Thursday, September 4, 2014

Metabolism

Last year at the end of my weight management program I took a Medgem test to measure my metabolism. It was quite low. I was a bit disappointed, however I was willing to accept that the diet itself was contributing to this. Over the past year since the end of the program, I've worked hard. My diet is hardly perfect but it's a thousand times better than it was before the weight loss and my activity level has improved tremendously. I started with a crossfit program mentioned previously and now I'm both running and doing Yoga in addition to the tennis that I've always been doing. With the marathon training, I've cut back a bit on crossfit, so currently my week looks something like:

  • Run 18-25 miles/week - increasing about a mile per week per the training program
  • Crossfit twice a week
  • Yoga twice a week
  • Tennis once or twice a week
As far as my diet, I still track what I eat pretty religiously using MyFitnessPal. I set (what I thought was) a fairly low calorie target, and, on the advice on the nutritionist from the program, I add additional calories to the pool based on my runs (calorie counts are pulled automatically from the Garmin tracking program). I don't add in calories for the crossfit, yoga, or tennis. 

Despite all of this, I've been gaining weight. It's been slow, but steady. Since the end of the program I've gained back around 20 pounds. There are only two explanations for this. I'm either not tracking my intake accurately, or I'm not burning as much as I thought. I feel that I've been tracking both my food and exercise pretty well, so I decided to narrow down the possibilities and get my metabolism measured again. 

I went back to the weight loss program folks and set up a session to measure my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). They do a pretty good job with this and make sure to take into account your lifestyle alongside the numbers take directly from the calorimeter. My work has me at a desk most of the day, so for my RMR measurements, that's classified as sedentary. Exercise is not counted in the RMR calculation,  however it is taken into account when coming up with a diet plan. 

The results? Let me say it this way: after the test when they sit down with you to discuss the results, they print out your numbers on some paperwork. On one of the pages there is a chart that shows the RMR ranges and where your results sit within that range. The chart goes from 1650 kcals/day to 2203 kcals/day (remember that this isn't just your base "to stay alive" calorie needs, but also taking into account normal lifestyle needs). 

My RMR didn't make it onto the chart.  1560 kcals/day. 

So apparently, I have the metabolism of a 90 year old lady in a wheelchair. The good news is that should an apocalypse hit anytime soon, I'll be able to live off my current fat reserve for months! ;)

I won't lie. I was frustrated by this number. It was only 70 kcals higher than what had been measured at the end of the program last year and I've worked so hard since then. It does explain some things though. I know that this is just a number. It's not (really...) good or bad, but it does mean that I have next to zero wiggle room in my diet.  I will have to reset my daily calorie goals significantly lower, but I will still need to fuel my activity level properly so WHAT I eat will be extremely important. The mix of carbs, protein, and fats will have to be very well defined an maintained or I could have problems like fatigue, cramping, or just plain "feeling crappy".

It's good to know why I've been struggling with the slow creep up in weight, but I sure thought I had earned myself a little more leeway. Not to be, I guess.