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Data-driven weight loss

Weight loss planning powered by hard data, and trends analysis

Data-driven weight loss

Friday July 15, 2016,

5 min Read

As an serial entrepreneur who has always relied on rather heavily on data to make important decisions, I took a similarly data-savvy approach to weight loss. 

I weighed an unhealthy 95 kilos as a 5’10” teenager back in 2010. Since then, I’ve worked with dozens of different diet plans, workout routines and have even tried family remedies - all with little to no sustained success. Weight loss just hasn’t ever been easy for me!

This was until I discovered a life-changing technology-powered habit a few months ago. Through this habit, which I will share shortly, I’ve successfully lost over six kilograms in just over a month. I strongly believe it is the key to sustainable weight loss.

At Wit's End

Before I spill the beans on this juicy habit (pun intended), it is important to rewind to the last week of September 2015. Four weeks of what I thought was healthy eating ended without any noticeable weight loss. This was my third attempt at losing weight in a year, so the lack of results left me at my wit’s end.

It was when shared my experience online that a close friend recommended a certain app that would help me execute what he called “data-driven weight loss”. I had heard about the term “data-driven decision making” - i.e. data gathering and trends analysis for making more informed business decisions - so I was curious to know more.

Suffice to say, my ensuing journey into data-driven weight loss has not only fundamentally changed my lifestyle, but my life, too! The close friend of mine? He is now my co-founder at PriceOye - a price comparison startup that helps you find the best prices in Pakistan.

Today, I’ll share my experience with you with the hope that it will fundamentally change your life for the better.

The Weight Loss Equation

If you forget everything you know about weight loss right now, and remember just this one simple equation, you will have lost nothing, and have gained everything you need to lose weight sustainably.

It took me five embarrassing years of trial and error before I stumbled upon this:

Calorie deficit = calories from food - calories you use

You will only lose weight when your caloric intake is lower than your caloric outflow. There is no other way around it. You can drink those special fat-burning teas, go vegan, do a hundred push-ups everyday, and go on a ten-mile hikes - nothing will work unless you do not eat less than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Now that you understand this, let’s discuss how you can use data to optimize your daily caloric deficit for fast, sustainable weight loss.

Data Gathering and Eating Trends Analysis with MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is the ‘certain app’ I mentioned at the start of this article. Available on iOS, Android, and the web, the app acts as a smart food diary where you note down all your daily meals and snacks for accurate calorie counting. Besides the number of calories in each serving, MyFitnessPal also shows you sugar, fats, carbs, sodium and proteins.

By making calorie counting a habit: 

You truly realize just how bad foods like pizza, burgers, sodas, and processed food is. We all know they’re bad, but it only kicks in when you see them almost multiplying your daily caloric intake. It takes just a few small portions to ruin your dieting efforts.

- You discover both fascinating and worrying trends in your eating habits. Both help you strive for better, healthier eating habits.

- You come across foods which make you feel amazingly full in exchange for minimum caloric intake. These are the special foods which help you lose weight without losing your sanity!

Noting down everything after a full meal can be cumbersome, but the wisdom you gain about yourself, and the food you eat makes calorie counting absolutely worth it.

With MyFitnessPal, I discovered I was indeed eating healthy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but snacking intermittently would often cancel all my efforts. Regular chai, along with biscuits and the occasional chocolate bar would push my daily caloric intake well beyond my TDEE. Additionally, going out for fast food on weekends would completely neutralize any healthy eating over the week.

Executing An Effective, Data-Driven Weight Loss Plan

Based on the analysis of my eating habits, I executed a weight loss plan which ended in a loss of six kilograms in under forty days.

I slowly but surely eliminated snacks, shifted to black coffee and tea, swapped fast food with more healthier alternatives, and began working out every other day. These habits have gradually accumulated into a complete lifestyle transformation which is what you actually need to lose weight and be healthy, once and for all.

My previous attempts at weight loss were sound, but only in theory. From the outset, it looked perfect: I was exercising, I was controlling my portions, I was avoiding fast food - all the right ingredients for fast weight loss. These attempts failed because I never gave importance to the underlying data which comes from calorie counting.

If there’s one thing I want you to remember before you open another tab, it’s this: whenever you undertake any major endeavor in life - be it weight loss, or entrepreneurship - base your decisions after gathering and analyzing the right data. Intuition can only take you so far!

A look at MyFitnessPal’s web app with my personal food diary 

A look at MyFitnessPal’s web app with my personal food diary