I Blinded Me, With Science

I’m getting fat. Yes, me. I understand you are gawking at the screen, cursing at my already low weight and considering a phone call to an anorexic hotline, but stay with me, here. Since moving to Chicago, I fell off my wagon, and instead of being 138 pounds at 8% bodyfat, I’m somewhere around 150 with likely fifteen percent. This proves whatever I’m eating is overwhelming my metabolism, and while I will never tip the scales at 200, it’s obvious my current diet is unhealthy. Given I was gifted with a supposedly above-average intellect, maybe I should utilize it for a change.

Various BMR calculators suggest my body obliterates around 1650 calories per day just sustaining my decaying carcass. This means for roughly every eight hours I suck oxygen, 550 Kilo-calories of glucose get converted into carbon dioxide and water. After applying the Harris Benedict Formula for moderate activity (multiply by 1.5 and round), I get 2500. I have lower than average muscle mass so that number should also scale down, but I’ll accept it since my fast metabolism likely compensates. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, sleep does not affect this average. I’m not physically active while being asleep (so subtract BMR/3), so that leaves about 2000 for the remainder of the day, and another 500 or so right before bed. Since a pound of fat contains 3500 calories, one pound per week means I should cut 500 out per day, leaving 1500 for the waking hours—not exactly starvation rations.

Let’s break this down further. Because the body consumes calories constantly, it’s not a stretch to consider food should be supplied constantly. WebMD seems to agree based on current research. Assuming I go to bed at 11pm, and eat a final 500 calorie meal at 10pm, that leaves 15 hours to distribute 1500 calories—fourteen if I work out in the morning. Taking the research to its extreme, this suggests 200 calories every two hours, or 400 every four. I like round numbers, and it makes snacking easy. A cup of beans has 200 calories. A small handful of peanuts has 200 calories. A cup of brown rice is only slightly over, and wild rice is a little low. Either way, a small but voluminous meal like this every couple hours is easily sustainable. If I start at 8am, that leaves 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, and my final dinner, for a total of seven small meals and a nightcap. I may fiddle with calorie counts and reduce this number depending on the difficulty of creating seven or eight meals every day.

Why did I use the 1.5 modifier for moderate activity even though I have a desk job? DDR is highly energy intensive. Based on previous experience, I’ve found it’s about as stringent as running seven or eight minute miles. If I play for a half hour every morning, that’s roughly 400 calories alone. If I lift weights for a half hour after work, that’s somewhere around 150. I also live in Chicago, which generally entails a lot of walking. Without reducing my intake to unhealthy levels, I’m still taking off a pound per week. This is practically glacial, but it’s meant to be slow. I’m changing my lifestyle, not going on a diet. As soon as I reach eight percent bodyfat again, I’ll slowly increase my caloric intake until my weight stabilizes.

This is the same system I used to reach 138 at 8% two years ago. If anyone wants to follow this as well, you’re welcome to use my numbers. With a little practice, grazing all day is actually fairly easy, and even with the smaller amounts of food, you should be less hungry. If you don’t exercise or play DDR constantly like me, I suggest using a BMR calculator and applying the Harris Benedict Formula yourself to obtain initial values.

Until Tomorrow