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  1. #1
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Size Loss vs Weight Loss

    On WW I've lost 37 or so pounds since me and the lovely Missus started the program. About three months ago I increased my time in the saddle and frequency of riding substantially so now I'm riding 5 times a week and averaging over an hour on the bike per ride, without any changes to the diet. I'm also riding faster, with an average speed of a little over 14mph instead of 12 or so.

    What I've noticed is that the riding has accelerated size loss (I'm getting thinner faster) but has slowed weight loss from about 1-1/2 pounds per week to about a half pound per week. I'm not disappointed at all, I feel great and am riding strong and the slowdown in scale weight loss doesn't bother me, but I'm curious why there would be such a slowdown in weight loss.

    What I've thought is that this might be because of increase in muscle size (or mass) improving lean body fat ratio, but I don't know. What are some theories/facts that may explain what's happening?
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    Senior Member clarkbre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    What I've thought is that this might be because of increase in muscle size (or mass) improving lean body fat ratio, but I don't know. What are some theories/facts that may explain what's happening?
    I'm no doctor but I have seen a similar situation since I started riding. I think you're correct in that you are gaining muscle where you didn't have it before. As good as it is to measure weight, looking at yourself if the mirror and how your clothes fit is just as important...if not more.
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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Hate to rain on the parade but I don't think muscle gain accounts for the weight loss slow down. I don't think people actually realize how hard it would be to gain a pound of pure muscle.

    more than likely you are retaining more water as a result of the increased exercise, and perhaps your actually eating a bit more.

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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Hate to rain on the parade but I don't think muscle gain accounts for the weight loss slow down. I don't think people actually realize how hard it would be to gain a pound of pure muscle.

    more than likely you are retaining more water as a result of the increased exercise, and perhaps your actually eating a bit more.
    Not eating more at all, we carefully track on the Weight Watchers program. Water retention is an interesting idea, how would that work physically?
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    It could be your not eating enough if you went to a full week riding maybe your body think it starving so it holding on. At least that what my buddy next to me said.

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    Senior Member The_DK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Hate to rain on the parade but I don't think muscle gain accounts for the weight loss slow down. I don't think people actually realize how hard it would be to gain a pound of pure muscle.

    more than likely you are retaining more water as a result of the increased exercise, and perhaps your actually eating a bit more.
    yeah, water, glycogen, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthseeker View Post
    It could be your not eating enough if you went to a full week riding maybe your body think it starving so it holding on. At least that what my buddy next to me said.
    This is what I am going with. As you know Trac, I ride all the time. Commute 4-5 times a week plus longer weekend rides usually both days. When I see a small loss, I know I need to dive deeply into my weekly points. This has worked about 95% of the time for me.

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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    This is what I am going with. As you know Trac, I ride all the time. Commute 4-5 times a week plus longer weekend rides usually both days. When I see a small loss, I know I need to dive deeply into my weekly points. This has worked about 95% of the time for me.
    With what I'm experiencing, your answer (and earthseeker's) seems to be the one that makes the most sense. That puts me in a position that if I eat a little more than I do now, it will actually accelerate weight loss . . . how ironic. The way it is now, however, with the gradual weight loss/massive size loss/health gains is fine with me. Thanks all for your insight!
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    Having lost over 170 pounds in the last 2 years I am familiar with this. As you start a diet and limit your caloric intake to the level that it proper - typically consuming as many calories or a bit less than it takes to support your desired body weigh, you will lose a lot of weight very fast, as you approach your desired weight the weight loss slows and then stops.

    The following is over simplified but is generally correct. Let's say your 100 pounds over weight and you've been eating 4000 calories a day, you diet and reduce your caloric intake to 2000 calories a day. The reduction is 50% and since a pound of fat is about 3000 calories you should be losing about 4 pounds a week - 2000 calories X 7 days = 14000 calories divided by 3000 is over 4. As your weight drops so does the need for calories to maintain your weight - the more you weigh the MORE calories you need just to maintain that weight. So as your weight drops the percentage of caloric shortfall decreases. So you've lost enough weight that you now need 2500 calories a day to stay at that weight, you are still eating 2000 calories so the shortfall is now only 500 calories a day, using the same math - 500 X 7 = 3500 calories you would now only be losing a little over a pound a week.

    You can accelerate weight loss by increasing caloric use - exercising. As vesteroid pointed out above it is VERY difficult to build a pound of muscle. It takes a lot of time and the right type of exercise to gain muscle mass fast. And since you are exercising you are more than likely gaining SOME muscle but since it's most aerobic exercise you aren't building it very fast, you are TONING the muscle that's there though, that is improving it's shape and tightening it up - hence the shrinking size. It's REAL easy to gain a pound of fat, and pretty easy to lose a pound of fat, to exchange a pound of fat for a pound of muscle is very hard.

