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I've been running for the past month and a half and watching what I eat for the past three weeks. I started out at 77,1kg and have been stuck around 75,5kg for the past week or longer. I've completely cut candies and anything junk food related from my diet (so no chocolates, sugar in coffee or chips for me). Usually I have an oatmeal cooked in a cup of milk with a banana for breakfast, then i.e. chicken curry with lowfat yogurt for lunch and fruit or eggs for dinner. During the day I also eat fruit, I'll usually have a banana if I'm in for a run, and loads of tangerines.

I go for a run (well, it should probably be called a jog) three times a week, lasting about half an hour, about 4km in length. I should probably note that this was a part of the Couch25k plan, so I haven't started out with these times or lengths.

Still, I feel stuck at my weight for some time now. It could be that I'm not drinking enough water, especially at weekends. Is there anything I could try and change? Add some other form of workout? Run more? Eat something else?

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You need to know exactly how many calories per day you're eating. Use myfitnesspal.com or similar - it's so easy. Smash your carb intake to say 50 grams per day max. NO MORE. Exercise is almost irrelevant: stick to carefully tracking your carb intake, and also overall calorie intake. Be sure to read Primal Blueprint and Protein Power. Enjoy! –  Joe Blow Oct 17 '11 at 11:36
    
Am in the same category....running, eating less bt nt losing weight it can get u kinda motivated bt at least at the end of the day when you exercise you feel good about ypurself.....DONT GIVE UP –  user3716 Jun 21 '12 at 14:03
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Running (exercise) and eating less (reducing caloric intake) won't necessarily cause weight loss. There is a high probability you will lose fat but without controlling the different variables (calorie in, calorie out, etc) you can't guarantee the desired outcome.

Just to preface, you've lost 1.6kgs in ~3 weeks which translates to 0.53kg per week. It's not a fast weight loss but so far your weekly average is fine.

The biggest factor in fatloss is calorie intake, not exercise. So the first thing is to figure out how many calories you burn everyday. Lets assume on average its 2500 calories -you can do the actually math yourself here.

So in order to lose 0.7kgs per week you have to burn:

  • 5400 calories per week
  • 771 calories per day

So we reduce 771 calories from your 2500 maintenance and end up with 1728 calories, which would be how much you would eat in order to achieve your target fat loss. This number isn't specific to you but shows how to go about determining your goal calorie intake.

You can also increase your caloric burn by exercising more or being more active during the day. A great way to supplement the couch25k is by doing daily walks or picking up a gym routine.

It's also important you eat a balanced diet of proteins/carbs/fat/veggies. Right now it seems the majority of your diet is carbs.

Water intake can effect water retention levels so hydrating more can help you retain less water.

Here's an article I wrote about how the scale (or weight) is a poor indicator of progress. So don't worry too much about the scale, keep learning about exercise and nutrition, stick to following sensible diet/exercise plans, and the results are guaranteed to follow.

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I am calculating my calorie intake, and on average I end up with 1400 calories per day, that's why it seems to be progressing too slowly for now. –  eagerMoose Oct 16 '11 at 19:22
    
@eagerMoose what's your weight/height/age/sex and daily activity? How long have you been recording your diet for? Do ever cheat on it? –  mike Oct 16 '11 at 19:24
    
75-76kg/182cm/F, most days I spend sitting, I run three times a week, 30min per session. I've recorded my eating habits for about three weeks now, and no, I try not to cheat. On my worst days, I'd say I don't cross 1800 cals, but those are very rare. –  eagerMoose Oct 16 '11 at 19:38
    
@eagerMoose well, your BMR is going to be around 1600. Your daily maintenance is between 1900-2200. So under the most optimistic scenario with the plan you are following you would lose .72kgs per week. And right now you are losing around 0.53 which isn't that far from that. So it seems like you are on track and you just need more time. The biggest thing is not to increase your calorie intake above ~1600 or so if you continue to be sedentary, otherwise your fat loss will be very slow. –  mike Oct 16 '11 at 19:49
    
OK, thanks, I'll try to be more patient. –  eagerMoose Oct 16 '11 at 19:53
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Pffft, calculating calorie intake? I really don't think that's the way to go for a successful fat loss journey.

