How am I doing?
The first question in any diet is: have I fallen off the wagon yet? I’m happy to say no.
- I have overshot, on one day by 250kcal…
- …but I’ve also been under it by 137kcal on one day too.
In the last week, based on a basal metabolic requirement of 2400 kcal per day, I’ve averaged a daily deficit of 996kcal, leaving me just a smidge under 7000kcal down for the week.
All things being equal, 7,700 kcals would roughly equate to a kilo of fat loss. Has it…?
What is my weight?
Fairly underwhelmingly, in the last week, I’ve gone from 71.1kg on the scales to… 70.6kg. I’m happy things are moving in the right direction, even if they are currently moving a little slower than I hoped, after the exhilaration of reaching 70.0kg on my 3rd day.
In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!
You should expect your weight to vary significantly day by day. Drinking more water one day than the next can account for huge variations, as can the timing of bodily excretions. In the past I’ve had my weight change by 3 kg over the course of 3 days!
What matters is the trend of your weight. At the moment, I have a steadily downwards trend for my weight. On the graph on the right, the blue line is what I would need to achieve to hit my 6kg target loss. The red line is the estimate based on my weigh ins.
What’s wrong with my maths?
If I’m running at a deficit, why aren’t I losing weight? Some people say that calories in/calories out is a myth – are they right? Unfortunately, metabolism, weight loss and nutrition: none of these are exact sciences. Whilst its a helpful rule of thumb, lots of factors can derail this.
Estimations I’ve had to make.
I’ve had to make a number of assumptions and estimations for my diet.
- Firstly, my basal metabolic rate using the Harris-Benedict equation: BMR= 88.362 + (13.397x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years ). For me, that equals 1,706kcal a day.
Already there are huge potential variabilities here – if your weight is mostly muscle, your BMR will increase, but that’s not reflected in this, and conversely, if its all fat your BMR will decrease.
- Secondly, my daily calorie needs, based on my activity level: BMR x 1.55 (based on being moderately active) = 2,644kcal per day.
I started with an assumption of daily calorie needs of 2200kcal a day, giving me 1200 after a 1000kcal deficit. I felt pretty tired on this, and felt it made sense to increase to 2400kcal, (giving me 1400 after my deficit). The unclear aspect of the daily needs is: does one account for exercise calories if its already included in the calculation?
- Thirdly, my exercise calories. I use GPS to monitor my cycling and running. My phone apps are usually over generous in their estimation of calorie burn, so I halve these, and add it to my calorie allowance for the day.
I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.
A key issue here is that I’ve been doing strength exercises every day. The New York Times 7 minute workout isn’t much, but it involves a fair amount of sit ups, press ups and similar body-mass strength routines.
Doing strength exercises every day, on the same muscles, is a stupid idea. A good workout actually slightly injures muscle fibres, with the act of repairing damage leading to an increase in size and strength. They need at least a day, ideally two, to recover and be ready for more work. I actually found my ability to do press-ups reduced throughout the week.
Also, I may have been putting on muscle, which would impact on the daily weigh in.
Changes, changes, changes.
One week is down, and I’m feeling good. Sure, I’ve not obviously lost much weight, but I’m solidly on a path to being heathier, and I’m excited about it. Pretty sure there is a slight visual difference too… This week I’m going to:
- Stick with a 1400 kcal target. It’s difficult to be certain of my basic calorific needs (as discussed above) but its likely at least 2,400 kcal. A 1,000 kcal deficit is likely to be both effective and sustainable.
- Change my exercise. I’m going to do the New York Magazine workout twice a week, a decent cycle ride twice a week, and an attempt at improving my running time in a bleep test once a week. Sunday is going to be a day of rest!
- Keep an eye on macros. I’ve not really kept much of an eye on exactly what I’m eating, so this week I’ll think a little bit more about hitting the ratios I planned at the start.
Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for keeping me accountable, and texting me daily to tell me to “put down the butter dish and walk away”. Check out his ace 5K running app at RunwithKick.com…
These are all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…