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February 8, 2010 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Please help me sort out my weight-loss/strength training/eating regime.

I got a personal trainer and started a strength training regime in early December. At first I was doing this on average 2x per week of going to the gym, where my trainer would have me do all strength training (squats, deadlifts, kettlebell etc). He is a big believer in using the weights in a way that works my whole body, like holding dumbbells and doing a squat then pushing the dumbells up above my head as I come up. He also has me doing the heaviest weights I can use to the point of exhaustion. I really like his approach and I can feel that my muscles have gotten really solid.

For the last month, I've upped my workouts with him to 3x per week (an hour each time) and I have really started to work on my eating in the last two weeks - 5 or 6 SMALL meals a day, good carbs, high protein - nuts, fruits, veggies, fish, protein shakes etc.

I HAVE NOT LOST ANY WEIGHT. I know muscle weighs more than fat, but I have not noticed any difference in how my clothing fits. I have read so much online about how to lose weight with a strength training program and have found so much conflicting advice that I am now just very confused. I would like to lose 30 or 40 pounds. I'm in a good position right now as I have lots of sessions left with my trainer and I can see him 3x per week and I just feel like I'm wasting it as my pants aren't any looser. I know that I can't bulk up with weights like a man can because of hormones, but I am really worried that I'll develop all this muscle under my fat and look even bigger than I am if I don't lose the fat.

My trainer knows I want to lose weight so he has me doing the full-body-with-heavy-weights moves and then do something during my "rest" from the weights such as jumping jacks or jogging in place. I think this is HIIT and gives me aerobic benefits along with the strength training. My trainer says that I WILL lose fat if I keep it up but I am getting very discouraged.

I suspect my main issue has to do with my eating. I have only really brought my eating in line with what I want it to be in the last few weeks. During the week I'm near perfect but on weekends I fail, though I am making improvement (not eating tons of food all day - maybe just eating say two big meals); it's really just a matter of breaking bad weekend eating habits for me though I am getting better.

BUT - I just can't believe that with doing well with eating during the week and improvement with my weekend eating COMBINED with my three hard workouts a week, I am still not losing weight! Normally when I get this frustrated I assume it has to do with calories and try to restrict my calories even more (at which point I will lose weight) but I've never done a strength-training program before (I've always done aerobics) and I fear that eating even less will be bad for me with all the weight I'm lifting.

I am really at a loss here, any advice you could give on how a woman could lose weight on a strength-training program would be very appreciated.

Also, I know about portion control and how important it is and I methodically measure everything that I eat during the week, so I know that it isn't because of that. If I overeat on the weekends, I know I'm overeating - I don't fool myself about portion sizes. Though again - I just can't imagine that after eating well and hard exercise all week, that going off the calorie counting and diet within reason on the weekend would cancel all that out.

Sorry this is so long. If I've been unclear or you need any more info, please ask. Thanks.
posted by triggerfinger to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Normally when I get this frustrated I assume it has to do with calories and try to restrict my calories even more (at which point I will lose weight) but I've never done a strength-training program before (I've always done aerobics) and I fear that eating even less will be bad for me with all the weight I'm lifting.

You're probably right that this is about your diet. Eating to gain muscle and eating to lose fat are generally considered opposing goals. Is your goal to get strong, or to lose bodyfat? It sounds to me like it's the latter, so focus on that. It also sounds like what you're doing is not a strength training program per se, but a conditioning program that involves resistance movements. If you want to lose fat, don't try to eat extra, just make sure you get enough protein -- around 1g per pound of bodyweight per day.

How many calories and how much protein are you eating per day right now? If you don't know, this is your biggest problem. If you do know, and you aren't losing fat, subtract 300 calories for a week and see what happens.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:03 PM on February 8, 2010


Yup, what are your numbers - calories, weight, body fat %. Those are likely to be key. The exercise is great, but it alone isn't going to make you lose anything )if you have anything like my body type, anyway.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:08 PM on February 8, 2010


There is an easy way to tell if your diet is a problem:

Can you list everything you ate for the past fourteen days? If not then your diet is most likely the cause. Start logging -all- your food. Be honest about it, lying to yourself hurts you more than it will ever help you. Do this for a week and then crunch the numbers, you will be surprised.
posted by Loto at 2:13 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


First of all, don't despair - there is no doubt that what you are doing is helping to make you fitter and healthier. I know from many, many exercise-driven "comebacks" that when the body is first faced with increasing exercise / decreased calories, it tries to preserve a steady state, and slows down the metabolism to maintain current weight. Once it knows you're serious, it gives in, and you can lose weight quickly.

