IFLM: Matt’s Question and Answer
I posted a pretty general question on Facebook today asking what the biggest question people had about fat loss. I got back this answer from a friend of mine named Matt.
“How much is too much when it comes to cutting calories? I’m 5’7″ 183lbs with an intake of 1480 cals and only moderate exercise output. It seems low, but my progress seems to stall out at anything over 1500. Is there a formula based off of goal weight? Also, what are your thoughts on best macro ratio for fat loss? I’m pretty flexible with mine, but I shoot for 45%carb, 35% protein, 20% fat and try to avoid anything over 50/25/25.”
I know that Matt has lost a pretty fair amount of weight in the last year or so and I’m pretty sure he eats a fairly clean diet most of the time. That being said there are things he can do to continue to progress. I’m going to go forward with two assumptions:
1. That Matt is right about his caloric intake.
2. That his body fat percentage is in the mid 20s.
Keep in mind that although I’m making these assumptions for the purpose of answering his questions, they are pretty big assumptions to make. Many studies have shown that people trying to lose weight usually underestimate their caloric intake and I’m estimating his bf% based purely on my impressions the last time I saw him. That being said, let’s move on.
At it’s core fat loss is all about calories in, calories out. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. If you take in more than you burn, you gain weight. Sounds simple, right? Well, at times it is and at times it isn’t. The body is a tricky thing that will fight like heck to stay exactly where it is. If you take in fewer calories your body is going to react by slowing down it’s metabolism, among other things. For that, and a few other reasons, you can’t just cut calories forever and still get results.
Let’s talk about Matt. At 183 lbs. with low to moderate exercise output he’s probably burning somewhere in the area of 2300-2500 calories a day on average. But this is where the body’s trickery can get in the way. As I mentioned before, Matt has lost a fair amount of weight over the last year or so which means he has consistently eaten at a deficit over that time. As he’s done that his metabolism has slowed for two reasons. 1. Because at a lighter weight fewer calories are burned. 2. Because the body is reacting to being given fewer calories. In other words the body, in its desperation to stay exactly as it is, is telling itself that since it’s being given fewer calories it will burn fewer calories. He’s at the point now where, if he’s truly only eating 1480 calories at 183 pounds some adjustments need to be made to reset his metabolism to a higher rate. There are two ways to do that. 1. Eat more. Yes there are times when we actually have to eat MORE to lose fat. We have to get the body out of starvation mode. I’ve had clients almost double their caloric intake and not gain weight because they came to me eating so little. In Matt’s case, I’d suggest upping his calories to about 2000 or even 2100 for at least 3-4 weeks. (Ideally, I’d like him to be able to lose weight at about that level, although at his current exercise rate that might be too high.) The goal here is to reset the metabolism and if it’s done with the right calculations there should be very little weight gain, if any. 2. Exercise more. The best way to boost your metabolism is to build more lean body. The more lean body you have the faster your metabolism. That means resistance training. If Matt could get in 2-3 days of some intense resistance training he could probably up his calories even more. As far as macronutrient ratios I would figure things this way for Matt. We want him at about 2100 calories. For protein I want him at about 1g per pound of lean body. That comes to about 140g of protein each day. At 4 calories per gram thats 560 calories. For fat I’d want him at about a little over half a gram per pound of body weight. That comes to about 95g of fat. That’s about 855 calories. The rest comes from carbs. Which comes to about 175g of carbs. These ratios are just estimates as every one is a little different in this respect, but it will give you a good idea where to start. I think that’ll give Matt a good start and also give you an idea of how to go about restarting some stalled progress. If you need any help with your fat loss goals, please let me know. P.S. One way to really get yourself on the right track is with some short term goals. Next Saturday August 2nd I’m starting my Third Annual Transformation Contest. It’ll be a great way to motivate yourself to get started! You can go here to get all the details. 2014 Transformation Contest
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!