A few weeks ago we Nutracheck members Sprog and Steve wrote the 'Wobbleblog' - a joint blog about our recent maintenance experiences, in which we both struggled to get back to a weight we wanted, following unwelcome increases. While we were writing the blog we realised that our eating and drinking habits and the speed that we lost weight were very different, and we thought it might be interesting to look at these things in detail, to see if we could learn anything from one another. We also persuaded Steve's wife, Ann, to join us in our study - Ann has been a Nutracheck member for some time, and while she is not yet maintaining, we thought that the experiences of somebody in a slightly different situation would make things even more interesting. In the same way as the Wobbleblog, this blog is in the form of a 'virtual chat'. Our chat started with Sprog giving a recap of how the study worked...
It was quite simple, really. We all completed our Nutracheck diaries in as much detail as we possibly could, including food and exercise, and we weighed ourselves every morning, after a wee and naked (although glasses to see the scales were allowed!) We did that for eleven consecutive days at the end of March 2017, but we had a look at one another's diaries occasionally, to see how we were getting on.
Why did we choose those days?
We wanted them to be fairly typical, so not to include one of us being on a holiday for eight days for example. And those days were more or less the only ones we could find for the three of us at the same time. And the last day was the day the whole team could meet up and...err...basically have a few drinks and a nice meal. Not so easy when we live a two-hour drive from one another.
I don't know about you two, but I found it quite difficult to log some things. Especially when we were eating out.
Yes, I think it was difficult for all of us. Where we really could not be certain, then we tried our very best to estimate the calories. For example, we used something that seemed similar, where we did know the calories. I think in the end it was reasonable.
Yes, I think it was OK, and in my case much better than I usually do, because I stopped regularly logging my food even before I started maintenance, two years ago. I even had to find the kitchen scales again - happy memories!
You're right; I can't remember the last time I saw you weighing a bowl of lettuce! Actually, that does remind me that although our study ended with some fancy analysis, I noticed something interesting happening almost as soon as we started - although it was never the idea of the study to lose weight, in fact I started to watch my calories very carefully.
Me too. I remember saying to you, before we even started, that I bet I wouldn't do a chocolate overload during the study!
And the same for me too! In fact in my case I particularly did not want to lose weight, because I reckoned I was already on the way to losing a bit too much. Comparing our weighings between the start and end of the study, Sprog lost 1.4lbs, Ann lost 2.1lbs and I lost 3.7lbs (and me the one who didn't want to lose any weight!) Do you think we lost because we were being competitive with one another?
I suppose that was a part of it, but I also think that I didn't want to feel silly by taking part in our study, which was all about body weight, but at the same time going out for a large curry!
Same here, although in my case it was chocolate. But for me it was probably even more that working together made me more thoughtful about what I ate - especially if I put it into my diary before I ate it. It was as if I was somehow accountable to you two, even though I know you're both very nice! It has certainly been well known for over 50 years that if people are being observed they behave differently and, in our case, we were observing one another very closely, by sharing details of everything we ate, and our weight every morning.
I think what gets to me, Steve, is how it is so easy for you to lose weight.
Yes, you've got a lot of explaining to do!
I've seen your sheets of numbers, and I know that over those eleven days you ate the best part of 400 calories a day more than we girls did, but you lost a lot more weight. Let's have your excuses!
I know this must be slightly annoying, but the bald truth is that men just need more calories than women. For you two to lie in bed, just doing nothing, needs about 1,300 calories. If you were the same height, weight and age, but a man, you would need about 200 calories more. And I'm a lot taller and heavier than both of you; I need about 1,700 calories just to lie in bed, doing nothing. So I already have a lot more calories to play with.
We hate you!
And there's more isn't there? I saw on your diary how many calories you burn, just by walking around. And you burn more than I do as well, Ann. What is going on there?
I'm glad you asked me that one - especially because I know the answer! For every 1,000 steps we take (above the 2,500 that is expected as everyday activity), Sprog burns 31 calories, Ann burns 36 and I burn 44. A lot of the difference between Sprog and myself is because I am so much heavier, and it needs more calories to shift my bigger body around. And Ann is in between us. So Sprog really pays the price of being a fairly skinny woman - a body like that does not need many calories.
I had a look at your analysis, and figured out that if you and Sprog had walked the same number of steps, and had both eaten 2,000 calories a day, then Steve would still have lost a couple of pounds, but Sprog would actually have gained a bit. You kept that one quiet.
OK, Steve, I don't hold it against you for being a man. To be fair, in fact you did walk a lot more steps that I did - nearly 40,000 more over the eleven days. and as your steps burn a lot of calories, it is a very good thing to do as many steps as you can. In fact your extra steps burned off about a pound and a half, which was well worth having - it was over half of the difference in weight loss between you and me.
Steps seem very important! I wonder what would happen, Sprog, if you kept eating roughly the same calories, but upped your steps? I know you are not really aiming to lose more weight, but just for our study it would be interesting - maybe you could report back in our next joint blog ;-)
I'm not sure I can do it, but I'll give it a try. With friends like that, who needs enemies?!
We'll leave it there for now. Next time we will look at how much weight we lost in some more detail, and touch on the vexed subject of the diet plateau. We'll also look at what our study told us about moving from losing weight to maintenance. And obviously we'll report back on Sprog's stepping challenge! See you soon!
Steve lost a massive 10st with Nutracheck. He now regularly writes about how he maintains his weight loss.