Putting my money where my mouth is

  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 03, 2009 8:57 PM GMT
    For a while now, I've routinely offered some very standardized advice to an individual on managing his weight. And one of the key pieces of that advice, as a first step, is to spend a couple of weeks recording everything he ate and drank, to get a baseline reading of his current diet so that we can figure out how many calories he needs to maintain his weight, and can find specific changes to make to accomplish his goals.

    I've also advised in the past the value of taking before shots, even if you're not happy with the way you look, to document the process.

    Amid this advice, there has been criticism about how hard it is to take these steps. So, in response:

    This is the link to my before pictures from a week ago, including some current stats on my dimensions

    This is the link to what I've eaten over the past week, and my discussion of what that likely means in terms of my nutritional profile.

    Commentary or feedback on either or both is welcome, in whatever form you choose. You can feel free to comment on whether my plan is in line with my goals, whether my goals are realistic, whether you feel I should have different goals based on your assessments of my appearance and fitness levels, how you think I should adjust my diet, or whatever else may strike your fancy.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 04, 2009 12:46 AM GMT
    Here's some diet advice, FWIW:

    Yeah, cut out salami. Cut out all deli meats if you can. Also, eat almost any cheese other than American.

    I know you're planning to add more vegetables. That's good. Broccoli, peppers (red or yellow are better for you than green), spinach, zucchini, and so on. Fruit is good for you, but in my experience, it can be difficult to digest if eaten too closely to other foods.

    I'd look to sweet potatoes as a major source of carbs, with red potatoes also a good source, in preference to wheat-based sources. That's not to say you can't have wheat-based sources, but they shouldn't be your main source.

    Fish is great for you (salmon perhaps most of all), and I don't see any in your diet. Of course, the problem is that you really should stick as much as possible to wild fish rather than farmed fish, and that's expensive.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Sep 04, 2009 12:51 AM GMT
    money is filthy, don't put it on your mouth
  • jrs1

    Posts: 4388

    Sep 04, 2009 1:00 AM GMT

    2092 cals. per day (and you've noted that there will be an increase) should probably be a bit higher for the purpose of lean muscle.

    I'm assuming you are going to partake in a heavily weighted workout regimen, so I'm interested in seeing how you " shape up and out " over the next few months.

    paying it forward is a great way to motivate others.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 04, 2009 5:01 PM GMT
    In response to theatrengym, the fish component of the past week is covered under the 5 cans of tuna eaten. I find salmon revolting, but in places where I can get fresh fish at restaurants I tend to gravitate toward the perch/haddock/snapper varieties. While I am increasing my vegetable consumption (last night's dinner was a large salad with chicken; I've yet to enter that), I can guarantee you peppers will not be on the list. I cannot digest them properly, and that would lead to many other problems. My typical vegetable consumption follows the pattern of green beans, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, and green onions, with lettuces thrown in when I actually eat a prepared salad (when I make my own, I tend to rely on spinach instead).
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    Sep 04, 2009 7:06 PM GMT
    Couple things:

    I'm grokking that you're trying to gain weight. I've replied back to your posts before with the message that you NEED to eat WAY more than a measely 2000 cals a day if you want to gain. 2000 is nothing. It's less than nothing if you're actually working out. I'm convinced that most people who think they're "hardgainers" are just not eating anywhere near enough food.

    In some places you're mentioning way too much attention to numbers e.g. "Over the course of the week, my scale registered a change from 154.8 pounds with 10.8% body fat to 153.0 pounds with 10.4% body fat, so a loss of 0.8 pounds of fat and 1.0 pound combined between water and muscle." The error on these measurements (esp. bf percent) is too wide to make any kind of judgment about how your plan is working. Measuring those stats daily is essentially pointless; weekly trends over months would be a better indicator.

    What's your reason for having such a low carb intake?
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 04, 2009 8:13 PM GMT
    I agree that the 2300 or so daily calories is too low. I actually hadn't realized I was so low over the past week until I totaled up what I had consumed. From personal experience, I generally need somewhere around 3200 calories a day to maintain myself, and thus significantly over 3500 a day if I want to try to gain weight. Even attempting to lose a pound or two of fat to start, I still had planned to be up in the 2700 or so range. I wasn't. It appears that it takes more calories of carbohydrates to make me feel full than it does of protein, so the initial very high protein levels led to my feeling full and stopping too early--something I wouldn't have known if I hadn't tracked the numbers.

    I rely on numbers because of this help in tracking things. In general, I find that if I don't measure things, it makes it hard to improve them. I agree that measurements from scales are messy, and that there's a lot of noise in particular on body fat % as measured by electrical impedence. That's actually why I take measurements daily, as the larger the data set, the less influence any individual point has when fitting a regression line to the general trend. If I only took a measurement once a week, a single measurement being off by 2% would make a big difference in the trend line; by making it a daily measurement, that single outlier is much more easily seen for what it is, and can either be removed from the analysis, or at least have its effect dampened by a larger number of readings that are in accordance with each other. I have only a week of data because I've only been doing this for a week; the plan is daily measurements over the 3 months, which will give me more trusthworthy numbers on the difference between before and after. While there may well still be systematic error -- most likely, my actual body fat % will be higher than what the scale is recording -- the amount it changes over the course of the plan should be able to be determined with decent accuracy if enough measurements are taken.

