posted 08-02-2002 12:44 AM PT (US)
Someone asked me a question about my diet on another message board, and I wanted to make sure that my answer wasn't lost, because I can see someone asking me about it in the future in a messenger conversation, or something - so, I'm saving the response here:
It takes everything relevant into account including extra exercise, not having eaten my day's alotted Calories, having eaten more than my alotted Calories, fluctuations in weight due to fluctuating amounts of transient water and food weight, misjudged Calorie contents of meals - everything. Here's how:
1) My "Trend Weight" (what I consider to be my actual weight), is a ten day exponentially smoothed moving average of my scale weights (so, my weights for the last ten days averaged, but giving each weight less importance the farther in the past it was). This screens out the lions share of a person's transient water and food weight.
2) Now for the "extra exercise" issue. a) It should be irrelevant because, in my one brain celled judgment, NO ONE should exercise while on a diet - at least no one should increase physical activity while on their diet beyond what they were doing before the diet. Doing so, it seems to me, is not merely unhealthy, but positively dangerous; by virtue of the fact that you're dieting, you're not consuming enough Calories for your body to get by with during the day (hence it uses bodyfat) - so, you run the risk of consuming all of the protein that you're eating for Calories, and meanwhile your muscles - and more importantly, your organs are starving and saying, "Where's my protein?!" It's a very bad idea, I think, to actually put extra protein demands on your body while you're simultaneously limiting Calories below what your body requires to get through the day.
b) So instead of making this an "extra exercise" issue, let's take it to the heart of the issue - what you're really asking is "what if you burn more Calories in a day than you normally would?"
Well, this is precisely why I don't do what you suggested would be more simple by just eating 1400 Calories per day. Instead, I track how many Calories I'm burning per day on average over 10 days, and I use that figure (in part) to determine how many Calories I get to eat.
Here's a real life example of how it works. If, tomorrow, I get on the scale and see 165 lbs (I think I will), then my "trend weight" will be 166.0 lbs. So - using that:
=> 10 days ago I weighed 168.2 lbs.
=> Tomorrow I'll weigh 166.0 lbs
=> I've lost 2.2 lbs in 10 days
=> 2.2 lbs of fat is 2.2*3500=7700 Calories
=> In the last 10 days I've eaten 14950 Calories
=> So I've burned 14950+7700=22,650 Calories
=> Which averages to 2265 Calories per day.
=> I've got 166.0-155.0=11 lbs of fat left to lose
=> 11 lbs of fat is 11*3500=38,500 Calories
=> There are 49 more days left on my diet (155 on September 21st)
=> So, I've got to lose 38,500/49=786 Calories per day of bodyfat
=> Since I'm currently burning 2265 Calories per day, that means that I can only eat 2265-786=1479 Calories tomorrow.
How many Calories I burn per day changes all the time. It's important to do things right. People make life so damned hard on themselves by trying to make things more simple than they should be.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
If you're ever in conversation with someone, and you show them how you do something, or you've just asked them how they do something, and they begin their explanation with: "Oh, all I do is just...." - that should be a clue that whatever the person does is something that should be avoided like eating a homeless hooker with yeast infection. Both the "..all I do..." and the "...is just...", individually, are litmus test indicators that the person is trying to take shortcuts.
Think of an airplane flying from one city to another. More than 98% of the time, that airplane is off course. The pilot (or auto pilot) has to continually adjust and re-adust the direction of the plane to get it headed toward its destination. Deciding to "just eat 1400 Calories per day" would be like a pilot taking off from a city, pointing the plane at its destination, then ignoring the controls hoping that the plane will stay pointed where it's supposed to go.
Incidentally, there's more to the diet that what I listed in the list above. In addition to that "in a nutshell" description, there are adjustments built in to cause a person lose weight more quickly in the beginning, and thus to have his/her daily Calorie count keep getting greater toward the end of the diet - this helps to prevent a person from suddenly going from 1400 Calories per day to 2250 Calories per day at the end in one day. Also, since a person would be carrying around with them about 50% more food in their intestines at 2250 Calories per day as compared to 1400, it prevents a sudden rapid weight gain at the end of the diet when Caloric intake is raised to match expenditure.
Also, there's an adjustment built in to prevent a "Calorie roller coaster" in the event that, perhaps, a person might be very busy and eat only 500 Calories one day, or maybe go on a binge and eat 3000. That can happen because a person's "apparent metabolism" (how many Calories they seem to be burning per day) is based upon the last 10 days Calorie intake. If, 10 days ago, a person ate 2000 Calories, and today their intake was only 500 - the 2000 Calories from 10 days ago would fall out of the average and be replaced by 500 - thus creating an immediate 1500 Calorie difference in one day, averaging out to 150 Calories per day (an adjustment which won't show in the "trend weight" immediately, because the "trend weight" exists precisely for the purpose of screening out sharp shifts in weight like that). Without an adjustment, a person would find himself not only losing the extra weight due to having eaten only 500 Calories one day, but he'd suddenly be eating 150 Calories less per day because the metabolism factor would be off - resulting in rapid weight loss, eventually resulting in overcompensation by eating too many Calories. It'd be like plucking a guitar string. I know, because I had no adjustment built into the diet three years ago, and those Calorie roller coasters nearly killed me.
But, the list above gives the general idea.