2019 Calorie Counting: Week 1

If you haven’t been following along, start with my explanation of this calorie counting experiment.

I made it through my first week!

Macros

I noticed the calorie counts in MyFitnessPal didn’t match up with 4/4/9 (cals per gram of carb/protein/fat) calculations, so I started a spreadsheet of daily macro totals and will be using my own calculated calories from now on. Turns out that there are several different methods that can be used by nutrition labels to determine calories.

The averages from my baseline were 259 grams of carbs, 99 grams of fat, and 140 grams of protein for 2,485 calories. During my first week I averaged 212g C, 83g F, and 196g P for 2,379 cals. My goals were 220g C, 70g F, and 200g P for 2,310 cals. I’m really pleased with the shift I was able to make. It could have been even better, but I faced some challenges right off the bat.

Many of the meals I had left from last week’s Factor 75 delivery were very high in fat and eating two of them was already putting me at or over my goal for the highest calorie macro. To make up for it, I decided to cut back on carbs and still try to get as close as I could with protein. It was too late to change my food delivery for this week, so I’m having a similar issue, though not quite as bad because I’m able to plan it out right away.

My housekeeper brought me a bunch of food, so I have no idea what the actual macro content was for 4 of my meals. I simply estimated based on items I found in the MFP database. My actual intake for the week could be very different (either high or low) from what I estimated.

On the first day I was realizing how much the volume of food is when you replace fat calories with proteins and carbs.

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Seems like a lot of food!!!

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My usual lunch would be the Factor 75 meal without the sweet potatoes and cottage cheese. I powered through even though I’d already eaten a lot more in the morning than normal. After dinner I was so full I didn’t even think about snacks.

On day two I ate a late lunch right before going to a movie so I wouldn’t get popcorn and Mountain Dew. It was tempting. On day four my body seemed to already be adjusting; after eating a bit for breakfast, my stomach was rumbling at noon. A couple hours after eating some banana pudding I was given, I could feel cravings, which I hadn’t had in the previous three days. I’d been so full I hadn’t thought about treats. That’s what excessive carbs do! On day five shortly after finishing off the pasta and banana pudding I could feel the meal. Too many carbs!

I still don’t like the macro tracking, but having the Factor 75 meals makes it bearable. If I was cooking on my own and had to input recipes and serving sizes I may have quit already. I’ve been planning out everything I’ll eat the night before, which has been huge for me. I just look at the log and eat what I’m supposed to. There isn’t any stress about needing to get 50 more grams of protein at 10pm.

Water

During my baseline I averaged 101 ounces of water, but like I mentioned in the last post i was already increasing my intake. This week I averaged 110 ounces per day, for a nice bump. On days I go to the gym, the average is even higher at 115 due to getting an easy 34 ounces between my intra- and post-workout drinks.

Going in, I thought water would give me the biggest struggle, but it’s been easy. I am waking up 1-2 times a night to pee with the water increase, compared to not getting up or getting up once a night before. Hopefully my body adjusts.

Scale

My averages coming in were 199.3 pounds and 15% fat mass on the scale. Over the last three mornings I averaged 199 and 15.2%. Not much change, which could be due to those macro estimations being off, so I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. Fat percentage is hard to measure, so I don’t like to look at it too closely. I find it better to look at fat trends over longer periods of time.

Thoughts

No plans to quit yet. Due to the high fat F75 meals I still have, I expect week 2 numbers to be similar to week 1. My food delivery on Tuesday will have meals with much lower fat content, which will make everything easier to manage.

It’s too early to make any observations about how I feel, so I’ll wait another week or two.

Beyond the Whiteboard, my favorite app for tracking CrossFit workouts, added a Macros feature and it looked really good. I was going to try their free trial over the next two weeks, but I immediately noticed the database of foods can’t compare with MFP so I cancelled after entering one meal.

Continue on with the update for week 2.

All of these posts will be tagged 2019 calorie counting to make it easy to browse the posts.

2019 Calorie Counting: A Baseline and Determining Macros

If you didn’t read the intro post about my nutrition experiment, go check it out.

So… how long is this experiment going to last? Good question. It could be as short as a week or two if it goes how macro counting usually does for me. Did I mention I hate counting calories? Hopefully it’ll last at least a month or two. By publishing posts, I hope it keeps me accountable and I stick with it.

I jumped on the scale on the 30th, yesterday, and today. The average readings were 199.3 pounds and 15% fat mass. Glad to see I’ve been stable for the last 6 months.

