Using Huel + cycling for weight loss


#1

Hi there!

I’ve been around the forum for a few weeks now but this is my first thread - I started on Huel 3 weeks ago today, with the aim of eating healthier and in particular losing weight - my family and I are going to centreparcs in the summer and several of them wanted to do one particular activity which involves climbing in the trees - and I’m too heavy! I’m not so desperate to do this that I’d be devastated if I wasn’t able to, but it served as a reality check that I should probably do something about all this fat, and a handy motivator.

So 3 weeks ago I weighed pretty much exactly 19 stone (267 lb). My effort at weight loss has been made slightly easier by the fact that I cycle to and from work - about 8 miles each way. Apparently for a 19 stone guy that’s about 700 calories - which isn’t 100% accurate but I assume it’s in the right kind of ball park (I know all too well that on days with lots of head wind, I’m likely to be burning lots more calories, but my simple GPS tracker thinks I’m burning less because I’m going slower). I used to cycle all the time for a few years, but this slipped a bit last year after our third child came along - I was driving in a lot more, working from home more too, and some weeks the bike didn’t come out at all.

I decided to use Huel after watching a program about the Cambridge Diet plan (I don’t think it explicitly mentioned it by name, but my wife has a friend who is a CDP consultant and knew that this is what the program used). I decided not to use CDP for purely financial reasons - £50+ per week is a little much for our 3-child budget. So I decided to keep that as a very last resort, and try to do a “DIY” version using Huel instead. I’m only using Huel for around 1000 cals a day, so I also take a multivitamin - and I try to make sure that any snacks are relatively high in protein, as well as healthier than what I was having before, to make up for that too.

I’ve also found that tracking calories precisely has been really important - even if the day doesn’t quite go to plan, accurately recording absolutely everything has been really useful. The only exception is that I don’t track teas and coffees, which I have with milk but no sugar (I used to have 2 sugars in tea, but a few days into this I found I could bear the taste of tea without sugar, which I couldn’t before) - my logic here is that if I’m at the point where a few shot-sized portions of milk is pushing me over the edge - there’s probably a bigger problem that got me to that point in the first place.

Here’s a brief summary of the three weeks so far:

(I’m 6 foot 1 inch tall, just for reference)

Week 1- Weds 6 Jun - Tues 12 Jun

days cycled - 2
Average calorie intake - 1681 cal/day
Starting weight - 267 lb (19 st)
End weight - 260 lb
Average weight - 263.7 lb

Week 2- Weds 13 Jun - Tues 19 Jun

days cycled - 3.5 (3 commutes & 1 spontaneous ride)
Average calorie intake - 1825 cal/day
Starting weight - 260 lb
End weight - 256 lb
Average weight - 257.9 lb

Week 3- Weds 20 Jun - Tues 26 Jun

days cycled - 3
Average calorie intake - 2092 cal/day
Starting weight - 256 lb
End weight - 251 lb (17st 13lb! - the weight limit at centreparcs is 18 stone, but I’d rather be comfortably within the limit rather than on the edge of it, as well as just generally getting down to a more healthy weight)
Average weight - 253.6 lb

Week 4-
obviously that’s this week, starting today. My aim is to try and keep below or around 2000 cal/day (average - I do eat a bit more on cycling days) and I’ve cycled in today, which is unusual for a Wednesday, so I might be cycling in 4 times this week (Monday never happens, as Monday has to be a work from home day anyway)


#2

This is absolutely fantastic to read. Huge congratulations, it’ll definitely be worth it.

Don’t stop at your goal, keep pushing the boundaries :smiley:


#3

Thanks! Yeah I’m currently aiming for about 15-16st, but not stopping there, I just think at that point I should probably slow down and look more at a manageable healthy diet rather than just aiming for lots of weight loss.

I actually worry a little that I’m taking things a bit too fast, as I’m losing around 4lb a week at the mo - the thing is, at around 2000 cal/day, I don’t exactly feel like I’m starving myself either (not any more anyway - that first week was awful)

One thing I’ve found really useful is looking at it per week rather than per day. You don’t always realise that food weighs a lot more than it’s equivalent calories weighs in fat - so my weight chart has a bit of an odd pattern: my weight plateaus on cycle days (eating and drinking more but burning ~1400 extra calories) and then sharply drops on non-cycle days (eating and drinking less and getting cycle day food/water out of my system)


#4

Well done on the progress so far, you should be chuffed!

