9.21.17 Calories// Part 1// your scale
Deadlift+Power Clean+Front Squat+ Split Jerk
If you learn anything from this mini-series of posts, let it be this-- Calories in vs calories out matters when it comes to weight and fat loss, but it is far too complicated, unreliable, and inaccurate to try and count or keep track of them for weight management. "How does that even work? If calories in vs calories out is what dictates my weight, shouldn't I know exactly how much I'm eating and burning?" Yes tracking your intake and output would work perfectly if you did't also have hormones, genetics, exercise adaptations, sleep, hydration, stress, pollution, television, your attention span, age, or your kids to deal with! There are far too many variables and inconsistencies to rely on a mathematical equation to reach your goals. There is literally so much stuff at play, that I don't necessarily know the best place to start, but that also doesn't mean that all hope is lost! You can certainly make lasting change to your body.
We can agree that if you want to loose weight or gain weight, you're looking for a positive change. Nobody wants to loose muscle and keep the same amount of fat. When a guy says he's looking to bulk up, he's not talking about a bigger beer gut. Loose Fat/ Gain Muscle, one or both of those is your goal.
It's generally excepted that a pound of body fat is about 3,500 calories. Lets just think about that for a moment. You have to eat 3,500 calories MORE than you used to gain one pound, or use 3,500 calories MORE than you ate to loose a pound. I have to hold back the eyeroll when someone is excited about loosing 6lbs in a week. What you're telling me is that you burned 21 THOUSAND calories more than you ate this week! Where did you (legally) get the energy to move enough to burn 21,000 calories let alone 21,000 calories more than you ate? That movement on the scale is often encouraging, but you'll find that it's really fleeting and temporary, because after a couple glasses of water, you're already halfway back up! Understand that glycogen stored in the muscles has weight, and glycogen also requires water to be stored. So that big weight swing we can experience can really just be attributed to water retention. That could be discouraging if you really believed you were loosing 5lbs a week, but it's also good to know that your Friday night beers and wings didn't actually net you 4lbs of extra bodyfat! No way did you eat 17,000 more calories than you burned.
The scale can be a useful tool to measure your progress, but you just have to have some realistic expectations. Try to weigh yourself at the same time each week and under the same circumstances. If you are a larger human with a lot of fat to loose, a healthy rate to loose fat is about a pound a week. Two is possible, but not really sustainable, because well, a 7,000 calorie deficit is kind of painful. So weighing yourself Friday morning after a week of "on it" only to weigh yourself Saturday morning after letting your hair down to "assess the damage", never ends well. There's no reason to get depressed over gaining water weight, when your goal is fat-loss.
When you know that you shouldn't expect more than 1lb loss a week of fat, there's actually a lot of freedom in that. When you're moody late In the week? You're probably just starving, and if you know that, you can fill up on some healthy calories rather than smashing a doughnut because your world is crashing down and you can't explain your emotions. Don't feel like going on your walk or coming to CrossFit? Your body doesn't want to move because it's got no fuel! Don't be excited about being down an extra 3 lbs on the scale, be excited because it means you should eat some food! You love eating food!
Rather than stepping on the scale to assess your success or failure you can use your scale weight to assess things like your hydration or glycogen stores. If I'm completely honest with how I'm feeling, if the scale weight is especially light, I just don't feel strong or energetic. Same goes for Saturday morning after a Burger and Beers, I'm bloated and tight. When my meals consistently are the right size for how much I'm moving, I'm neither too light nor heavy, I feel strong, and still loose generally 1/4 lb a week.
In Part 2, I'll try to simplify our energy balance, and continue to reconcile calories-in-calories-out with not wanting anyone to count calories or macros.