After 3 days of eating I had a decent baseline of my caloric intake, though I pretty much ran out of junk snacks in my house and didn’t eat out at all. On the first day I could feel myself altering habits because I could see the numbers in MyFitnessPal and had already decided what my macros would be to start the experiment. For days two and three I kept notes and logged everything at the end of the day.

My daily averages were:

  • 2,464 calories
  • 140g protein
  • 259g carbs
  • 99g fat
  • 101oz water

I hadn’t been paying attention to the labels before this, so I didn’t realize how high in fat a lot of the Factor 75 meals are. I had already made the switch from 2% milk to fat-free, otherwise my fat numbers would have been even higher. Since milk is 85-95% water, I counted it 100% to make it easy. I know I was already adjusting to drink more water, so this is a lot higher than it normally would be.

Based on reading the Renaissance Diet 2.0, I’m going to shoot for:

  • 2,310 calories
  • 200g protein (800 cal)
  • 220g carbohydrates (880 cal)
  • 70g fat (630 cal)
  • 100oz water

My calorie intake was actually pretty close. I expected to be low on protein, but not that low. I need to replace some carbs and fat with protein and stick with my increased water drinking. The book recommends “1.5 ml of water per calorie eaten,” which would be 116oz. Considering we get 20% of our water intake from the food we eat, I’ll aim for 100 ounces.

I will not be using different macros depending on if it’s a workout day versus a rest day. Makes everything easier. In order to set goals by grams in MyFitnessPal you have to pay for a membership, which I’m not going to do at this point, so it looks a bit different in there.

myfitnesspal-macros.png

If I eat four balanced meals a day they would need to be 50 grams of protein, 55g of carbs, and 17.5g of fat for 578 total calories. Based on the high fat F75 meals, I’ll have to go almost fat-free in two meals per day.

Since the inspiration for this came from CrossFit’s season 2 of Killing the Fat Man, I wanted to see how these numbers compared to the Zone diet recommendations (PDF). I have no idea if I should categorize myself as “Large male” or “Athletic – well muscled male” though. A large male gets 19 blocks per day, which comes out to 133g of protein, 171g of carbs, and 28.5 grams of fat for a total of 1,473 calories. Using the athletic recommendation of 25 blocks would be 175g of protein, 225g of carbs, and 37.5g of fat for 1,938 calories. Both of those plans seem low.

The Zone diet is weird though. You’re only supposed to count the blocks for the most prevalent macro in a food. For example, steaks have a good amount of fat, but it doesn’t get counted because you only use it as a protein source. Maybe this is where they make up for those caloric deficiencies. Another odd thing about the Zone diet is their “blocks.” Is it to try to trick people into thinking they aren’t counting calories? News flash… if you’re keeping track of macros you’re counting calories! Having to convert everything to blocks adds extra math to something that is already confusing for people.

Enough about the Zone. The experiment begins today. Yesterday I had to actually go grocery shopping for something other than milk so I’d have sources of protein and carbs.

Last night I boiled and mashed all five pounds of sweet potatoes (froze half) and I hard-boiled and peeled a dozen eggs. Does that count as meal prepping?

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of supplements. My experience matches up with what the book says… most don’t work and the expensive stuff doesn’t produce enough of a boost in results for the money. Caffeine, protein, creatine, carbs, multivitamins, and Omega 3 are about the only things that have been proven to work. Experiment for yourself because your body might react in a different way.

I like MusclePharm protein because some of the flavors are like having dessert, it’s cheap, and you can always find deals somewhere. The 100% Whey is for after a workout. The Hybrid Series is a 5 protein blend, which releases over eight hours, and I use it in the morning or before bed. My intra-workout drink is made with 3 Sqwincher packets of electrolytes (providing flavor), creatine, BCAAs, and dextrose. I’ll take the fish oil and multivitamin with breakfast.

Last night I decided to plan out everything I’d eat today. Takes all decisions out of it and means I don’t have to pack in calories at the end of the day if I’m low on a macro. Feels like it’ll remove some stress from the process.

Wish me luck!

See how week 1 went.

All of these posts will be tagged 2019 calorie counting to make it easy to browse the posts.