I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but you are not exercising nearly enough. To lose 30 to 40 pounds, you must work out 6x a week for an hour per day. The 30 minutes for 3 days maxim applies only to fit people seeking to maintain fitness, Last year I managed to lose 31 lbs in 15 weeks; for many of those weeks, I worked out 12 hours in the week.

Here's an article about a study that confirmed what I have long suspected about the required frequency and duration of exercise:

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/health/July-August-08/New-Study-Says-Exercise-More--Here-s-How.html
posted by MarkMoran at 2:13 PM on February 8, 2010


How small are you small meals? Are you measuring them by calories or volume or Weight Watchers Points or.... Are you eating enough? Sometimes people will stall because they need to eat more, not less. What goes into your protein shakes? They can get calorie-dense really fast!

How much fluid are you drinking? I find that the scale moves downward much more readily if I drink 72+ ounces of water a day in addition to some coffee and/or tea and have read that others have the same experience.

Weight loss is frustrating. Often, I'll think I have it figured out and then I'll hit another plateau. Best of luck to you :)
posted by Aleen at 2:18 PM on February 8, 2010


Do you look any different? I know you said that you haven't lost weight and that your pants size hasn't changed, but you didn't say whether you notice any different just looking at yourself in the mirror.
posted by creasy boy at 2:19 PM on February 8, 2010


For what it's worth, I'm a 40 year old man who's active etc most of the year. I had my annual summer blowout (I live in the southern hemisphere) over late December early Jan. Because I can be a big eater and drinker I put on almost 10 lbs in that time. I have back on my normal regime of weight training + martial arts + not eating like a pig for just over a month.

It's taken almost weeks before the daily graph I keep of my weight has started showing any trend. For the last week, it's been going down every day consistently. It takes time for your body to get the message, and for some people it takes longer than others. Am I right, it's been about eight weeks for you, and the first few weeks you haven't been fully on the programme? You're not necessarily doing anything wrong here, and your trainer could be quite right.

Normally when I get this frustrated I assume it has to do with calories and try to restrict my calories even more

If you've been a yoyo dieter before, your body is not going to be as co-operative. Sorry. Patience, grasshopper.

A few other thoughts:
- Do you drink alcohol? If so, stop.
- Likewise juice, soft drink, any drink containing sugars. Don't drink diet drinks either -- your body still gears up to store fat when it tastes sweetness.
- Regular so-called "cheat" days are actually a good thing, many people think, in order that your body doesn't decide you're starving and slow your metabolism right down. But maybe instead of having a blowout all weekend, you need to cut it back to Saturday.
- Are you getting enough sleep?

I am really worried that I'll develop all this muscle under my fat and look even bigger than I am if I don't lose the fat.

If you didn't lose any fat, but gained some muscle, you're likely to stand more erect, move more confidently, and have bigger chest, shoulders and butt relative to your waist. So you'll still look better. Also, you'll be able to slap your detractors senseless.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:23 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn -- that should read

"it's taken almost four weeks"
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:24 PM on February 8, 2010


BTW, gubernatrix is an Englishwoman with a great training site.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:30 PM on February 8, 2010


I could have written this post. Same exact thing, same diet, same weekend-overeating dilemmas, though I was doing less strength and more cardio.

I decided to just cut out ALL sugar and starches for a while. I get my carbs from non-starchy vegetables, that's it. Also I am limiting my dairy to just a little bit (cream for my coffee, no more than one slice of cheese a day.) Also decided to triple the amount of water I've been drinking.

My hunger has evaporated, while my energy levels (after the first couple days) have been great. Kept my workout the same.

