A Numbers Game

Posted by on Jan 18, 2008 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I am going to refer to baseball again. Sorry to all you haters. But I am sure you can endure. Anyway, of all the “major” sports, none are driven by numbers like baseball is. There are very few intangibles in baseball. either you can hit, or you can’t. And the numbers prove that, down to the finest detail. Now, when it comes to fielding, there is a little bit more room for error, but the methods for obtaining and evaluating those stats are improving.

My point is that when it comes to talent evaluation, you can learn a lot from data. Read Moneyball if all that sounds interesting to you.

I am enlisting the help of some useful tools to help me take a look at the numbers behind my caloric intake and expenditure. DietPower looks great, but it is a PC only software. So, being a Mac user, I am going to use the browser based TheDailyPlate.com. Here I can enter in the food I eat, get a breakdown on the % of fat, protien and carbs in my diet, log calories burned, and track all the data over time, among many things. It looks like a very good tool in helping me analyze all of this newly important (to me) food data.

Like baseball, the numbers are gospel. The catch here is that I have to be honest in my reporting. It would be easy to simply not log that Snickers or Coke. So I think the accuracy of my tracking should reflect on how serious I am about dropping the pounds.

Another tool I am enlisting is BMR. Base Metabolic Rate, or how many calories I would burn while lying on the couch watching TV–all day. Below is pasted what the Hussman BMR calculator had to say to me:

Your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) is in the area of 1918 (Harris-Benedict formula) and 2044 (Schofield formula) calories per day. Your lean weight is about 165 pounds. WORKOUT PROGRAM RULE OF THUMB: TARGET A BALLPARK OF 1530-2110 HONEST CALORIES PER DAY if your main goal is fat-loss, and about 2480-3070 calories per day for muscle gain without fat loss. THEORETICAL: estimate your daily burn, then subtract 500 calories daily for every pound of fat you want to lose per week. With energetic daily workouts, you’ll burn about 2880 calories daily (we’re assuming you’re at least moderately active and not totally sedentary the rest of the day). If you have a sedentary job or think your metabolism is slow, simply reduce that estimated burn by about 10 percent. From that figure, subtract 500 calories for every pound you want to lose each week. Anyway, that’s the theory. Personally, I prefer using the rule of thumb ballpark instead. I’ve heard mixed results from the more theoretical calculation. An achievable fat-loss target for you is roughly 1.9 pounds per week. A less aggressive goal is fine, and of course, more acheivable. Also, be sure to keep your carbs low-glycemic except in the post-workout meal. It makes a big difference. A final note: If you’re having trouble losing fat, research shows that you’re almost certainly underestimating your true caloric intake. Don’t use the above values as advice to increase them further. Instead, eat more fruits, vegetables, and structured meals like low fat soups and protein shakes. The main thing that creates fat loss is an honest, carefully tracked caloric deficit between what you consume and what you burn.

That is a lot of stuff to digest in one reading. But the numbers seem to add up. Let’s look at today:

Calories burned from exercise: 769 (60 minute workout of 3×3, 3×2, 3×1 3 minute intervals, as recorded by my Garmin 305)
Calories burned from BMR: 2000 (estimate)
Total: 2769. Fairly close to the calculators 2880 estimate

So, if I am shooting for a 500 calorie deficit each day, and on an average day with a normal training workout I am burning 2500-2800 calories, counting BMR, then my daily goal for calories ingested should be around 2000-2300. Right?

Up to this point today I have consumed 1709 calories, and I feel full. I will most likely consume about 300 more before I go to sleep. So that should put me right at 2000 calories ingested, for a net loss of around 700. Hmm. I Might need to add a bannana (an easy 100 calories) or a handful of cashews to the mix to get that deficit to around 500.

In my previous post several of you offered up excellent points. I think this is going to be a fun quest. And crunching numbers, which is a new hobby of mine, ought to make it even more enjoyable. This is going to be a learning process for me, so if you see any erroneous assumptions or math feel free to call me on it.

The next step is optimizing exactly which foods are best at which times.

Today’s weight: 183


  1. StupidBike
    January 18, 2008

    U R calling me fat, aren’t you?

    Seriously though, be very careful with the Caloric deficit thing, 500 is a lot, for anyone. You can run yerself down quickly.

    sparkpeople.com is a good, free online tracking tool.

  2. chrisboyack
    January 18, 2008

    I just went through the exact same thing over the past month. I’m down 12 pounds and still going strong. While my exercise of choice was running, the principles are the same.

    I had 4-5 false starts like you described in your last post, only making it for two or three days at a stretch. That was when I was aiming for that magic 500 per day number. It didn’t work for me.

    What helped in my case was an initial 2 week push that created a deficit of almost 17,000 calories – and I felt fine the whole time. I’ve since settled down to a more reasonable amount, but it was critical for me to see some results quickly in order to stay with the plan. Plus, when your invested in something taken to that extreme, it’s a whole lot easier to stick with. 500 calories, at least at the outset, just allowed for too much of a grey area.

    Anyway, I kept track of my progress on my blog. You might find it interesting:


    I also think using an online tracking tool (I used myfooddiary.com) is very good. So stick with that, and log EVERYTHING.

    Good luck!

    Chris in Colorado (formerly of Utah Valley)

  3. Jason
    January 18, 2008

    I dig the DailyPlate.com. Been using it most of the fall and winter. And while I haven’t lost any weight, I have maintained my weight.

    I used it mostly Mon.-Fri. Weekend are my “cheat” nights with a few beers and a few extra helpings of whole wheat pasta and low fat cheese!

    Plus, I can usually count on some big calorie burning rides on the weekend, even if its on the trainer.

    good luck.

  4. KC
    January 18, 2008

    to accurately understand what your BMR is, you should use a valid and reliable instrument to ascertain your lean body mass. I may be able to hook you up, if you are interested. Secondly, there are devices that can “accurately” measure your caloric expenditure throughout the day–if you are willing to pay a couple hundred dollars. Again, we can talk if you are interested. I did alot of research on this, so I can explain the pros and the cons.

  5. Anonymous
    January 18, 2008

    Besides TheDailyPlate, there are many online nutrition trackers. Watch for a detailed comparison chart at http://www.dietpower.com/how_it_works/diet_power_vs_others.php, to be posted today or tomorrow.

    Although Diet Power is not an online program, many users think its superior power and ease outweigh the inconvenience of remembering what you ate when away from your PC — but of course you’ll be the judge of that. (Remember, we have a free 15-day trial and an unparalleled one-year, no-hassle, money-back guarantee. See http://www.dietpower.com.)

    Good health to you!

    Webmaster at Diet Power

    Good health to you!

    Terry Dunkle
    Diet Power founder and CEO

  6. the original big ring
    January 18, 2008

    Spamming on someone’s blog?! That’s not on.

    Numbers drive me nuts. I’m in the same boat, losing weight. I had a body comp test done last year and found out my BMR – so I try and keep that in my head (though I know it may have changed a bit) as a base and “kind of” keep count of my calorie intake throughout the day. It’s been slow but steady.

    Keep writing about it – it’s helping keep me motivated too!


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