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Advice on Getting Lean/Dropping 10 lbs?

Hi all -
So this morning I am 188 lbs at 5’9", which is about 15-20 lbs heavier than I have been over the last 17 years or so.

Background: When I was in my early 30’s, I decided to get and stay fit, and dropped about 20-25 lbs by doing mostly bodyweight exercises with lots of conditioning/triathlons/5 k’s, etc… Would be around 165 lbs or so. Liked it, but also lost some strength. At around 40, I became more serious about barbell and strength training and my weight has been between 172 - 175 the last 6-7 years or so. I have kept it pretty effortlessly. I like that weight, but wouldn’t be opposed to weighing more if it meant feeling better, stronger, more awesome, etc…

Now: This year has been an unusual for me (like it has for everyone), with the virus, drop foot limiting activity, and now the fires further limiting outdoor stuff. This has resulted in less walking, no more biking to work, no more Sunday runs, no more 2x-a-week soccer, and no more weekly yoga. I have kept hitting the weights, and have got stronger, but have also continually seen the scale creep up. I still do get in conditioning with airdyne, boxing, or similar 3x a week, but am lacking the background exercise listed above.

Goals: Lean up!! Drop about 10 lbs or so, maintain as much strength (or get stronger), and generally just lean back up. I typically wear waist size 31, which are now a bit snug. My shirts are tighter across the chest/shoulder which I’m okay with.

Current diet:
Breakfast = oatmeal + scoop of whey + almond milk (none of this measured, just a bowl full) OR a smoothie of blueberries, yogurt, scoop of whey, spinach,
Workout drink = electrolyte tab dissolved in water, creatine scoop, 20 g of protein all shook up.

Lunch = Tuna sandwich + fruit + nuts OR leftovers like chicken/rice with 2-3 eggs added.

Dinner = whatever we’re having, but homecooked. Like pasta/beef, tacos, chili, etc… Eat until I’m full, never measure anything.

Snacks = protein bar, honey, nuts (eaten when I get hungry), sometimes a peanut butter sandwich.

Weekend splurges have increased in quarantine. I don’t go crazy, but will have a meal like pizza or burritos from a restaurant, and often beers on Friday and Saturday. I don’t really drink during the week.

Advice? I have really no experience doing something like this. I have never counted calories, macros, weighed food, or anything like that. I don’t really know what to change or if I stick with my current approach and assume things will correct themselves once the pandemic is over and I’m back in my usual routine.

Download MyFitnessPal, I suggest paying for the premium, buy a $15 scale at Walmart. Track everything. Scale goes up in a week, cut 200 calories. Rinse and repeat until you have chained geeek god status.

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:thinking: Dis might be summin

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I can’t speak in absolutes, as I’m only a few weeks into a deficit, but I’ve been giving it my all lifting going as hard and as heavy as humanly possible and have lost zero strength. Time will tell if this approach works.

I recently posted a video by John meadows about dieting while maintaining strength and his brows aligned with mine on the subject. Seems to be working so far :man_shrugging:

A simple approach that I find works well if you are eating similar foods at similar times each day is to half the carb source at a meal or 2, to start with for a week or so. So your examples above, half the oatmeal and half the bread at 1 meal.

Then after a little while drop the carbs from a meal or 2. Keep halfing and dropping gradually until your only carbs are around workouts.

Simple and easy to implement as ots not massive changes.

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I also support small changes. I find calorie counting, at least for a bit, helps me see where my norms are. I use the free MyFitnessPal.

Are there any meals you know you’re more likely to screw up? Like I just know that I’ll overeat at dinner, so I mitigate this two ways:

  1. I eat less earlier, so I have more calories to spare
  2. I have a whey shake about half an hour beforehand so I both know I’ve hit my protein goals (no excuse to go full hog at dinner) and I get fuller faster so I don’t want to overdo it

I think little tricks like that are helpful

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Yep. I usually eat fairly light during the day (I don’t like being full and having to be productive) but then I can eat a bit too much for dinner, and/or follow it up with “healthy” dessert like yogurt/honey, protein bar, peanut butter, etc…

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That’s where I think calorie-counting for a week or two can be really helpful - it’s pretty eye-opening about what’s hurting you and what may not be that big a deal, especially when you look in the short term and remember which things were satisfying vs. left you hungry.

