How important is overnight weight loss and what trends should you be looking for?

Day 349

For a while now, I have been keeping close track of my overnight weight loss (by this, I mean weight lost while sleeping). It was over 1.0 kg on average after my vacation, when I had hit 81.0 and was working back down to my pre-vacation weight of 77.0.

About the time I reached 77.0 again, my overnight weight loss pretty suddenly dropped. It has been only .4 or .5 on several days recently, with occasional higher marks of .8 to around 1.0. Thus, one thing that can be said about overnight weight loss is that it can change dramatically over time. So if you track this measure for a while and stop, you will generally need to start tracking again for a week or more to get a newer count if and when you have gained or lost significant weight. Also, checking this measure only 2or 3 times is definitely not enough to get a rough average. I’d say a minimum of a week is necessary.

Now, is this overnight weight loss even important to your diet and exercise plan? I would say it’s not the most important thing to track and worry about. However, I do recommend regular tracking (even on a daily basis). So it’s certainly not a bad idea to jot these numbers down if you are already weighing yourself, anyway.

I am going to give you the trends that I have experienced with overnight weight loss. And my experience is not necessarily what you would expect. After having done Pentamize tracking for about 2 years now (both full mode and maintenance mode), my records show that my overnight weight loss is more when I need to lose more weight and less when I have less weight to lose. I have noticed this in three different main ways:

1. When I have a big cheat day, my overnight weight loss is often larger than usual for typically one to three days;

2. When I still had a lot of weight to lose to reach my target goal (meaning I was obese by the BMI standards), my overnight weight loss was relatively high (about .8 kg); and

3. When I got close to my target weight (meaning close to the normal BMI weight range but still a few pounds into the overweight range), my overnight weight loss decreased. It seems to be about .6 kg overall when I am close to my target weight.

So what does this all mean? Ironically, it basically means that a lower overnight weight loss may actually be better than a higher average loss. It could mean that you are not overeating. And of course, you can check for yourself to determine if it means that you are closer to your target weight.

I am not making any kind of scientific claim here because I don’t know the average results of all dieters in the world. So while your results could vary, I just found it interesting that being in better shape has meant a lower overnight weight loss for me. In a certain way, this kind of makes sense in that a lesser biological need to lose weight can naturally result in less weight loss, and a biological need to lose a lot of weight can allow for a higher overnight weight loss if you have an effective weight loss plan.

In short, I don’t consider overnight weight loss to be a particularly important factor. However, because many people recommend sleep as an important part of a weight loss plan, then just getting the sleep is probably more vital to your success than how much you lose during that period of the day.

Today, I had a semi cheat day, rising up to about 80.3. That is significantly more than recent figures. And that was at about 7 in the evening. So while I will drop some, it is probable that I will gain some weight even if doing my usual workout tomorrow morning. Well, I can’t be perfect on my diet. It’s just not within me to follow it every single day for the rest of my life. This is one of the reasons I am constantly having to exercise so much. When I eat too much (fast food today), there is simply no reasonable way to take that weight back off besides exercising). I am not going to starve or eat vegetables only, so this is my only option.

I dropped fast to about 79.6 before bedtime and then had another pretty low drop while sleeping. My weight was 79.0 when waking up. This is higher than previous days, but that was expected. It’s actually not that much higher, and hopefully more calories will burn off before my exercise session. I’ll just have a run and see what the damage is when it’s over.

Before exercising, my weight was pretty much stuck in place. I went to the bathroom but still had only dropped to 78.9 kg. This happens at times, possibly meaning that there just isn’t much left to lose as far as digestion of recently consumed food. However, once I start exercising, I am always losing weight during the session. Granted, most of that is probably just water weight initially. But the exercise helps prepare the body to burn any excess fat throughout the day.

I had a pretty fast run overall that ended even faster. After a run with a finishing heart rate of about 164, I lost about 1.2 kg. That reduced my weight to 77.6. However, I didn’t have much else to lose after running (from the bathroom, etc.). So 77.6 was my ending weight, which resulted in a weight gain of .3 kg. That is not bad for a partial cheat day. So I am not feeling too bad about that result.

How much weight per hour should you naturally lose?

Day 348

A lot of people would never dream of determining how much they lose per hour through natural weight loss. Everyone loses weight throughout the day, but at an uneven rate in my Pentamize tracking experience. I have lost .3 kg in an hour but lost none at all for about 3 hours at other times and even different periods of the same day. But just like anything else to do with weight loss and maintenance, it’s the average that counts. Go down to the 7th paragraph for more on this topic.