A Nutrition Experiment to Start 2019

I like to experiment with my life, health, and fitness. In 2011 I used the 4-Hour Body to lose 17 pounds. Later that year I started CrossFit and tried the Paleo diet. During April-May of 2012 I hit my lowest recorded adult weight at 173.5 pounds after a Paleo challenge at the gym. Since then my diet and weight have gone through many phases. I’ve gained a lot of muscle over the years and hit a high of 217 pounds (@ 17% body fat) in February of 2017. Back in May of this year I started getting meals from Factor 75, which led to losing 16 pounds and correcting some health markers.

Screen Shot 2018-12-29 at 8.21.03 PM.png

Over the years I dabbled a little bit in the quality + quantity of my food. I really hate weighing food and recording macros though, so I never stuck with it for very long. I also really hate New Year’s resolutions, so I thought I would try pairing a couple of hates together for a new experiment. I was sick for several days last week and got the idea and inspiration while watching season 2 of CrossFit’s Killing the Fat Man.

For 3 or 4 days, starting on the 1st, I’ll continue eating as I have been to get a baseline. During a typical week I get 12 meals delivered from Factor 75, which have the macros on the label and will make it easy to record most of my meals. For the rest of my food, I rely on snacks, fast food, and eating out. The F75 meals are usually 500-600 calories, but I snack on a lot of high calorie junk, which probably ends up getting me enough calories by the end of the day. Most days I don’t eat anything until after noon and often not until 2pm. This is a big reason why I want to set that baseline.

I just read through The Renaissance Diet 2.0, which is what I’m going to use as my guide to macros. I had good results when I followed some things from the first book and I really like that the principles are based on science and study results. Depending on what I see from the baseline, I’ll decide what to set for my initial macro goals, because I don’t want to make a lot of huge changes in the first week or two.

I’m also going to look at my water intake, which is something I’ve never been able to successfully monitor for more than a couple of days. Maybe I’ll try timed reminders through the day to make sure I’m hitting certain volumes. If you have any tips I’d love to hear them.

My goal with this experiment is to create healthier eating habits. I made a big shift with 50-80% of what I consume by getting the Factor 75 meals but that has left a lot of room for improvement. This goal isn’t very easy to measure, but the macro tracking with  MyFitnessPal will help with it.

Wish me luck! I’m going to plan for a weekly update post on the process. If you want to join along on your own journey, please do by leaving comments or writing your own blog posts (leave a link so I can follow along).

Continue to read about my baseline and setting macros.

All of these posts will be tagged 2019 calorie counting to make it easy to browse the posts.

Fixing Some Health Concerns

I had a physical back in May where my Doctor saw a few things in my blood work. The result for creatinine was 2.0 mg/dL with a Glomerular Filtration Rate of 38. The normal range for creatinine is 0.5-1.5. Bodybuilders can typically be around 2 and I’ve built a lot of muscle through CrossFit, so wasn’t sure what to think. The GFR was pretty low though and can be a sign of kidney failure. Yikes! Also of note is I weighed around 215 pounds at the time.

The Doc wanted me to stop whey protein, BCAAs, and creatine. I didn’t consume much of them, so I figured my diet had a lot more to do with it. I was eating a lot of fast food and maybe it was finally catching up to me. I stopped taking the supplements immediately though. I also started ordering Factor 75 meals. It was right around this time when I finished up some back rehab work and was getting in the gym 4-5 days a week again, which meant a lot more conditioning work.

blood-workThis week I finally got my blood work retested. Creatinine is down to 1.2 and GFR is > 60, so back to normal ranges. Yay! This morning I weighed 198.7 pounds and I was even lower at 197.1 last month before a work trip with a lot of buffets and desserts.

I’m going to start using protein and BCAAs again and hold off on creatine until after the labs at next year’s physical.

In five and a half months I was able to correct some concerning numbers and dropped over 16 pounds with good old-fashioned discipline. No need for drugs. If I can do it, so can you. You have to want it and commit to changes though, which isn’t easy.

Hungry For Change

hungry-for-change

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weightloss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping you from having the body and health you deserve and how to escape the diet trap forever.

via hungryforchange.tv

Take an 90 minutes and watch this movie. If you have a Netflix subscription, you can watch it for free.

A Week of Strict Paleo

We’re doing a 30 day Paleo challenge at Survival Fitness. If you aren’t sure what Paleo is, check out the beginner’s guide. It officially started last Wednesday, but I starting eating strict on Monday to get myself going. In the first week, I’ve lost 5 pounds and dropped about 1% body fat (according to my Withings scale). I think this is the first time I’ve been under 175 pounds in a decade. I don’t want to go any lower though, because 175-180 is a good range for me. I do want to lose more body fat and put on muscle to replace it. It’s extremely difficult to do both at the same time though, especially with where I’m at. It’s going to be interesting to see how the numbers shake out over the next few weeks.

