My metabolism is officially back and fired up, and this past week I have been off-the-hook hungry. It hits in the early afternoon, and my body is constantly looking for food for the rest of the day.
Probably the same day my voracious appetite (re)appeared, I also started having headaches in the afternoon. I looked at my water intake, which was fine, and then considered whether my eyes were due for a check-up. Then, the strangest thing happened: When I started eating more food, my headaches went away.
I am a meticulous food logger. I use MyFitnessPal both on my desktop and my smartphone, and I keep an Excel spreadsheet of average calories consumed per day (and then averages by week and month, because I am a natural zig-zagger (calorie cyclist?) without really trying.)
Reviewing all my data, for the past four weeks I have been averaging ~1600 calories per week. For a runner who’s trying to drop body fat percentage, you’d think this would be pretty on-target, right? I arrived at this number utilizing a basic TDEE formula for someone my height and weight who is moderately active 3-5 times a week.
I chose the “moderately active 3-5 times a week” multiplier, because the next level multiplier was for someone who is “vigorously active 5-6 times a week,” and while I might be active 5-6 times a week, am I vigorously active?
I don’t know.
I’ve spent the last couple of days digging around and trying to figure out exactly what the difference is between “moderately active” and “vigorously active,” and as it turns out, I might actually be the latter.
(That sound you just heard was my mind blowing.)
Essentially, moderately versus vigorously active comes down to perceived rate of exertion or heart rate. I have no idea what my heart rate is while I run, but I do know that when I bike I hover between 75-80% of target heart rate. Considering perceived rate of exertion, cycling feels easier to me than running, so I have to be closer to 80-85% when I run. Oh, and then I usually strength train directly following my 45+minute cardio sessions on 3-4 of those days.
If I’m working out at the top of my target heart rate 5-6 times a week for 60+ minutes a pop, I’m probably “vigorously active” – and underestimating my TDEE and caloric intake.
Using the same TDEE formulas with this new multiplier, I should probably be eating closer to 1850-1900 calories a day.
I’m working hard this week on bumping up my calories, and I think next week I’m going to do a week of eating at my TDEE maintenance number, just in case my body really has been freaking out the past couple of weeks. From there, I’ll probably cut back down to eating 80% of my TDEE for the rest of May and half of June, and do another TDEE maintenance run when the family goes on vacation at the end of June.
I’m nervous about eating more, but I figure if I keep eating clean, and ensure I’m getting solid amounts of protein and good fats, I’ll be fine. I’m going to start weighing myself weekly, so hopefully I’ll know pretty quickly whether this method is working for me or not. I’ll definitely know more come the end of the month when I measure myself again.
If you’re interested in calculating TDEE or reading more about these formulas, two sites I’ve found the most useful are: