Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Losing Lance Week 1 Update

The first week started with a stumble. I only lost 1 pound. More importantly, the week led to some learning about creating a caloric deficit, and Resting Metabolic Rates and some modification of my food plan. This post is a bit on the geeky side, but if you've ever struggled with losing weight, it might help you explain how it is that you cut calories and you exercise and the pounds don't go away quickly enough.

I've always operated under the simple assumption that to lose weight there was a simple formula: calories out must be greater than calories in. My daily calorie intake target for week one was around 2400 calories. With the exception of Friday and Saturday, I pretty much stayed with it. Here's my chart for the week.

Losing Lance wk 1 Chart.jpg

The interesting line here is the green line. It shows how many "net calories" I took in per day. 2400 was the goal. The days that were low net calorie days were days in which I did some sort of workout, like a bike ride where I burned in excess of 1,000 calories. So that If I ate 2400 calories, but I burned 1500 calories on a ride, my net calories for the day were 900. The chart clearly shows that on the days after a low net calorie number, you see a drop in weight. June 22 reflects the exercise of June 21. As my net calories see-sawed, so did my weight for the week. The anomaly is on Friday 25, where my food log doesn't really reflect what happened. It was a party celebrating my goddaughter's graduation, where too much of the wrong food was had.

Now what?

So, while I'm down 1 pound from the high of 330, the week was essentially a wash. However, I decided to do some research. It turns out that the formula of burn more calories than you take in to lose weight, is very incomplete. The chart above shows that. The beter question is: How many more calories do I need to burn than I take in to lose the weight I want to lose? That question led me to more questions.

  • How many calories can I take in and not gain any weight?
  • How many calories does one need to burn to lose 1 pound of body fat?
  • How many calories must I burn in order to lose my goal of between 2 and 3 pounds per week?
This is where the geeky part starts.

Resting Metabolic Rate

It turns out that the answer to the first question "How many calories can I take in without gaining weight" is really complicated. The answer depends on your height, weight, age and the daily activity that you do. My activity varies widely on a day to day basis. So I found a a way to "ballpark" it. I used something called a Resting Metabolic Rate Calculator (RMR).

The Resting Metabolic Rate measures the amount of calories you burn by simply sitting on your butt all day long doing nothing. Turns out that my RMR is 2,383 calories. Adjusted for a fairly sedentary day to day existence (teaching, driving, sitting in meetings) my RMR increases to 2,860 calories. This is this amount of calories, according to this ballpark estimate, that I could consume per day and pretty much not gain any more weight.

Clearly to lose weight, I need to either take in fewer than 2860 or burn additional calories than the 2860 that it takes to make it through the day. I need to create some sort of calorie deficit. The obvious next question is: how large of a calorie deficit do I need to create to lose Lance?

My calorie deficit goal

To answer that question I needed to know how many calories it takes to burn off 1 pound of body fat? A quick google search gave me the answer: 3500 calories. This was a surprise, for some unknown reason, the number that was in my head was 1,000 calories. I was way off. What this means is that in order to lose 1 pound per week I would need to either lower my caloric intake by 3500 calories per week or take in no more than my RMR calories per day and burn 3500 additional calories through exercise. The healthiest way is some combination of taking in fewer calories and burning more calories.

Given my goal of 2 to 3 calories per week. I need to create a deficit of between 7,000 to 10,500 calories per week. This translates into a daily calorie deficit of between 1,000 and 1500 calories.

The Plan for the next few weeks

I'm going to try a new calorie intake goal of about 2,250 calories. If you go too low, your body adjusts by lowering it's metabolism and then not letting go of fat stores. This new goal creates a deficit of around 600 calories per day. That's the dietary modification portion. The additional 400 to 900 calories need to come from additional exercise.

The challenge for weeks 2 and 3 is that I'm flying to New Orleans for the NEA-Representative Assembly. This translates into a lot of sitting and a lot of good food. And while I don't intend to deprive myself of the bounties of the Big Easy, the hotel does have a gym and I have at least one gym buddy there. I will continue to track all of this stuff, but I probably won't have an update until I return. That's it for now, in the meantime...

Ride on!

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