Lost six pounds this week. A lot of it is water weight, but I know (from my food logs) that I've been taking in significantly fewer calories simply due to the fact that I no longer feel hungry. It's great.
posted by egeanin at 2:35 PM on February 8, 2010


Just to elaborate-- this is a good way to avoid discouragement and see the scale move. I plan on adding back in more good carbs as I go, but keeping an eye on how it affects my weight loss.
posted by egeanin at 2:37 PM on February 8, 2010


It sounds like you're kind of working against yourself. If you want to lose weight, conventional wisdom is to cut your calories down and do a bunch of cardio. Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the CW on strength training is that most people training for strength assume that they'll actually gain a bit of weight while they strengthen themselves, and then plan to burn it off later. I'm sure there are complicated strategies for losing weight while you gain muscle, but not for like, a normal person with other time committments.

It's really a boring thing to do, but you've just got to start monitoring your calorie intake. I downloaded this app for my iphone called "Lose It" which lets you input your meals and calculates how many calories you can consume in a given day while still losing weight. It's super nerdy and I don't tell people I'm using it (I pretend to be engaging in post-prandial texting) but it's really helped me. I exercise a lot less vigorously than it sounds like you do (I've been doing the Couch to 5k program since mid-December and that's it) but I record everything I eat, including lapses, and I've lost about 12 pounds. Obviously YMMV, but it's worked for me.
posted by WStraub at 2:38 PM on February 8, 2010


You said: I just can't imagine that after eating well and hard exercise all week, that going off the calorie counting and diet within reason on the weekend would cancel all that out.

It sure can. If losing weight is your main goal, you should count calories for at least the first 6 - 12 weeks. No, you won't have to count them forever, but you should when you start so you can discover exactly what your magic number is for weight loss. And yes, it does seem to take some people a few weeks to start seeing progress and only then if you are not 'blowing it' on the weekends or whenever.

You didn't say anything about your current weight or calorie goals for weight loss so it's hard to see exactly where the issue might be, but I can assure you - it's about the number of calories going in your mouth, not about the kinds of foods you are eating or the type of exercise you are doing.
posted by jopreacher at 2:40 PM on February 8, 2010


it's about the number of calories going in your mouth, not about the kinds of foods you are eating

The total number is surely important, but everything I've been reading lately convinces me that the composition makes a difference too. In particular, eating a greater proportion of calories from simple sugars and refined starches does encourage your body to store more as fat.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:44 PM on February 8, 2010


Track all of your intake with a website like FitDay or a program like Cron-o-meter. Do not severely limit your caloric intake to try to "make up" for the weekend. This will stall your weight loss. Figure out your target daily calories and eat that many every day -- a good rule of thumb is to multiply your current weight by 11. Eating significantly more OR significantly less than this number will hinder your weight loss.

Since you're combining this with a strength training program (which is awesome!) you should be consuming roughly 1 g of protein per lb of bodyweight, every day.

What you refer to as HIIT in your post is not HIIT. Are you working out at all without your trainer? Diet is the most important thing, so if you take one piece of advice from my response just take the diet stuff, but it would probably benefit you to do real HIIT on the days when you are not working with your trainer (3 days strength, 3 days HIIT, 1 day rest per week). For true HIIT, work as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds at a cardio task -- running outside (not on the treadmill) or the stationary bike are good options. I like to pretend I'm being chased by an angry bear. Then, drop down to an easy pace for 10 seconds. Then 20 more seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of recovery. Keep repeating that until you can't anymore. During your first HIIT session, you'll probably only last a couple of minutes. That's good. The goal isn't to work out for a long time, but to work out at your maximum intensity. This is what's known to increase metabolism and assist best in burning fat.
posted by telegraph at 2:46 PM on February 8, 2010


I haven't weighed myself in a while as it depresses me and I'm trying to judge my progress on how my clothes fit rather than the scales. I probably weigh around 180 - 185, though I hope to god some of that is muscle weight. I decided to try strength training because I have the impression that if I build up more muscle, my metabolism will speed up (slightly) and my body will naturally burn calories faster all day long. I also would like to be stronger but that said, my number one goal is weight/fat loss. I also enjoy strength training more than aerobics, which I've done for years and bores me stiff.

