Caloric Math

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily when you’re dieting due to weight fluctuations. I’ve never subscribed to that theory as I figure that as long as I weigh myself first thing in the morning (well, second thing) then the results should be fairly consistent.

But the truth of the matter is that even budgeting for two pounds a week of weight loss, I don’t lose weight every day — even when I meet my calorie goal for that day. I suspect that the biggest reason for this is the slowing of my dietary process when my caloric intake is reduced. Still, some days confuse me. Yesterday, for example, I basically met my calorie goal (slightly over the “lose two pounds per week” amount, but still plenty below the “maintain” amount) and yet I gained 1.2 pounds.

Here’s how my day went, calorically:

If you can’t see the image for whatever reason, the gist of it is that I was 41 calories over a 1458 calorie budget, but plenty below the theoretical “gain weight” number (not pictured). Admittedly, this wasn’t my healthiest day of eating, and I neglected the evening run I had planned when I chose to have the Frosty. Still, I was surprised to weigh over a pound heavier this morning. Plus, this was all after having been 166 calories below my goal on Monday and not losing any weight (gaining a fifth of a pound, actually).

Oh, and today isn’t looking too promising either, unless I manage to squeeze a run or bike ride in before pool tonight. At least I’ve made great progress over the last few weeks. Perhaps it’s just time for another plateu.

I do have a side question. The scale I use is one of those that has metal plates for your feet so that it can use a small current to measure your body fat. *That* number was actually down quite a bit this morning. I haven’t yet determined exactly what short-term changes in body fat represent, but I think it must have to do with how hydrated I am. It was 22.5% yesterday and 21.8% today. This number is also substantially lower at night than it is the next morning.


  1. #1 by kilax on June 3, 2009 - 4:54 pm

    I have fluctuations all week long, so I am kind of going off of the way my clothes fit now. It’s amazing how much our weight goes up and down!

    I wish I had a cool scale like that 😉


    • #2 by Ren on June 5, 2009 - 3:27 pm

      kilax – I do like the scale, even if I’m not sure what to make of the percentage fluctuations when they deviate from the weight changes. As for the fit of my clothes, other than the notch in my belt and how much my belly does or does not push on my shirt, I don’t get a lot of direct feedback from my clothes.


  2. #3 by Faiqa on June 3, 2009 - 10:41 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the same for men, but water makes a huge difference for me. HUGE. And that doesn’t just have to do with the amount of water that I drink, but the types of food eat. I notice when I eat foods high in sodium OR have a huge dose of carbs (white rice is a huge culprit) I’ll gain a few pounds overnight. And this was before I was pregnant… now I can, without exaggeration, gain 5 or 6 overnight and then lose the same amount by drinking a lot of water the next day.


    • #4 by Ren on June 5, 2009 - 3:39 pm

      Faiqa – While I have been aware of water making a difference, I’ve never noticed the type of food really contributing to that difference. But perhaps that’s the culprit here.

      I will say that as confusing as Tuesday was, Wednesday was even worse. While I had a bit of a large lunch, I did a short run in the evening and then never got around to having dinner. I was supposedly 816 calories below my goal for the day. I did weigh less Thursday morning, but still a full pound more than Tuesday morning.

      It’s not even the lack of progress on individual days like this that bothers me — I know I’ve made great progress overall and really don’t have far left to go. What bothers me is just the math failing. I don’t like it when math fails, even if it is obviously from lack of sufficient data.


  3. #5 by whall on June 10, 2009 - 11:04 am

    Do you weight yourself at the same time of day?


    • #6 by Ren on June 10, 2009 - 11:21 am

      whall – Basically, yes. Right after I wake up and pee. This time might vary from day-to-day, but on weekdays it’s usually within about a half hour range.


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