Monday, April 7, 2008

Metabolic Hysteresis

No, that's not a real process or property, but a name I made up to describe what always happens when I start a weight loss program. Hysteresis can be described as a property of a system to have a delayed response to a change in an input. This seems to be what happens to my metabolism when I first reduce my food intake. It just keeps cranking along at its normal pace, resulting in a larger weight loss than the reduced calories can justify. I always end up losing more pounds in the first week than I should. But eventually my metabolism catches on to what's happening, and adjusts itself down to compensate. Sooner or later, it will force me to face the dreaded "E" word.

I've been monitoring my calories pretty closely, using an online calorie management website called The Daily Plate. It allows you to enter in every thing you eat each day, and computes the total calories, fat, protein, sodium, etc. You can look up foods from a database of thousands of brands and restaurants. Or you can create your own food item from the list of ingredients in the database. If your favorite lunch is the BananaDanna sandwich, you just enter 2 slices of pumpernickel bread, 1 banana, and 2 oz of Dannon yogurt, and save it. The next time you enjoy your BananaDanna, just click on it from your saved meals, and it gets added to your daily list. There are more bells and whistles on the site, some of which require upgrading to the subscription version, but for now the free site does everything I need.

One of the tools is a calculator that uses your age, weight, activity, and weight loss goal to compute your daily calorie target. For me to lose about 2 pounds a week, that comes to about 1700 calories. I've managed to stay on target most of the time. Saturday, I didn't record anything, but I'm confident that I didn't stray too far from the center line. Cheeseburgers and cinnamon coffee cake put me over on Sunday, but my weekly average aligns pretty well.

Daily Average1733

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

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