Defo try and do the Go Ape type tree activity, they are loads of fun :smiley:


#5

Week 4- Weds 27 Jun - Tues 3 Jul

days cycled - 4
Average calorie intake - 2206 cal/day
Starting weight - 251 lb
End weight - 247 lb
Average weight - 249.4 lb

Clearly my aim to stick around 2000 kcal average didn’t work but I’m not overly concerned. I did an extra day’s cycling and managed to get some digging done at the allotment so I think the +200cal/day average pretty much got cancelled out. More importantly I’m about 4lb down on average from the week before again, so I definitely didn’t go off the rails.

Week 5-

Week 5 may very well go off the rails :stuck_out_tongue:. I’m only going to be cycling in for 2, maybe 3 days this week, and this weekend I’m off to “Bears camp” - a dads and kids camping weekend which involves lots of fun and crucially, a huge BBQ on saturday night and large quantities of beer for the dads (relatively - the dads don’t get wasted or anything, but the calories will be through the roof). I’m going to enjoy it though as my progress so far has been pretty good, and then keep the effort up in week 6. It’s not like I’m going to re-gain a whole stone over a weekend

Also, a pretty chart!


#6

Week 5- Weds 4 Jul - Tues 10 Jul

days cycled - 2
Average calorie intake - 2576 cal/day
Starting weight - 248 lb
End weight - 248 lb
Average weight - 247.9 lb

As I guessed it would, my weight has plateaued a bit this week, due to the reduced exercise as well as not sticking to the diet over the weekend. This was a planned “blip” though so I’m not overly concerned. Average calorie intake might well be under what I actually consumed - I had to guess a little bit this weekend, but tried to overestimate.

Back to recording everything and sticking to the plan for week 6! :slight_smile:

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#7

Good progress so far,
I am a keen cyclist as it a great exercise to combine with Huel. You can start extending your journeys and its good to Strava your rides with a heart rate monitor, this will enbale you to see your fitness increasing and Strava will tell you how you are doing and you can compare your times and should make you push a little bit harder.
It’s will be a long journey, work out how long it took you to get to your current weight and set realistic goals. I know a few lads who have started off around 17 stone and lost weight very quick with a few long rides as its around 700-1000 calories an hour when working quite hard.


#8

Thank you I am 5 husks in do planning to up my meals to 2 a day Monday to Friday and hope some of the weight comes off !


#9

I’m not really looking into heart rate monitor at the moment - partly just because of expense. Even if the HRM itself is fairly minimal expense wise, most of the apps only seem to have HRM support when you use the paid versions, and these are all on a per month basis rather than a one off.

I’m just not sure it’s all that worth it - I’m interested in increasing fitness but not necessarily working towards a particular fitness goal, I just like cycling because of the sheer efficency of both getting from A to B for my work commute, and also getting an hour and a half or so of cardio exercise without having to go anywhere I wasn’t going to go anyway. For the moment I’m pretty happy using the free apps despite the fact that they can’t tell the difference between pedalling twice as hard and riding with a tailwind :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, I understand this will be a long journey - I have around 13 stone in mind as a rough “end goal” at the moment, and at my current rate it’ll take about another 15 weeks (~ 4 months) to get there. But I’m also aware that I’m losing so much so fast at the moment because as a heavy guy, both my TDEE and cycling calories are a lot higher than they would be if I was lighter, so I’m guessing the rate of weight loss will start to slow down


#10

Using a heart rate will make your cycling more efficient as you can chose which zone - depending if you want to increase fitness or burn more fat etc as you set up zones. It works well. As you lose weight you will probably start to look in to it more but is good to have the data there to begin with and will show a more accurate calories burned as you may only burn 600 an hour if not trying too hard.


