Nutrition Guru's I need your help. Struggling w/ weight yet net negative daily

Hi Everyone, its been a few months and I’ve taken a number of of the comments and put them into practice but still not seeing the desired results. Here’s what I’ve changed since my original post in trying to achieve some fat loss and get back to at least my old racing weight of 200-205.

  1. I’ve been following my TR plan and while the workouts are painful its been great so far. I’ve only had to reduce the intensity on one partial ride but find myself taking rest breaks after big intervals. This morning was 4x10min at FTP on 2min easy ride. I added 60-90 seconds full rest/back pedaling after each interval today.
  2. Without my regular pool or corp. gym I’ve joined the local Y. In addition to my 5 TR rides each week I’m back in the pool 2x a week for 6000 yards and am lifting 2x a week on top of my core workout and hip mobility/strength work. Currently at 11hrs of Bike, Swim, and strength work a week.
  3. I’ve started using SIS Rego as my plant based recovery mix, so far so good I think.
  4. My wife has got me to reduce my animal based intake, I’ll never be a vegan or vegetarian but more plants than before.
  5. I go for 45-60min walks daily as long as the roads aren’t icy which usually ends up be being 4-5 a week. I skipped one this week because I was exhausted. Rest week next week!
  6. So far my weight has climbed a few pounds to 228, I wake up hungry and tired most mornings but either ride or swim first thing. When I started swimming and lifting is when the weight climbed up those few pounds, I told myself it was just muscle coming back and it would go the other direction soon but that was in Mid-Nov.
  7. I’ve done my best to cut snacking and limit peanut butter intake as I could eat peanut butter all day.
  8. Calories wise I’m aiming for 1500 NET, some days I’m on target, other days I’m 100-200 over.
  9. I’ve cut alcohol out completely since Nov.

I don’t think I could cut my intake much more without cutting activity level.

You may want to see a doctor and get some blood tests done, preferably one who specializes in metabolic disorders.

If you truly are being honest about your intake, there may be something else going on worth investigating.

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In cases like you, actually, in all cases connected to loosing weight, my advice is always the same: go to the nutritionist, take a blood tests needed to evaluate your overall health. I’ve always been an active person but - for a long time - overweighted. Then, in health range but not in a race weight. I have worked with a nutritionist for a few years now and my results are amazing. My weight: 64-65kg, height 176cm, ~10-11% BF (depends on the part of the season). My recovery is much better too. It’s not only about the calorie deficite. I had a hormonal problems, my blood glucose was too high, my insuline level was too high and I thought I eat healthy. In many cases we just don’t have enough knowledge to do it in the right way.

Good luck!

Any suggestions on a nutritionist or do you with someone at a local clinic? I’ve seen 2 clinic based RD’s in the last 5-10 years who’ve told me my diet is fine, none did blood work. I’ve worked with two sports dieticians in the last 12-14mo and the first could only tell me “eat more veggies” and the second one wasn’t able to provide any advice. I had a bunch of blood work done with my annual health screening in March last year and all came back normal but its certainly possible that the correct tests weren’t done but I know we ran tests targeted at finding any metabolic issues. I spoke with on RD last year that wanted a crazy amount of blood work done before they’d see me, when I contacted the lab it was over $1500 and that was only 1/3 of the blood work.

I can’t advice anyone specific cause I’m from Poland. My blood work costs me ~500$ once a year to check everything. My nutritionist gives mr not only advices how to fuel rides, races etc. but he creates the whole nutrition plan according to my schedule and training. Basically, he has access to my trainingpeaks account and planned workouts. Just keep searching, I’m sure you will find someone who can help you with that.

Generally speaking if your fasting glucose levels and/or A1C are in a normal range and there are not any abnormalities with your lipid profile, then metabolic syndrome seems unlikely. You don’t need a super expensive blood panel if you have these numbers in the report.

What power meter are you using?

Only other suggestion is to do a week where you weigh your food and eat a very plain restrictive diet of things like rice, broccoli, chicken breast, etc to see if there is high variance in your perception of what you are eating.

If all of these turn out to be fine, then you may want to get a gas exchange test to try and chart your metabolic turn point. That would be the last resort.

To provide a counter point to most replies, I think you are massively undereating.

At 225lb and doing a decent amount of training eating ~2k cals per day (as in OP) is going to be an insane deficit, like 1-2k+ depending on exercise. I’m dubious that you could be underestimating food intake by that much.

Did your bloods tests look at hormone levels like testosterone or thyroid T3/T4?

You mention waking up starving and then pushing through fasted workouts anyway, a warning sign that you’re way underfueling and possibly developing an unhealthy relationship with food too.
Do you have any other similar symptoms? Low sex drive, trouble sleeping, anxiety, irritability?

Who knows how your body is going to react under a big load of training stress, work stress and stress from lack of energy. Could end up holding onto weight that you wouldn’t expect.

