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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weight Loss and Training

Weight is a highly individual thing.

Some people eat whatever they want and don't gain an ounce. Others (ie. me!) just get a whiff of food and gain a pound.

I see this kind of comment a lot:

"I run 4 times a week but I haven't dropped any weight!"

I can relate.

I trained for Ironman. Every week was 10+ hours of training, 8,000-10,000 calories burned through exercise. This went on for 8-9 months.

So how many pounds did I lose while training for Ironman?


On race day, I weighed almost exactly what I did when I started out in December/January.

The reason? Training became a license to eat. And eat I did... extra carbs, extra protein, even extra fat... when you know you're burning calories like crazy you feel you can consume them like crazy.


And now the worst part... how much did I gain after Ironman?

SIX pounds.

When the training slowed down to 3-4 hours per week, with an unchanged diet, the weight shot up. Fast.

Obviously, something needed to change, so I am back to dieting before things can get out of control.

The Food Plan

Ultimately the only way to lose weight is to control what's going in. I've lost a lot of weight this way, so I'm back to it.

Before excercise, I require roughly 2400 calories per day just to keep the lights on. (You can calculate this on any number of sites on-line)

My eating plan:
  • 2000 calories 5 days each week
  • 2400 calories 2 days each week
  • 600 bonus calories each week for fun/enjoying life

This means a 1400/week calorie deficit.

2000-2400 isn't terribly restrictive, and if you choose wisely it can go a long way. A cup of strawberries is 50 calories, a peach/apple/orange are all around 50, celery and cucumber are nearly zero. The volume of food I'm eating is pretty close to what I normally eat, it's just less caloric.

The Training Plan

I'm ramping up to average about 6 hours of exercise each week, and each hour for me burns about 800 calories. That's an extra 4800 calories.

I consume 200 calories/hour during exercise on average, which I don't count toward my daily total. I also allow myself some recovery calories over and above my normal calorie allowance (300-400/week).

Bottom line: I will burn 3600 more calories than I consume exercising.

Weight Loss Projection

Total weekly deficit = 5000 calories, which is about 1.5lbs of loss per week.

So Far...

I'm down 7 pounds, from 191lbs to 184lbs. It's only been a week and a half!

Some of that has to be water weight and such... so I'm not popping the champagne just yet. I expect that getting to my target weight of 170lbs will take a few months.

170lbs by Christmas!


Kieran said...

John, I'm the same way. I actually gained weight while training for Muskoka! I hope to drop 15lbs over the next couple of months before the serious training starts for Lake Placid. Good luck to us both!

Jon P said...

@Kieran - you weren't following Bob's training plan, were you? ;)

Check out this blog entry:

The guy links to a nice article from Runner's World that predicts how much time you'll gain as you lose weight...

Kieran said...

If I followed Bob's training plan I might have ended up at Bob's weight! I only gained 3lbs, and lost some size, but still... that's not a good sign!