I don’t currently have a strong opinion on how important it is to have knowledge of this topic or how exactly it might help you. But since I track my weight every day, it’s something interesting I am recording to see if lessons can be learned from it. At the very least, though, knowing what is normal for you can be helpful in case you see that your numbers are off for some reason. So it’s another tracking measure that could be helpful in determining whether you need to make modifications to your diet or exercise. For example, a more vigorous exercise regimen may be able to increase your average weight loss per hour since exercise can improve your metabolism.

Fortunately, I had a slight turnaround yesterday and lost .2 kg. So I am still well within my normal upward fluctuation range. Read Day 347’s blog (yesterday) for an introduction to this topic.

For today’s diet, it would be best not to exceed 79.6 kg at any time during the day. This figure comes from the fact that I topped out at about 79.8 kg yesterday. Since I am starting at .2 kg less today as compared to yesterday (77.3 kg instead of 77.5), then 79.6 would account for that difference.

Ideally, of course, I would like to be below 79.6 all day. But an increase to 79.6 would be 2.3 kg, which is a reasonable amount. In fact, I did finish all food at about 7 in the evening, weighing approximately 79.6 at that time. So I have done okay on diet today. The only other thing to do is run 90 minutes again tomorrow morning and hope it works out.

My recent struggles have come from the fact that I have been losing so little overnight. Yesterday, it was only .4 kg. However, there is a silver lining on some days. For example, I kept losing weight after waking up this morning before the run. When adding the .4 kg overnight and .4 in the few hours before running, that means I lost .8 kg in the 12 hours starting from bedtime and ending right before my run.

I have not meticulously tracked to determine a good rate of natural weight loss per hour during waking hours. This is actually hard to track for at least 2 reasons: eating and drinking during these same hours and also going to the bathroom. So what I am starting to do more is to track periods of awake time where I am not eating or drinking anything, such as late at night and early in the morning. And so far, it seems that a good rate is about .1 kg per hour. Sometimes, it is less than that, and sometimes it is more. It seems to fluctuate in a manner similar to sleeping time, which shows wildly differing rates of less than .5 kg per hour on some nights and close to 1.5 kg per hour on other nights. Here again, though, a figure of about .1 kg per hour seems to be a normal rate and one in which weight loss or maintenance is possible, provided that you have an effective diet and exercise plan.

Warning:

The amount lost per hour can be a lot more if you overeat. So a high number is not necessarily a good thing. If the weight is coming off fast because you overate, then the net result may still be bad. As a result, you need to measure your amount lost on a day when you actually do follow your normal diet and exercise plan. Doing it on cheat days and break days is probably not going to be very helpful since hopefully you don’t have many such days.

Now, let me continue with my daily summary. After rising to 79.6 at about 7 at night, my weight didn’t hardly drop at all between then and bedtime, which was at about 10:30. I was still at 79.5. See. Just today, this is an example of what I was talking about. I didn’t drop hardly at all over these hours. Yet, I did do better overnight. My weight was 78.6 when getting up, which was an overnight drop of .9 kg. Thus, the results today are pretty similar to yesterday, but with a different distribution of drops if looked at on an hourly basis. This is what I mean when saying that these various tracking factors, while important, do not exist alone. They are factors that need to be considered. When you are trying to solve any problem, more information is generally better than less information, provided you do not hit information overload. But the big picture is what counts. That is, are your combined diet and exercise plans sufficient to result in desired weight loss or maintenance? Everything can be analyzed for clues. But in the end, of course, the only thing that ends up mattering is how much you weigh.

For some reason, I was not dropping after getting up and before running. I weighed myself about 3 hours later at 78.7 kg. Perhaps I had a faulty weigh-in earlier, which sometimes happens when you get on the scales only once. So this is not looking good now. I may be in trouble of gaining weight yet again. Well, at least I did lose some yesterday. Maintenance mode is often like this – going up and down on a regular basis.

The craziness continued today, but it was pretty good crazy to end the day. Despite its being cool and a little rainy outside, I lost all the way down to 77.3 kg. So I lost about 1.3 to 1.4 kg, which is the more expected figure. I did run pretty fast today, finishing up at a heart rate of about 156.

The 77.3 mark means that I broke even today. I suppose I could have done better on my diet, but I do not believe that a 2.3 kg daily increase is excessive. Maybe my body just wasn’t primed for weight loss today.

In my next blog post, I am going to assess my recent weight loss overnight to see how important it really is.

