Monday, 17 November 2008

One Year Later: Hunter Gathering and Body Composition

It's 12 months since I radically changed my diet and exercise to mimic our hunter gatherer ancestors. I hesitate to give my lifestyle a label after this recent clarification from Mark Sissons made me remember that there are, so to speak, a number of tribes. Paleo, Primal, Evo-Fitness - I am influenced by them all but for the sake of neutrality will stick to Hunter Gatherer.

Either way, I have Natural Messiah to thank for the introduction and to commemorate the anniversary I thought I would share the data I have been recording on body composition since 2005. Scroll the graph to the right to move forward in time. If you are less interested in the physical aspect, I explain here how it transformed my formerly routine-bound life.

I recorded the data by weighing myself each night before bed using a set of Tanita scales. They have metal pads that use a combination of height, weight, electrical resistance and standard formulae to estimate body fat percentage. There's no doubt that this is a rather blunt tool to measure body composition and I treat with a pinch of salt the readings it gives me each night. Nevertheless, it has become something of a ritual - one routine I was evidently unable to give up.

Notice the telltale rises and falls between November 2005 to November 2007 as I vainly followed the bulk-and-cut dogma espoused by bodybuilding magazines. In fact at the time I was doing a lot of running too, which no doubt made matters worse. You can see that each time I went through the bulking phase I gained muscle but also fat - then when I cut the calories to lose the fat, off came the muscle as well.

You can see that from November 2007 to the present day I have lost over a stone in weight. For the most part, my fat has continued to fall while muscle, bone etc has remained static. In the last couple of months there has been some loss of muscle, bone etc. One thing this may be attributable to is hydration. Around two months ago I decided I was over-hydrated and stopped drinking so much water. This was partly because I could find no research proving it was of benefit beyond a certain point and partly to see whether it would help me sleep better (it did.)

Other things to consider are that the composition of my muscles may well have changed now that I am not following routines design to bloat the muscles or consuming a high carbohydrate diet.

The real test, of course, is how you look. My own sense, and the considered opinion of Mrs M (whose honestly about such matters frequently borders on the undiplomatic) is that even though I now weigh only 11 stone, I look a lot better than I did in 2006 when I was 11.5 stone.

I will periodically update the graph so you can see how things pan out.

Don't worry, I don't plan to publish photos of myself with no shirt on. Ever.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is an impressive bit of tracking you did here! I did weekly weight tracking for a while until I got down to my target ad then just kind of stopped caring. Being happy with where I was, everything else just kind of seemed like an added bonus! Maybe I should start keeping track again so I have an idea of exactly how much of a bonus! Cogratz again in your succes!

Anonymous said...

Very cool graphic representation. Congrats on your continued success.

Methuselah said...

Thanks guys - easier to create than it looks: just used Excel charting, then copied and pasted into MS Paint...

Stephan Guyenet said...

Very cool, thanks for posting this.

Asclepius said...

Nice graphic. It will be interesting to see how the profile changes as a 'hunter gatherer' through the seasons.

Marc said...

Congrats and thanks for sharing.
I did not know you could paste excell into MS paint. Thanks.


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