Metabolism Based Eating
If you’ve been following my blog this past year, you may have read this post discussing my experience at the GWU Weight Management Lab. I talked about the two tests I had done to determine my metabolism and body composition. I was put on a metabolism based eating plan called the Miller Method named after Todd Miller, the Director of the lab. I’ve been on the nutrition and exercise plan for 5 months now and thought I would share my results with you.
How It’s Going
To recap, upon initial testing, my body was burning too much dietary fat and not enough stored body fat. I believe this was a result of eating too much cheese and snacking on cashews. So my nutrition plan included more protein and less fat.
I’ll be honest….it was really hard to make the adjustments. It took me a good 8 weeks to finally be eating the right amount of protein and fat. I was tracking my nutrition with pen and paper, old school style.
My protein intake was increased to make sure I’m supporting my muscle mass. So now I eat protein at every single meal and snack. I drink a protein shake for breakfast and eat a protein bar mid-morning because I’m on the go and don’t have time to sit down and eat. Lunch is a tuna fish wrap, grilled chicken salad, dinner leftovers, or sometimes a microwaveable chicken burrito. Snack is usually greek yogurt. Dinner is some form of protein like chicken or steak, a vegetable, and a carbohydrate: often brown rice, but sometimes couscous, pasta, or potatoes.
My fat intake was seriously lowered and was and still is a huge challenge to keep low. I basically don’t eat cheese or nuts anymore. And I’ve really had to cut down on sweets.
That’s the thing about wanting to lose fat. You have to be willing to make changes. I still have sweets, but less often. I have to plan them into my day or risk going over my calorie goal.
I feel like I have a better relationship with carbohydrates now. I’m not scared that they are making me fat. In fact, I eat more carbs on this plan than I did trying to figure it out on my own.
The other great thing about metabolism based eating is that I am not hungry. I’m eating enough calories to support my specific metabolism. The amount of protein required to maintain my muscle (and keep my metabolism revved) definitely keeps me full.
For my exercise plan, I started strength training 2-3 times per week. I hired a personal trainer. Crazy, huh?! Even though I’m a personal trainer, I needed that accountability. Having an appointment scheduled twice a week and not having to think about what I was going to do in my workout has been awesome. After training my own clients, I like not having to put together another exercise plan for myself. I just do what she tells me (and argue a little bit.) Ha!
Results at 4 Months
Dr. Miller recommended coming back for a retest at 3 months. I went back after 4 months.
I had only the body composition test done at the retest. The metabolism test is done every year. I gained 4lbs. of muscle and lost 2lbs. of fat. It wasn’t a huge change. But I was having my circumference measurements done by my trainer as well. I lost 2 inches around my upper thigh as well as 2 inches at my belly button in those 3 months.
If I was relying on the scale only, I would be seriously disappointed. I’ve been asked many times if I’m losing weight. And the answer is no. As you can see, my muscle gain outweighs my fat loss. In fact, the scale was all over the place and infuriating at the start. But I am losing fat and changing my body comp.
Both Dr. Miller and Stephanie, the dietician, thought I should be losing fat quicker. So, my macronutrient (fat, carb, protein) intake was adjusted. I’ve also started tracking my food with the Fat Secret app on my phone. They were pleased with my muscle increase as well, but I started this process with a good amount, so didn’t really need to increase my muscle mass.
Even though my metabolism is 10% higher than predicted, we’re still trying to increase my metabolism. Consistent strength training will do that due to the amount of recovery necessary.
I also run/walk 1-2 days per week. That will probably change when the weather gets cold, but for now, I like being out in the sunshine. In the dead of winter I’ll strength train three days per week.
I’m still working on my nutrition and getting better at knowing what I need to eat each day to meet my specific protein, carb, and fat needs. I know I’m losing fat in areas where I’m not measuring as well because my clothes feel looser.
This has been a slow and sometimes frustrating process, but one that I feel I can sustain. 3 workouts a week and mindful nutrition. I’ll go back for another retest in a couple months to see my continued progress!
For further reading, check out this article from T-Nation, “10 Mistakes Women Make with Diets.” I realize now that I was making several of these mentioned in the article that I have since improved including not eating enough protein.