Friday, July 30, 2021

calorie deficits, Weeks 1-7 of the Newcastle Diet

Some stats below. If a number appears in parentheses, then like in accounting, it signifies a negative. That said, here are my day-by-day calorie deficits for the first seven weeks of the Newcastle Diet, along with my basal metabolic rates for each week. 

You'll note that my BMR number doesn't go down for several weeks. That's because I didn't start updating my weight on MyFitnessPal until late. All this time, I have tried to be honest and dutiful in recording the food I have eaten and the exercise I have done. I plug in the numbers, and MyFitnessPal uses the CICO paradigm (calories in, calories out) to make its calculations. To its credit, MyFitnessPal also tracks your macros, which is what keto folks concentrate on more than calories.

Week 1 (6/12-6/19, 8 days)

BMR = 2510
6/12 (Sat.): 3104
6/13 (Sun.): 1651
6/14 (Mon.): 2164
6/15 (Tue.): 1821
6/16 (Wed.): 2094
6/17 (Thu.): 1837
6/18 (Fri.): 2054
6/19 (Sat.): 3023

Total deficit for the week: 17,748

Week 2 (6/20-6/26)

BMR = 2510
6/20 (Sun.): 1605
6/21 (Mon.): 2115
6/22 (Tue.): 2006
6/23 (Wed.): 2196
6/24 (Thu.): 1957
6/25 (Fri.): 2424
6/26 (Sat.): 3201

Total deficit for the week: 15,504

Week 3 (6/27-7/3)

BMR = 2510
6/27 (Sun.): 2015
6/28 (Mon.): 1710
6/29 (Tue.): 1668
6/30 (Wed.): 1914
7/1 (Thu.): 1698
7/2 (Fri.): 1563
7/3 (Sat.): 3478

Total deficit for the week: 14,046

Week 4 (7/4-7/10)

BMR = 2248
7/4 (Sun.): (1142)—wrote this day off
7/5 (Mon.): 1933
7/6 (Tue.): 1723
7/7 (Wed.): 2340
7/8 (Thu.): 1644
7/9 (Fri.): (1124)—wrote this day off, too
7/10 (Sat.): 3035

Total deficit for the week: 8409

Week 5 (7/11-7/17)

BMR = 2248
7/11 (Sun.): 1388
7/12 (Mon.): 2019
7/13 (Tue.): 1649
7/14 (Wed.): 1727
7/15 (Thu.): 1606
7/16 (Fri.): 1733
7/17 (Sat.): 2586

Total deficit for the week: 12,708

Week 6 (7/18-7/24)

BMR = 2248
7/18 (Sun.): (93)—another day to write off... can't remember what I snacked on
7/19 (Mon.): 2107
7/20 (Tue.): 1743
7/21 (Wed.): 1691
7/22 (Thu.): 1508
7/23 (Fri.): 2122
7/24 (Sat.): 1934 (a day walking with JW, plus 2 hrs.' walking afterward)

Total deficit for the week: 11,012

Week 7 (7/25-now, not yet complete)

BMR = 2042
7/25 (Sun.): 64 (yikes)
7/26 (Mon.): 1251
7/27 (Tue.): 1206
7/28 (Wed.): 1642
7/29 (Thu.): 1367
7/30 (Fri.): 1217
7/31 (Sat.): 1342

Total deficit for the week: 8089

You may have noticed some patterns. First, the BMR has been going down as weight has gone down, so I no longer need as many calories to get through the day. Second, the calorie deficits have been getting generally smaller as the BMR has gone down, and I have also had several days on which I misbehaved, leading to negative numbers in the deficits, i.e., calorie surpluses for the day. My policy is to just shrug, forgive myself, and move on. I'm not on any doctor's schedule; I chose to do the Newcastle Diet of my own free will, and it has indeed led to massive weight loss—fifty pounds in two months—although not yet to a 10-point reduction in BMI. That'll happen after I'm done with Newcastle. Third, my Saturdays are where I have the largest caloric deficits, and that's obviously because I'm doing my long walks on Saturday, 18K or over, and I'm generally not having more than a morning shake and a few nuts.

