Photo: What I ate in France this summer.
My body weight has held steady for the last three weeks. Disappointing because my goal has been focused on reducing my body weight to take the stress from my knees. This plateauing of body weight correlates to my switching to the 4:3 pattern from every other day fasting. In 4:3 fasting I eat normally four days a week and “fast” or have a down day with calories restricted to 25% of my TDEE the other three. What this means is that I “fast” on calorie restriction of 25% or about 500 calories for 36 hours three times a week. Switching to this pattern has increased my weekly calorie consumption significantly. Also, I have been eating over the allotted 25% calorie restriction on the down days. I’ve eaten anywhere from 29-32% of my TDEE which equals 750-925 calories instead of 500 or so that the program specifies.
My body weight may not be dropping but this eating pattern along with my weightlifting program has correlated with a dramatic drop in body fat percentage and in fat mass. The trend that I first noticed in last week’s report has continued apace and accelerated. I could discount the drop as not being real. Perhaps it is water weight. I have seen notable drops in my waist circumference too, so the measured drop in fat is not easy to dismiss.
Doctor Examined my Knee
I have been diligent in my workouts. Three times a week since August, I have been following the Stronglifts 5×5 program. This means squats, bent over rows, and bench press on one day and squats, overhead press and deadlifts on the alternate days. These are some taxing full body compound movements that put some strain on one’s knees. That’s the idea. By strengthening the muscles around the knee and building up my hip and back, I hope to take pressure off my knee joints and reduce pain. At the same time, I don’t want to aggravate a knee condition that might be contributing to the pain. It’s a balancing act. As the weights have been getting heavier, my anxiety about injuring my knees doing squats and deadlifts have risen as well. I figured it was time to bite the bullet and talk to my doctor. I described my problem and scheduled an appointment. I had x-rays of both knees done. The diagnosis was better than I expected. Turns out there is very little arthritis in the knees and no bone spurs or fractures. The diagnosis was “runner’s knee”. The prescription is physical therapy to reorient the kneecap to its proper position. This consists of a series of exercises and stretches to the hip, hamstrings and quads. I need to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. In the meantime, I looked up the therapy protocol online and started doing myself. Even after only two sessions of these stretches along with my usual yoga routine, I already am experiences a lot less pain. The kicker is that I can continue doing my current weightlifting routine. Having eased my anxiety about damaging my knees, I have been attacking the weight with gusto and increasing the weight. I believe that this aggressive lifting is increasing my fat free mass. In the initial four weeks of alternate day fasting, I lost a lot of fat free mass. I had assumed it was mostly water. I increased my fat during this time. I assumed that this result was due to inaccurate body fat percentage measurements. It may be. In the last four weeks, however, I have refined the measurement and added additional points of reference by calculating body fat using the Omron monitor, waist circumference and the caliper. These three points all agree that body fat percentage is going down fast.
4:3 Fasting Pattern
I was having a hard time with the alternate day fasting pattern for reasons that had nothing to do with hunger. It was wasting food. I would make something good to eat and have some leftovers that I wouldn’t get to eat until the day after next. In the meantime, one of my children would eat all the goodies. This was kind of frustrating and was filling my refrigerator up with food. Because I usually shop for groceries on the weekend, I also would be in the ironic position of buying a bunch of great ingredients that I wanted to eat and having to wait 36 hours before I could eat them. Switching to the 4:3 pattern dealt with both of those. I could cook great stuff on the weekend and go shopping and get a couple of chances at eating the good stuff right then and there. Looking at the metrics for gaining fat-free mass and dropping fat mass, I suspect that eating more calories in aggregate is partially responsible. I may have been starving myself with the alternate day schedule. The weight-lifting requires an excess of calories to build muscle. Having an extra day of the full required calories is giving my body the nutrition it needs to grow.
Calories In, Calories Out CICO
With all the improvements in metrics for body fat percentage, fat mass, and fat-free mass, my overall bodyweight is still tracking almost exactly with what is predicted by the aggregate calorie restriction over time. This indicates that if I continue to follow the same regimen for eating and fasting, I should get similar results going forward. I expect a steady reduction in body weight, a slight increase in fat free mass and a continual decrease in body fat percentage and fat mass.
Predicted Goal Date
If things continue on the same path, I should hit my goal weight of 188 lbs. somewhere in the third week of November. That is about three weeks later than I originally planned but well before the end of the year. If I follow a linear trend line for what I consider the most conservative body fat measurement, I will have a body fat percentage of 16% at the point I reach my goal weight. This seems unlikely. I imagine that as I get closer to my goal weight, reducing body fat percentage will get increasingly difficult. I know that as my body weight has fallen, it has become more difficult to get through the down days of calorie restriction. At some point, I am going to have a hard time maintaining the discipline. But we’ll have to see. So far, so good. Even this week I have redoubled my efforts, trying to get my adherence to the down days in check and eating below the 25% calorie restriction.