery I stayed sedentary, which means no exercise, just doing things such as moving around in the house and at school (which was a 3 minute walk from my house). I relaxed in my bed a lot.
Then, after a while on 2500, my weight gain stopped. I was scared to reach the holy 3000 number, but when my weight stood still for 3-4 weigh ins, I had no choice. In december I gradually increased to 3000 calories.
”If I gained like 5 kg (11 lbs) in 2 weeks (even though I lost 2 of them) on less than 2000 calories, I’ll probably be weight restored in a day or so on 3000 calories!”. Thats what I thought in early recovery. I was so wrong.
I gained on average 0.5 kg weekly, and got weight restored in March. This was also when I got my period back. I increased my intake of fats and carbs, ate less proteins and challenged my fear foods, skipped only eating clean and fell in love with chocolate again.
At one point, my psychologist encouraged me to go above 3000, so I could gain 1 kg (about 2,2 lbs) weekly. It took me half a year to get weight restored, and I honestly wish I had done it faster. Nevertheless, I actually ate 3200 some days because I mis-calculated the calories in rice, and I had some days in early recovery (when I ate 2000-2500 and gained 0.5 kg weekly on average) where I experienced extreme hunger (link) and ate thousands of calories.
I am not unique. My metabolism was never damaged, it was suppressed. No exercise and more food in recovery will not make you gain faster. Go for 2500-3000+ calories in recovery, I promise you that it will be worth it.
HERE is a text I wrote about why you need a lot of calories in recovery.