I was asked to post about what I ate during the week, so here goes. I starting logging my food on Wednesday because that’s when the official challenge started. Monday and Tuesday meals would have been very similar.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and coffee
  • Lunch: Beef roast and broccoli
  • Snack: Sweet potato
  • Dinner: Chicken breasts and broccoli

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and coffee
  • Lunch: Beef roast, broccoli, and coffee
  • Snack: Raw almond butter
  • Snack: Sweet potatoes
  • Dinner: Chicken breasts, beef roast, and green beans with slivered almonds

Friday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and coffee
  • Snack: Raw almond butter
  • Lunch: Salmon and broccoli
  • Snack: Raw almond butter
  • Dinner: Salad (it had some croutons and cheese), grilled white fish, and broccoli

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and coffee
  • Lunch: Salmon, green beans, and blueberries
  • Snack: Almond milk
  • Dinner: Pork chops and broccoli

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and coffee
  • Snack: Sweet potatoes and almond milk
  • Lunch: Pork chops and green beans
  • Dinner: Beef roast, green beans, coffee, and an egg-turkey burger-spinach muffin

Notes

  • I do CrossFit about 5 times a week, but that’s nothing new.
  • I’m drinking 90+ ounces of water each day.
  • I don’t weight or measure my portions. I generally keep my meat, chicken, and fish portions to the size of a fist, but it’s not something I watch closely.
  • When I eat eggs I usually have 4.
  • Wherever you see sweet potatoes as a snack, that’s what I eat as soon as I get home from a CrossFit workout.
  • The almond milk I buy is unsweetened. I also put some of it in my coffee, which isn’t mentioned above.
  • I’m a big fan of frozen steamable vegetables because of the convenience. I frequently eat an entire 12oz package with a meal.
  • For the week, the only thing I ate off-plan was some croutons and shredded cheese that came on my salad Friday night at dinner. The amount was so small it’s hard for me to even call it a cheat.

If you have any questions, leave a comment.

The 3 Month Hump

I started doing CrossFit and eating Paleo on October 31, 2011. Today puts me over the 3 month mark, which has been a brick wall for me when I did programs like P90X and 4HB. I’d get close to 3 months and switch off the program for whatever reason. With CrossFit and Paleo I’ve found the magic combination. I love each workout (even when my body hates it) and look forward to going to the gym.

Now that I’ve passed the hump I don’t see an end. I plan to do this for a very long time. Today at the gym I did 3 reps of 260 pounds in the deadlift and it was a great feeling. I’ve never moved that much weight in my life. It was almost easy.

If you want to know more about my story starting CrossFit, read CrossFit: Open Source Fitness. If you want to learn about the Paleo diet, check out The Beginner’s Guide. If you want to check out my progress head over to my CrossFit WOD blog where I keep track of everything.

My Plate

There’s a great post over at FITBOMB: It’s Not That Hard, People covering the history of USDA food recommendations. The USDA’s latest push is a campaign they’re calling My Plate, using the following graphic:

Still very confusing. What happens when the non-protein portions contain protein, which they usually will? Does the protein portion change? Who knows! The big hunk of grains still baffles me. We know grains pretty much go straight to fat storage in the body, spike your insulin, and make you crave more of them. It’s a vicious cycle. Do yourself a favor and don’t eat grains for an entire week as an experiment. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel.

Take the My Plate graphic and make it fit the Paleo diet:

Pretty fucking easy to understand isn’t it?

The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet | Nerd Fitness

I don’t like keeping track of how much I’ve eaten, I don’t like obsessing over how many grams of a particular nutrient I’ve eaten, and I don’t like worrying that I ate too much/little and the end of the day. Not only do I hate counting calories, but I know that calories are really only half of the battle, as they’re not all created equal – 400 calories of Doritos do NOT affect your body in the same way as 400 calories of high-quality vegetables and chicken.

Fortunately, if you can expand your horizons and remove certain types of food from your diet, you can stop worrying about counting calories FOREVER…

via The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet | Nerd Fitness

I switched to the Paleo diet 4 weeks ago and I’m loving it. I rarely get hungry between meals, don’t get cravings for shitty food, and I’m losing fat at a healthy pace. The diet also allows my body to function at a high level for CrossFit workouts. If you’re not sure what Paleo is all about, take a few minutes to read the post linked above.