Sunday, September 25, 2011

Transitioning My Macronutrients Via Fat Loss Bible

Not long ago, I gave a detailed post about how I changed my diet this year. The changes were mostly inspired by Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint". It drew the attention of folks from Australia and Hawaii. The internet can sometimes be cool.

There was a key contradiction in "Primal Blueprint" that bothered me which I finally decided to address thanks to Anthony Colpo's urging. As I already discussed in the earlier post a repeated message in "Primal Blueprint" was to keep carbs low to lose weight. And yet at the end of the book Sisson says that science is clear, you have to have a calorie deficit to lose fat. So I ask, if you are in a calorie deficit, then is it necessary to keep carbs low? This is what I aim to find out for myself.

Anthony Colpo's book, "The Fat Loss Bible" (FLB), rests on the premise that a calorie deficit is necessary to lose fat. One must consume fewer calories than one spends. There's no misunderstanding Colpo's message. Although I feel there's a lot of estimation in the calculations that Colpo presents, I think they are a good guideline for determining what and how much to eat. What follows is my altered macronurient plan based on FLB.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

In FLB, daily energy expenditure (E) can be estimated by calculating resting metabolism (RM), then multiplied by a factor for physical activity (PA). The formula can be stated as:
E = RM x PA

where RM (male) = [10 x body weight (Kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [5 x age] +5

where PA = 1.2 for sedentary (little or no exercise)
or where PA = 1.375 for lightly active (exercise 1-3 days per week)
or where PA = 1.55 for moderately active (exercise 3-5 days per week)
or where PA = 1.725 for very active (exercise 6-7 days per week)
or where PA = 1.9 for extra active (train 2x daily or hard exercise + physical job)

My daily energy expenditure calculations given 176 lbs/2.2 = 80 Kg, 5'10" or 70 inches x 2.54 = 177.8 cm and moderately active, running about 5 days per week:

E = [(10 x 80) + (6.25 x 177.8) - (5 x 42) +5] x 1.55 = 2645 calories

Given that my goal is to lose fat, then I should strive to eat less than 2645 calories per day. FLB suggests around 400-1000 calories deficit, depending on the desired amount of fat loss. A 600 calorie deficit seems reasonable for me and would put my daily calorie consumption at 2000 calories, similar to the amount of calories that I consumed on a low carb diet.

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

Protein is an essential macronutrient. It helps grow and repair muscle as well as bone and organs. My daily requirement (P) of protein in grams can be determined by:

P = lean body mass (Kg) x 2.2

Percent body fat (opposite of lean body mass) can be determined at home with calipers. I ordered a pair of Accumeasure calipers, but they haven't arrived yet. I had my percent body fat measured about 5 years ago. It was 16%. Based on my current body weight, I believe my percent body fat is around 18%, so my lean body mass is 82% and my daily requirement for protein is:

P = 82% x 80 Kg x 2.2 = 144 grams

How Much Carbohydrates Should I Eat?

Carbohydrates are the immediate fuel needed for intense physical activities. The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you should consume. FLB suggests a bare minimum of 75 grams of carbohydrates for sedentary activity. The purpose for this minimum is to avoid ketosis which occurs at carb consumption less than 50 grams. FLB says that ketosis impairs the uptake of branched chain amino acids (protein) from the bloodstream into muscle by suppressing insulin. Said another way, ketosis hinders the growth and repair of muscle tissue. A sufficient amount of carbs should also be consumed to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles and liver for energy and maintain blood glucose. If there aren't sufficient carbs, then gluconeogenesis occurs, the process of breaking down muscles to convert protein to carbohydrates.

