The Life Experimenter : Change Your Life, One Month at a Time

Life Experiment #55 – How I Lost 15 Pounds In A Month Using MyFitnessPal

By Allen Rinehart

myfitnesspal

I’ve experimented with countless ways to use weight. Everything from intermittent fasting to vegan and vegetarianism. By far the easiest way I have ever lost weight and kept it off is counting calories.  It sounds so simple that you may just want to write it off, but if you read on, I’ll tell you how I lost 15 pounds in 30 days using MyFitnessPal.com

I recently became hooked on reading posts on Reddit.com. After perusing the /r/loseit section for weight loss ideas, I found a lot of people posting that they lost weight through tracking their eating and exercise on MyFitnessPal.com.  Being a fan of high tech solutions, I fired up my phone and downloaded the app.

MyFitnessPal is a website with an accompanying app that allows you to track all of your eating and exercising then generates a net calorie number for you based on your goal.  My goal was two pounds lost per week, so it told me to not eat more than 1,500 calories per day.  The coolest part of the app is the ability to sync a large variety of fitness devices and apps like FitBit or Jawbone wristbands with  your calorie data.  I love to run, in fact I run everyday to work, so I sync MyFitnessPal with the MapMyFitness app and end up burning 500-700 calories everyday I run to work.  So on the days I run, I can actually eat up to 2,000 calories to stay under my limit and hit my weight loss goals.

Budgeting Your Calories Like Money

The reason why I’ve become so obsessed with the idea of calorie counting is in a lot of ways its like budgeting money.  I’ve recently started paying attention to my spending more in my quest to get out of debt.  The idea of having a budget and not going over is really simple to understand.  Looking back at my eating patterns before this experiment it’s easy to see the areas where I was eating too much.

I’m not a fanatic about staying under my calories either.  In fact I tend to eat a lot more on the weekends but my numbers tell me that I just need to remain focused during the week and I get back to where I need to be.  The beauty of tracking everything you eat is you learn so much about what’s in the foods you eat and you learn how much is appropriate to eat.  I couldn’t imagine eating food now without really understanding how many calories I was consuming.

Losing Weight With Low Carb Meals

The FAQ section of /r/loseit/ has some great post on diets in general.  What I found interesting is that they don’t recommend one diet over another, but point out that all diets basically do the same thing. Get you to eat less calories.  I chose a low carb diet combined with intermittent fasting.  I like eating low carb because it forces you eat more whole foods and avoid a lot of processed foods like breads, pasta, and chips.  Now when my girlfriend and I sit down and do our meal planning every week, we just google “low carb” + whatever recipes or meals sound good.

For example, living in Naples, Italy, we love Italian food, especially pizza.  But instead of eating all that bread, we found that eggplant, zucchini or cauliflower all make excellent crusts. Top that pizza off with a little bit of sauce, cheese and veggies and you have yourself a healthy, low carb dinner.

Cutting Out Calories With Intermittent Fasting

I’ve done several experiments with IF-ing or Intermittent Fasting.  I’ve never ended up sticking with one way of eating, but after tracking my calories, I can see how it can be used to keep calories down. I’ve never been a fan of eating a bunch of small meals.  If you need to eat something all the time, then go for it.  For me to hit my weight loss goals, on three meals a day, I would need to eat three 500 calories meals, which means you really need to pay attention to portion size with each meal.  Instead I focused on skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch during the week and eating most of my calories at dinner.

A lot of people are really skeptical about eating this way and that’s OK.  Everyone is different.  I’d say whatever works for you then do it.  Eating less during the workday allows me to focus more on my work and not so much on constantly eating little meals throughout the day.  I eat a lot more frequently during the weekend, because its my time to relax and really enjoy meals with friends and family.  But fasting during the week allows me to get back on track to where I need to be.  Now that I’m at my goal weight I don’t need to be as strict with fasting and I primarily just skip breakfast and eat a small lunch. But again, whatever works for you is what you should be doing.  As long as you are eating less calories then you are right now then you will lose weight regardless of how big your meals are and how often you eat.

 



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