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Analyzing 2014 Training Weight Loss Efforts: Calories, Weight, Body Fat

In this discussion, “losing body weight” means losing fat while retaining muscle, a challenge often bypassed in “weight loss” discussions. Loss of muscle is self-defeating and leads to a nasty rebound effect.

See also How Fat Loss Actually Goes in Practice. Six weeks ago I postulated a breakthrough below my typical set point* of 175 pounds; instead appetite increased and weight stayed stubbornly right around 175. OTOH, I feel noticeably leaner (as per pinch tests) and I am considerably stronger, so I think fat has been traded for muscle, a sort of periodic annual resculpturing of body tissue typical in training at certain stages.

My goal remains to hit ~170 or so in time for the Four Horsemen of the Solstice and Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge Double leaned-out. Carrying even one more pound up 30,000 or 20,500 feet really does matter, to the tune of 5-6 minutes, although for Four Horsemen I’ll have to carry 4-5 pounds of gear for weather, flats, etc.

The faint red dots below are all around April 1st of each year, showing that 2014 is on track to match 2012 (2013 was an injury and surgery year). My 2012 season was a personal best year, and all metrics now point to beating 2012, the primary goal being finishing at or near the top in the Everest Challenge.

* A body weight set point is a weight below which body strongly resists going and seeks to reestablish—by increasing appetite.

Click for larger graph.

Morning body weight over 3+ years

I track my body weight (weighing consistently) on a medical-grade scale and I track my food intake for accurate caloric intake to the gram , and I get kilojoule (kilocalorie) figures from my SRM power meter.

A body weight “set point” of around 175 is my personal challenge every year. The multi-year graph above shows a consistent and prolonged clustering around that 175 level, which is about 10% body fat. Moreover, my body always seeks to get back up to that 175 level each fall, a physiological cycle that never fails, and is insistently demanding (appetite). Each spring the biology relents a little and I am able to force body weight down below that level, though with considerable discipline and effort. My supposition is that it is a seasonal hormonal reaction to sunlight / day length or similar.

In the graph below from Dec 2013 thru April 2014, the 175 body weight resistance is emphasized by the rise in calories and flattening of the weight decline trend around March. That’s my physiology making me hungry in an attempt to forestall further weight loss (“you idiot you’re gonna starve to death” sort of thing I suppose).

Tremendous self discipline is required to overcome this physiological push-back. In March, the best I could do was to maintain a slight caloric deficit. Of course, the body does have demands for more calories to repair and rebuild muscle, so even a net neutral can mean body weight reductions as fat is lost and muscle replaces it.

The task in April/May is to apply relentless daily pressure to get down to ~171 or so by June. It won’t be easy, but once a breakthrough of ~2 pounds past the set point is achieved, my physiology tends to relent (just a little), and allow me to go to ~170 pounds without the demanding increase in appetite.

Once at a desired body weight / body fat, eating to caloric parity is far easier than running a daily deficit.

Weight loss chart trend: caloric deficit vs body weight
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