    Water retention is some of it, you're drinking more water and possibly eating just a bit more as you are working up an appetite.

    Regardless, you're on the right track. Don't get caught up in the fine detail that will get you discouraged. Just eat less, eat right and exercise more and you will get to where you want to be.

  10. #10
    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rootman View Post
    Having lost over 170 pounds in the last 2 years I am familiar with this. As you start a diet and limit your caloric intake to the level that it proper - typically consuming as many calories or a bit less than it takes to support your desired body weigh, you will lose a lot of weight very fast, as you approach your desired weight the weight loss slows and then stops.

    The following is over simplified but is generally correct. Let's say your 100 pounds over weight and you've been eating 4000 calories a day, you diet and reduce your caloric intake to 2000 calories a day. The reduction is 50% and since a pound of fat is about 3000 calories you should be losing about 4 pounds a week - 2000 calories X 7 days = 14000 calories divided by 3000 is over 4. As your weight drops so does the need for calories to maintain your weight - the more you weigh the MORE calories you need just to maintain that weight. So as your weight drops the percentage of caloric shortfall decreases. So you've lost enough weight that you now need 2500 calories a day to stay at that weight, you are still eating 2000 calories so the shortfall is now only 500 calories a day, using the same math - 500 X 7 = 3500 calories you would now only be losing a little over a pound a week.

    You can accelerate weight loss by increasing caloric use - exercising. As vesteroid pointed out above it is VERY difficult to build a pound of muscle. It takes a lot of time and the right type of exercise to gain muscle mass fast. And since you are exercising you are more than likely gaining SOME muscle but since it's most aerobic exercise you aren't building it very fast, you are TONING the muscle that's there though, that is improving it's shape and tightening it up - hence the shrinking size. It's REAL easy to gain a pound of fat, and pretty easy to lose a pound of fat, to exchange a pound of fat for a pound of muscle is very hard.

    Water retention is some of it, you're drinking more water and possibly eating just a bit more as you are working up an appetite.

    Regardless, you're on the right track. Don't get caught up in the fine detail that will get you discouraged. Just eat less, eat right and exercise more and you will get to where you want to be.
    Appreciate the answer but it's not applicable to my situation. Weight Watchers is designed a little differently than the diet you describe: your caloric intake (on the WW plan) is a certain level below what it would take to maintain weight. Then, as you lose weight, the caloric "requirement" lowers at the same rate of weight loss, therefore, if followed correctly, weight loss (especially for someone not exercising) is at the same rate throughout the program. To draw it into your example, if it took 4000 calories per day to maintain weight, Weight Watchers would require you to eat about 3000, instead of the 2000 in your example. Then, as you lose weight, the caloric requirement lowers. If it takes you 3800 calories to maintain weight, then the plan would lower to 2800, etc.

    Your method of losing weight is just as valid as what we experiencing on WW, but it is not applicable to my question.
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    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    I've lost 85 pounds on WW over the last 18 months. I found that I would hit plateaus where my weight loss would slow down or stop. I found temporarily eating more points would sometimes stimulate the loss again. I have no explanation for it, other than the starvation theory, but it worked for me.
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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCbiker View Post
    I've lost 85 pounds on WW over the last 18 months. I found that I would hit plateaus where my weight loss would slow down or stop. I found temporarily eating more points would sometimes stimulate the loss again. I have no explanation for it, other than the starvation theory, but it worked for me.
    This is completely in agreement with what Chef Isaac and earthseeker ​said - "the starvation theory" - thanks. The more I think about that, the more I like it
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    Senior Member clarkbre's Avatar
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    It all makes sense. My original comment of losing weight/gaining muscle was more intended that even if you're not losing weight, you're at least doing something to tone your body for the better. Don't dwell on a constant weight loss.

    I have used the myfitnesspal app off and on for the last year or so and experience the major, minor, and plateau weight loss.

    One thing to take into consideration too is that your body is probably getting acclimated to the new weight. It sounds crazy but for whatever % weight loss has happened, every organ in your body is adjusting as well.
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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkbre View Post
    It all makes sense. My original comment of losing weight/gaining muscle was more intended that even if you're not losing weight, you're at least doing something to tone your body for the better. Don't dwell on a constant weight loss.

    I have used the myfitnesspal app off and on for the last year or so and experience the major, minor, and plateau weight loss.

    One thing to take into consideration too is that your body is probably getting acclimated to the new weight. It sounds crazy but for whatever % weight loss has happened, every organ in your body is adjusting as well.
    +1
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    I've seen the same type of change. At 6'2 and 245 I wasn't obese, but definitely had a front porch and was struggling into size 40 pants - very uncomfortable. Six months of daily riding, better diet (no beer, get rid of junk and minimize simple carbs) and I am very comfortable in 38 pants and front porch is greatly reduced.