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Are you really accounting for all the snacking, liquid calories and recovery shakes? I mean 2 recovery shakes on double days + a hand full of nuts and snacks easily add up to 1000cals…

Anyway maybe a crazy idea: Drop your weight goals and set some performance goals on the bike, in the pool and lifting weights. Eat more, fuel to perform and try to have fun during your activities. Give your mind a break from the all time goal getting leaner and maybe your body will follow you on your journey to your performance goals. Who knows - maybe worth a try?

If you insist on keeping track of your eating use something like Fitzgeralds Endurance Diet DQS score to switch the focus from calories to quality.

First, wearable technology at it’s best has a 10% margin of error on AVERAGE for a population which means that for any given person it could be up or down by 20%, from reality… and that’s for the BEST of them. I can’t remember which ones have tested out the best, but they’re all essentially really good at making people over-confident in the amount of calories that they’re burning daily and lead to far more headaches than accurate diet recommendations, unfortunately. The only way to get accurate calorie burn information is through direct gas exchange or in multi-million-dollar calorimetry rooms. There’s just too much variability in human HR, heat production and energetic efficiency (movement economy, ie. how much energy is burned to accomplish roughly the same movement), that no amount of fancy prediction models can hone it in farther than the current technology does… at least not yet, and I’d wager at least not for the next 10-15 years.

Second, all of the above is great advice. @dr_kalina I’d advise you to start a conversation with Emily.

The RP ecosystem may be valuable to you. Either the RP App paired with the RP Endurance Macro Calculator (EMC) or just working directly with me. I’m not available until at least March. Check back with me mid-March if you’re interested. FYI: RP’s stuff is all designed around athletes seeking weight loss and muscle retention during maintained physical activity levels and takes a very similar templatized and adjustable approach to what Emily is mentioning.

@EmilyS sounds like someone you might want to hire though, and if she’s available now, it sounds like she knows what she’s doing.

Finally, I ran the numbers. I ignored before Oct-12 because you weren’t tracking your intake until that point.

I plotted my findings on a super basic graph with a trendline:
Red line = 1% body weight lost per week. Sort of a “maximum ideal” rate of loss.
Black line = your actual weight trendline
At the fastest, we’d like your data to parallel the red line, but many folks actually find that they are more successful just shy of it because it makes the weight loss period more attainable during the craziness of real life, and makes the maintenance period afterwards, much more sustainable.

What that equation means is that you’re losing 0.088 pounds per day, on average from Oct 12th-30th. That’s 0.62 pounds per week. Or an actual deficit of 300kcal daily. You should completely ignore your Garmin kcal data.

SO, problems to fix:

  1. Garmin data is garbage. Get rid of it. The only data that’s even close reliable for calorie estimation is power meter data. Everything else is a wild guess. Best approach to figuring out real deficit: trendline analysis.
  2. Weigh-in interpretation issues. Gotta use a trendline. You’re doing single point analysis. Dangerous!
    Common Weigh-in Interpretation Errors and How to Fix
  3. Probably should eat more protein because your average looks well below 100g per day which is on the very low side if you’re at all interested in muscle retention.

Boatload more info in both the RP books listed here Recommended Books / Reading Thread (Disclosure statement: I make money on the sale of RP Endurance-related products, but not the app or anything else.)

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PS. Untracked snacking between meals is probably one of the surest ways to eliminate the calorie deficit during an intentional weight loss diet phase, so avoiding it at all costs is a good idea. If you must, something like 10g protein and 20g carbs with plenty of veggies and fiber is an acceptable emergency strategy to do battle against the most intense hunger.

Freebie foods list: (handy for some of my clients)
Tea (artificial sweeteners okay!)
Coffee (artificial sweeteners okay!)
Pickles
Sugar Free Jell-O
Mustard is a great condiment!
Lots of calorie-free spices on your meals.
My personal favorite: Diet Mountain Dew! or other diet soda
Raw, boiled, baked, steamed, frozen/microwaved: Spinach, Kale, Turnip Greens, Broccoli, Lettuce, Celery, Collard Greens
Various other non-caloric foods that use fiber for the filling aspect, and sucralose, stevia, aspartame, saccharin, xylitol, or sugar alcohol as sweeteners.

@EmilyS, please feel most free to chime in and nix anything I’ve said. You have infinitely more clinical experience than I do. I am not an MD. I am a PhD in Sport Physiology, married to an RD who would wipe the floor with me and my meager clinical dietetics knowledge.

Hi,

Hormone levels are normal. I did wake up this morning and have a clif bar as I got ready to ride I was so hungry. I think I’m making progress through that I’ll post about separately.

I wanted provide an update as I’m finally starting to see some progress. First, I do track all my intake throughout the day, everything that goes in my body including vitamins goes into MFP. About 2.5 weeks ago I reduced my net calories down to 1000 per day, a reduction in 500 from where I was. So far, my weekly trend is actually about 1150 but I’m starting to see the numbers on the scale go down on average. On my Friday rest day I give my self 1500-1800 as I know I’m rebuilding and need to fuel for a big Saturday ride. Right now I’m lifting 3x per week, swimming 2x per week, and riding a mid-volume plan at 5x per week. @Dr_Alex_Harrison I would agree on the protein intake, it needs to go up, I find it difficult to break much more than 100g daily even with a serving of SIS Rego and Vital Proteins collagen peptides.