Now, here's a demonstration of why CICO doesn't work as mathematically as all that. If you add up the above deficit totals (including the negatives), you get a total of 87,516 calories. Divide that by 3500 (a pound of fat is said to be equivalent to 3500 calories), and that should mean 25 pounds of fat lost (honestly, I was expecting a much higher total loss). Let's say we add the standard ten pounds of water weight that's lost at the beginning of most diets. That's now 35 pounds lost, and that still doesn't equal what I've actually lost, which is over 50 pounds at this point. Now, when I started running these numbers, I thought the MyFitnessPal calculation would lead to a much higher figure, and that I'd be telling you that MyFitnessPal was being exceedingly generous. If anything, it seems MFP is being rather conservative in its estimation of my weight loss because I'm losing more weight than it's saying, by a factor of two if we don't consider water weight. Anyway, it still means that CICO isn't an accurate way to reckon with health and weight loss (and we have to factor probable inaccuracies in the calorie measurements of the food I'm consuming, plus my own human error). 

This leads me to another insight, or maybe a theory, as to why my actual weight loss is greater than that projected by MyFitnessPal. Exercise is more important than the nutritionists say it is. Most nutritionists will tell you that diet has far more influence on your weight than exercise does. I'm discovering that, at least for me, exercise is proving to be just as important as diet. The old, commonsense notion that you need to move around more even as you diet is perfectly sound advice, and while I'm no nutritionist, nor am I any kind of personal trainer, I'd highly recommend that anyone thinking of losing weight—at whatever speed—should incorporate physical activity into his or her schedule. The body was designed to move around, not sit there getting fatter and fatter. 

As Dr. Ekberg says, fat is a symptom, not the central problem. Whatever weight-loss strategy you go with, it has to deal with the central problems that are keeping you fat: too many carbs and too little physical activity. Get out there and walk a bit. Don't start hard—just go a few minutes a day at first if you're not used to walking. And while you're out walking, think of it as a way to get to know your neighborhood, and as you gradually start walking farther and farther, mentally expand your definition of "neighborhood." If you're reading this in America, where it's sometimes hard to find a decent nearby walking path, think about driving to a nearby path, or don't be afraid to find a local high school and walk laps around the track. Or swim. Or bike. Whatever gets you moving. You were created to be kinetic, not to be a bump on a log. Believe me, even as I preach this, I'm talking to myself, too, and wishing I hadn't had to undergo a stroke to figure all this out. Get out there before something bad happens to you.

Anyway, back to CICO. CICO works in the abstract, and there's no denying that radically cutting calories leads to weight loss—I'm living proof. But in the end, you're going to have to count your macros more than count your calories. Watch the daily carbs. In my case, I plan to keep the daily carb count under 50 grams. If I start regaining weight on that regimen, I'll switch to the classic 20 grams of carbs per day, although I'll keep my cheat days to stay sane.

I hope the above was helpful to anyone thinking of losing weight. I'm learning as I go, and I'm passing a bit of that knowledge on to you. Good luck to you if you are making an effort. Some people never bother, and many of those people pay a literal price in medical bills because of their indolence.* It's not instant karma, but it's karma nonetheless.


*Some people have reasons for being fat that have nothing to do with indolence. I'm not addressing those people. But the harsh fact is that most fat people are fat because of their indolence, and they just don't want to admit it. Having said all that, don't let my attitude pressure you in any way. Live your life however you want. If you're fine being fat, then stay fat for all I care. (This is why I can never become a personal trainer.)

1 comment:

John Mac said...

Great analysis. I agree exercise is a critical element of any weight-loss endeavor. I used to be a lot more disciplined in choosing to eat healthily and forego carbs. But it is when I get lazy and reduce my physical activity that I notice the weight gain. So for me, it's 20,000 steps every day if you want that slice of carrot cake!