    But I weigh about 240, which is within statistical dead heat of 245.

    What I DID see was speed difference. Average ride of 10-15 miles (maybe 500 ft elevation change) went from 11-12 to 14-15. Interesting...
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    Whats happening is you have entered a weight loss plateau. What happens is that once you start losing weight, your body needs less energy (read calories) per day then it used to. For example, lets say you want to lose 1 lb a week. That means you have to eat in a deficit of 500 calories/day. Now lets say your maintenance calories/day are 2500, so you have to eat 2000 cal/day to lose 1 lb a week. But as you lose weight your maintenance level decreases because you have become smaller. So after some time your new maintenance level may be 2200, but if you continue eating 2000 cal/day you are no longer hitting that 500 cal deficit and your weight loss slows down. That is what causes a plateau.

    At the same time, our bodies are incredible things and they become more efficient at activities that we perform a lot. Cycling is a repetitive activity, so this means the more cycling you do, the better your body gets at doing those motions. As far as energy use is concerned, this means your body becomes more efficient at cycling the more you do it, and it uses less energy (calories) than it used to to do the same activity. When you started cycling an hour long ride may have burned you 700 cal, now it may only burn 550. The combination of these two things is what I think is slowing your weight loss, even though you are seeing improvements in your fitness.

    That being said, you are still exercising so your cardiovascular system will continue to improve. Also, while your weight might not be dropping as much, your body composition will still change. Your body will become better at burning fat for energy so your fat/lean body mass will improve. I think this is why you said you were getting thinner but your weight is not going down. Unfortunately, muscle mass takes a long time to put on, and cycling is not an activity that builds muscle to begin with (you have to lift weights to really build muscle). So while you will add some muscle mass, it will be small and that is not why your weight loss has slowed. There is no way you are adding any amount of muscle that will balance out the weight you are losing.

    If you are concerned and want to keep losing weight my advice is to start eating less, as your body needs less energy, but do not eat less than 1800 cal/day. This is more important than cycling, 80% of weight loss is your diet. As for the other 20% though, you will have to increase the amount of exercise you do. I know you mentioned that you are ding this but you have to change it as well and give your body a new challenge. Try cross training, either jogging or brisk waling or swimming, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), where are pedal hard (around 85% max heart rate) for a short amount of time then pedal moderate to recover and repeat. HIIT has been proven as the most effective way to workout for weight loss, but it isnt very fun And try lifting weights 2 days a week. Lifting weights boosts your metabolism for up to 48 hours afterward, which means you will burn more calories throughout the day when you arent exercising (HIIT does this too but normal, moderate pedaling does not). Also, muscle uses more energy than fat so the more muscle your body has the more calories you will burn per day (increases metabolism).

    Thats weight loss in a nutshell! Sorry I ended up writing you a book. Hope it helps. Just remember what you have already accomplished is amazing and you should be proud of yourself. Keep it up!

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    Do you ride with a heart rate monitor? I firmly believe that if you want to lose weight while exercising, your need to use a HRM to keep your heart rate in a fat-burning zone.

    The second thing that strikes me is that this becomes a percentages thing. In the early stages, large amounts of weight loss equalled a certain low percentage of your body weight. Asd your bodyweight reduces, the percentages change. If you maintain the weekly weight loss, the percentage lost goes up.

    At some stage, the amount you lose will have to start tapering off; it just depends at what weight target you have chosen to achieve.

    I can't help but think this is one of the reasons why people's weight yo-yos so dramatically after they have achieved their weight target -- they haven't tapered their dietary intake balanced with their physical activity.

    It's like everything else in life, the faster the landing, the more dramatic the reaction will be.
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    I started at 110kg and initially dieted like crazy and exercised to the point of exhaustion. Dragged my weight down 15kg. The last 10kg was ironically lost by eating more than usual and cycling 1200km a month or more. The size change is way more drastic. I was at size 38 pants and xl shirts. Now I wear 32 inch waist size and I fit into an L. My body has dropped most if not all of its subcutanious fat and I can see every muscle - even my abs when I move. Sometimes massive amounts of exercise acheive the same result. I've also gained legs like tree trunks and can ride twice as fast or better with little effort for 5 hours at a time.

    Personally I think exercise is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I personally think kr nailed it

    i think the starvation concept is a myth.

    If I had to pick between eating more or exercising more to speed up my weight loss....well there would be no choice.

