Basically I have decided to go alcohol free for a month to see how it feels. If the average beer has 150 calories and I drink 10 a week, I’m cutting out 1500 calories a week, 6000 for the entire month.
But here’s the thing-I don’t seem to have lost any weight and my 30 days is about up. I have weighed about 205 for the past 6 years and cutting out all alcohol has had no impact on my weight this past month. Is this not enough time? Is 205 my “healthy weight”? Obviously according to the BMI, I would be considered overweight, although I eat fairly well, walk at least 5 miles a day and do other more vigorous actives fairly often (basketball, biking,etc). I am by no means a muscular 205, I have love handles and a tree trunk build.
Can someone make sense of the math…how is it possible to cut calories and not lose some fat?
Beats me. If you ever find out I’d like to know too. I just went three weeks on a 1200-1500 calorie per day diet that’s fairly low carb, I exercised and I gained 3 pounds. Whatever.
In your case though if you follow simple calories in-calories out theory the beer you didn’t drink adds up to less than 2 pounds of weight loss. It’s also possible you ate those calories back without realizing it with slightly larger portions or an occasional extra smidge of butter or salad dressing. Calories are lurking everywhere.
6000 calories ain’t much at all – you need to cut 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat. So by now, you probably couldn’t even spot less than two pounds of weight loss in all of the normal ups and downs. Perhaps, by consuming less (dehydrating) beer, your body might also be retaining more water.
And, the human body is really good at unconsciously adjusting your eating habits and energy use. An extra few snacks would totally wipe out that calorie reduction, especially if you’ve reduced your activity level at all.
Are you sure of this? Seriously, people have a strong tendency to underestimate how much they consume and if you are eliminating alcohol you may be replacing it with other sources of calories and not really even be aware of it. I’d suggest keeping track of every single thing you consume-with a journal or whatever. You might be surprised.
Have in mind that 6000 calories is less than 2 pounds. Your weight can easily vary by 2 pounds per day for reasons which have nothing to do with muscle and fat loss. So you might be getting the impression that you haven’t lost anything simply because you weighed yourself at a time when you had a lot of food/water in your digestive system.
Are you drinking more non-alcoholic beverages?
The only other explanations are that you are not burning as many calories as you used to or that, even though you don’t have that impression, you do eat more calories.
Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get quick results. It takes time to lose weight. Think of all the time it took to get the weight you want to lose now.
Indeed, it makes sense that a 2 pounds would go unnoticed in the average swing of daily weight.
I guess I am asking a larger question: Assuming I continued to not drink for another 30 (or 60 or 90) days, and I did not replace these calories through snacking/being less physically active, is there a physiological/scientific reason my weight would stay the same?
If you were already 150 cal above your maintenance weight, you might stay the same. If your reduce your weight enough that your caloric needs decrease by 150 cal, then it would plateau.
Can’t think of anything aside from that. If you are 150 cal below your maintenance weight for long enough, you will lose weight. It seems like you can’t beat physics and that’s what’s at play when it comes to caloric intake/expenditure and weight variation.
As others have said 6000 calories is less than 2 lbs of body fat. That’s well within the daily weight fluctuations a 200-lb man would expect, based on things like the timing and size of your last crap, how hydrated you are, as well as the accuracy of your bathroom scale. So it’s possible you did lose a pound or two, but it’s just too small to show up.
However, I suspect that the real reason is that you’ve simply increased your caloric intake by 100-150 calories per day. Despite your promises to the contrary, unless you are assiduously counting the calories in every single thing you eat, it’s highly unlikely that you know to within 150 calories how much food you’re actually eating. There’s about 100 calories in a large banana, or in 1/2 cup of cooked rice. So something as small as having a piece of fruit (about as healthy a snack as you can get) or a slightly bigger scoop of rice at dinner time can almost completely wipe out a 150 calorie debt. To put it another way, unless you’re weighing your food before eating it, you can’t be sure you’re not slipping in a few extra calories here and there. And those calories add up.
Cutting beer out of your diet is probably turning you into a woman. After 30 days of no beer you’re likely to start menstruating soon, if you haven’t already. This could cause a (wo)man of your size to retain several pounds of water, easy. Have you been experiencing any mood swings?
Seriously though, alcohol is a diuretic and water is heavy, so it’s entirely possible that without the diuretic effect of alcohol you’re just better hydrated than before.
edit I was joking when I wrote that last bit, but now that I re-read it it does seem plausible (that absent the diuretic effect of alcohol you’re retaining more water, not that you’re about to start menstruating). Have you noticed any change in your urine (color, volume, frequency)?
Beer is 90% water. It doesn’t dehydrate you. (Though alcohol can sometimes make you feel more thirsty. But that’s not the same thing.)
You’re exactly right about the calories though; cutting 1500cal a week is not going to be noticeable within the normal noise of one’s weight fluctuation over the short term. Over several months it could make a difference. But to see noticeable weight loss within one month you’ll have to cut out a lot more than ten beers a week. (But that’s a good start.)
I have a simple plan that will enable you to lose a lot more weight.
First, vastly increase the amount of beer you drink each month. Instead of 40 beers per month, ratchet it up to 400 a month–or even 800. (This won’t be a problem health-wise because you’ve decided to abstain for a month–those are only “theoretical beers”).
Now, instead of lowering your caloric intake by only 6000 calories a month you will be lowering your intake by 60,000 or even 120,000 calories! Using the 3500 cals to a pound of body fat formula, you should now be able to lose 20, or even 40 lbs. a month!!
Possibility #1 – You are eating slightly more calories. You’re only talking about ~200 calories a day. It’s very easy to eat an extra couple hundred calories and not realize it. Solution: Keep a detailed food log.
Possibility #2 – Your body has slowed your metabolism. Your metabolism is like a thermostat which controls how many calories your body burns throughout the day. Your body can slow your metabolism to conserve calories, which means you wouldn’t lose any weight even though you’ve reduced your calories. Solution: Increase your level of exercise to encourage your body to increase metabolism.
Possibility #3 – Normal weight fluctuations. Everything in your body contributes to your weight. Maybe you drank a lot of water, maybe your body didn’t sweat off as much water as before, etc. Solution: Measure your weight every day at the same time under the same conditions (e.g. first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom).