Read how I created a plan to lose 25lbs in 12 weeks, what it was like doing it, and the results I achieved.
I have arrived at the conclusion that I need to create a new weight loss plan. Two years ago, I wrote how controlling my weight has been a roller coaster. In that article, I laid out a plan on how I was going to lose a few pounds. It worked. I lost 10-12lbs before I stopped following the program. Of course, you know the outcome of not sticking to my guns. I gained it back just as fast as I lost it. So, my roller coaster has not found its way back to the station. I’m figuring I will continue the battle of fluctuating weight for the rest of my life unless I put in the rules I know work and stick to them.
Those rules are not complicated, and it’s not like I don’t know them. I wrote about them a little less than a year ago. Also, I posted an article about the value of nutrition to weight management at the end of February. Like the other articles, I described how, for me at least, tracking food is the key to success. So, I know what to do: it’s a matter of doing it.
I need to get to work, and here is my twelve-week weight loss plan to do just that. After all, an intention is easy to make. Fulfilling it without a plan is nearly impossible.
Twelve Week Weight Loss Plan
You may be wondering why I choose twelve weeks for my weight loss plan. Would you be shocked if I told you that it is not scientifically based? Even though most bodybuilders cut for periods of 2 to 4 months, depending on how lean they are at the start, I’m not a bodybuilder. My reasoning is somewhat vainer–maybe. We are going to the beach in twelve weeks, and I want to look lean and mean. Despite the vanity of looking decent without a shirt, I do have some more practical reasons for cutting weight.
At the end of May, on Memorial Day, we do a Murph workout. Running and pull-ups are much more manageable at lower body weight. Another reason is my clothes are pretty tight, and I do not want to move back to bigger sizes. After reducing my waist size a couple of years ago, I promised myself that I would not allow myself to get that big again. Lastly, losing twenty-five pounds in 12 weeks is a workable goal.
Let’s jump into the plan’s details now that you know my motivations.
Weekly Caloric Intake vs. Expenditure
Most literature on weight loss comes back to the fact that losing weight is a math problem. If you expend more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. From my other writings, I know there is more to the process than simple addition. The amount of sleep, hydration levels, and insulin levels you maintain impact weight management. So, I believe it is possible to gain weight, even when you’re in a slight caloric deficit. Despite knowing this, I wanted to keep the plan simple, so I am measuring calories only.
The following chart lists the number of calories I plan to consume per day and what I expect to burn for the week. I took the difference and divided it by 3,500 calories to estimate the number of pounds I should lose.
I calculated my expected weekly energy expenditure from my Fitbit data. Typically, I average around 25,300 calories per week.
Note: It’s a common misconception that a 3,500 calorie deficit equals a pound of weight loss. As I alluded to above, weight loss is not as simple as a math problem. Several factors are involved in losing weight, but using the general rule of 3,500 calories is sufficient for my estimations.
My Reasoning Behind the Numbers of the 12 Week Weight Loss Plan:
You may have noticed that I severely cut my calories in the first week to 2,000 per day. I did this to kick start the process and “purge” my system of all the wrong foods (pizza, hamburgers, etc.) I ate the week before. After the first week, I increase my caloric intake by 500 calories to a total of 2,500 per day. With the amount of activity I perform each week, this is a more sustainable and healthier quantity that will maintain around 2lb per week weight loss. The fourth week is a “re-feed” week that should support a slight cut. After re-feeding, I adjust to a more significant calorie reduction and then follow it with another 2,000 calories per day week. The plan is to confuse the body in an attempt to keep burning fat with calorie cycling.
Macronutrients Schedule Based on Caloric Intake
I imagine the majority of people manage their weight simply by reducing the amount they eat. They cut calories and do not focus on ratios of macronutrients they consume. In the majority of cases, this works. I, however, want to cut fat and maintain muscle mass, so having a plan for macronutrients is necessary. I want to make sure I am consuming enough protein to maintain muscle, so I plan to eat 90% to 110% of lean muscle mass worth of protein a day. Protein is not the only consideration, though.
Fat and carbohydrates provide the body with energy, and there is a lot of debate on which is better. I’m not going to go into the details of each, so I’m going to adjust carbohydrates instead of fat to control calories for simplicity’s sake. Also, I have had a negative experience with Keto, a low-carb diet. Severely cutting carbs hurt my CrossFit performance, so I want to maintain a higher level of carbs to retain performance levels.
