I am a relatively fit guy (180 cm, and normally 81 kg athletic) and a few weeks ago I started a daily routine to lose fat and gain some core muscle. I train martial arts so the goal is to get faster and stronger. The problem is that I have actually gained some fat in the process and apparently I'm not gaining muscle.

What I'm doing is waking up at 6:20 everyday, having a big glass of a fruit shake, running 40 min on the street, then lifting some weights for another 30-40 minutes, another big glass of fruit shake and go to work. Then at night I train martial arts every other day.

During the day I try to eat a bit every time I get hungry, whether it's some light healthy eating or an actual meal. This generally means (in addition to the shakes I mentioned) to have a small lunch about 11:30 am, a sandwich around 15:00, another sandwich around 17:00, dinner around 19:00 and then some other snack at 21:30.

I find it kind of hard to keep track of the calories I'm spending during the day in order to balance that out with the calories I eat (since I don't have any means to know how many calories I burn by running or hitting the gym or fighting) but with the amount of exercise I do regularly, I find it really hard to comprehend me to be eating more calories than I'm using.

Any ideas?

  • Are you asking about your workout, or how to better track your food?
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:06
  • @SeanDuggan well, I'm asking about anything that anyone thinks would help.
    – TomCho
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:11
  • I've changed your question a little bit to try to make it clearer. Feel free to modify it further or to reverse my edits.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:34
  • 3
    Just to be clear, are you tracking your food intake? Your claimed problem is difficulty tracking the amount of calories expended in exercise, but food tends to be the problem more often than not.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:36
  • @SeanDuggan well, since I don't have means to track my calories outtake, I don't bother to track my intakes as well. But I could somewhat easily do that. (Thanks for the edit by the way)
    – TomCho
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 1:12

2 Answers 2


It is extremely difficult for most people to lose weight without tracking their diet, especially when exercising. The long and the short of it is that the human body evolved over a period of thousands of years where you ate what you could when you could because the odds were that you'd have to go without for a time. Therefore, our natural reaction to burning calories is to eat, to replenish those energy stores, and they've proven in one study after another that people tend to consume more than they burn unless they track it.

This is compounded with that most measures of how many calories are burnt in exercise are overly optimistic. Give people a Fitbit and they'll gain weight even as they're moving more. That seems to be in part because they're being told that they've burned X calories, which translates into "I can eat that much more". To some degree, it's the same thing without tracking. Run a mile and your body will be telling you that you deserve a hamburger for it despite the massive disparity in calories. It's just generally not sustainable?

So, what then? Well, as k88 said in their answer, you need to start tracking your food intake. You may be able to get away without the scale — I know I don't use one — but it's good to start noting down what you eat and how much of it, and to start totaling up the calories. Most people find they've been eating much more than they thought. A scale is better because a) many companies lie on, or are at least deceptive about, the the "serving size" on their food and b) again, we as humans are bad at estimating things and we tend to underestimate the amount of calories we're taking in. Where I will disagree is the amount of calories. You're actually pretty genuinely active, which adds to the amount of calories in your day. Cut it too far and you'll lose out on gains due to your body being insufficiently fueled. Doing a quick Google will get you an idea as to how many calories you're burning at a particular exercise. I would recommend cutting about 100 calories off of each measurement just because of the difficulties in getting exact values. At that to your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and subtract from your calories consumed. Is it positive? Then you're probably going to gain weight. If it's negative, you're probably going to be losing weight. It's really that simple.

  • my reasoning for saying to start with a sedentary level is because, as you said, it is extremely difficult to getting the exact values of energy used during exercise. And we as humans tend to overestimate our activity level. Hence, one could start as per your suggestion or as per my suggestion. Gues it is part of the trial and error. :)
    – k88
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 13:55
  • {nods} I guess my argument is that it's also easy to accidentally go into "dieting" mode where you're taking in such a deficit of calories that you have no energy, and feel miserable. For someone doing 30 minutes of exercise in a day, I'd agree with you to start with sedentary, but he's already averaging about 90 minutes a day as best I can tell.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:31

Buy a kitchen scale and get an app for calorie tracking. Calculate your sedentary BMR and try to eat 300-500 calories less than that.

You should lose weight if you track your calories correctly. If you happen to lose too fast, recalculate your BMR with a higher activity level. Then substract 300-500 again and make sure your calorie intake is at that level.

It takes a little trial and error to find what your BMR is, but once you do it should be easy to calculate how much you should eat depending on bulking/cutting. .

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