Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Digging through my old fitness data is eye opening. I don't have a ton of data from the early years (particularly regarding bodyfat levels and measurements), but I can make estimates.
When I weighed 160lbs, I wore size 14 pants.
Starting Weight: 160lbs
Lean Mass: ~93lbs
A personal trainer at the gym took my caliper readings in 2009:
Starting Weight: 131lbs
Lean Mass: 88lbs
I lost weight, however, I also lost about 5lbs of lean mass. I engaged in plenty of exercise, riding my bike 1 hour every day after work. Exercise was not able to prevent lean mass wasting.
I started more closely watching lean mass and bodyfat last year. One reason is because low-carb diets were a big unknown to me at that time. I read that the drops in weight were purely due to water loss, and not really fat. The only way for me to be sure was to start tracking the data.
Gym caliper readings so I had a start point:
Lean Mass: 86.4lbs
Very bad news. Since my reading in 2009, I was getting fatter, and still losing precious lean mass. My blood pressure was also getting worse. Diet and exercise were failing me.
Was it age related slowing metabolism? I was 29 in 2003, and 37 in 2011. No matter how many calories I counted or calories I burned, was I doomed to lose mass and gain fat?
After 2 months of cutting carbs to 60-80g and making sure I always ate at least 90g protein per day, here's what happened:
Lean Mass: ~90lbs
Couldn't gain that fast, right? Ok, what about 6 months later? Caliper readings from the gym:
Lean Mass: 93lbs
What happened here? Did I start hitting heavy weight lifting?
Actually, I didn't. My exercise was almost exclusively moderate cardio with high resistance (elliptical and treadmill with low cadence/high incline), planking, a few resistance band stretches, swimming, cycling, and hiking. Basically, what I have always done. My gains came primarily from changing my diet composition.
I lost lean mass from 2003-2011, but gained from 2011-2012. If it was simply age related genetics, then this shouldn't have happened. If carb=fat=protein in terms of energy usage, then changing my composition shouldn't have changed anything. I held my activity level and calorie total static. The only variable that changed was my diet.
I'm only one person. My experience is anecdotal. I'm not a controlled science study. I didn't have a team of scientists recording my progress. I made changes, recorded my progress, and made my own conclusion.
If I just accepted that I was doomed to get fatter and fatter no matter what, where would I be now? Probably not sitting in a size 4 pair of capris while writing this. I read recently an article from a doctor 'debunking' that low-carb diets cause fat loss. He said it is only water loss, and there's no change in lean mass.
There was some water retention loss, for sure. But going from a size 8 to a size 4 is enough water to bathe my cat in.