Resolution and accuracy of calorie deficit over shorter timeframes

Hello from Bill the Newbie,

I am a first time user, 6 days of data in Crono. I have been losing weight for approx 12 months, am slowing down now. Daily weights show an overall downward trend but jiggle around a bit.

To understand the fluctuations, for several days I weighed myself after wakeup, after exercise, after meals and before bed in order to see a daily weight variation profile.

Some days I don't lose anything at all and even gain some - this seems at odds with my Crono data but am guessing that over longer time periods ( ie weeks & months) there is a better correlation between Crono Calorie Deficits and Real Life Weight Loss ............... is that correct ?

I started using Crono and the daily weight profile because I wanted to better understand what was happening with the reduction in weight loss as I approach target weight (81kg reduced from 95 12 months ago) and keeping the loss going is not as easy as it was a few months ago.

I have read that the body is unwilling to give up the last bit of fat and will be trying to retain it despite my long slow cardio workouts + daily pushups - weights - pullups - callisthenics etc. One tip I have read is to do more weight bearing exercise to build muscle which in turn will burn more fat through the day.

Is it possible to build muscle whilst simultaneously burning fat ? Or is one better off losing the fat first then focusing on weight bearing exercises instead of cardio ?

Gotta admit I can have a craving for chocolate now and then.



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    edited July 2020

    You've touched on a few points. I'm no expert, but I do have some experience.

    • Daily weigh-ins
      A common rookie mistake. Daily weight fluctuation is normal. The average adult's weight fluctuates up to 5 or 6 pounds per day. It all comes down to what and when you eat, drink, exercise, and even sleep. Article

    I weigh myself once per week, but I don't make changes unless I'm not progressing towards my goal after a month or more.

    • Approaching target weight

    Weight loss in the beginning is generally quicker due to a couple of factors. Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, it's estimated that you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. So, in general, if you cut about 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your typical diet, you'd lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week. That much of a deficit can be difficult to maintain when you're closer to your goal weight.

    If you're normally eating 3,000 calories a day that 500 to 1,000 deficit isn't so difficult to maintain. If you're at 1,400 calories per day that target becomes unsustainable without raising your metabolism through exercise.

    • Working out

    If you're new to working out, or lifting you can gain muscle while burning fat. Provided that you're eating at maintenance or slightly below, and getting enough protein. That said, muscle is more dense than fat. So don't be surprised if your scale trend is impacted. So long as you're getting more toned and not gaining weight, you're heading in the right direction.

    • The last bit of fat or skinnyfat

    Maintain a slight calorie deficit and you will achieve your goal. Here's a video from Ryan that I think sums it up perfectly:

    Skinnyfat? What to do to

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    edited July 2020

    Wow, my post is gone. I'm not sure what happened while I was editing, but I'm not re-typing all of that.

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    Hello HailDodger, Thanks for trying to comment. Maybe this current post I am typing will dissappear as well.

    So to answer my own questions -

    1. Intuitively, I'd expect the Calories calculated by Crono and actual weight loss to correlate better over a longer time period and not on a daily basis.
    2. From my own records, over the last few days there are significant daily fluctuations ie before & after meals, before & after losing a lot of sweat in the gym, before & after going to the bathroom. Its been interesting to gather the data and better understand the variance but will stop doing that now

    3. Have done some more googling and reading - its quite common for weight loss to to slow down as I approach target weight. Will continue to use Cronometer to log my intake just for interests sake.

    4. Its okay to deliberately try to build muscle whilst continuing to burn fat and any extra muscle will increase daily calorie burn - seems to be a reasonably well documented and accepted strategy - google will find various explanations and exercise programs.

