I went back to bed yesterday morning instead of going to the gym and re-read Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle. I discovered that I might be setting up my cycles wrong.
I have been trying to make sure my average calories for the cycle (including both deficit days and re-feed days) add up to a number that is still an overall deficit. My original numbers of 1400 x 3 + 1800 x 1 added up to an average of 1500 calories a day.
The right way to do it is to be in a controlled deficit for 3 days and then eat at maintenance on refeed day.
Somewhat skeptical that eating even more calories than I am at present would speed up my fat loss, I stumbled upon a calorie calculating site that mentioned a term I have never heard before - Maximum Fat Calorie Expenditure
Maximum Fat Calorie Expenditure: One study found that body fat in humans can be converted to energy at a maximum rate of 31 calories per pound of actual body fat per day. Any energy you expend beyond this rate comes from your intake of nutrients and the breakdown (catabolysis) of your muscles. Weight loss in most people consists of about 75% FAT and 25% MUSCLE. Since we can calculate the actual amount of body fat in your body using your Body Fat Percentage (if given), we can determine the optimal calorie deficit to focus on FAT BURN instead of MUSCLE LOSS. To optimize your FAT BURN instead of MUSCLE LOSS, you should choose a deficit that does not exceed this value.On further investigation I found an extremely interesting article by Lyle McDonald titled Determining the Maximum Dietary Deficit for Fat Loss.
Now, empirically and based on research, it’s well established that…
a. fatter individuals lose more fat and less lean body mass (LBM) than leaner individuals; and
b. bigger individuals lose weight more quickly
By corollary, smaller/leaner individuals not only lose total weight/fat at a slower rate, they lose a greater proportion of LBM.
It’s why those fat asses on “The Biggest Loser” can drop 8-10 lbs. a week, well at least for the first week (and some of that is certainly water, glycogen and clearing the shit out of their bowels), and someone at 12% bodyfat may struggle to drop one pound per week without sacrificing muscle.
Based on a somewhat simplified analysis of what data exists (including the seminal Minnesota semi-starvation experiment), they conclude that the maximal rate at which fat stores can provide energy to the body is 290 +- 25 kj/kg which is approximately 31 kcal/lb of fat per day.
So, if you are carrying a mere 10 lbs. of fat, you can sustain a 310 cal/day deficit.
20 lbs. = 620 calories.
30 lbs. = 930 calories
You get the idea and this is not difficult math. Multiply your total fat mass in pounds by 31, that’s how much of a caloric deficit that fat mass can support on a daily basis.
Now the calculations can get a bit complicated but the take home message for me is that my deficit has been way too big which is why I haven't had any change in my BF% for a number of weeks (keeping my fat and losing some of whatever else there is I'm made of).
Conclusion = eat more to prevent losing muscle and the will to live!!