I aim for 1200-1500 calories a day and I try to overestimate calories when I am counting so that I have a slight leeway. I get this impression that this may not be exact enough?

Thank you very much for all your answers so far. They're giving me a lot to think about.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:52 PM on February 8, 2010


Hmm, well if you haven't weighed yourself, how can you say "I HAVE NOT LOST ANY WEIGHT." Only scales can tell you your weight. You might have lost five pounds in last three weeks (a good sustainable rate for a 30ish woman) and because of how your bodyfat is distributed, not seen it yet.

Have you actually discussed how you're feeling with your trainer? Part of what you pay for when you engage someone to train you is motivation, reinforcement and encouragement. You sound discouraged. Give your trainer the opportunity to do his/her job.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:01 PM on February 8, 2010


That is probably not exact enough, no. You don't have to track every bite now and forever amen, but try it for a month!

The muscle-speeds-up-metabolism thing is totally true but also really slow, in my experience. Like, months and months before you'll notice a change, and that's if you don't compensate for the extra exercise by eating more than you used to.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:01 PM on February 8, 2010


I decided to try strength training because I have the impression that if I build up more muscle, my metabolism will speed up (slightly) and my body will naturally burn calories faster all day long. I also would like to be stronger but that said, my number one goal is weight/fat loss. I also enjoy strength training more than aerobics, which I've done for years and bores me stiff.

triggerfinger, the part about muscle burning more calories than fat is accurate, although you'll find disagreement about the size of this effect. However, you're very unlikely to build significant muscle on 1200-1500 calories a day. I don't know the specifics of your program, but again I'll point out that "strength training" and "weight training" are not synonymous. A strength training program by definition entails consistently increasing the weight lifted, aka progressive overload, and eating enough to recover and create a caloric excess. Some overfat strength novices will see fat loss, but some won't. Strength training also usually means working with relatively heavy weights for relatively few repetitions. But a proper strength program is not the same thing as a fat loss program.

I say this not to discourage you or tell you not to lift weights, but to urge you to be clear about what you're doing. I think strength is a great goal, but it's usually very difficult to build strength while losing fat, and advice for strength trainees doesn't necessarily apply to someone who wants to lose fat, and so forth. The best thing to do is choose one goal and focus on it solely for awhile.

Also, measure your bodyfat percentage, not your weight. Body composition is what matters, scale weight is a complete red herring.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:09 PM on February 8, 2010


It's all math. It's about calories burned vs. calories eaten.

Track your food, exercise, and goals with a site like Livestrong - Daily Plate. Specific tracking of exactly what you eat is important.

If you stay on track with the daily plan, you will see the weight loss you are aiming to hit.

Good luck!
posted by Argyle at 4:17 PM on February 8, 2010


I feel like expounding upon a thought I've been having for a while, which is this: weight loss is largely about water. Bear with me for a minute. We all know that the human body is mostly water, yes? Well, the thing about fat and muscle tissues is that they both contain some water, and they can stimulate the retaining of additional water. Understanding this can help you understand why you might not be seeing much weight/size loss yet, why you might suddenly experience a drop at some point in the future, and what you should probably do now to accelerate that drop.
So, water weight. What does this mean for you? A few things. Let's state the things I suspect to be true:
1) An 185lb woman only eating 1200-1500 calories/day of reasonably healthy foods and getting some exercise 3X a week should be losing weight. Maybe not very fast, maybe not a huge amount, but some.
2) Pigging out 2 days a week when eating very little 5 days a week, in a body that is currently both overfat and seriously deprived of calories, is likely to result in water retention and a diminished obvious fat loss, but is not necessarily enough to totally stall weight loss. The water retention could be especially bad if what you eat is very carb-heavy, salt-heavy, or combined with a lot of alcohol (especially stuff like beer).
3) Muscle mass retains more water than fat, and when overfat people start to gain muscle they might look bulkier for a while even though their body composition is improving, due to the increased "pump" of the underlying muscle and the slower loss of overlying fat tissue.