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    edited July 2020

    What I just found out today.....if you're logging your exercise, pay close attention to the calories burned with the "standing" exercise. There are two "standing" exercises in Cronometer, and one calculates the calories burned to be about 2.5 to 3 times as much as the other one, even though their description of "standing, light effort" is the same in both. Since the one that's in error is closer to the top, I've been using that one for the past month, trying to "stand" as much as possible, and thinking I was leaving a very nice cushion of unused calories each day, so that I could lose weight faster. Boy, was I wrong. When I looked closer, the one that's in error has the exact same number of calories burned for "standing, light effort..." as it does for walking 2.5 mph on a firm surface, for equal time. So...what do you think happened when I sent them an email? They basically told me that Cronometer is "just a guide." Yeah, well, a LOT of people would be furious to think that Cronometer is telling them they have 700 or 1000 calories remaining, when if fact, there are actually in the hole. I told them they had conflicting information, and I did not receive any help from their support people, nor did they seem even remotely interested in escalating this to the top to get fixed. Nope. Bottom line is, "it's just a guide," even though they are putting out conflicting data. What I expected them to say was: "Hey thanks for letting us know about that error in our system. I'll send it to the people who can look into this and get it fixed." But no. They were not interested in fixing it. They told me I could use the other one. I told them I was concerned about other people not knowing. That's when they came back with, "Well, it's just a guide anyway." I got the same response from 2 of their support people. Go figure.

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    Hey Buffy,

    If you get a decent heart rate monitor it will do a good job of tracking calories used in any exercise and you would not have to rely upon the data in Cronometer.

    Get something decent like a Polar H10 chest belt or equivalent quality in another brand. All of the decent ones have an associated Android or Apple App that will display heart rate and calories burnt in real time and automatically store the results in a database.

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    Hi BillSteamshovel,

    Weight loss slowing down as you get closer to your goal is quite common! We have a blog post about this phenomenom written by @Susan_RD_101 if you are interested, check it out here: https://cronometer.com/blog/why-is-my-weight-plateauing/

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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    @Buffy Sorry to hear you didn't have a satisfying interaction with out support team about the exercise database. The list of exercises and the calories burned comes from the Compendium of Physical Activities. While we can't make changes to the names or calories that they report we are working on a updating our exercise database UI. I'll report your feedback to the design team so they can find a good solution.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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    You touch on quite a few things. I'll try to summarize what I had originally posted.

    • Daily weight fluctuation is normal.

    The average adult's weight fluctuates up to 5 or 6 pounds per day. It all comes down to what and when you eat, drink, exercise, and even sleep.

    Daily weigh-in are moot, in my opinion. I weigh myself once per week, and I don't make changes until 4-7 weeks without progress towards my goal.

    • Being close to your goal

    It's not that the body is unwilling to give up anything. The closer you are to your goal the narrower your margins are. 3,500 kcal = 1 Lbs. That's about a 500 to 1,000 calorie deficit per day to lose one to two pounds per week. If your total kcal per day for maintenance is 2,300 to 3,000 then that deficit is sustainable. If your total kcal per day for maintenance is at or below 1,700 then that kind of a deficit is less sustainable without added exercise. The bottom line is that if you maintain a calorie deficit, either through eating or eating & exercise, you will eventually achieve your goal.

    • How to build muscle and burn fat at the same time

    1.Eat at maintenance calories or slight deficit
    2.Eat 0.73g - 1g of protein/pound of weight
    3.Lift weights

    I should note that muscle is more dense than fat. So building muscle will impact your weigh-ins. As long as you're getting more toned, then you're headed in the right direction.

    Also, having chocolate is not the end of the world. It's simply about maintaining a calorie deficit. I eat some daily, in moderation. (Kashi granola bars) I just work it into my daily kcal.

    This ended up still being lengthy. :|

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    edited July 2020

    ^ It should be noted that I posted that on July 11 or 12th, and not today. A forum moderator posted it today. I don't know if it was moderated due to length, or why exactly.

    2.Eat 0.73g - 1g of protein/pound of weight

    That should be per pound of lean body mass. If you're obese, you don't need that amount per pound of body weight.

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    Thanks for your note

    The protein loading is very interesting. Will have a go. Currently doing 1-2hours bike & rowing plus various pushups pullups & planky things.

    Am approaching target weight and can now fit into several pairs of previously unwearable jeans ( bonus !! don't have to buy new trousers) so quite pleased with self, still got a bit of fat to lose, but may get confusing if muscle is growing and is denser than fat. So I guess tape measure will be more useful than scales to measure progress.

    I see that fat calipers are only a few dollars on various internet shops - they might be interesting as well.

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