Determining Your Normal Upward Fluctuation Range

Day 347

After another day of weight gain, my bad streak continues. I don’t really have any answers right now as to what is going on. But since the gain is really not all that much (76.7 to 77.5 kg), it doesn’t seem like there is a strong reason to get worried yet. However, this is approaching a gain of 2 pounds, which is close to the mark where I may have to get more concerned about my diet and exercise plan. I haven’t come up with a phrase for this tracking measure. Let’s just call it the “normal upward fluctuation range.”

I say 2 pounds of gain (as my normal fluctuation range) is enough to start worrying simply because my Pentamize tracking shows that such an increase seems pretty normal. But once I start getting above that without any cheat or break days, then it seems excessive because it’s an unusual amount. This number may be different for you, depending upon your normal calorie intake, your body weight, and other factors. So don’t take the 2-pound figure as necessarily being the same for you. This is a number that you will have to develop after extensive Pentamize tracking. So about 2 to 2.5 pounds is what I consider to be my normal upward fluctuation range. It could be 1, 3 pounds, or even 5 pounds for you. It will probably take literally months of daily tracking before you wil get an idea of what your normal upward fluctuation range is. If you see yourself often gaining up to 3 pounds and then you start losing again on a regular basis, then 3 pounds is probably your range if you have months of tracking and see that it almost never goes substantially above that mark. You should just look for an estimated normal upward fluctuation range, not perfect average. A true average is pretty much impossible because your body goes through so many changes that one year’s range may be totally different 5 years later. So you want to do Pentamize tracking on a regular basis to keep tabs on possible changes.

Looking at the current situation, I don’t understand why I am gaining weight. But again, it’s basically impossible to know why you have a small upward gain, including whether it’s just normal. But establishing a normal upward range is good because you will know when to start getting concerned. Once you exceed that range, then you know that it’s at least more likely that you have an actual problem with your diet or exercise. Then, you can start modifying things and see what happens.

For now, I am going to continue doing the same thing. I will run 90 minutes in the morning. Diet wise, I have not done so well so far today. I rose to about 79.8 kg at 4:30 in the afternoon (79.9 before going to the bathroom). However, it’s not terrible because that is 2.4 kg over the starting weight of 77.5. But it does not mean that I have to stop eating for the rest of the day. I usually don’t finish at 4 in the afternoon. But it’s time to sacrifice because I ate too much earlier in the day.

At 9:30 at night, I was still sitting at about 79.6 kg. This is not looking good. I don’t even know how I could go 5 hours and lose only .3 kg. But this hopefully means the weight will drop off overnight.

Actually, my weight dropped quickly over the next couple of hours. I was about 79.1 when going to bed close to 2.5 hours later. That was a great drop, but it was followed by another ridiculously low drop overnight. I woke up and was 78.7. My jaw almost dropped this time, as that is only .4 kg of loss overnight. I guess it may be time to just get used to this overnight thing and make any necessary adjustments. At this point, any adjustments will have to be with diet because my total amount of exercise is well over an hour a day on average. I can’t really add more.

Despite what I am saying here, I actually expect to lose weight today despite the low overnight drop. I woke up at 6:45 in the morning, which is several hours before time to run. So this should be a solid day to get below my starting mark of 77.5 kg. The drop to 79.1 before bedtime is what helped me a lot today. This is a good example of why I say that overnight weight loss is only one factor in the equation. If you do well in other factors, such as weight lost during waking hours (this measure also varies from day to day but is hard to track because you are eating in the same time period), it can make up for poor overnight results.

About 2 hours later, I had lost another .2 kg, down to 78.5 kg. This is a good pace so far. But it’s about time to run. So I will need to lose more than 1.0 kg to lose weight on the day. Although it’s not 100% certain, that should be doable with a 90-minute run.

I dropped even more to about 78.3 by 10 in the morning. Things are starting to look really good now. But it’s still going to depend on the results of my jogging session.

The run result was absurd this time. I ran at a heart rate of about 130 to 140 (estimated) for almost the whole run. Yet, I only lost 1.0 kg for some reason. It was raining for most of the session, though. I have experienced low weight loss before when it was raining. Maybe that was a factor today, too. At any rate, that was good enough to lose .2 kg today, with a finishing weight of 77.3 kg. Achieving that after the ridiculous weight loss of only .4 kg overnight is certainly a success in my book.