So, I think it is entirely possible that you are slowly but surely changing your body composition for the better, and not seeing it on the scale because you're eating a bit too much on the weekend and you're still a bit too fat to actually notice the difference. I challenge you to weigh yourself Monday morning and then again Friday morning, on a (menstrual cycle-neutral) week when you eat well and go to the gym. I would be shocked out of my mind if you were not in fact a pound or two lighter Friday compared to Monday.

To speed up the pace of observable results, you can do a few things:

1) Speed up the basic weight loss. I would absolutely not eat any fewer calories on your "diet" days, but you could certainly hit the gym a couple more times a week on your own.

2) Instead of eating more both Saturday and Sunday, pick one day and keep it to that day. I'm a big fan of "refeeds" because I think they keep a person sane but if you are really trying to lose a lot of weight (more than a vanity 5-10lbs) you shouldn't need to do them more than once a week.

3) Fewer carbs. No matter how "Good" they are, if they come from grains they are probably going to cause some water retention, and there's a reason low-carb diets show such immediate results for most people.

I think it is actually quite possible that you will find yourself in the near future with a sudden drop in weight due to your body finally giving in to your efforts, but it sucks getting discouraged in the mean time. If you can stand it, try photographing yourself in a swimsuit once a month or so and comparing the results. If you really aren't changing at all from that perspective, then it is time to change it up.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:32 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just want to second the recommendation of this site. You really need to know exactly what's going on, in terms of calories consumed (even on cheat days, so you know what your weekly totals are) and calories burned.
posted by availablelight at 7:27 PM on February 8, 2010


I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but you are not exercising nearly enough. To lose 30 to 40 pounds, you must work out 6x a week for an hour per day. The 30 minutes for 3 days maxim applies only to fit people seeking to maintain fitness, Last year I managed to lose 31 lbs in 15 weeks; for many of those weeks, I worked out 12 hours in the week.


Or, for an alternate viewpoint:

If you want to lose weight, it is ALL about diet. I always advocate a low-carb diet because this is the only way I was able to lose my 35 pounds. YMMV, of course, but there are solid reasons to consider LC. Read Good Calories Bad Calories by Taubes before making up your mind.

Now, diet aside, exercise is a crappy, crappy way to lose weight. When you work out, you expend calories, and your body decides to make up for those expended calories by making you hungrier. This is why people used to go for walks to "work up an appetite" before dinner.

For this among other reasons, strength-training is much better than cardio in the long-run -- it builds muscle that speeds your metabolism (even if only by a very little bit), so you CAN eat more. And, moreover, it ensures you'll look good beneath your clothes once you're done shedding the poundage. If you combine it with LC, it will also ensure that you lose fat, not muscle.

In short, my advice to you is to figure out a way of eating and stick to it. Consider the exercise a brilliant thing you are doing for your health that is utterly unrelated to your weight loss goal. That, IMO, will get you to your goal weight most quickly.
posted by artemisia at 11:26 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can understand a lot of what you read can be confusing. There is a tendency for every Tom-Dick-and-Harry who's ever stepped in a gym to start giving other people advice, when they don't know any better. I could sit here and tell you how strength training and weight training are interchangeable terms and it's rather pedantic say they aren't, but that wouldn't help you. Especially because we're all imaginary internet people, and my advice could be just as right/wrong as anyone else's.

I guarantee nobody, except for you, cares how much you weigh; and nobody cares what your bodyfat percentage is. They may care what you look like, and I'm sure that's what you really care about regardless of some numbers. Most people want to look a certain way, but their reality conforms to what the see in the mirror every day. The scale is a good objective indicator of change. It's also an easy way to correlate between your looks and a set goal of X pounds to lose. Unless your entering a competition of some sort, or if it's excessive, nobody should care what their bodyfat percentage is. Of course you could also set goals according to that number, but beyond that it's a waste of time check your bodyfat.

