My demands are reasonable, my diet is ridiculous.
May 20, 2013 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Over the last ten years, I've put on 10-15 pounds of pure, unadulterated fat. Giving up desert for the next ten years doesn't seem feasible, but my general food intake is fine. I was looking for a healthy but reasonably quick way to loose 10 pounds, and 4 Hour Body was recommended. After six weeks, I am at my exact starting weight. What am I missing, and where should I go from here?

I tried this diet with my roommate (R). R and I are ovo-lacto vegetarians who share 19/21 meals every week. We found the 4HB diet relatively easy to follow as eggs, vegetables, beans, and tofu made up the majority of our food before. (Tofu/soy products are technically not allowed, but we are both female and not trying to build 37 pounds of muscle so we decided to ignore that rule.) We have both been very strict about cutting out all fruit, dairy, and grain products.
R has been loosing 2-3 pounds a week, and I am at my exact (down to the tenth of a pound) starting weight. My results were in line with my normal weight fluctuation- down a pound here and there, up a pound here and there. According to my body measurements, I may have lost an inch on my hips and half an inch on my waist, but that may be measurement error. I have a post-diet body fat analysis scheduled next week, but given that other metrics show no change, I'm not expecting much.

My previous attempt at diet modification was calorie counting. After a week of weighing all my ingredients, adding recipes to calorie counting software, and weighing my servings, I determined that my normal, unmodified diet is hitting carbs/fat/protein ratios reasonably well, contains enough fruits and vegetables, and is about 1700 calories on a normal day. Once I figured that out, I stopped counting. (I did count calories one representative day of 4HB dieting and got 1645 calories.)

I spend about 6 hours/week doing some form of physical activity- usually competitive tennis, jogging, weightlifting, yoga, and rock climbing. I enjoy all these activities but don't have time to add any more.

If I'm active, the food I'm eating is good, and the portion sizes are ok, what else can I tweak for weight loss?
posted by aint broke to Health & Fitness (43 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you have genuinely lost inches, keep doing what you are doing, as it may very well be you are increasing muscle and at the same time decreasing fat. If that is so, there will be a tipping point where that muscle will be burning more calories and the weight WILL come off.

Back a few years ago when I was exercising and dieting, this did happen a time or two. Don't be discouraged. The tape means more than the scale.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

Cut your calories.

For weight reduction, you cut your calories. Doesn't matter if the food is "good" or not. You need to take in less than you expend.
posted by xingcat at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

Blimey that sounds very complicated. If you cannot exercise more the only alternative is to eat less. I find sugars and dairy are the simplest to avoid.
posted by BenPens at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

You haven't actually changed your daily calorie intake much at all--unless 1645 is a typo? If you weren't losing weight on 1700 a day with unchanged activity, you won't lose any at 1645.

You're possibly much HEALTHIER with a primarily plant-and-tofu diet, but healthier and thinner are not automatically connected. Your measurements may change because you're building muscle and it's replacing fat.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

If I'm active, the food I'm eating is good, and the portion sizes are ok, what else can I tweak for weight loss?

Eat less food. In terms of calories.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on May 20, 2013

Your roommate, who is losing weight, may simply have a different metabolism, or she may in fact be eating fewer calories. Might not hurt to ask. But it's true, some people can lose or maintain at 1700 calories/day with no problem at all--whereas, if I ate that many, I'd be twice my current size in no time (I need to hover around 1000 to lose, which is NO FUN AT ALL). It's frustrating, and you have my sympathies.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm going to say that, while you may need to eat less, you might not be exercising hard enough. I know nothing about rock climbing and tennis, but yoga is more something I do to prevent running injury than something I do to burn calories, you know?

And when you say jogging, how far and how fast? I've seen on Metafilter things like: "I jog a mile and a half twice a week." That's not very many calories. The 100 calories thing per mile is extremely generous - if you're a woman, you are probably burning wayyyy less than 100 calories per mile of jogging.

That having been said, you say "over the past ten years." How old are you? I am only twenty-five, but I find that, while nineteen-year-old me could eat nothing but bagels with heaping piles of cream cheese and lose weight, twenty-five-year-old me can eat nothing but light chicken salad and rice cakes and weigh a lot more than I used to. Life happens.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2013

Have you used a decent heart rate monitor to see how many calories you're burning through exercise? And tried a few BMR calculators to see how much you're burning on average throughout your day? Guesstimating these things is notoriously difficult, and having the information is useful.

