The Art of Self-Experimentation: “Clean Eating” vs. Calorie Counting

With no powerlifting meets on the horizon, a host of bodyweight exercises I want to master and feeling a general lull in my training, I figured it's about that time of year again:  I'm gonna lose some weight.  (I'd be lying if I said it wasn't for some aesthetic reasons as well.)  Last year I went through this journey experimenting with intermittent fasting, carb cycling and performing zero cardio to achieve my goals.  Unfortunately, I think I made a mistake in getting down to a mere 1,200 calories on rest days and 1,500 on workout days.  This time around, I want to ask; can I drop to an even lower weight without dropping the calories so low?

I've been spending the last few months trying to hash out what I want to test on this new round of fat loss.  After a bit of deliberation, I've set out a rough plan for what I'm going to do for the next few months:

Phase 1: Eating 'clean'

The first phase will probably be 2-3 months in duration.  Eating 'clean' seems to be a really popular idea among people trying to optimize their health and weight.  It's appealing for a number of reasons, most important for a lot of people being the idea that as long as you're 'eating clean' you don't need to count your calories.  Whether it's because when eating minimally processed 'clean' foods you'll feel full when you're meant to, or because you subscribe to the idea that 'a calorie is not just a calorie,' it's presumed that there is no need to weigh and measure your food.

Well, that suits me just fine because the few times in my life I've tried to keep an online food log and be super precise with my eating, I've gotten rather agitated and annoyed - which will make Phase 2 and 3 particularly tough.

Phase 2: Meticulous Weighing 

I'm really not a type-A personality.  I don't feel the need to know exactly what I'm putting in my mouth at all times - I'm okay with a little ambiguity.  Unfortunately for this phase though, I'm going to need to weigh, measure, and calculate the nutritional profile of everything I put in my mouth.  This phase will last until I reach a few pounds below the top end of the weight class I want to compete in.  (132.5 lb. up to 148.5 lb, so I'll stop around 145lbs)

Phase 3: How much can I eat?

I recently watched a video about the kind of metabolic damage that figure athletes / bodybuilder / average dieters (particularly women) go through when trying to cut down their weight.

While I don't think I'm suffering from a particularly low metabolism, it sure does sound fun to see just how far I push my calories without gaining back more than 3-5 pounds.  This will be a ridiculously slow process, so I'm not sure how long this phase will last.

Where I'm Starting

When last we left, I was weighing in at 154.  Nowadays I've gone up to ~160, which is a weight that's been holding relatively steady regardless of what I've been eating (within reason of course).  I did sort of push the calories the past few months in anticipation of this upcoming experiment, so hopefully I'll have a little more room to work with!  The past 2 weeks I've tracked my weight daily to see what the natural fluctuations are:

WG (4-29, 5-13)

Safe to say I'm starting at 160!  I'll end this post with some starting pictures.  Here's to hoping for some more flattering ones in the future!

Taken 5/12/13:

photo 1Side (5-13)Back (5-13)BackF (5-13)

People often seem surprised when I tell them how much I weigh.  They ask me where I keep it all.  I'll leave that for you to figure out!

Oh yeah and I made a new site.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Self-Experimentation: “Clean Eating” vs. Calorie Counting

  1. Nic

    At my heaviest (during my powerlifting days) I was over 300 pounds of fury. When I realized I probably shouldn’t be carrying around all that excess weight I dropped over a hundred on a paleo diet. After 18 months if you would’ve asked me to maintain my weight for one more day eating clean I would’ve gladly taken my 100 pounds of flab back. I was eating chicken and broccoli 6 times a day, every day.
    Now I’m eating quite a lot more (around 4k cal a day), I’m almost never hungry, and I’m still leaning out. I’m doing this via IIFYM, I’ve got a good number of my clients on it as well with great results (this isn’t an ad, just my two cents). Sometimes eating more is actually better.
    Either way, good luck with your goals!

    Also, I really like your blog. 🙂

  2. katwhit

    So I’m about to post an update next week about how I was only able to maintain this “clean eating” shit for a month and rebounded hard. Shhh you got the sneak preview. I got a few good tidbits out of it but for the most part all it did was piss me off.

    I’m pretty excited about the IIFYM stage to be honest. There’s a few things I need to work around, but for the most part I think it will be an easier thing for me to do – mostly just because I believe in it. I’m hoping after dropping the weight I want I’ll be able to see just how much I can push how much I can eat without gaining it back.

    And thanks, I put a lot of heart into it!


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