Since you've already got a well defined goal, I would just say make it simple and grab a well tested template and us it. I would suggest The Velocity Diet. If you don't want to change your training around that's fine, but you really should change your diet as that is the first thing anybody should look at whether they want to gain muscle or lose weight.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:32 PM on February 8, 2010


I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but you are not exercising nearly enough. To lose 30 to 40 pounds, you must work out 6x a week for an hour per day.

Yeah, I call bullshit on that too, as artemisia does. People lose that amount of weight through diet alone all the time.

As far as the linked study goes, a plausible explanation is that the kind of person who can successfully stick to a diet regime is the kind of person who will use a free treadmill. I guess Mike's advice is sound if you intend exercise to be the main driver of weight loss, but...

... my recent reading all suggests that your best combination is a diet that avoids sugars and refined carbs and modestly restricts your calories, supplemented with weights to maintain muscle mass, and interval training, in that order.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:41 PM on February 8, 2010


Agreeing with the people who say you should track exactly how many calories you eat. I found that I only needed to do that for a week to get a good idea about how much I was eating. I think one of the downsides of eating six times a day is that it is really easy to overeat, because 250 calories per meal is not much at all.

While some people do great on 6 small meals a day, others do better on 3 normal meals a day (with maybe an after-exercise snack on exercise days if you are hungry).
If you are really eating only 1200 calories a day and still don't lose any weight I think it may be wise to go to a doctor to check if there are any health problems that are interfering with your weight loss.
posted by davar at 3:54 AM on February 9, 2010


THANK YOU every one for all of your responses. They have really helped. I think it's now more clear to me than ever how important diet is, as well as keeping track of everything that goes into my mouth. I don't write down what I eat every single day because I eat a lot of the same things during the week, so I sometimes keep a "mental" list. I can see now how easily I might be overlooking certain little things - like the milk in my tea, and how these little things really add up.

I am also now very convinced how important it is - at least at the beginning, to really minimise carbs. I've dusted off my Fitday account so I can keep better track of how much calories/fat/carbs I'm getting. I also am very intrigued by The Velocity Diet and I'm thinking it may be a good idea to do it for a week or so as a jumpstart. I think that a big part of my problem is that I expect super fast results. I've always been able to crash-diet and lose weight quickly when I've wanted to (which I know is bad - I'm trying to get out of that mindset and lose the bad habits) and the slowness of this really frustrates me. So if I lose a reasonable amount of weight in a reasonable time (say a pound a week), I just write it off as being down to normal daily weight fluctuations.

Anyway, thank you all so much for taking the time to answer - you have all been extremely helpful, I now have renewed hope!
posted by triggerfinger at 12:39 PM on February 9, 2010


Okay, I see I've picked nearly every answer as best but pretty much everything you've all said has helped me in some way or made me consider something that I had not considered before so thanks again.

Also, I started back on Fitday today only because I've used it in the past and all my foods are already stored on there. But the Livestrong site is very intriguing and I may switch to that one once I've had a chance to sit down and have a good look at it. Thank you!
posted by triggerfinger at 12:46 PM on February 9, 2010


Okay, I promise to stop commenting in my own thread but I just wanted to say that P.o.B's profile page is a wealth of good information. Thank you for putting all that up there P.o.B - it will keep me busy over the next few days.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2010


Losing weight is all about diet. Calories in vs calories out. If you restrict your calories and sit on the couch all day you will lose weight.

What you are trying to do is significantly harder, you are trying to lose weight (lose fat, requires calorie reduction) while simultaneously gaining muscle (requires calorie surplus!).

Its hard to walk the line... some guidelines:

1. DO NOT WEIGH YOURSELF. EVER. STOP IT. You will know when you are losing weight, your strength numbers will be going up and your pant sizes will be going down. Take a shirtless photo of yourself tonight and then take another one in a month. Compare. Photos dont lie, scales do.

2. In a strength training program calorie restriction will kill you... you will not have enough calories to put on any muscle and your body will go into starvation mode and try to hold onto the fat reserves it has. You want to eat enough calories to support your basal metabolism and the exercise you are doing, without supporting any extra fat.