Why a 50-Minute Run Can Be Even Better Than a 90-Minute Run

Day 346

It has been several weeks since a break day or even a running session of less than 85 to 90 minutes. Yesterday, I made the early decision to jog only 50 minutes today regardless of yesterday’s final results. And while I did gain .1 kg yesterday overall, I am not going to change this decision. Even if today ends up in a weight gain, it’s necessary to shorter the run for my own mental and physical health. Any gain today can obviously be burned off in the coming days or even weeks (presumably it won’t be that bad, though).

When I make an early decision to either take a break or do a shorter workout than usual, that lets me know in advance to be even more careful about my diet. So it would have been a good idea today to not go over about 79.0 at any time. But that just didn’t work out because I legitimately needed a little more food even when getting a little past that point. However, I did stop eating at about 5 in the afternoon, which will probably help. The tough part, though, is that my weight was around 79.6 when I finished eating. This is roughly the same as yesterday’s mark, and I went to bed weighing about 79.4.

However, today is a little better because I expect to weigh less than 79.4 at bedtime because I have about 5 hours for the body to naturally burn off some calories. In 5 hours, I certainly expect to drop more than .2 kg. Thus, I do have a little bit of an advantage as compared to yesterday. I need this advantage since my run will be about 35 minutes shorter than the 85 to 87 minutes from yesterday’s session. I’ll be happy to just break even. That will not bother me, and any weight gain that is .2 kg or less is not that bad, either. Any gain of .3 kg or more would be a disappointment.

I went to bed weighing 79.4 and woke up with another disappointing 78.8. That is yet another low overnight weight loss of .6 kg. This pattern is annoying and ridiculous. It’s going to be hard to maintain weight if this continues. Well, I have said for a long time now that it’s not supposed to be easy for everybody. It takes dedication to shed your excess weight and a permanent lifestyle change to maintain once you reach your goal or at least get close to it. However, something seems harder the past week or so. This losing hardly any weight overnight makes it very difficult.

In this difficult situation, my decision was still to run only 50 minutes. But the one modification I made was to run a lot faster than expected. In fact, I lost 1.0 kg in only 50 minutes! Although this is only one example, it is very indicative of the difference between lower medium intensity and higher medium intensity (this run was probably not intense enough to be considered high intensity). Heck, 2 days ago, I only lost .9 kg when running a full 90 minutes. And yesterday, I lost 1.2 kg when running 90 minutes again.

In this case, I kept a heart rate of approximately 135 for almost the entire run. The first 5 minutes or so were a little slower because I needed time to warm up my legs. But once I hit that stride, I kept it up for the full 50 minutes. That is the only reason I can think of that would explain the much bigger weight loss. It doesn’t take a science degree to figure this one out.

Despite this, the horrible overnight results may cause me to end up gaining weight today, anyway. However, I can feel good about trying hard to make up for that. My weight has experienced wild short-term fluctuations like this before. But as long as these upward fluctuations are no more than a pound or two, then it seems there is nothing to get too concerned about. I just have to keep in mind that it’s really hard to maintain my target weight of 75.0 kg. That has always been hard, and I chose it as a hard weight to maintain to keep me on my toes and working hard.

I was 77.8 after the run, which was earlier than usual. So I had about 3 hours to go after exercising before it was time to do the official weigh-in. My weight was not dropping well. From 9 to 10:30, I dropped to 77.6 despite going to the bathroom. So it was becoming more likely that I was going to gain weight on the day. At that point, I was just hoping to lose at least .2 kg more. The lack of overnight weight loss made it very difficult to lose weight.

My day finished at 77.5 kg, for a daily weight gain of .3 kg. I am happy with the results of my shorter run, and it’s important to keep the focus on positive things. I limited the amount of gain while also cutting a full 40 minutes off of my usual session duration. The gain of .3 is not really because of the reduced amount of running because the higher intensity still allowed me to lose 1.0 kg. It was that pesky overnight weight loss of only .6 kg that hurt me. I’ll be back to 90 minutes tomorrow and hopefully better overnight results.

Small Unexpected Weight Gain Not Necessarily Bad In Maintenance Mode

Day 345

Today is yet another instance where I don’t feel a break is in order even though it would be nice to take one soon. I unexpectedly gained .2 kg yesterday despite doing a pretty job on my diet. I rose 2.7 kg at the max during daytime hours, with 2.5 to 3.0 being a pretty normal. Of course, the more you gain, the bigger the risk of gaining weight by the end of a 24-hour period. 3.0 kg is pushing the brink for me, and even 2.5 is not going to work unless I have a decent exercise workout. Maintaining my weight without exercise has not worked out for me yet in testing. I won’t go into that in this blog post. But my Pentamize book shows how that even low-intensity exercise for 30 minutes ended up being a bad plan for me.