The below charts outline my macronutrient plan in grams and calories.
Daily Macronutrient Intake In Grams
The following charts break down daily calories per macro and their portion of the diet.
Daily Protein Calories
|Calories||Min||Max||% of Diet|
Daily Fat Calories
|Calories||Min||Max||% of Diet|
|2000||60||522||3 – 26|
|2500||60||522||2 – 21|
Daily Carb Calories
|Calories||Min||Max||% of Diet|
|2000||800||1100||40 – 55|
|2500||1100||1600||44 – 64|
|3000||1600||2100||53 – 70|
Results of the 12 Week Weight Loss Plan
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” said Mike Tyson about Evander Holyfield’s fight plan. I love the quote because it is accurate and true. It means every project will not go as planned, and you have to adapt to stay on course. The only way to tell if you are tracking towards a goal is to check on your progress regularly.
I check my progress daily by jumping on a scale. There will be ups and downs, I know this, so seeing a few pounds increased from one day to the next does not bother my psyche. I also like to weigh all the food I consume and record it in my FitBit app to get an accurate picture of the calories and macros I eat each day.
For your benefit, I will record my caloric intake and expenditure in the following chart. I will also provide you with my weight and body composition changes weekly. The tables will show you my fluctuations and how weight loss does not precisely follow the 3,500 calories per pound rule. However, it should demonstrate how sticking to the plan will lead to results in the long run.
Weekly Caloric Intake vs. Expenditure and Weight Change Actuals
Body Composition Transformation
If you want to know what I was thinking during the 12 weeks, the following is a week-by-week review of my thoughts.
I started the plan on a Monday after a weekend of very poor eating. The severe reduction in calories caused hunger pains on Monday and Tuesday. These were gone by Wednesday, and I started to feel full after eating lower quantities of food. Based on previous diets, I expected to lose more than planned, so the 5.5lbs was not a surprise. I am sure the significant loss is due to the reduction of muscle glycogen, which carries 3 to 5 grams of water per gram. In other words, water weight. To avoid bouncing back, I did not allow myself a cheat day. By the end of the week, life seemed to be better. I had higher energy levels, a more positive attitude, and greater concentration.
By the beginning of the second week, I became used to the 2,000 per day diet, so the extra 500 calories per day were tough to consume at the start of the week. I was full the first few days, but I got used to it by the end of the week. It was a very active week, so I had a more significant caloric deficit than week one, even though I was consuming 25% more calories. I lost 2.4lbs compared to the 5.5lbs from week 1, demonstrating how adjusting weight is not linear, and the 3,500 calories per pound is an estimate and not a science.
This was a psychologically challenging week. I stuck to the 2,500 calories per day plan, but I saw my first weight increase. I bounced back to 246 on Monday, but it dropped quickly to 243 on Tuesday. Then I was stuck at around 242.5 for the rest of the week. My initial reaction was to change the plan and cut it back to a 2,000 per day diet for week 4; however, I decided to stick to the program. I was still ahead of schedule, and thinking of it in those terms lifted my spirits.
I have never planned to eat 3,000 calories a day before. I know I have unknowingly done so, but this week it was intended, and it’s a lot of food. After Easter Sunday, I jumped back to 246lb but weighed 242.6 by Wednesday. I maintained this weight for the rest of the week, and my body fat dropped below 20% for the first time in a few years. Also, I had more room in my clothes, and wearing jeans was comfortable again.
I spent the majority of the week weighing 238 pounds. This lasted until the weekend when I ate out for 3 days. On one of those days, I ate pizza for the first time in a month. It is difficult to track my diet accurately when I eat at restaurants, so my calorie totals are not exact. Fortunately, I did not gain a bunch of weight, and I’m exactly on pace with the plan.
Another week of not sticking exactly to the plan. I ate well over 2500 calories on a few days, and hit 4,000 calories on Friday after eating at Chili’s. This was followed with a Five Guys hamburger on Saturday and Fish-n-chips for lunch from a restaurant on Sunday. I also ate several home made cookies, which contributed to a 4 lb increase over the weekend. Once again, the weight dropped quickly after a day of eating healthy and exercise. It just goes to show that it can be hard to stick to a plan, and it is ok to fall off as long as you get back up.
I'm a has-been high school athlete who now enjoys CrossFit, baseball, and other athletic activities. As a profession, I design software, and I create the majority of I.M.s content. I do it for the fun of it, but I hope it helps others pursue fitness.