To determine number of calories you should be eating figure out first your bodyfat %. There are lots of ways to do this with varying degrees of science backing them up. The roughest is probably what the navy uses to determine bodyfat %. All you need to do is measure your waist circumference at the navel and your neck circumference. There are online calculators here : http://fitness.bizcalcs.com/Calculator.asp?Calc=Body-Fat-Navy

If you are female there is a different formula with more measurements.

You say you are 180 and have 40 lbs to lose, so I imagine you have a very high bodyfat percentage. This breaks your body down into 2 numbers, % fat and % not fat (everything else). Lets say for an example you are currently 30% bodyfat. So, 180lbs X 30% = 54 lbs of fat and 180lbs-54lbs = 126 lbs lean mass (bone, muscle, tissue, anything not fat.)

You want to be 10% bodyfat, so take that 126 lbs lean mass and multiply by 1.1 to get 138.6 lbs. You will compositionally be 126 lbs lean and 12.6 lbs fat if you weigh 138.6 lbs and are 10% bodyfat.

So, if you get to this point you will have the SAME lean mass (this will probably go up slightly through weight training but lets say it does not) but have only 12.6 lbs of fat on you rather than 54 lbs of fat on you!

How does this figure in to calories? Take that 138.6 number or whatever else you determine through the exercise above as your total weight at the bodyfat you are shooting for. Plug that number into a basal metabolic rate calculator such as this one. http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

This will tell you how many calories you burn if you lay in bed all day and didnt move. Take that number, and multiply it by 1.5, this will give you a number of calories that will support YOUR BODY at you IDEAL weight but will not support the 40 extra lbs of fat you have on.

Then just eat high quality food, lots of meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, no sugar, little starch and you will be good to go.
posted by outsider at 6:14 PM on February 9, 2010


Thank you for putting all that up there P.o.B - it will keep me busy over the next few days.

No problem. I've been meaning to edit it into a better format.

I'm glad you're not discouraged and going to take charge of your diet. Whatever diet you do end up using, you'll probably end up tweaking it here and there. You're body is in a constant state of flux and you're diet will need to be changed along with it.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:40 PM on February 9, 2010


Just to comment on the weekend eating thing, I was doing a similar thing, working out hard consuming 1200-1500 calories a day during the week and then I didn't track my calories on the weekend. I saw almost no change on the scale. I finally started the extremely annoying process of tracking my calories on the weekends (although in the beginning I didn't restrict my calories on the weekend). I realized pretty quickly that my weekends totally cancelled out the rest of the week, in fact I think the only reason I didn't put on weight while I was supposedly "dieting" was because I was exercising quite a bit and doing other exercise (like walking) that I wasn't tracking. It is horrifying how going out for mexican and having two pina coladas can lead to a 2,500 calorie or god forbid even a 3,000 calorie day. Absolutely start tracking your calories. I found out that my "dieting" was essentially what I should be doing to maintain my weight, not lose weight. Once I started having reasonable weekends (not full on dieting, but I try to at least not eat more than 1,800 maybe 2,000 a day and not have a 3 day weekend where I pig out Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and continued dieting during the week and exercise the weight began to come off.

The good news is that my body adjusted fairly quickly to a more restrictive diet, so I wasn't constantly starving. I can't maintain 1,200 for weeks on end, but I can maintain an average of 1,500 calories a day for weeks on end and finding a diet plan you can maintain is really the key to weight loss.
posted by whoaali at 8:59 PM on February 15, 2010


Absolutely start tracking your calories. I found out that my "dieting" was essentially what I should be doing to maintain my weight, not lose weight

That's so depressing, but you're absolutely right and I really think I needed to hear it from other people as it seemed incomprehensible to me. It seemed like I was working HARD and depriving myself for 5 days and then for 2 days going easy on it all - NOT going all out binging, but still trying to use a bit of control - I couldn't believe it wouldn't work. But you're right and I think it is VERY easy to underestimate calories on my "off" days. Anyway, I am now being very strict about logging EVERYTHING that goes into my mouth and hopefully I'll be able to maintain it through the weekend, when I'm out of my normal routine. I feel pretty positive at the moment, so fingers crossed. Thanks again for all the great replies.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:47 PM on February 16, 2010


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