Jogging and yoga aren't the most ideal activities for weight loss, and unless you're pushing yourself to the limit through others it just might not be enough to see changes.

Eating foods that are good for you will keep you healthier, but it can still be easy to overeat. Just as an example, I'm short and I gain very easily if I go above 1200 calories, whether it's a cheesy burger or lean turkey in a lettuce wrap.

If what you're doing isn't working, you either have to decrease the amount of calories you're taking in, or increase what you're burning. That doesn't mean you have to exercise longer, either. You just have to up the intensity of whatever you're doing.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

What worked for me was stepping on the scale every morning after I pee (no "no point today, it was so and so's birthday party last night and I ate a bunch of pizza" - that can easily turn into 2 weeks during which you don't lose an ounce) combined with a pretty severe calorie restriction. Every single time I was about to drink a beer (my weakness) I would ask myself if it was really worth costing myself 2 running miles worth of calories.

You can keep lifting, you're not going to waste muscle, and in fact the reduced body fat will do more for the appearance of muscle and tone than anything else.

Just my personal experience.
posted by ftm at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

Cut your calories.

For weight reduction, you cut your calories. Doesn't matter if the food is "good" or not. You need to take in less than you expend.

this. it is all about your total caloric intake not really what kind of food you eat. you haven't cut your calories nearly enough as you have said you've gone from 1700 to 1645 daily. either that or burn off more calories through more exercise. iirc, one pound is 3500 calories so either eat less or exercise more or both. really though, i think you need to consume fewer calories if you are already exercising regularly.

weight loss is a simple process--it just isn't easy.
posted by wildflower at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian, and I've embarked on programs to lose fat, too.

First, it's not how much you weigh that's important. It's how much body fat/lean muscle mass you have. Measure your progress using a cloth tape around your abdomen, thigh, chest, etc. (I use the myotape). Who cares what your weight is if you are losing fat? Second, if what you're doing isn't working, you should really be watching your calories more closely. Weigh and measure your food, log it, and relentlessly stick to your plan. Third, increase your activity level by making your exercise more intense, since what you're doing apparently isn't cutting it for you. Try interval training, or adding increased distance to your cardio, maybe.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I may be misunderstanding, but the way you've written your question makes it sounds like you want to try and manipulate something other than calorie balance in order to produce weight loss.

Unfortunately, despite this being the most common claim around as long as diet books and programs have existed, there is no such thing. You may have heard the phrase "a calorie is a calorie." Here's a short, readable article on the subject from Marion Nestle, and here's a longer, more detailed and scientific article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Different diet compositions can absolutely have different effects on the body, but for controlling body weight, there's no getting around the calorie equation. For a great practical overview and FAQ on diet and exercise with lots of links to resources, check out Harsh's worksheet.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:09 PM on May 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

Just as an example, I'm short and I gain very easily if I go above 1200 calories, whether it's a cheesy burger or lean turkey in a lettuce wrap.

If what you're doing isn't working, you either have to decrease the amount of calories you're taking in, or increase what you're burning. That doesn't mean you have to exercise longer, either. You just have to up the intensity of whatever you're doing.

This is me in a nutshell. I decided I had to lose some weight last year. I'm small and my choices were basically go down to 1200 calories a day and don't really exercise in any special way, or do some high intensity exercise (walking 5 miles, biking 15 miles, swimming for an hour) and eat more or less whatever. Still, though, I had to pretty much decide that dessert was only for special occasions and drinking was simply out most of the time (and I switched from beer to low cal cocktails if I was out). The math, which you probably know, is that 3500 calories is a pound. So if you are working on a 55 cal/day deficit (again I'm not sure if that is a typo) you will lose a pound every two months which is probably too slow for you. On the upside, keeping on top of things means you're not going to gain weight either which is useful.

I found the forums over at MyFitnessPal were pretty helpful for having a bunch of people who know a lot about nutrition and fitness (plus a small assortment of yahoos, like everywhere) to bounce ideas like this off of. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 4:09 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Like others have said, you're closer to maintenance range with your calorie intake, not loss range.
posted by quince at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

For comparison if 1700 calories a day is your maintenance range, losing two pounds a week would require you to cut back to about 700 calories a day which is VERY LITTLE. I'm extremely dubious your roommate is losing more than two pounds a week on 1700 calories a day unless she is doing high intensity exercise for 6 hours a day.
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on May 20, 2013

Additionally, one day isn't enough to judge by. You may have been averaging 1700 calories but just happened to tally up a day that was 1645 instead of 1755. And calorie counting itself is only as accurate as your measurements of what you're eating and the database you're using; even nutrition labels are allowed to be off by a certain amount (10% IIRC).
posted by payoto at 4:21 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Justinian is absolutely right, which makes me want to add that you should be careful about going too low and trying to increase your exercise intensity at the same time. I did that and hit a block where nothing was happening, and I had to increase my calories for further progress.

