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This might be a long post, but I am trying to understand what I am doing wrong.

Timelines are as follows:

2018 - Started at 92kg, 172cm tall, 38 years old male

General

  • Smoker
  • Sleep maybe 4 to 5 hours a night
  • High stress job
  • Drink 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day (black with 1 cube of sugar)
  • Avoid running as I have a bum knee

Jun 2018 - Jul 2019 (End weight 79kg, don't know body fat percentage)

  • Started with walking 5km a day after dinner for 2 months
  • Started training with trainer twice a week for 60 minutes each
    • Program was more functional training (TRX, dumb bell squats, RDL, Planks, Box step ups, etc)
    • Trainers biggest complain was I was not eating enough
  • On non-resistance training days would do 45 minute so cardio (Elliptical, Stationary Bike)
  • One full day rest with no activity
  • Diet was not as strict. Had steel cut oats for breakfast every morning. Grilled boneless skinless chicken breast on weekends for lunch and dinner with broccoli.
  • Ate out for lunch every weekday (sandwiches, bar food, occasional beer with lunch), and would also order take out for dinner as I live alone and come home late after work. Even had pizza every Friday.
  • Tried to get healthier options for take out on days other than Friday
  • Snacks tried to keep it to almonds and fruits

August 2019 - Present Day (Current weight 88kg, 30% body fat - callipers measurements by trainer)

  • Had to move to a different country for work (July 2019)
  • Got a new trainer for same 2 day a week training program
    • Trainer focused more on strength training (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc)
    • Usually takes me 90 minutes to finish the entire program
    • Kept asking me to reduce caloric intake (he measured starting weight as 79kg with 29% body fat)
  • On non-strength training days would do 45 minute so cardio (Elliptical, Stationary Bike)
  • One full day rest with no activity
  • Diet was a lot stricter since WFH was instituted. 400g boneless skinless chicken breast for lunch. Half portion rice, chicken, fried egg and vegetables for dinner.
  • Snacks were fruits, and yoghurt
  • Tend to skip breakfast as I don't have to wake up so early to make sure I am in the office

I understand there might be a lot less daily activity with WFH, but I would think that the 2 meals a day plus the stricter diet would either maintain or result in loss of body fat, but it seems to be stuck at the same percentage and my weight has gone up.

Any pointers on things I should be looking at or focusing on to figure out where I am going wrong, since it seems I was doing a lot worse diet wise in my earlier program, but got better results.

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    How many calories would you estimate you eat per day? That would be the first place to start.
    – DeeV
    Dec 10 '20 at 14:46
  • Started at 79 kg 29% bf and now 88 kg 30% bf with a new focus on strength training? Sounds like you've put on muscle.
    – C. Lange
    Dec 10 '20 at 17:11
  • @deev Based at least on what the trainer is watching of my diet, he estimates I am doing about 1800 calories a day, which should be below my TDEE i would hope Dec 11 '20 at 5:04
  • @C.Lange Possibly, but would expect the BF% to drop at least, instead of remaining stagnant ? Dec 11 '20 at 5:05
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    Are you weighing your food and tracking or are you eyeing portions and eating intuitively?
    – DeeV
    Dec 11 '20 at 14:00
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It sounds to me like you're really dedicated to your fitness goals, which is great! I think the next step would be to start weighing and tracking your food individually. Everything that goes in to your mouth counts and adds up. You're probably not showing your trainer everything you're eating (although I could easily be wrong).

Tracking yourself will give you a better idea of what you are actually eating. The trick is you have to be absolutely honest with everything you eat. Every apple, every gram of butter, every gram of sugar needs to be tracked which can sometimes be burdensome. Just do it for a couple days to get a baseline. You may find that some of the foods you eat are more caloric than previously thought (it's sometimes eye-opening).

Ensure that your weighing the meat pre-cooked (unless specified in the tracker). Pre-cooked meat weighs more than cooked meat so you may be under-reporting.

Sometimes food labels will also stretch the truth on the label or flat out lie. This problem seems particularly egregious in the U.S. and Canada, but I imagine other countries are pretty lax with the regulations too. Every calorie in food is made up of fat (9 cals per gram), carbs (4 cals per gram), and protein (4 cals per gram). For the foods that you eat that aren't natural, add up the macros on the label to ensure that they're close to the listed calories. Use the higher number for tracking purposes.

If you do all this, and you still find that you're eating about 1,800 a day, then the only options left are to increase activity or eat less. You're already walking every day and doing cardio 5 days a week so you got that covered. If you're not already, I would try to increase performance on the stationary bike. Pedaling faster burns more calories, so if you usually ride 10 km on the bike in 45 minutes, then train up to 15 km. Once you're at 15, train up to 20. Incorporate intervals in which you switch between really fast cycling and slow cycling. Do pyramid style where you slowly step up the face and then slowly step down. Stationary bikes usually have presets that do this for you.

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  • Thanks for your answer DeeV, and I apologise for the delay in responding. I just suppose it is depressing to not be making a dent, even after I got stricter on diet. Was wondering if there was something I was missing. Oh, and to your questions. I do buy raw uncooked chicken breasts (frozen), and then defrost them and prepare them myself. Also do use the hill and interval programs on the elliptical and bike, and increase the resistance if I find my heart rate is consistently below 120bpm. Try to keep my heart rate at around 135 to 145bpm. Dec 13 '20 at 3:34
  • @user2763448 yes. I know all too well how frustrating that can be. From experience, it's almost always because there's something in the diet that is more caloric than previously thought. Once for me it was Quest bars. The bars are bigger than the serving size on the wrapping and they subtract erythritol from the calories (erythritol isn't exactly 0 calories).
    – DeeV
    Dec 13 '20 at 23:23

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