Posted by: leebase | August 22, 2012

One Pound Gain – Weight Loss Math

It was bound to happen, and it did this week…I gained weight instead of losing. One pound. I’m so close to the 50lb mark that I can taste it. I’m really hoping to achieve it before our company’s annual consultant’s forum next week.

So what happened? How did I mess up? Did I cheat, or fall off the wagon? I did go over my calories by a bit one day. I did eat at a Mexican restaurant with my wife on Sat. night. I think there may have been a night or two where I ate a bit of cheese and olives without recording them. Is that why? Thanks to MyFitnessPal, I know that I actually came in 1400 calories under my weekly goal. So, I’m quite certain that I had a safety margin to cover any night time piece of cheese and olives…even a misestimate or two of calories.

Perhaps I gained muscle! Muscle does weigh more than fat. But consider, if I could gain a pound of muscle in a week, that would be 50 pounds of muscle in a year…all just by walking? Don’t think so. It’s very hard to put on muscle and lose weight at the same time. The best most non-weightlifters can hope for is to loose less muscle by eating protein and keeping active.

Time for a bit of Weight Loss Math. 3500 calories equal a pound of weight (approx, for most people, affected by each person’s metabolism, but it’s a solid place to start). To lose weight you start with your BMR – Basal Metabolism Rate. It’s basically how many calories you need to maintain your weight if you just laid on the couch all day. If you ate that amount, and didn’t move much, you’d stay the same.

At my level of activity (sedentary), my “stay the same weight” daily calorie amount is about 2700. To lose one pound in a week, I need to eat 500 fewer calories a day. To lose 2lbs a week (my goal), I have to eat 1000 less calories a day…or 1700 calories. By exercising, I increase how many calories I get to eat.

Ok…so…to gain a pound, I had to eat 10500 calories MORE than I had planned on…3500 for each pound I had planned to lose, and 3500 for the pound I gained. There is NO WAY I did that this week.

What we are left with is what I call the “water slush fund”. According to Dr. Phinney in “New Atkins for a New You” – we all have about 2 quarts of water that come and go as your body pleases. It’s not tied to how well you are dieting and exercising. It’s a 4 to 5 pound “fudge factor”. If you are aiming to lose 2lbs a week, your good behavior can be masked for 2 weeks or so by this water. I’m just very lucky to not have had a gain week in the 4 months previous.

BTW, it’s Wed, and I’m already down almost 5lbs. Yeah…there’s nothing I did to lose an exceptional amount of weight these past 3 days. It’s just that water slush fund. As such, I’m paying attention to the long term trends, not the day to day, or even 1 week, blips.

I covered this topic in my latest podcast:


  1. Yeah…the math is rather quickly thrown off by what your body does to conserve energy when you start starving it! I\’m encouraged to hear mention of Atkins, he\’s pretty much on the right track from what I\’ve read. I\’m a big fan of \”Good Calories, Bad Calories\”.

    • I doubt that the 2000 calories a day I’m eating count as starving. I read Gery Taubes other book “Why We Get Fat”, and intend to read his “Good Calories, Bad Calories”

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