One of the other changes I made is reducing my intake on the bike. Since fat loss is my main goal, my performance can suffer some so I’ve reduced on bike intake to help cut calories. I’ve found I can get through a hard 90min ride, this morning was Bashful +6, with just a 1 GU and 2 bottles of scratch labs.

While I’m only 2.5 weeks into this change I’m already trending down from 3 weeks ago so fingers crossed I can drop some weight before I start running again in the next 2-4 weeks.

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Agreed on the 3 problems to fix as you outlined above. Watch those trends!

Also agreed on the untracked snacking. For some people, the very act of tracking foods (even with old fashioned pen and paper) can help with the extra bites and snacks. I’m guilty of grabbing a few handfuls of pretzels as I’m passing through the kitchen, but it’s become such a habit that I don’t really notice!

As for the freebie foods list, I’m going to push back a little. All great for a short, dedicated period of weight loss (a body-building competition, a drop-5-lbs-fast program, etc.), but using no-calorie foods in response to hunger is not a great way to create sustainable weight loss. You can certainly incorporate lower-calorie alternatives to scale down calories a bit, but I would caution against using them in isolation. For example, adding bulk to meals with vegetables is a great strategy. Eating celery sticks when you are super hungry is setting yourself up for pizza later on :slight_smile:

@dr_kalina how are you feeling? Hunger and energy levels? What was the impetus for the additional reduction in calories?

General advice from an internet friend: slow and steady is going to lead to greater long-term success and less misery. Regarding protein, you’re going to struggle with hitting the 100g mark if you are netting 1000kcal/day. I have tons of suggestions for protein increase if you’d like them, just lmk. @Dr_Alex_Harrison’s graph of your actual weight trend (from a 300kcal/day deficit) seems like a great path to continue to follow.

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@EmilyS I’m feeling okay. Honestly hard to know as I’m in WI where we’ve had 0 degree weather for the last 2+ weeks so there has been minimal outside time including I’ve stopped my daily evening walks as sub-0 walks on ice covered roads aren’t really enjoyable for anyone. I have been tired recently, I normally get 8-9hrs of sleep a night but 5-6 nights a week I’ll wake up in the night unable to fall asleep because my brain is going 100mph. I usually read for 30 minute or so then I can fall asleep again. Hunger wise I’m doing okay, I definitely eat when I’m hungry but now I use MFP to plan out what I’m going to eat before I eat it rather than just eat whatever and see where my calories are afterwards.

I ended up dropping down to 1000 net calories because from Nov-Jan my weight slowly increased up to 230. Initially I thought the increase was because in early December I got back in the pool and weight room for the first time since March so I just thought muscle was coming back and I’d see scale go down soon. However, after 8 weeks back in the pool/gym my weight wasn’t dropping so I decided to reduce my intake. Too early to know what my trend is but looking at the last 2 weeks I’m down .9 for the last week vs 2 weeks ago. I’d really like to be under 220, ideally 215, when I start running again. Goal was to start running again in March when the roads aren’t snow covered anymore and I don’t need layers/thermal tights.

Highly recommend working with an RD. (like @EmilyS !!!)

Also: Sleep Podcast by Revive Stronger is great info. Efforts in sleep hygiene may help you tremendously.

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I don’t really have input regarding your current situation, but I agree with @Dr_Alex_Harrison that working with a registered dietitian can be incredibly helpful. The times I have been most successful to drop weight are when I’ve worked with someone. Each time, I learn something new. And when the weight creeps back a bit, and what I had been doing no longer works, I go back to a nutritionist/RD. Highly, highly recommend it.

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I have worked with some RD’s before. In years past, 8+ years ago I worked with two RD’s at my local medical provider, it was the first time I was exposed to MFP. They said my diet was just fine, had no recommendations for me. More recently, within the last 18mo I’ve worked remotely with two other RD’s. The first was a 3mo one-on-one with biweekly check ins. He could only tell me to eat more veggies, but other than that he had no feedback and I saw no fat loss progress. Last summer I participated in a 12 week group nutrition coaching program. Again, the RD could provide no meaningful feedback, I got a packet of “healthy balanced meals” from the program. I’m not opposed to working with an RD again in the future, I just haven’t had luck so far.

I can understand the frustration there. When my wife (RD) was in school for dietetics and in her internships, it was an intensely frustrating experience for her sometimes because so few of the RD’s had any sporting understanding, or willingness to make more specific recommendations than generalities about healthy eating.

@EmilyS seems pretty sharp.

@EmilyS, do you take remote clients???

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Thanks! Not currently practicing, but I am thinking about getting back in to it.

I’m happy to chat with anyone who is interested.

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how is the garmin calculating calories burned? Obviously with a power meter you can have very accurate tracking but its been my experience that even fitness companies like garmin waaaaay overestimate calories burned for other activities. Your calorie intake also looks to be very low. For a guy your size and FTP/fitness level/activity level I would anticipate at least 2500 quality calories daily just to fuel your BMR and workouts. You can also have a composition change in which you gain muscle and lose fat but that is difficult to accurately gauge over time.