2019 Calorie Counting: Week 2

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

The second week is in the books. Some things were better and some were not. It was a net win though.

Macros

Something I forgot about last week that added to the difficulty dealing with more fat was that when I went to get milk the only skim left was expiring in a day, so I bought 1%. That gallon carried over through all of week two.

I think it’s important to repeat that during week one I got a bunch of home cooked food and really had no idea what the macros were. I estimated one day at 268 grams of carbohydrates, which shot the average up for that week. I’m going to go out on a limb and also say that my estimates were low on all of those meals, because the scale didn’t really show any progress compared to this week.

This last week was probably worse on the high fat Factor 75 meals, even with being able to pair them up better for the entire week. Yesterday was the first day I wasn’t fighting against fat calories from two meals. This new delivery is on point though because I selected all low/medium fat meals.

Carbs Fat Protein Calories
Baseline 259 99 140 2,485
Week 1 212 83 196 2,379
Week 2 200 85 200 2,365
Goals 220 70 200 2,310

As you can see, I was on point with my protein. Fat was a bigger problem than last week, causing carbs to go down in order to keep calories close. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks as I dial things in. I’m still surprised the macro counting isn’t feeling like a chore yet. Planning out all of my meals the night before has really been huge for me so far.

Water

Nothing exciting to report. Water consumption has been really easy. I went up from an average of 110 ounces to 118 ounces per day. I am trying to drink more earlier in the day, so I’m not drinking much before bed. Hopefully it’ll prevent multiple wake-ups to take a piss. Oh, and I keep forgetting to use my SodaStream.

Scale

I started at 199.3 pounds with 15% body fat and was 199 with 15.2% at the end of week one. Things started to move this week without any estimated meals. My three day averages for week two were 196.9 pounds and 15% body fat. Dropping 2.1 pounds in a week is about right. Curious to see what happens as I start hitting my carb and fat macros.

Thoughts

One change I made this week was picking up some Magnesium tablets to take in the morning with the fish oil and multivitamin. I haven’t had any alcohol since Christmas Eve, mainly because I was sick over the holidays. That changes with a beer tasting / comedy event tonight though. I also have not had fast food or takeout at all in 2019.

I’ve been pretty close to my calorie goals and haven’t had cravings for sweets and treats. I also haven’t felt like I was over-eating. So I was curious what macros the old Eat to Perform calculator would recommend. We based our diets on that calc in my early CrossFit days. It shows my BMR just under 2,000 calories per day, which is an estimate of how much my body needs to function at rest, and it calculates I need over 3,000 calories per day if I’m moderately active, which would be 390 grams of carbs! If I set very active or extra active in the calculator it increases carbs by almost 100 grams for each level! No wonder Eat to Perform didn’t work for me, eating was a chore, and I was always struggling to get enough carbs by the end of the day! Pizza and Mountain Dew sounds really good, so maybe I should try those wild carb goals. 😉

I’m not tracking today due to a drinking event tonight, so week 3 starts tomorrow. I may wait and do my next update after two weeks.

Check out the coupon Meijer gave me last night when I picked up milk and yogurt. Damn trolls!

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Factor 75 Prepared Meals

I few weeks ago I signed up for Factor 75 and I’m loving it!

What is Factor 75?

It’s a prepared meal delivery service. Each week you get to pick your meals for the following week.

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Why Get Delivered Meals?

I get extremely lazy when it comes to cooking and I end up getting fast food or take-out for nearly every meal, especially during the summer. Not very healthy! After hiring a housekeeper a couple of years ago I’m a firm believer in paying for the things you don’t want to do. I’d rather spend my time and effort doing other things I enjoy.

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Why Choose Factor 75?

When I compared a bunch of these services there were 3 things that made me try Factor 75 first.

  1. Tuesday delivery. Several of the other services delivered on Friday, which seems pretty dumb. Anytime you’re going away for a weekend you basically have to skip an entire shipment.
  2. Pricing and meal counts. Most of these services are about the same price, but Factor 75 was slightly cheaper. They also offer a bigger selection of the # of meals per week you select. I started out with 8/per week and have already increased to 12 for next week.
  3. Flexibility and control. On their website you get full control of your account. You get to select exactly which meals you want next week and you can plan out several weeks ahead. You can pause for a week (or more) if you’ll be away. You can change the number of meals every week.

A few years ago I was getting a monthly shipment from Pre-Made Paleo (which is True Fare now). Each part of every meal was individually frozen in bags and you’d get 4 or 5 of the same meal with each shipment. The meals weren’t very exciting and the lack of flexibility was a big negative of their service.