FLB suggests more carbs for healthy, trained athletes as compared to folks who are dieting and attempting to lose weight. Since I fit into the latter category, I'll only cover those requirements. Carb consumption recommendations (C) are based on lean body mass in Kg:

Light exercise or sedentary: 75-225 grams/day
Moderate exercise (1 hr/day): 3-5 grams/Kg lean body mass/day
Heavy exercise (1-3 hrs/day): 5-7 grams/ Kg lean body mass/day
Extreme exercise (4-6 hrs/day): 7-10 grams/ Kg lean body mass/day

On average, I fit these days into the moderate exercise category, so my daily carbohydrate consumption should be:

C = 82% x 80 Kg x 3 - 5 grams = 197 - 328 grams carbs daily

I narrowed down this range to 200 - 250 grams carbs daily since I believe my exercise levels are on the low side.

How Much Fat Should I Eat?

After protein and carbohyrate needs are determined, the remainder of caloric needs comes from fat. Protein and carbohydrate calories are calculated by multiplying the number of grams by four. For me, protein and carbohydrate calories are:

Calories from P + C = [144 g + 200 to 250 g] x 4 = 1376 to 1576 calories

To arrive at 2000 calories daily consumption, fat calories should range between 424 to 624 calories. Since 9 calories are provided by each fat gram, fat (F) is calculated by:

F = 424/9 to 624/9 = 47 to 69 grams fat


On a low carb/primal blueprint diet (described in this post), I was daily consuming on average:

P = 130 grams, C = 55 grams, F = 136 grams, Calories = 1960

I lost weight on this diet, but I wondered if this was the optimal diet for me as a long distance runner, so I'm changing it via Anthony Colpo's "Fat Loss Bible". At the same time, I want my diet to be isocaloric, or the same number of calories as the low carb diet, to see if I will lose weight even though carb consumption will be high. The new macronutrient plan looks like:

P = 144 grams, C = 200 - 250 grams, F = 47 - 69 grams


  1. I'm happy for you Kelly. You're about to become a new man :)

    Even though I don't follow them, I think Anthony's guidelines above a fantastic place to start. On the carb intake I bounce between "heavy & extreme" on the exercise end, but I seem average about 12-18g carbs per kg whether I exercise or not. No rationale for this other than it's just where I feel best currently.

    I'll say it once again... if you feeling a little sluggish on that low of calories, don't be afraid to up it until you feel better. Your motivation, output, and enjoyment will be higher, and fat loss greater than if you didn't eat those extra few hundred calories or whatever. Quality of living accounts for something too :)

  2. Grok, to be clear to all, the carb recommendations that I reported in this post were taken from FLB for someone trying to lose fat. But for healthy athletes not trying to lose fat and training heavily, Colpo doesn't give an upper boundry on carbs, as you may know. He lists the range in FLB as 10-12+ g/Kg/day.

    I plan on staying near the 2000 daily calorie target through October to complete my experiment. Then I'll reevaluate what I want to do. Interestingly, since I've increased carb consumption, I'm finding it difficult to stay isocaloric to the low carb diet. My average daily calories are about 10% higher even though I'm trying to keep at the same level of calories. I'll post the details soon.

  3. That doesn't really surprise me. The meat and fat does sit around in there longer. Not really sure that's a good thing (especially for athletes), but it is part of the reason low-carb diets work. If it's still in there, you won't feel the need to eat again.

    I know you're doing it for experiment reasons (totally understand), but even upping it a bit I'd be surprised if you didn't lose fat just as fast.

    FYI, I am still interested in losing fat. Lighter = faster. Not a naturally lean guy. It's coming off slowly (relative). I'm not restricting (obviously) but am conscious of not being a vacuum mouth. 4k calories a day and very little exercise the past 2 weeks. I got leaner. I suspect cortisol or something from the 20+ hour workout weeks is helping me hang onto it. It would be nice to not carry it, but I don't care. I'm just base training anyway.

    We'll see what happens when I ramp up the training again next week :)

  4. Hi Kelly,

    I've been reading about your low carb adventures and I'm curious how you went in October with the higher carbs?


  5. Thanks for your interest, Gem. Watch this space. I'll be posting an update next week.

  6. Hi Kelly, any update on this experiment available?

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  8. If you're trying to lose weight, burning calories through exercise is key. But if you're not burning enough, then you won't see the scale budge.