T Nation

Regulating Calories Weekly, Not Day to Day


My overweight friend just designed himself a training program and diet to lose weight. I can't say that he's got a good program, I can't even say its mediocre, its worse - the thing Im scratching my head about is the way hes regulating his calories. At 5'7 and roughly 260 and by my guess ~40% body fat he's determined his maintance level is roughly 2000 calories (how accurate he is - idk).

Instead of regulating his day-day calories at a constistent number (for arguement sake say 1900 calories-per-day) he is regulating his weekly/7-day intake by 13000 calories:
"2300 - Monday 1600 - Tuesday 2000 - Wednesday 1800 - Thursday
2300 - Friday 1600 - Saturday 1800 - Sunday"

I have no doubt that it will work (for him), as he's elimated daily mutli binges at fast food places and now eating much healthier foods and despite his pink dumbbell workouts he's walking several miles a day. How long will it work though? How effective would it be over say a contant 1600-1900 calories a day (assuming his training is constant)? Just looking for your thoughts.

His goal is to drop 30-40 lbs by summers end/begining of september.


Tell your friend he needs more realistic goals. 40 lbs in in roughly six weeks?--unless he is stranded on an island somewhere with only tree bark to eat, this is not going to happen.


agreed, but not because it's nt gonna heppen fast means that he should quit, encourage him to go on, i'm right now on fat loss plan, and it's been 6 weeks til now, but there are another 15 weeks to go, so... if he wants, he'll make it.

about the diet, there are tons of articles here and pre madre food plans, so no guessin work.


It's a zig zag diet. Supposedly more effective in fooling your body to lose body fat over a steady diet.

From my reading, losing/gaining weight comes down to total calorie intake over a period of time. So as long as he stays under his maintenance level, and stays away from high sugar/refined carb products, he should be okay if he sticks with the diet and walking. Will take a while though.


If he's right about his maintenance calories, he'll be at an daily average 75 calorie deficit. Google says losing a pound of fat requires cutting 3500 calories. 3500 calories / 75 cals/day = 47 days. So theoretically, it is possible.

There are several potential problems though. I think his maintenance estimate is too high. How big is his "oops" pad? Is he adding calories for inaccurate food measurements, spices, gum, condiments, vitamins, etc?

Also, he may only be walking and lifting light weights, but if that's more than he's used to, he'll gain a little bit of good weight because of that. That's the problem with using a scale. Tell him to lose the scale and use a good tape measure and fat caliper.


$7 days to lose 1 lb, not 40 lbs, unless I'm misunderstanding you


vitamins do not contain calories, unless you mean if he takes a vitamin supplement that might contain some calories


You may want to introduce your friend to EPOC. The metabolic disruption from lifting weights is vastly more than the calories burnt by walking every day, unless you were walking for a solid 6 hours per day.


Who told you this? May I venture a guess and say it was someone selling a fat-loss program based on "metabolic" type weight training? Cosgrove, Ballantyne, perhaps?

Yes, weight training can burn calories, but the entire hoopla surrounding the EPOC effect is overblown, and frankly doesn't contribute as much as a lot of gurus would like to have you believe. Simply being active (i.e. not sitting on your ass all day) will do more than any barbell circuit or tabata protocol ever would.


Um...No. Being active is very important but it does little to change your resting metabolic rate or efficiency in processing nutrients. Adding muscle will. It is not the training that is of importance it is the effects, as you pointed out the activity does'nt burn a large amount calories.


mmmm, i think that when trying to lose fat and supossing you're on a deficit already, then any extra cals you can burn will help a lot, and lifting weight elevates your metabolism


I'm not discounting the benefit of weight training during a diet. I am, however, stating the fact that high intensity training (HIIT, circuit training, complexes etc.) is not ALWAYS more beneficial than good old fashioned SS cardio. For one thing, obese untrained individuals wouldn't be able to work at a high enough intensity to make much of an impact on EPOC, in addition to the risk of injury from essentially going from 0 to 60 without ramping up the intensity over time.

To summarize, lift weights, do low-to-moderate intensity cardio, and eat in a deficit. The fact is when one is above 20% bodyfat, things don't need to be any more complex than that.


Well, he's only TARGETING a 75 calorie daily deficit. Which is retarded because of the 47 days to lose one pound. Have him target a 500 cal daily deficit for a pound a week. Since he's fat, he might be able to be more aggressive once he gets in the swing of it.

The good news is that I would suspect his maintenance is a bit higher.

Thib wrote a good series a while ago on calculating maintenance and stuff:

Cycling calories might be a really good idea if he's timing it for harder workouts. If he isn't working hard in general, then I'd say it's fairly pointless.


EPOC is very valid, and a studied measurable effect. it's a different way of looking at intensity, amount of effort put in I think. evidence for benefits of increased resistance, intensity, and work is not a bad thing.


How many calories are there in spices and vitamins hm?

Plus - if you honestly think the ~3500kcal = 1lb of fat fact (i realise this is true of course) has ANY real life bearing you are sadly mistaken, ie. reducing 500kcal a day will not always lead to 1lb of fat loss per week.

From the post it sounds like you are a trainer.. one that has either just passed or had little actual experience - or both.

I appreciate you won't like my post - and i am used to this - but you need to understand that this kind of BS basic 'information' when given to the type of person in the OP, is not useful at all.. in fact it will likely set him back.

You should also be aware that if you divide 3500kcal (1lb) by 75kcals a day.. then the answer is 47 days to lose 1lb of fat.


The old notions of low intensity cardio and high rep weights for optimum fat burning is fucking rubbish.

Work intervals, heavy weights and a clean, calorie controlled diet - the results will speak for themselves. Many years ago when i was just a fitness trainer in gyms, of my clients that did 1hr cross training 3-4 x/wk and those that did a total of over 10 hours of work a week - which do you think got the results they desired?

And which do you think the bosses would have preferred i recommend - not due to gym use as once a membership is sold, its sold - but simply due to H+S..? Yep, the 3x/wk general trainee who is destined to bust their guts each session but get very little back. It was horrible to see the disappointment in some of them - i of course told them exactly how to rectify it - and if someone has the information to achieve but simply cannot be bothered - i have no sympathy. I digress.

The harder you work the better (within reason of course).


Math fail of epic proportions....how many times did you repeat 4th grade?


Oops, totally forgot to account for the number of lbs of fat.


Either my vitamin C or calcium has a couple calories. Not much, but a bunch of little things add up to big things. Also, someone in another thread was saying that the FDA doesn't require posting calorie information on things less than half a gram or something like that, which means things could contain a couple calories that aren't on the label. The point is that there's wiggle room in the numbers.

Anyway, I've lost over 50 pounds before, but it took me three months. The whole time I was spending a couple hours in the gym lifting as hard as I knew how, and running 1.5 miles most days. My diet was progressively restricted and finally ended with about 6 week of a diet restricted to 1300 calories max of mostly tuna, a very small potato or two, vitamins and ephedra.


Of course it's not so simple, which is why I'm saying he should add a bigger pad because things rarely work out so well as on paper. His plan is very optimistic and will probably lead to much disappointment.