Alternate day Fasting – Week 3

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Lost 10.4 lbs. over three weeks.

This is a slower rate than the first two weeks.  I think I might be getting closer to my fat set point. A couple of other factors may be responsible. I discuss below.

I added some more information to my weight loss chart to give insight to my performance to date. In my previous chart, I had tracked my daily weight, daily calories, and 14 day average calories.  In the new version of the chart, I have added an intercept for my goal weight, predicted weight loss based on calories deficit, and a line for the recommended 2lbs. per week weight loss rate.  The chart looks like this:

This is a lot of information packed into one chart.  Let me decode it for you.

Food Calories:  This is the sum of the calories for everything I ate on that day as recorded in MyFitnessPal. I am scrupulous at measuring amounts of food and checking the nutrient information in the database.  For prepared dishes, I usually deconstruct the dish by its ingredients and measure the amount of each ingredient in the dish.  As you can see short bars alternate with long bars as my average daily caloric intake alternates between feast and fast days.

Target Weight Loss Rate: The National Heart Lung Institute recommends a healthy weight loss rate of between one and two pounds a week. This isn’t a hard and fast rule though.  The idea is that losing weight more rapidly requires extraordinary reductions in caloric intake or energy expenditure through exercise that are unsustainable. There isn’t anything magical about the two pounds per week, but I just wanted to put it in for reference.

Weight:  My daily weight as measured on my scale first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom.  I calibrate the scale every time before weighing and I try to always wear the same outfit of a t-shirt and shorts.  As you can see by the graph, my weight fluctuates wildly. Weight usually drops sharply after a fast day but not always, sometimes it stays level but it never goes up the day after a fast day.

Target weight BMI 25:  This is my goal weight for my height based on the BMI recommendations of National Institute of Health.

CICO Predicted Weight:  Weight loss must follow the laws of physics.  The amount of weight you can lose is invariably determined by the calories in by eating minus calories out by exercising or just being.  There are 3,500 kcals in a pound of fat, so you need a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat.  Here is where it gets interesting. To calculate the calories in is easy, I just measure the calories in the food I eat.  The calories out I estimate using my TDEE.

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is an estimation of how many calories you burn per day when exercise is considered. It is calculated by first figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate, then multiplying that value by an activity multiplier. Since your BMR represents how many calories your body burns when at rest, it is necessary to adjust the numbers upwards to account for the calories you burn during the day. This is true even for those with a sedentary lifestyle. Our TDEE calculator uses the best formulas and displays your score in a way that’s easy to read and meaningful.

TDEE Calculator

At my height of 6’1.25”, weight of 208.6 lbs., 50 years old and body fat of 27%, my sedentary lifestyle means I have a TDEE of 2,229 calories a day.  So, if my daily calorie consumption is less than 2,229 calories I should lose some weight. And this weight loss should line up exactly with my actual experience.  But it doesn’t.  If I used 2,229 as my TDEE I would have expected to lose only 4 lbs. over three weeks, not the 10 lbs. I have recorded on the scale.  Even initial loss of water weight and the weight of undigested food in my gut does not account for the discrepancy.  Water weight and food in the GI tract might have made an initial drop in the graph, but the slope of the predicted weight should match the actual weight even if offset vertically in the graph.  When I change my activity level from “sedentary” to “heavy exercise” then my calculated TDEE raises to 3,204 calories.  Using this number and calculating the predicted weight loss from my calorie description, I get a line with a slope that closely matches the linear trend line of my actual weight loss.

14 Day Average food calories:  My daily caloric intake is averaged over the previous two weeks.  In the first two weeks, caloric intake is averaged over all the days I have been tracking.  After two weeks, this number is the average of the last 14 days.  The number oscillates over the first two weeks as each new day moves the average up or down depending on whether it is a fast or feast day and then settles on 1,490 calories a day.  Although I am alternating fasting days, there is nothing that makes me think that I wouldn’t get the exact same results if I followed a strict caloric restriction of 1,490 calories every day.

The trend lines for weight currently have me meeting my goal weight right about Oct 1, 2017 or exactly one month from now.  There are a lot of unknown and any series of events might conspire to keep this from happening exactly on schedule.  One thing is that I am going to Burningman in five days and spending four days out in the desert.  This could be a help or a hindrance, who’s to say.  One the one hand, there won’t be much danger of not drinking enough water.  Out in the harsh arid desert, one must drink water all the time to avoid dehydration.  Fasting is not going to be a problem either.  It is so hot out there that eating food is usually the last thing on my mind.  Beer is going to be a problem. We’ll see how it goes.

Exercise and Macronutrients

Stronglifts:  I started Stronglifts 5×5 on Friday 8/18 at very light weights.  This may have had something to do with the stalling of weight loss because water and carbohydrate in my muscles.  I have continued this week and will be lifting for the next 11 weeks to try to build up muscle. I lifted on 8/18, 8/20, 8/22, and 8/24

Aerobic Exercise:  My aerobic exercise is limited because of knee pain.  My favorite exercise is running and I just don’t want to do it.  Instead I have been swimming from 1.3 to 2km in the lap pool in the mornings.  I swam on 8/15, 8/17, and 8/22.

HIIT:  Stronglifts is starting slow and that is great because I want to avoid injury to my knees and back.  It has been awhile since I lifted weights, so I am focusing on perfecting my form and techniques before advancing the weight. The means that workouts are not very taxing.  To jack up the intensity I have added 20 minutes of HIIT in the form of Wingate stationary cycling.  This consists of 30 seconds all out sprint at high resistance followed by 4 minutes of easy spinning.  Repeated 4 times this makes up a 20-minute session.

Macronutrient composition:  As you can see weight loss has stalled over the last 7 days. I have been looking at perhaps my exercise causing a retention of water weight.  Another culprit might be a change in macronutrient composition of my diet.  For the first two weeks of fasting I made sure to get an abundance of protein on my fast days.  That meant severely restricting the carbohydrate content.  There is simply no room in a 500 calories budget for carbs.  In the last week, I have relaxed this somewhat. In the next week, I am going to go back to a heavy concentration on protein.  For two reasons.  Having starting lifting weights I am concerned that I have enough protein in my diet to support the maintenance of fat free mass.  Secondly, I think that the added energy expenditure to digest protein and the reduction in carbs may lead to better fat loss.