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Training Weight Loss: Tracking Calories (Diet)

2011-04-14 updated 2012-07-20 - Send Feedback
Related: body fat, metabolism, training

Legal disclaimer: Since we are not doctors, never follow anything based on health-related topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional.

Here’s what works for me:

  • Exercise at least 1000 kilojoules per day (1040 kilocalories). For a 180 pound male, this is about 80 minutes of moderately hard cycling. That way you can eat and enjoy your diet, while still running an 15% energy deficit; the fat drops off. It’s just too darn hard to cut calories alone and live with a growling stomach, and worse, run the self-defeating risk of muscle loss.
  • Eat foods low in calories that taste good, such as frozen wild blueberries (180 cal for a whole pound). Eat chocolate and nuts too— but track all calories. My spreadsheet adds food in, base metabolic rate (an estimate) and exercise energy expended.
  • Use caloric pacing so you don’t overeat too much at once); the body reacts to this by storing fat.
  • If substantially overweight (fat), a deficit of 1000 calories per day can work, but as the body gets leaner that becomes impossible. Below ~10% body fat, my own experience says that 500 calories per day deficit is the max I can approach over a week, with 300 much more realistic.
  • Don’t cheat yourself on calories after a hard workout!
  • Daily food calorie log
  • Track what you eat throughout the day so you know if you’re on target for an energy deficit. That way, by dinner time you can either splurge (a little) or avoid consuming a little too much. I weigh my food by the gram with a lab scale, and calculate it precisely whenever possible. Since a gram of nuts is almost 6 calories, weighing to within 10 grams, or even 5, just does not cut it if you’re serious.
  • Think nuts— black walnuts and pistachios. I get mine at nuts.com.
  • Use protein powder to ensure intake of high quality protein so that muscle is not lost. Losing muscle is self-defeating, and it makes you slow and weak too.

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