It's awesome that you've been weighing and watching everything you eat, so consider how helpful it would be to to have that kind of accuracy with your workouts, too.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 4:23 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did 4HB for awhile and lost weight, but I also counted calories. For me it was effective because my issue is always my sweet tooth and no matter what I do if I cut out sugar I will significantly cut my calorie intake. Not losing my mind while not eating sugar is another matter...

I think the whole thing behind 4HB is finding "hacks" to trick yourself into staying on the diet and cutting calories without really noticing. He's all about planning splurges because everyone does anyway. Having a diet you can still follow while eating out. Eating enough protein so you stay full. Also I feel like the diet is more geared towards men who generally can eat 2000+ calories a day for maintenance so if you are a smaller person who only needs 1600-1800 to maintain it you may not have much of a calorie deficit on the diet at the end of the day.
posted by whoaali at 4:23 PM on May 20, 2013

You gotta cut calories. It's a pain in the ass. I've been on a Paleo/4HBish diet, convinced that "calories DON'T MATTER, carbs do!" and I (5'6) stayed at about 135 no matter what I did, it seemed.

When I had to lose weight to fit decently into a bridesmaid's dress, I subsisted for a month on about, on average, less than 800-1000 calories a day, eating 35-calorie rice cakes and 5-calorie sugar-free jello packets and eating as low-calorie and as sparingly as possible. Dropped down to 126 within 5 weeks.

That proved me wrong.
posted by Unangenehm at 4:23 PM on May 20, 2013

I lost 30 pounds just changing the way I eat. I did not exercise.

I did a made-up low-carb thing. The main effect (for me) was that it was stupid easy to drop my caloric intake because when my diet is protein, fat, and fiber, I just....didn't feel hungry. It was hard some days to get up to the 1000 calorie mark, because I didn't feel like eating.

Carbs are my kryptonite (the sweet, delicious kind especially), so I just mostly don't keep them in the house, or only in very small quantities.
posted by rtha at 4:25 PM on May 20, 2013

Just wanted to say that every time I fall out of shape, and then start working out vigorously, my body weight stays the same, more or less, even though my body shape is totally different. My pants feel more loose and my shirts feel a little more tight in the shoulders. And I am the same weight. You are probably losing fat and gaining muscle, and muscle is more dense than fat.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:42 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

That's... kind of true, but probably not in the OPs case.
posted by Justinian at 5:05 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

10 pounds is not very much. Being 10 pounds overweight is an incredibly difficult thing to fix compared to being 100 pounds overweight, in some ways, because you've already got the lifestyle you need, it's just that if you only tweak it in small ways, it's going to take you a long time--the same way that subtle differences took a long time to put the weight on.

Or you can make the big changes, and deal with the fact that 1200 calories a day certainly isn't going to be much fun, if you can't add even more physical activity.

Or--well, it's ten pounds. You've not gained any significant health risks for ten pounds, and if you're female, ten pounds is (a) barely noticeable to anybody who isn't you, and (b) to the sort of person who is attracted to women, possibly even desirable depending on your starting weight, if it's noticeable at all. Not that you shouldn't continue to eat well and exercise and everything, but if you very reasonably don't want to exercise for hours a day or cut back to barely eating, there's nothing wrong with you as you are.
posted by Sequence at 6:01 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you don't want to cut calories further, you could try replacing some of the jogging with high intensity interval training while keeping the total time constant. Of course that kind of training is more intense so you want to add it in carefully if you go that route.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:10 PM on May 20, 2013

After a week of weighing all my ingredients, adding recipes to calorie counting software, and weighing my servings, I determined that my normal, unmodified diet is hitting carbs/fat/protein ratios reasonably well, contains enough fruits and vegetables, and is about 1700 calories on a normal day. Once I figured that out, I stopped counting.

I've seen studies showing that people change their eating patterns/portion sizes without realising it when they track their eating habits, so there is a chance that you eat more than that normally.
posted by jacalata at 6:45 PM on May 20, 2013

You'd be surprised how easy it is to give up dessert.

