And the grand result is…
- Losing lots of body fat, especially unhealthy central abdominal fat.
- Building up to managing at least 5 hours of cardio exercise each week and two days with strength training (The government recommends a minimum of 2.5 hours + two days with muscle strength training)
- Beating my personal bests at running 5k, 10k, and cycling the 25 miles to work.
- Not eating chocolate for periods upto 3 or 4 days at a time!
Isn’t the maths wrong?
Lots of people enjoy getting their knickers in a twist about calories. Google “calorie myth”, and find a million different websites arguing about the idea that calorie deficit is the most important part of weight loss.
Maintaining a decent calorie deficit led to a decent amount of weight loss.
Happily, we can test the theory:
During this challenge, based on my approximations, I’ve run up a calorie deficit of around 36,500 calories. That means, I’ve eaten around 36,500 kcal less of food than I’ve burnt by living, breathing and exercise.
According to my calculations, each 7,000 should equate to around a kilo of fat loss. That would mean I should have lost around 5.2kg. I’ve lost 4.1… is the maths wrong?
Where did that 1.1kg go?
In the last 6 weeks, I’ve done just under 32 hours of exercise. I think its a fair assessment to say that I’ve probably put on at least 1.1kg of muscle.
I’m pretty confident in saying that maintaining a decent calorie deficit led to a decent amount of weight loss.
I could have eaten healthier foods, sure, but just sticking to a low calorie diet meant I ate way more green veg, because if you eat chocolate, you end up hungry. And the exact mix of foods you eat doesn’t have much impact on weight loss.
The diet also encouraged me to exercise. You go for a run, you get to eat more nice things. The evidence is pretty clear that physical exercise is really good for you. Its healthier to eat a bit of rubbish, and burn it off in exercise than to be slim, but unfit.
The other side of the coin regarding calories is what they are made from. My key discovery over these 6 weeks: meeting macro targets and calorie targets at the same time is hard work, and likely not very helpful.
I have uniformly found that, for me, not bothering to keep track = weight gain.
Its hard enough work keeping track of all your calories, and comparing one option with another. When also trying to add in proteins, fats and carbs, it becomes much harder to have confidence about any single option:
For example, what’s better, an omelette, or two sausages? It can become a little paralysing having to always think “well, how much fat, and carbs, and protein, and calories do I have left today?”
Anything that makes keeping track of what you eat arduous increases the chance you won’t bother. I have uniformly found that, for me, not bothering to keep track = weight gain.
How to effectively manage my food intake to lose weight?
Therefore, my advice to fellow weight loss devotees? Keep track of calories.
If you are doing a fair amount of exercise, you may want to also try to hit a 0.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight target. Let the fats and carbs take care of themselves, allow your decision on eating something go like this:
- Do I have enough calories left for this today? !If not, you can’t have it!
- Will this fill me up? Then you realise the two sausages, mushrooms and huge pile of broccoli are probably a better option than the single cookie.
- Which has more protein? So you look at the lentil and tomato bake, and realise the chickpea omelette might be the more effective option. You soon also realise the protein heavier option will likely be more filling anyway, so you stop at point 2 before ever reaching this step.
Changes, changes, changes.
Above is the whole catalogue of weekly pictures. I’ve been aiming to maintain at around 67kg until after Christmas, at which point I’m going to hit myself with a range of new goals.
Shout out thanks to Jon Smith for nagging me, 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 were all updated live from a central database, so feel free to check back daily for updates…