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If you’ve always eaten the way you currently are and the only recent change is a reduction in NEPA, then finding ways to sneak in extra daily activity should help to balance you out. If it’s 50 burpees a day, daily squats and push-ups, daily thorough mobility session, whatever it takes to move around more.

You don’t necessarily “have to” count calories, but it’d definitely help get a better handle on what you’re eating and might be an eye-opener. If you want to go super simple, the most no-brainer way to improve fat loss nutrition is, like Kd was saying, shave down the carbs.

Looking at your sample plan, it’d mean less than a bowlful of oatmeal at breakfast; just tuna salad, not a tuna sandwich; less random-carb at dinner; no freaking peanut butter sandwiches to snack on; etc.

Also check these articles for some more options:

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if your diet hasn’t changed (or has it on the weekends…?) what about adding daily or eod steady state cardio on the airdyne? slow stuff like 50 rpm for 20-30min just to get some movement to replace the missing nepa.

eating wise your list did not include any veggies at all. suggest you replace half of your evening carbs with veggies/add them elsewhere. healthy, little cals and help you feel satisfied.

seemingly small changes like that can go a long way - your starting point is solid so no need to be too drastic.

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Cease this and watch weight drop. Being full is a sign of overeating for the vast majority of folks. Satiated is good: still a little hungry even better (assuming goal of weight loss).

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Don’t know if it applies, but I just used to free form eat without measuring.

It turns out that I used to eat 2-3 servings of cereal per “bowl”. And about the same in standard labeled serving sizes of just about everything else too.

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I like the small changes you can stick with. A few things come to mind.

Can you fit in a 30 minute walk? I get some mental benefits from doing this, as well as calories burned, and recovery after leg workouts.

Don’t drink calories. I break this rule with my morning protein shake, and with alcohol. With the alcohol, I cut out drinks during the week (sounds like you did too, good job). I have been drinking the 100 calorie girly drinks instead of craft beer as a compromise. I drink as much of the fake sugar drinks as I want also.

Sauces. This one gets my wife. She loves her ranch, honey mustard, etc. I am getting her to switch to better sauces. Small sacrifice to use low fat dressing, but if it mean 5 lbs in a year, it is worth it (that is probably an underestimate for her).

Sleeping. If you get good sleep hunger goes down. Muscle is better retained when dieting if sleep is good. I snack at night. On average I probably eat 300 calories in the last 30 minutes before bed. Going to bed 30 minutes early will help a bunch.

Sides. When going out or at home either skip high calorie sides (like fries), or replace with veggies or fruit. Eat as much of these as you like IMO. They have low calorie density, so they fill you up. In theory, one could gain weight eating these without restriction, but I think it is statistically so unlikely to happen that you should wait until it is a problem before restricting these foods. Haven’t seen a morbidly obese person who got that way eating fruit.

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Yes, I do walk about 3 miles a day. I’m still quite active, but not as much pre-pandemic. Also, I did have about 3-4 months of much less activity due to drop foot but I can walk normally again as of a couple of months ago.

I’ve tried to start cutting out the heavier IPAs, and drinking lagers. Lower ABV and calories. Plus, a few IPAs would make me hungrier for pizza.

Agreed. I am pretty good at this, and don’t eat too many fries or fried sides in general. Also, don’t tend to eat chain restaurant foods at all.

Is it normal that I’m never full after my post workout meal? Even when it’s 1500 cals?

@antiquity if you can’t move as much, then eat less calories. First thing first drop the nuts (all of them) and honey. Drop peanut butter or AT LEAST buy PB2. These things have way too much calories.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Strawberries are around 40 cal per 100 gr at the very most. You could eat 2 pounds, be full as a balloon and have ingested only 200 cals. (apples, berries, dragonfruit, watermelon…)

Use water in your oats. Replace everything you have with sugar free/diet thing: sugar free ketchup, diet pop etc.

Start measuring your dinner ar least reduce a bit lol

If you’re going to eat out or drink, gulp a big shake of whey before, it will fill you up. Less beer, more strong alcohol (with diet pop if any). Less alcohol in general. It makes me hungry AF

And sleep more. No matter how much you’re currently sleeping.