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Vesteroid, there is good evidence that your body will conserve resources by lowering its metabolic rate if underfed and thus use less calories--adaptive thermogenesis. http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v3.../0803523a.html But likely most of the metabolic changes during weight loss come from a decrease in your body mass, less body to power so less calories needed. No matter what, a calorie deficit will always produce weight loss. So you can't be eating 1000 calories and not lose weight.

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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    I personally think kr nailed it

    i think the starvation concept is a myth.

    If I had to pick between eating more or exercising more to speed up my weight loss....well there would be no choice.
    the "starvation" concept as we're referring to it in this thread is a slowdown in weight loss, not a stop. I'm still losing weight, but just not at the rate I was. This is supported in the Weight Watchers article you linked to, and is what we're referring to.

    Your other comment about the importance of exercise I support one thousand percent. Not only for weight loss, but for overall health Exercise is of supreme importance. Although I'm on Weight Watchers, I've stated in other conversations that I consider my weight loss primarily the result of bicycling, with the diet lending a helping hand. Some say that weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise; but I would put it at completely the opposite. I'm a great fan of Covert Bailey (Fit or Fat). With exercise we are literally recreating our bodies, transforming them into efficient machines. Weight loss naturally follows.
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    Captain Big Ring tractorlegs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krobinson103 View Post
    I started at 110kg and initially dieted like crazy and exercised to the point of exhaustion. Dragged my weight down 15kg. The last 10kg was ironically lost by eating more than usual and cycling 1200km a month or more. The size change is way more drastic. I was at size 38 pants and xl shirts. Now I wear 32 inch waist size and I fit into an L. My body has dropped most if not all of its subcutanious fat and I can see every muscle - even my abs when I move. Sometimes massive amounts of exercise acheive the same result. I've also gained legs like tree trunks and can ride twice as fast or better with little effort for 5 hours at a time.

    Personally I think exercise is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.
    +1
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCbiker View Post
    I've lost 85 pounds on WW over the last 18 months. I found that I would hit plateaus where my weight loss would slow down or stop. I found temporarily eating more points would sometimes stimulate the loss again. I have no explanation for it, other than the starvation theory, but it worked for me.
    The diet program I am on does similar. If you're stuck they encourage you to eat a bit more than you normally do to see if that can get you losing again. I have also seen that greatly increasing exercise makes me hold water and also seems to slow the scale down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
    the "starvation" concept as we're referring to it in this thread is a slowdown in weight loss, not a stop. I'm still losing weight, but just not at the rate I was. This is supported in the Weight Watchers article you linked to, and is what we're referring to.

    Your other comment about the importance of exercise I support one thousand percent. Not only for weight loss, but for overall health Exercise is of supreme importance. Although I'm on Weight Watchers, I've stated in other conversations that I consider my weight loss primarily the result of bicycling, with the diet lending a helping hand. Some say that weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise; but I would put it at completely the opposite. I'm a great fan of Covert Bailey (Fit or Fat). With exercise we are literally recreating our bodies, transforming them into efficient machines. Weight loss naturally follows.
    Unfortunately I have to disagree with you regarding your views on exercise over dieting, and so does the medical and scientific community. There have been tons of studies done regarding this and it has been proven that an improved diet alone will give better weight loss results than just exercising alone without a change in diet. A quick google search will provide many examples of this from reputable sources. The problem is that people tend to drastically over-estimate how many calories they burn during exercise (supported by studies) and think the exercise they are doing will give greater results toward weight loss then it actually does. If you dont believe me buy a heart rate monitor and go for a ride; you may be surprised at the actual number of calories you are burning (as a side note, I highly recommend a heart rate monitor anyway for all types of exercise. It will help you work out more efficiently). For example, I literally just finished working out on my trainer for 45 minutes, with an average heart rate of around 77% max, I felt the burn almost the entire time, and I burned a little over 650 calories. My point is that you would have to workout like an absolute animal to equal the same amount of calories you can simply cut from a bad diet. You say you consider your weight loss to be from cycling, and you flip the importance of dieting over exercise, but this isnt true. What really happened is, and I dont mean to offend, but you went from a poor diet that made you overweight to WW, and extremely controlled diet. The difference in calories between those 2 diets is incredible; thats the main cause of your weight loss.

    Im not trying to be a jerk or get into any arguments, I just want anyone trying to lose weight to be informed and understand the importance of a good diet and to not over emphasize exercise because that can lead to disappointing results. You cant just eat whatever you want, no matter how much exercise you do, and expect to lose weight.

    But, pretty much everyone agrees, including myself, that a combination of diet and exercise is most effective, both for weight loss and also for the health benefits of exercise that does not directly result in fat loss (increased cardiovascular system, toning and retention or building of muscle mass). Exercise will absolutely make a difference, just remember diet is king. And i do agree with you that exercise plays an important, larger role in maintaining weight loss once your target weight has been reached.

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