Btw, small fractional or 1-2 pound variations in weight can be due to whether you have eaten, the clothing worn, or bowel movements. Ignore.
posted by lathrop at 7:50 PM on May 20, 2013

Start counting again and cut your calories. Ferris is a great salesman and a total hack. He's marginally better than Tracy Anderson. Do a little more research and you'll realize no quality fitness and sports professionals take him seriously. Changing the protein, fat, carb intake will affect how you feel, it will affect your hunger, it will affect your sleep, it will affect your blood sugar, cholesterol, and whether the weight you lose is fat or muscle, but it will not affect the end number you see on the scale (save the water weight you dump when you cut back on carbs and your muscles become glycogen deprived).

Tofu/soy products are technically not allowed, but we are both female and not trying to build 37 pounds of muscle so we decided to ignore that rule.

Please disabuse yourself immediately of the notion that eating non-tofu products will build "37 pounds of muscle" or whatever the hell you think it does. Without getting into the "You're healthier and better-looking with more muscle than without" discussion, protein does not magically make you put on muscle. Hard work and excess calories makes you put on muscle. By depriving yourself of high-quality, bioavailable, animal-based protein sources in favor of soy, a lower-quality, processed product of questionable bioavailability and is possibly detrimental to your health, you are not preventing "bulking", you are simply ensuring that when you lose weight it is more likely to be muscle rather than fat. So the jiggly bits you don't like in the mirror will stay jiggly, and perhaps appear even moreso.

Quality protein is a totally necessary nutrient for everyone who would like to retain enough lean muscle mass to be able to walk to the mailbox until they die. It will also alleviate hunger pains. Do yourself a favor and cut out the tofu, or at least throw in better protein sources.
posted by schroedinger at 7:55 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also, perhaps an obvious question: how does your roommate's height, bodyweight, and activity levels compare to yours? Not simply in exercise, but also in daily life--standing and moving at work, walking or biking to commute, that kind of thing.
posted by schroedinger at 8:58 PM on May 20, 2013

Your assumption that your food intake is fine is a false assumption. If it was fine, you wouldn't be overweight. Check your portion sizes and i bet you'll lose weight. Also check your 'just a taste-ing' if you do that. The difference between maintaining your weight and losing weight could be an extra half-serving of food a day. I bet you're actually eating more calories than you think, if you're currently estimating or eye-balling your portion sizes.

To make this easy: buy a food scale (they're cheap!) It makes checking portion sizes easy, because you don't have to wash a bunch of measuring cups, and because you can't cheat a scale the way you can cheat by rounding your tablespoons and measuring cups.
posted by Kololo at 10:28 PM on May 20, 2013

hack or not, i've had success with the slow carb diet. cut the tofu, up the eggs (esp in the morning). enjoy cheat day!
posted by maulik at 11:36 PM on May 20, 2013

I've had a lot of success of the 5:2 diet. I started off at 13st, and 6-7 weeks later was at 11st 6lb. You eat just 500 calories (600 for men) for a day, twice a week. There's a busy forum about it here.

I eat what I want to for 5 days a week and for the other 2, I'm very stringent. Every calorie, even a 20kcal breadstick gets counted. I like the diet because I on'y have to care and deprive myself twice a week.

I don't exercise, but I do try to keep active at work. I've visibly lost weight on the diet.
posted by Solomon at 2:05 AM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm really not clear here about where the problem is. It's normal to put on a bit of weight as you get older. You have a very active lifestyle and it sounds like you eat plenty of vegetables. You're probably healthier than many, many people who are thinner than you. If you go on a seriously calorie-restricted diet it will probably have an impact on your activity levels and your general energy, and you will be thinking about food all the time instead of more interesting things. I can't even see the bit in your question where it says you're overweight; people who have answered this question have made a lot of assumptions. Keep doing sports and having fun and appreciate your body for everything it can do.
posted by Acheman at 3:29 AM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fitday. Logging is actually kind of fun in a certain way. And I am not remotely as active as you.

The key is to round all the food calorie counts up and round all the exercise calorie counts down (as in, there is no way I just ran off 300 calories...let's call it 150). Then, when you start tracking your weight, you'll see if you're losing more than your calorie deficit reveals.

You know the rule of thumb of 3000 calories cut per pound lost, right? So that's, let's say, eating 450 cal. less per day to lose a pound a week at your CURRENT activity level.