After eating Factor 75 for almost 3 weeks, every single meal has been great. Nothing is frozen. Think of them as fancy TV dinners made with fresh, healthy, and quality ingredients. When I’m hungry, I pop a meal in the microwave and it’s ready in 2-3 minutes.

If you want $20 off your first order, use my Factor 75 referral link.

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Every meal has heating instructions for the microwave and oven. There is also full nutrition info.

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Active Life

I’ve posted before about the low back issues I’ve been dealing with for the last few years. Unfortunately I didn’t keep up with the exercises recommended by the PT. I also realized I was wasting my time and money going to the chiropractor every 4-5 weeks because they weren’t doing anything to correct my problem. After getting a bunch of adjustments over a 2-3 week period in August to use up some FSA funds, I tweaked my back the next day. Go figure. I’ve always been skeptical of the chiropractor; I don’t see how 5-10 minutes of work every month can have an impact.

At the end of November I saw Active Life was running a special on their Athlete Membership, which gives you access to all of their programs. $100 for a full year seemed like a steal, so I signed up.

After explaining my back problems, they told me they see similar issues with a lot of athletes, usually caused by an imbalance on one side of the body. Their recommendation was to follow the Single Leg Bias and Back Max programs. I’m over 2.5 months in and just finished the 40 workout SLB program and am over half way through the 80 workout BM program. Tomorrow I’ll be starting the Hips program to replace the SLB workouts.

I like the programs and there is enough variety in the movements to keep my interest. Since I’ve been a member I’ve experienced what felt like a few tweaks while performing my other CrossFit workouts. Only one affected me a bit for a few days, so it seems like the programs are improving things.

If you’re dealing with any CrossFit injuries, check out what Active Life has to offer.

Unboxing HackerBox #0026: BioSense

The first HackerBox of 2018 arrived and it might be my favorite since I subscribed with #0018.

As suggested in the video, I’m not going to do pricing anymore. I proved the value in these boxes is there for the $$. It’s really hard to estimate prices on these custom kits, so it’s not worth the time. Here is a list of the contents copied from the Instructable for box #0026.

  • HackerBoxes #0026 Collectable Reference Card
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes BioSense PCB
  • OpAmp and Component Kit for BioSense PCB
  • Arduino Nano V3: 5V, 16MHz, MicroUSB
  • OLED Module 0.96 inch, 128×64, SSD1306
  • Pulse Sensor Module
  • Snap-Style Leads for Physiological Sensors
  • Adhesive Gel, Snap-Style Electrode Pads
  • OpenEEG Electrode Strap Kit
  • Shrink Tubing – 50 Piece Variety
  • MicroUSB Cable
  • Exclusive WiredMind Decal

Might be cool to turn this into something for use in my garage gym.

I am preparing a post with a bunch of stuff from the previous boxes I’ve been catching up on. Maybe I’ll wait to post that until I complete this build so I can be all caught up before #0027.

CrossFit Programing: Are We Doing Too Much?

Following up on my post about Online CrossFit Programming, I wanted to write some thoughts about how affiliates program classes for the general population, like you or I.

CrossFit is meant to be a conditioning-biased exercise program. Look to this pyramind illustrating a theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete. It comes from Greg Glassman’s “What is Fitness”, which was published 15 years ago in the CrossFit Journal.

crossfit-heirarchy-of-development

Nutrition is the most important and then it’s conditioning. Somewhere about 5 years ago CrossFit affiliates started to shift the importance and focus of their programming to be strength-biased. This probably had something to do with the rise in popularity of the CrossFit Games; people wanted to train like the elite Games athletes.

Since day 1 and still today, the WOD posted on CrossFit.com is only one workout. They doesn’t suggest performing a strength piece, a skill piece, and a conditioning piece every day like you see in almost every CrossFit affiliate around the world. If you attend a Level 1 seminar, during the programming lecture they don’t teach you how to jam pack an hour with as much exercising as you can. Sure some of the Main Site WODs are strength focused, as they should be, but the majority of days the workout is a conditioning based one. Are we causing ourselves to get injured more and limiting our potential as human beings by doing too much?

Here’s a great podcast episode with Ben Bergeron, who is one of the top coaches in the sport. He explains a lot on the topic and makes a lot of great points for conditioning-biased programming.

What do you think?

Once I finish up this Push Only program I’m following (about 4 more weeks), I might experiment with some conditioning-biased programming like CrossFit teaches us.