Note, this post is going to involve talking about food, and my personal quest to get my weight under control. So proceed with caution if you have a problem with those topics.
So, here's what I learned from the dietitian. It may or may not help you, because my situation is likely different from yours. Take with a grain of salt.
- First off, calorie tracker websites are lying to you when they tell you how many calories you're burning with exercise. The one I use (Sparkpeople) was off by about 50%. So take that into account if you're counting calories. If it's throwing numbers over 1000 at you for an hour and a half of biking, for example, don't trust it.
- Also, you don't get to eat 2000 calories, subtract how much you think you've burned today, and then call that your calorie count. This is not a mistake I was making, but it's apparently a common one and I thought I should mention it.
- When you're calorie counting, the most common mistake is not entering the right food, or not measuring the portion correctly. That's the first thing to check if you hit a plateau like I have.
- And sometimes those plateaus happen. The way around them seems to be just making sure you're not cheating, and then cutting back a little bit (50-100) calories more. Then be patient and keep working at it, because it might also be that you've replaced some fat weight with muscle mass.
- You should not feel hungry all the time. If you're constantly hungry, you're doing it wrong.
- Everyone loses lean body mass when they're losing weight, along with actual fat. The reason to take the slow and steady approach is to minimize that loss.
- Eat more snacks and smaller meals. I'm actually really bad at this one, because I really like eating big meals so I can have a giant hamburger, say. But it's better to just have the snacks, and even eat them when you aren't really hungry yet to keep yourself from getting unreasonably hungry. Also, make sure to eat something after working out, and potentially have a snack a bit before doing so if you're planning to be going for several hours. (Heck, for long bike rides you need to take snack breaks in the middle too, just to keep the blood sugar from crashing.)
- Eat protein with your carbs. Protein with your carbs. Did I mention protein with your carbs? This is apparently one of the big mistakes I've been making, particularly with snacks... I tend to eat fruit or veggies, but don't add in protein to actually make them stick, so to speak. So mix protein in with your carbs, even for snacks.
- If you're still having problems with the weight plateau, you can try doing a couple weeks of meal replacements. (As in, replace everything with things like muscle milk, healthy frozen dinners, protein bars, etc. Things where the portion is strictly controlled and you know exactly how many calories you're getting.) This is a thing that sucks, isn't something you want to do long term, and can be really expensive besides. But it can also help retrain you if you've been losing it on the portion size issue. I'm going to try to avoid this option.
So that was the advice she gave me. She's going to see if my doctor will be willing to order a blood test, since I've been feeling tired and light headed. She seemed kind of shocked by how little meat I tend to eat (only 2-3 times per week, generally), and thought it might be an issue of anemia. Which is very possible, since in the past I haven't been allowed to donate blood because my hematocrit has been too low. So I may need to get on the multivitamin train again, or do iron supplements. It's also possible that it's a blood sugar issue, which will hopefully be fixed by me (all together now!) mixing protein with my carbs.