After a few weeks of observation, you can tweak your BMR or activity log a little to where it gets to something resembling reality.
posted by skbw at 5:49 AM on May 21, 2013

I will answer this question from the perspective of someone who has been on 4HB/Slow Carb for 3.5 months (down 25 lbs). Ferriss does not advocate hard workouts while on this plan, fwiw. He says we should be eating a lot more in quantity because the caloric value of the foods we eat now on plan is a lot lower than the junk that most of us have eaten before. Really, that is the stumbling block for me (getting enough food in), personally, but my BMR is like 2000.

Are you eating 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking? He says that is the number 1 mistake you can make on this plan. Also, how much do you gain on cheat day? How long does it take it to come back off? Have you tried the Damage Control section for cheat day in the book?
posted by getawaysticks at 7:10 AM on May 21, 2013

There's only one way to lose weight. Eat less. After a dope-slap from a health crisis, I'm down from 310 lb. to 280 and hoping to lose another 90.

For each meal, whether or not you cook it, take your plate to a leftovers container, or even to the garbage pail, divide the food in half with a table knife and push it in.

At a restaurant, ask for a take-home carton when you're served and put half your portion in it out of sight. My wife and I often order the same dish and ask that one portion be put in a take-home container and that the other portion be divided on two plates.

Don't have butter, mayo or olive oil within reach or even within sight. Use 1/2 teaspoon of highly flavored condiments like toasted sesame oil, supermarket balsamic vinegar reduced by 50% or Sriracha hot sauce. Where you crave sweetness, use artificial sweetener and one drop of rosewater. (Cortas is the best brand. It's like vanilla extract. One drop perfumes the entire dish. Two drops is awful.)

My wife and I ride herd on each other (VERY important). Last night, we had: one substantial chicken thigh each, roasted with coconut milk; one yellow crook-neck squash each, sliced 1/2" thick, steamed in white wine and browned with a tablespoon of olive oil at the end, topped with 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil; 1/2 an expensive apple each for desert. At 10:30, we had a large rib each of super-expensive organic celery. Notice that we splurge on small items, which we can afford and which are a reward for virtue.

Finally, accept setbacks -- the whole spit-roasted chicken, the pint of Haagen-Daz -- and climb back in the saddle.
posted by KRS at 7:41 AM on May 21, 2013

You have a lot of great recommendations. As another lacto-ovo vegetarian who has struggled with those last 10-15 lbs, I've really been enjoying reading the book Foodist and blog Summer Tomato. Foodist has a lot of the same ideas as FHB but is a bit more moderate. The author of the book did a podcast on 4HB that goes through a lot of its flaws and also good points that you might find helpful as you fine-tune your diet and lifestyle.

One thing I've found interesting is that the author is pretty anti-soy.
posted by JuliaKM at 9:13 AM on May 21, 2013

Ugh- I proofread my post three times, and forgot that as a dyslexic, I am incapable of correctly using numerals. CORRECTIONS: I exercise nine hours a week, not six, and my latest calorie counting day (on the FourHourBody) was fourteen hundred fifty-six calories, not sixteen forty-five. According to the BMR calculator I checked, that should put me clearly into a weight loss zone, but since it isn't working, obviously the calculations are off somewhere. Stupid individual metabolism!

Regardless, there is a lot of consensus. Clearly: more calorie counting, less eating!

As a follow up, does anyone have any suggestions for making calorie counting less painful? I basically cook everything I eat, from scratch, without recipes. I do have an accurate food scale, but in my last calorie counting experiment, I found weighting my ingredients/portion sizes increased my cooking time by half- which turned cooking from a fun hobby I enjoy into a slog that I avoided.
posted by aint broke at 10:03 AM on May 21, 2013

My solution on calorie counting was to eat the same thing over and over again (ie, frittata after frittata--I didn't stress measuring the veggie ingredients, but kept the amounts of egg, cheese, etc the same in each one). You are absolutely right. It is such a slog. I also used fitday, so I could make custom entries, and if I ever had that custom entry again I could just add it to that day's log with one click. I'm not sure if this is a helpful way to think about this or not, but if you have a way of eating and training that is awesome for maintenance where you aren't really losing or gaining any fat, then you will not be locked into measuring food and counting calories forever: just until you get as lean as you are shooting for. At that point, you can go back on the maintenance plan where you don't measure and count every single thing. So while it's a slog, it's a slog that might take only 2 or 3 months instead of forever.

Another suggestion might be that if there are common ingredients you use a lot, you could pre-measure/weigh them and set them aside all at once, so when it is time to cook you don't have to stop to measure/weigh. This doesn't seem to lend itself so well to your style of cooking, though?

