Category Archives: Weight Loss

On The Peaks and Valleys of Weight Loss

Hi folks,

it’s been much too long since my last post. Almost half a year ago I announced that I was about to start a new weight loss experiment (“WLE 3”). Long story short: I quickly lost my motivation. Last year (about 10 months ago) I started weighing about 108kg and lost a lot of weight until January (95kg) and then, after about a month, I reached my lowest weight ever (88kg). 

The question is: Why didn’t I finish the job? My target weight is 80kg, and I was headed towards it. I had also established new eating habits, and I was feeling fine. I think the biggest problem was that in January I started in a new job, and at least in the beginning it was quite stressful. There was also the problem of work lunches. I also wasn’t able to do as much cycling as last year because of the unusually cold and inhospitable weather in Europe this year so far. Another thing: I stopped counting calories.

So I’m now back at 100kg. Looking at what went wrong, I am going to try to reverse the situation – and this time I’ll be mindful of the things that sabotaged my diet. The good thing is that I gained only about 2kg per month. That’s about 14.000 calories, or about 500 calories a day. So theoretically I could reverse the problem until December by eating 1.000 calories less each day (totally realistic, I would still be eating more than during the half year phase before January), or still reach my goal of 80kg by December by eating about 2.000 calories less each day (possible, but not likely and probably not healthy).

So stay tuned for (probably) more frequent updates about my weight loss, but also for more posts on various topics.

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Calories In vs. Calories Out

As I’m writing this I’m in week 7/10 of my latest weight loss experiment. Yesterday I decided to enter some of the data that I’ve gathered for the ecperiment so far – mainly calories in and calories out, as logged/measured via FitBit.com, but also my actual weight and body fat percentage as measured daily. The interesting thing for me was how well the actual weight loss so far matches the total caloric deficit. One pound of body fat is typically equated to about 3,500 calories in the weight loss literature. So far I’ve lost about 6 pounds, with a caloric deficit of about 22,000 calories, and as you can see, the numbers add up. Body fat percentage has also been going down, although the data is a bit fuzzy there as I’m only using a simple impedance scale, but still.

This means that at least for me, empirically, the “calories in, calories out” paradigm of weight loss is validated. If you’re new to weight loss and the various theories and books out there, this may seem obvious to you – of course you’ll lose weight if you expend more calories than you consume. The thing is that on top of the caloric balance (or even sometimes instead of it) many authors have proposed that the macronutrient composition of the diet is more important. Macronutrients are, in essence, carbohydrate, fat and protein. Some authors claim that in order to use bodyfat, you have to cut or reduce carbohydrate, while some others will make the same claim about fat. When it comes to protein, some authors will claim that you need to eat a lot more protein than people typically do (e.g. the book “Protein Power” as well as most paleo approaches), while others don’t consider that to be important.

Well, over the previous 6 weeks I have been eating all over the place, so to speak. During some weeks I’ve been eating a lot of protein, even purposefully supplementing with protein shakes. I’ve been eating a lot of “junk food” containing simple sugars and flour (pancakes). I’ve been doing intermittent fasting during some of the weeks. On some days I’ve been eating a lot of fiber – again also supplementing at times – and on other days practically zero. None of that mattered much when it comes to weight loss, and I find that interesting. It doesn’t prove anything scientifically – but it tells me that I don’t need to be obsessive/compulsive about any of the things that I’ve just listed.

These are the two things that seem to matter:

  • Caloric deficit
    Measure your caloric intake to a reasonable degree of precision (stop short of taking your digital food scale to restaurants)
    Consider using a FitBit.com tracker to gauge your caloric expenditure, or use other (free) tools that estimate it – such as websites or smartphone apps
  • Strength Training
    You don’t need to do much. But in order to improve your body composition while you’re losing weight, it’s reasonable to do some strenuous exercise here and there. That means, as the “minimum effective dose” (as Tim Ferriss would say): Some pull-ups, some push-ups, some squats, on a daily basis.

But that’s only my opinion – any comments?