    The carbohydrates are low at the start in large part because that's what the published plan called for. Also, admittedly, in the month before the latest attempt my diet was atrocious, with far too much in the way of things like potato chips and ice cream and garlic bread covered in cheese. I began cutting out most of the processed foods a week or so before the official start date, with a notable effect on my midsection in particular, which had been softer and more rounded after a month of hedonism than I would have liked. 2-3 weeks of a low carbohydrate kick -- since I find I am more likely to overindulge on carbohydrates than I am on fats which leave me feeling queasy if I eat too many -- seemed like a good way to drop my body fat % to a range where adding the fat that will inevitably come with later muscle gain will not leave me self-conscious about that fat before I come naturally to the point of working off the fat while trying to preserve the muscle gains.

    The guide with the P90X system specifies that the middle month is the one primarily devoted to muscle growth, with the first month designed in large part for fat loss and the third one for maintaining gains and increasing endurance. Since I hit a plateau a while back, I figured that following along with a new system, even if not everything in it is perfectly calibrated to my intentions, wouldn't be a horrible idea; if nothing else, I can see how well it works for me.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 05, 2009 12:41 AM GMT
    Oh, I just had some delicious salmon for dinner. I'm always so amazed to find that some people don't like salmon. I think I could live without chicken, I could certainly live without turkey or eggs, but no good wild salmon? I wouldn't be happy.

    But then I hate some foods that other people love. Olives, yecch! Olive oil, good, but olives, bad.

    Anyway, I know that peppers are not only hard to digest for some people, but it seems as if they can affect some people badly in other ways as well. Still, I will ask if you have the same problem with red peppers. Green peppers, of course, are basically unripened peppers so it's not surprising that some people can't digest them. It sounds like you'll be getting plenty of vegetables so it doesn't really matter, but I did wonder if you've tried red peppers.

    On one of your blog pages, you wrote, "As a long-term ideal, I would like to reach somewhere around 165-170 pounds with somewhere around 9% body fat, and avoiding any vascularization." Why do you want to avoid any vascularization? Perhaps I'm just not understanding what you mean by it. Do you mean that you don't like the vascular look? I'm just intrigued by this because I like the vascular look (though it can get too extreme on some people), and I'm not sure if that's what you meant when you wrote that or if there's something I'm not understanding.
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    Sep 05, 2009 1:22 AM GMT
    MSUBioNerd said In response to theatrengym, the fish component of the past week is covered under the 5 cans of tuna eaten. I find salmon revolting, but in places where I can get fresh fish at restaurants I tend to gravitate toward the perch/haddock/snapper varieties. ).

    I'd think anything would be more appetizing than tuna right out of the can.
    Wild salmon is rather oily but the oil is that ultra-desirable fish oil. The oil does give it a somewhat gamy taste, but you can broil it with lemon pepper and dill to complement the flavor. If you find the right herbal accompaniments it's far more interesting than perch or haddock which can be pretty bland.
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    Sep 05, 2009 1:33 PM GMT
    MSUBioNerd saidIn general, I find that if I don't measure things, it makes it hard to improve them. I agree that measurements from scales are messy, and that there's a lot of noise in particular on body fat % as measured by electrical impedence. That's actually why I take measurements daily, as the larger the data set, the less influence any individual point has when fitting a regression line to the general trend. If I only took a measurement once a week, a single measurement being off by 2% would make a big difference in the trend line; by making it a daily measurement, that single outlier is much more easily seen for what it is, and can either be removed from the analysis, or at least have its effect dampened by a larger number of readings that are in accordance with each other. I have only a week of data because I've only been doing this for a week; the plan is daily measurements over the 3 months, which will give me more trusthworthy numbers on the difference between before and after. While there may well still be systematic error -- most likely, my actual body fat % will be higher than what the scale is recording -- the amount it changes over the course of the plan should be able to be determined with decent accuracy if enough measurements are taken.


    Well, you should definitely track things; very useful to progress. But, I think your ideas about the daily weight and bf measurement are a little off. First, regression to the mean would be predicated on the BI measurement being correct but somewhat unreliable--there's no reason to assume that, because the measure could easily be reliably off by a few points either way, as you mentioned. I also question the fidelity gain of daily measurements over weekly ones for a period as long as 3 months, but I guess there's no real harm in it (so long as you don't live and die by daily fluctuations). If you're going to measure anything daily, I'd make it calories, as daily fluctuations in that can have real impacts.

    The carbohydrates are low at the start in large part because that's what the published plan called for...


    Eh, I'm generally wary of diets that say "eat this because guru X says to." What nutritional theory is the P90X diet based on? You're mentioning improvement, but the comparison isn't controlled (i.e. it's eating a bunch of crappy food vs. eating very few carbs, not eating lots of healthy carbs vs. eating fewer healthy carbs). One of the reasons the diet seems strange to me is that you seem to be at a daily protein value that's totally adequate for your weight and build to gain, but way too little carbs. Maybe it works for you, but I know that at that intake, I and most of the population would be having bad GI symptoms and losing a good bit of the protein.