I’m getting to the end of my weight loss program and it is time to start looking at some changes. I’ve been doing some reading this week about changes that I can make that will help me get into maintenance mode and start packing on some muscle.
One of the things that my friend @mingpd got me reading about is what is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). If you want to know what yours is, try this calculator. Keep in mind that this is only a calculator and there actually are a couple of different calculation methods out there. Generally, they are pretty close together in their estimations—within about 100 calories. If you don’t want to read the links above, here is the gist: BMR is the amount of calories your body would burn in a comatose state. Those calories are what your body needs in order to survive.
Using the calculator above, it turns out that my BMR is 2022 calories per day. Interesting, huh? You know how many I’ve been eating? Between 1600-1700. Not good. I wish I had read this information before. One caveat here—if you are severely overweight as I was, eating below your BMR for a time is not all that terrible apparently. But at a certain point, your body starts to cannibalize muscle and will refuse to grow anymore if you aren’t eating enough.
I am at this point. This explains some of the issues I’ve been having lately with my weights and endurance in the gym. I’m not seeing any large muscle gains in size or strength. My bench press is a really good indicator of what is happening. If you’ve followed my posts on our workout routine, you’ll know were on a plan that should help increase strength over a 12 week routine. My bench press has gone us, but minimally. When I got back under the bar in January, I struggled under 115 (I was working out with 100 lb dumbbells or 265 on the bar). I am up to about 155 now, but really I haven’t moved in over a month. I just don’t have the strength to push that bar up enough times to give any real gains. I can see it in my runs too. I just don’t have the energy to push through the run.
With this new knowledge, I am going to increase my calories over the next week to around the 2000-2100 mark and see if I can get that bar moving again. After these last 7 pounds are off, I’ll hit another increase, up to about 2600-2700 calories. Since I have essentially been starving myself for the last 11 months, I hope this makes a positive difference in my strength and energy levels. I wish I had done the research into BMR before I started losing weight. I probably would have done things a little differently, especially after the first 75-80 pounds lost. But, I’m not dead and have time to adjust and get things right. I am looking forward to fine tuning my diet a little more and adding back in some things I have practically cut out (did someone say hummus?).
The thing I am probably most confused about is the far that LoseIt calculates your calorie level with your BMR in mind. If it is unsafe to eat below your BMR, why would the app recommend something lower than that? I understand that the app is “just a tool.” But, I’m not a nutritionist—just a fat guy trying to lose weight. I did not have a good understand of what BMR was before this week. I had estimated my number a little lower than what it truly is because of the information given in the app. I’m not knocking LoseIt. I think it is a great tool for dropping weight. I just wish there was some warning that when you set your goal to low, it would tell you. It can’t be that hard to implement if that app already does the simple BMR calculations.
I’ll keep you all posted on how the increase goes and how it impacts my workouts. Have a great Easter everyone!