It's not just calories in calories out that matters. It's the quality of the calories and where they come from.

My advice

About your food:

Mike is right. Your daily intake of carbs is too high. You have to cut back on them by eating more veggies, proteins, and healthy fats. This means eating:

  • A lot of veggies (but no legumes)
  • A lot of fatty fish and lean meat
  • Healthy oils like virgin coconut oil and olive oil

Make sure you cut back on the unhealthy highly processed vegetable omega 6 oils like corn oil, rapeseed oil, canola, etc.

Don't start counting calories because that doesn't work, and it won't take long before you get bored of it. Just eat as much as you want when you want, but eat the right things.

If you want good advice and guidance on how to change your diet, read Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint and check out these wonderful Paleo sites with info and recipes:

About your exercise:

1. Cardio

Running half an hour at the same intensity, in your case kind of slow (4km/30min), is not the way to go. This chronic cardio will not get you lean quickly.

You need to train more in intervals. This means that instead of running at the same speed for a long time, you frequently switch your running intensity. Start at a lower heart rate (60%) for like 5 minutes. After that, sprint for 20 seconds at your maximum speed. Then go back to the 60% hart rate and do the whole thing again for 15-20 minutes.

They call this method Tabata training after the Japanese scientist who invented it. It's much more efficient than working out 30 minutes at continously low intensity.

You can compare it with riding a car on the motorway for 30 minutes at a constant speed of 120km/h. Now take that same car and put it in the centre of a big city for half an hour where it has to stop and go continuously. The 'city car' will use up a lot more fuel than the car on the motorway. It's actually pretty logical. Don't overdo your body with exercise. 3 times a week should be enough. Other ways your cortisol levels will rise, and getting lean will be more difficult in that kind of hormonal state.

TIP: Try doing your cardio workout on following moments:

  1. before breakfast (when your insulin levels are low)
  2. After dinner (when your insulin levels are higher so you go to sleep with lowered insulin levels)

Here on this site you will find info about Tabata training:

2. Strength

You should not only be doing cardio when you want to get leaner. Try a little strength training every few days. Concentrate at the bigger muscle groups by doing high intensity exercises like squat, pull ups, deadlifts, benchpress.

Try using functional gear like the Vipr and the Kettlebell to train your body and stay away from machinery as much as you can. Focus on movement effeciency rather than on muscles. That means a lot of multi-compound exercise, and getting load and movement in the same exercise. Again Vipr is an ideal insturment for doing this but there are other possibilities as well.

If you don't have much experience with strength training than check out CrossFit, and please make sure that you seek some guidance before you get started. I would not want you to hurt yourself.

Do this and you WILL lose weight rapidly.

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Excellent advice for your average joe trying to lose weight. –  Mike S Aug 1 '12 at 1:20
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Give it time and don't concentrate on weight - you could be gaining muscle mass or your body could still be adjusting to the new routine - 2-3 months of a consistent change could be required before you start to see some benefits.

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I'd really like to upvote your answer, but my low reputation doesn't allow it. –  eagerMoose Oct 16 '11 at 19:54
    
I really strongly doubt muscle mass gain is much of a factor with this low intensity jogging for 6 weeks. –  Chelonian Oct 18 '11 at 2:39
    
@Chelonian - a lot of training mistakes are made on assumptions and constant, quick changes. Each person's body behaves differently and the most important point is that a few weeks to judge if a new exercise program is good or not is to short. Basic things to look for are small body changes (are your pants feeling looser) and health (are you getting hurt or feeling excessively tired)........ –  Meade Rubenstein Oct 18 '11 at 12:51
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