At 5 in the afternoon, I had risen from 77.1 to 78.9 kg. That is 1.7 kg, so I can eat a little more and still be below the 2.5 kg mark. If possible, I’d like to keep myself below that mark to give myself a better chance of losing weight by the end of tomorrow morning’s run. At 6, I had had another meal and was at 79.2 kg. Things are getting pretty close now. That is an increase of 2.1 kg. I’ll try to have just one more really small snack and call it a night on the eating.

At 7:30 in the evening, I finished up at 79.5 kg. So that is a max increase of about 2.4 kg. This is .3 kg better than yesterday in terms of the weight added during the day. And while it is only .1 kg less than the max weight of 79.6 yesterday, the key here is that my diet is better today, at least in terms of weight increase. Now, I can only hope that things will work out overnight and with my exercise session tomorrow morning. A repeat of only a .9 kg loss during exercise would not be good. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Let me briefly explain why you may have more days with weight gain in maintenance mode than in full weight loss mode. To illustrate this, I’ll just give you some ballpark figures on my full mode. When running 90 minutes, I lost weight about 70 to 80 percent of the time in full mode. However, in maintenance mode, you may experience far more days with weight gain even when doing the same amount of exercise. I don’t have specific figures for this in my maintenance mode, but I can assure you it’s far more than the 20 to 30 percent of days with weight gain when in full mode. I lose weight more like 50 to 60 percent of days. So the numbers are way down in terms of consistent weight loss in maintenance mode.

Now, let me explain one reason this happens and why it isn’t such a bad thing. First, look at Scenarios 1 and 2, keep these numbers in mind, and continue reading.

Scenario 1
Current Weight: 230 pounds
Target Weight: 175 pounds

Scenario 2
Current Weight: 178 pounds
Target Weight: 175 pounds

Now, under which example do you think you will have more weight-loss days? It’s natural for that to be Scenario 1 since your body already has a bunch of excess weight to lose. So while results do fluctuate when you are significantly overweight, your excess body weight that you are working hard to shed allows for more “opportunity” to lose weight.

Now, look at Scenario 2. You are 3 pounds over your target weight, which we will say is a pretty difficult weight for you to maintain. This is because you no longer have a lot of excess weight to lose (if any). In this case, any natural factors that tend to result in a daily weight gain are not as likely to be counteracted by the burning away of excess fat since such fat is not even there. Think about it. Everyone reaches a certain point where you just aren’t going to lose any more weight. It would actually be unhealthy at some point. So your body may actually need to retain more over short periods than when you are still obese or at least significantly overweight. I am not trying to prove anything scientifically here. It’s just important to keep in mind that you may have more days with weight gain in maintenance mode than in full mode. And this is normal in my experience.

Don’t confuse this to mean that it’s normal to gain weight 7 days in a row or something like that. I am simply saying you may experience more single 24-hour periods with weight gain on average. If you are suddenly gaining 5 pounds by gaining half a pound on average for a week and a half, you may have a problem with your diet and exercise plan. But if you gain on 40% of days and are still losing some the other 60% of the time, then you are probably okay even if you gained only on 30% of days in full mode.

Despite understand how this all works in maintenance mode, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed about my weight loss overnight. I went to bed at 79.4 and woke up at 78.9. That is only .5 again. I am making the decision right now to run only 50 minutes on Saturday (this means a run this morning, which is Friday, of 90 minutes, followed by the 50-minute run on Saturday morning). So I will need to consciously try to eat a little less throughout the day on Friday in anticipation of a shorter workout.

I had a nominal improvement over the next 4 hours or so, dropping to 78.5 kg. It is probable that I will gain a little weight today even after running. I just hope it isn’t like that dreadful result yesterday, where I lost less than a full kilogram from the entire jogging session.

Today, I lost 1.2 kg during the run. Adding that to bathroom time, I finished at 77.2 kg, which is the minimum weight gain of .1 kg. It was going to be hard to recover from losing only .5 kg overnight. So this result is not bad when you consider that. It was just a little too much to overcome absent a brutal run that would have been too intense for my fitness level.

As I stated earlier, I am committed to running only 50 minutes tomorrow morning. This is the plan even though I gained a little today. I can’t take a complete break, but a shorter run has become necessary.