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The Body Weight “Set Point”

This is a re-run of my May 11 post, with updated figures and perspective.

Cyclists, especially for climbs, must maximize power-to-weight by losing body fat. When I say “weight” I mean weight with the goal of losing body fat and gaining leg muscle.

Losing body fat is a challenge, but it can be dropped off steadily by paying attention to diet. For the past five months, I’ve lost an average of 1.4 pounds of body fat per week, while increasing fitness tremendously, and gaining substantial muscle also. And dropping my LDL (bad) cholesterol 60 points, with HDL (good) of 91, which is exceptional.

But at some point, the body rebels. I ran into some difficulty at 180 pounds, and now that resistance has increased; after dipping to 174+ pounds, weight has risen 2-3 pounds and is steady in the 176 pound range. While I am confident that the upward move is muscle gain (as confirmed by increased power and speed), I remain comitted to losing about 8 more pounds of body fat, as this is a “new personal best” year for my favorite time-trial climb.

For the past 10 days, a demanding appetite has persuaded me to consume nearly as many calories as I’ve burned. So in spite of cycling an average of 1700 Calories per day for the last week (about 12000 calories), body weight is up 2 pounds. However, I was sick at the low point, so that might be fluid loss more than real weight (mostly).

Each person’s body has its set point— the defense mechanism against losing body fat stores below a certain level. I am apparently at that point, so I will need to trick my system somehow into allowing further loss of body fat (probably still at ~ 13-14% at present).

Click to see the full graph.

Daily weight graph showing violation of the downward trend as of June 4, 2011

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