Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Adjustments that Work (or are all calories created equal?)

I am working on coming up with the right "formula" for me.  I believe the Curves Weight Management calorie phases is the correct starting point but I am more comfortable tracking my nutrition on FitClick than exclusively using the exchanges and menus in the Curves book.  I am using some of the recipes in the book but I am just tracking them in the FitClick food journal instead of using the Curves exchange system.

What I am learning is that because of my difference in tracking method, I actually need to eat a little more that I thought.  Curves makes it clear that it can be adverse to your health, metabolism, and weight loss to eat less than 1200 calories in a day.  When you do plan to consume only 1200 calories, you should do so for no more that 7 days straight (phase 1).  After that, bumping calories up to
at least 1500 calories per day should protect muscle and metabolism while still losing weight (phase 2).  I found that following these guidelines with my method of tracking calories I would plateau and/or have slight gains in phase 2.  Not good.  This probably indicates that my metabolism is slowing.

After attending the Weight Management class and further study of the book, I realized that I was not taking their "Free" foods into account.  I analyzed my last month of food and found an average of 143 calories of "Free" food per day with some days getting above 250 calories of "Free" food.  When I subtract the "Free" calories from my tracked calories, the adjusted calories are way too low.  So when I thought I was eating at a Phase 1 calorie level I was actually
under eating.  When I thought I was at Phase 2, I was actually eating closer to Phase 1.  I spent 11 days with my "adjusted" calories under 1500 (too long!).  During the first 5 days I lost 3.2 lbs and over the next 6 days I gained one pound back.

On day 12 I started adjusting for the "Free" calories and spent 4 days with adjusted calories over 1500.  After those 4 days I lost the gained pound plus another 0.8.

That brings me to today.  This will be my 5th day adjusting my calories by taking "Free" foods into account.  I am currently in Phase 2 and am trying to get my adjusted calories between 1500 and 1600.  In about 2 weeks I plan to switch to Phase 3 for up to a month when I will try to get my adjusted calories between 2000 and 2500.  Then back to Phase 1.

Are all calories created equal?  I am not a nutritionist, so I don't know all the science.  My experience so far has taught me that when I am eating lots of super healthy ("free") foods that I should err on the side of a few more calories than a few less.

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