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Couldn’t tell you: I have only been full 3 times in my life. No idea what normal is.

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Usually my meals are on the lowish side, 300 - 500, sometimes a bit hungry but that’s okay. But after training I’m always ravenous. For hours.

The good thing about doing this is we drastically underestimate the amount we are consuming on the whole. The nice thing about calorie tracking is that we remember all the little shit. Yeah you had eggs for breakfast but you snuck two donuts Sheila brought for everyone, copped a few fun size snickers from the secretary’s welcome bowl, etc.

It’s also not something you really have to do for long periods of time to learn a lot. I’m not typically anal about tracking stuff but I started again as my weight has crept up as well during Covid and man was I eating more calories than I thought.

Ant I would highly suggest a food scale off Amazon (think the one I bought a year ago was like 12 bucks) and using my fitness pal or something similar for a bit. I hadn’t tracked calories for a while and man has that gotten easier. First off it already has almost everything under the sun on it. Second you can take pictures of the bar code of stuff. So in seconds you can have the content of your milk, protein shake, added fiber, creating, etc.

I would also suggest eating similar meals a lot. Not only do you have to track less but a lot of stuff that shows repetition in dieting is a good thing. Science says same old same old is good for fat loss.

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Thanks for the advice.

I think I’m a bit annoyed that I could always eat almost healthy food options pretty much til my heart was content, and just mix a couple of weekly splurges and still stay lean and at the same weight for years. I always allowed myself to eat as many nuts, fruits, oats, etc… but I think my activity level was so high it didn’t matter. Now with a dip in overall movement (even though my scheduled workouts are the same as ever) and a bump up in beer/weekend-type splurges I’ve seen the scale creep up over these past 6-7 months. It’s been really useful to write it out here, and see the responses, which have helped clarify things for me.

Today’s food and activity (monitoring closely for today):

7 am: black coffee
8 am: 1 mile walk
8:30: Smoothie with 2 scoops whey (32 g protein), 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, handful of spinach, table spoon ground flaxseed, splash of coconut water to get it blended.
9:30: black coffee
11 am: Pre workout: spoonful of honey/half a banana. Drink during: Nuun electrolyte tablet, 20 g protein, 5 g creatine, shook up in water.
Workout: 45 min of high pulls/KB jumps, then weight vest work (50 ring dips, 50 ring rows, 75 squats), 10 min airdyne.
Lunch: Can of Wild Planet tuna with mustard/bit of avocado mayo, greens, olive oil/vinegar as dressing (light drizzle), apple, 1 scoop of whey in almond milk. No bread @Chris_Colucci, thanks for the tip.
1:30 Bike to campus 1.5 miles.
2:30 Quest bar (costco brand).
5:00 Bike home: 1.5 miles.
6:30 1 big plate of curry chicken, rice, cauliflower, asparagus. Didn’t eat until I was full this time, @T3hPwnisher!

I feel like this was a good day, and I just need to be more consistent. Any problems with the food options? I know I didn’t list exact amounts but I think this give a good idea of volume and types of food. This is actually pretty typical for a weekday, but my problem would be if I were to eat 800 calories of nuts at 9 pm, or a big serving of yogurt with honey, or 3 spoon fulls of peanut butter (I won’t do that today!). Or a second big plate of dinner.

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I think these two statements combined paints a picture. Depending on when you train I imagine you’re going into a training session with “negative” calories and then you’re playing catch-up later.

FWIW, I know Scott Stevenson suggests for people that train after their job (8-5) to save 50% of their daily calories (and as much carbs as possible) to the post workout window (can’t remember if that includes the intra-workout shake) but I imagine that suggestion is predicated on it being a desk job. I seem to recall him saying that he himself is somewhat sedentary, and so it tracks.

But I think you’re not sedentary?

Me too, this is more pronounced the leaner I am. Have you noticed any correlation there?

You could experiment with a mixed macros breakfast, and front-loading carbs.

15% carb allotment for breakfast (mixed macros)
30-35% pre-workout (low/medium GL)
20-25% intra-workout
20-25% post-workout

And see if that makes a difference over a week or two? I get less ravenous on that, but I have less focus going into the gym psychologically.