My experience has been that if I want to lose 10-15 pounds to get to the degree of leanness I want to get to, then I have to be extremely rigorous about the whole process. For me this has meant planning every meal out in advance so I always know how many calories I'm going to eat in a day, and what proportion of my calories are from protein, fat, and carbs. If I'm not rigorous about things and just generally make an effort to exercise a little more, watch portion sizes, cut out junk food, don't overeat, etc., then I probably won't gain any weight, but I won't be getting noticeably leaner, either. That might come with the territory of wanting to shed only 10 pounds of fat or so. But another thing I've found is that it's really only the first 10 days or so of this regime that are so dreary, since results tend to follow (for me at least) after about 10 days of being super rigorous. Then there is a feedback loop where I'm motivated by the results, plus I am in the habit of weighing and measuring things.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:34 AM on May 21, 2013

I've recently started experimenting with 5:2, as described in Eat, Fast and Live Longer. Early results are quite promising, and I'm finding the regimen easy enough to stick to that contemplating doing so for the rest of my life is actually giving me hope rather than the usual dread.
posted by flabdablet at 11:15 AM on May 21, 2013

As a follow up, does anyone have any suggestions for making calorie counting less painful?

I agree with MoonOrb that it's about planning your diet in advance and eating mostly the same things most of the time. I've done this for the past 8 weeks, I've lost weight very consistently and predictably, and the calorie counting has been trivial.

I might swap chicken for tuna one day, or shrimp or tilapia the next, or brown rice for pasta or white rice or sweet potatoes, or change up vegetables, etc., but the basic diet plan is the same every day, and combined with cooking batches of food ahead of time, it takes little thought or effort.

In myfitnesspal you can save recipes to re-use later, and you can also copy a meal from a previous date.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:37 AM on May 21, 2013

I cook a lot, too, and I have found it pretty easy to cut down on excessive measuring when entering food in my app (myfitnesspal). Some tips:
* With produce and eggs, I can enter the entire item or do simple math to get it right (1 bell pepper if I'm eating alone, 1/2 bell pepper if I'm cooking for two and use a single pepper, etc.).
* With cheeses that I use, I used the scale a few times until I got good at eyeballing an ounce of cheese, and now I cut an estimated ounce of cheese.
* I know how much my dishes hold. The mini-bowls are 1/4 c. each. The larger cereal bowls hold 2 cups if filled to the brim, and I know where the 1 cup line is. The largest salad bowls hold three cups of spinach/lettuce/etc. Our tea cups hold about 8 ounces when filled to an inch from the top. Knowing this means I can serve myself food and know how much I'm eating.
* I know what a tablespoon of olive oil looks like -- and can translate that to a tablespoon of something else.

I still measure pasta and grains, and I might measure meat, too, if I ate it, but most of the time I can get a good feel for quantities just by looking.

Plus, as I add things that I eat regularly, the app remembers them, so it's easier to find them in the future.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:56 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you subtract your exercise calories from your daily intake? Is it ~1400 compensating for your exercise, or not? If not, I think (like I said above) that you might be eating too few calories. I realize this isn't a popular opinion, and that's okay, it's just based on my experiences with 4HB/SC.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:29 AM on May 24, 2013

According to the BMR calculator I checked, that should put me clearly into a weight loss zone, but since it isn't working, obviously the calculations are off somewhere.

Hi! No idea if you're still reading this question, but I thought I'd post one more thing. It's generally thought that eating less than your BMR+20% would slow down your metabolism enough where your body is going to start hoarding instead of losing. This goes double if you're doing exercise in addition to counting calories. So I'm not sure if the target you're aiming for is taking that into consideration, or if it's too low.

You could eat the amount of calories required for a "sedentary" lifestyle at your weight, but exercise at "light" or "moderately active." That's going to give you really nice results, but it's very important not to go down below that BMR+20% number. If you do decide to eat at sedentary but exercise harder, be sure that you are not eating back your exercise calories. I've noticed that a lot of apps (and I'm using MyFitnessPal that does this too) add your exercise calories back into your allowance. Turns out this isn't a great practice when you're trying to lose weight, and instead is something to do when maintaining.

Here is a BMR calculator that's going to break things down for you a bit more, taking exercise/activity levels into consideration. Using those numbers you are very likely to lose weight at a steady and healthy pace. Might not be the fastest, but slow and healthy is what keeps the weight off. (Pretty awesome and motivating podcast, too. They get some really nice listener questions.)

Best of luck!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2013

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