I met with my metabolic coach today for a weigh in and a body comp measurement. The results surprised me.
I went in for my initial measurement on 5/16, which was about two and a half weeks ago. My cardio endurance and power during my bike rides has improved considerably due to my conditioning workouts. However, my weight has stayed exactly the same. I mean, after 2 weeks of hard work and no change in weight, we tend to think there's no improvement. Right?
With my body comp measurements, we found that I lost a pound of fat and gained a pound of muscle! Seriously, a pound of muscle in 2 weeks. It was all muscle too - my skeletal muscle mass went up 1 pound.
So I wanted to play with a couple of numbers to see what was going on. How many calories did it take to lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle?
First, I know how many calories per day I eat, so I calculated how many total calories I've eaten since May 16.
Total Calories eaten: 23, 511
Calories eaten per day: 23,511 / 16 days = 1,469
Carb calories: 4,702
Protein calories: 5,877
Fat calories: 12,932
It takes burning 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat.
It takes eating 2,500 calories to gain 1 pound of muscle.
My body expended approximate 3,500/16 = 218 calories of fat per day. It also converted 156 calories per day into muscle.
How much activity did I do? Quite a lot.
May 16: Cycling 38 mins, 400 calories
May 17: Cycling 41 mins, 415 calories
May 19: Elliptical 35 mins, 341 calories
May 20: Elliptical 1 hour, 643 calories
May 21: Elliptical 35 mins, 376 calories
May 22: Elliptical 30 mins, 287 calories
May 22: Walking 55 mins, 434 calories
May 24: Cycling 1h 30 mins, 908 calories
May 25: Cycling 2h 15 mins, 1162 calories
May 26: Walking 1h 12min, 478 calories
May 28: Cycling 58 mins, 557 calories
May 30: Walking 1h, 494 calories
June 1: Walking 1h, 413 calories
Total calories burned through activity: 6908
Basal metabolic rate total calories 19,744
Total calories (activity + basal) = 26,652
Calories burned - calories eaten: 26,652 - 23,511 = 3,141
That sounds pretty close to losing 3,500 calories worth of fat, doesn't it? Except that it doesn't account for the 2,500 calories that were used to make 1 pound of muscle. Those calories don't disappear, but who knows where they came from or where they went? Metabolisms are so elastic.
My point is not to get too hung up on the calorie math. If you're exercising regularly and eating the right things for your body, it's going to change. If you're seeing any non measurable improvement (ie you can run faster, farther), then positive changes are happening. Keep going faster, farther, longer to improve.
I totally get wanting the weight to change, though. Before my body comp measurements, I was getting discouraged that my weight didn't change. It's not necessary to have professional body comp measurements, but just some way to track progress without throwing the scale through a window.
My coach thinks I actually need to up my carbs a little bit in order to accelerate more fat loss. I am burning through a tremendous amount of glycogen (muscle energy) through my exercise. My very low carb diet has me almost always exhausted of glycogen. This could be hurting my fat burn a little because my body has to make up the deficit through protein. She suggested I eat a quarter cup of quinoa or sweet potato with my breakfast in order to provide a little bit of glycogen fuel for my burst rates. This should allow my body to burn down more fat and break down less protein in compensation.
Long time spark friends know that I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to experimenting with different things. I got a metabolic coach for my own education. Hopefully you all will find something interesting, too.