Since my post last month I’ve been keeping daily body composition stats from the Tanita scale on an Excel spreadsheet. Before I list the highlights of changes that have taken place, a few notes:
The duration of the study was 28 days. For any fans of Joe Friel’s Training Bible periodization model, this phase was a modified Base 2: six days of riding a week consisting primarily of endurance training and augmented by a couple days of tempo intervals and one on-the-bike strength workout.
I was originally going to do 10.5, 12.5 and 14 hours, respectively, but was pretty blown by the end of week 2 and so simply repeated the 12.5 hour schedule for week #3. Week #4 was an easy recovery week of 7 hours.
My nutrition strategy during the first three weeks was pretty basic: eat simple and healthy and count calories up until dinner time. I was very lucky to have my wife, Lisa, making some excellent, healthy dinners but I’ll admit that counting calories for these meals, given the variety of ingredients and portion sizes, taxed my mental fortitude.
My solution to this laziness was to arrive at dinner running a 750 calorie deficit (Basal Metabolic Rate + calories burned in training – calories of foods consumed prior to dinner). Assume about 500 calories for dinner and then allow myself a small bowl of olive oil-popped popcorn (240 calories) as a snack. In theory, the net daily calorie deficit resulted from the extra calories I burned just by going about my daily business (estimated 300-500 calories), work, chores, playing with the kids, etc.
Also, no booze during the week, which is a huge change from last year. On the weekends and during the recovery week I slacked off the diet and booze restrictions somewhat. I think these breaks from regimented dieting are critical to sustainability as they hedge against my all-or-nothing, boom/bust tendencies of last year. The idea is to periodize diet in the same way as training, tightening screws as the racing approaches.
OK, cutting to the case, here are abridged results:
Monday, January 9:
Weight: 162.6 lbs
Body Fat: 12.1% or 19.7 lbs
Body Water: 57.2%
Muscle: 135.8 lbs
Sunday, Febrary 5, 28 Days Later:
Weight: 154.4 lbs = -8.2 lbs*
Body Fat: 10.2% or 15.7 lbs = -1.9% or -4 lbs
Body Water: 58.2% = +1%
Muscle: 131.8 lbs = -4 lbs
* – the discrepancy between total weight lost (8.2 lbs) and the sum of fat & muscle lost (8 lbs) is that I supposedly lost 0.2 of bone mass, although this stat would fluctuate between 7.0 to 6.8 lbs on a daily basis.
Some anecdotal observations:
With the benefit of daily observation, it quickly became obvious to me that water % is THE critical figure in the algorithm used by the scale to determine the other numbers. In other words, body fat% and muscle weight could vary significantly (say, 0.5% for body fat and up to 2 lbs muscle) on any given day.
My theory for these day-to-day variances is twofold:
- Water retained as a result of training stress. Ironically, I would always see an uptick in body weight and water% (along with a corresponding drop in reported body fat% and gain in muscle mass) on almost every Sunday and Monday—the days that I was most fatigued from the week’s training.
- Water retained as a result of increased sodium intake. The same numbers could be explained by my slackening of diet on the weekend, which almost inevitably meant that I was consuming more sodium and thus retaining more water**. I might test this theory more scientifically this Summer, although I’m positive that a casual Google search would turn up all the proof I need to support it.
Looking to drop a couple more body fat percentage-points and 3-4 pounds this phase and another two or so in Build 1, which would get me under 150 lbs for the first time in 12 years. Racing weight is imminent. Thanks to everyone who have supported the effort.
** – Postscript: as if to demonstrate this theory in shocking fashion, on this Monday, February 6, I have gained a whopping 3.4 pounds in one day. According to the scale, I gained 3.6 pounds of muscle and lost 0.2 lbs of fat. The real story is that my body water increased 0.5%, likely because I ate a bunch of pizza and chips at a Superbowl party last night.
This is the why having the scale is a good thing, even with its dubious method of generating the data. Normally a weight gain of this magnitude would be cause for major panic, aside from the awesome idea that someone could eat a bunch of junkfood and gain three pounds of muscle overnight. But, I have come to take these daily swings with, well, a grain of salt–much more important to watch for trends over a longer period of time. Worst case scenario is my body has reached some sort of equilibrium after a week of recovery, I have dropped under 10% body fat and retained the majority of muscle mass I started out with.