#11

Week 6- Weds 11 Jul - Tues 17 Jul

days cycled - 3
Average calorie intake - 2320 cal/day
Starting weight - 246 lb
End weight - 243 lb
Average weight - 244.3 lb

This week is a prime example of why I think it’s important to measure weight progress week by week rather than day by day. I’d swear that this week I’ve been really struggling to stick to my intended calorie intake (That goal is probably a bit too harsh). I’d also swear that I’ve been really struggling to lose anything - except for one “fluke day” where it appeared I’d lost 4lbs in one day, and it bounced back up the next day. And yet my weigh ins are on average 3.5 lbs down from week 5 (only about 0.5lbs of the average can be put down to the “fluke day”)


#12

This is a great journal post, @danlking keep it up! I’ve started Huel and focussing on diet a bit more this week, currently at around 16st and aiming for 14st, I’m a rugby player but put on too much weight after breaking my ankle horrifically last year.
MY wife started cycling to work about a month ago and I’ve been resisting doing it myself but reading this post might be enough to encourage me to start giving it a go a couple of times a week! I think my trip to work is about 6 miles so only 12 miles round trip, it’s better than nothing right?
I love the format of your excel chart, would love a template to use it myself!


#13

6 miles is a good start and you can extend your hourney once you start getting fitter, mine is 19 miles each way and is a good workout. I use a turbo when the weather is bad, it can be boring but new app like Zwift are pretty socialble and my turbo even re creates cobbles and rough ground.


#14

Yeah I’m happy to share - I actually can’t take the credit for the front page, the “TDEE” sheet, I’ve changed the colours a bit (the whole background used to be a kind of garish looking blue colour) and fixed a few of the formulas that clearly weren’t doing what they were intended to, but other than that the whole of this sheet is somebody else’s work - I was pointed to it as a public document on google drive but I’ve no idea who actually put it together. The really good thing about this sheet though is that it estimates your TDEE, and then revises that estimate as the weeks go on, as your weight changes, and it uses your weight, weight change and calorie intake to estimate a much more accurate TDEE than can be estimated from your weight alone. Again, none of that is my work.

All I’ve done is added the sheets “Charts” and “Sheet2” which are used to produce the charts. If you want to log exercise calories you need to do it in Sheet 2 by adding values to the yellow column for the appropriate day (they show on the chart but don’t effect the TDEE formula on the main sheet) - and all you need to do is right click on the charts in the “Charts” sheet, then click “Refresh data” in order to refresh them (alternatively use the “Refresh all” button in the data menu)

I’ve left my first month of data in just for reference so you can see visually how it works - you can delete everything highlighted here and replace with your own values, as well as all of the “Exercise” values in sheet 2:

You can also change the weight from Lbs to KG if you’d prefer, it’ll still show as stone in the charts though - there’s also no problem with decimal places when entering weights, the scale I’m using (a Wii fit board, as our other set of scales died years ago) doesn’t go any lower than 1lb in terms of detail, which is why they’re all whole numbers.

here’s the link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nEhbudVdWP7afJHxsbSv3AzRiH9xDWkj/view?usp=sharing

also, feel free to change the names of the days on the TDEE sheet. It originally said Mon-Sun, but I changed it to Weds-Tues due to the fact that I started this whole thing on a Wednesday. The names of the days don’t affect anything else in the spreadsheet


#15

Cheers! I’ve stuck my stuff in for this week and I haven’t done any exercise this week so I’m gonna blame the spreadsheet :stuck_out_tongue:


#16

Which turbo trainer do you have Mally?


#17

Week 7- Weds 18 Jul - Tues 24 Jul

days cycled - 3
Average calorie intake - 2391 cal/day
Starting weight - 245 lb
End weight - 243 lb
Average weight - 242.4 lb

Yet another example of why it’s good to measure weekly rather than daily. This week has felt like the plateau week from hell - my starting weight was 2lbs heavier than the end weight last week (literally first day and last day of the week - kind of arbitrary but I’ve so far managed to avoid this :stuck_out_tongue: ), and then after few days getting the same weight and then finally weighing a bit less yesterday, the weight went back up 3lbs for the final day.

Despite all that, my average weight is still down nearly 2 lbs from what it was last week. It’s funny how when you obsess over the short term it can really feel like you’re stuck in a rut, meanwhile the slightly longer term picture might be a little different.

2 weeks close up:

Progress so far:


#18

Hi,

Thanks for posting the spreadsheet, I’ve added my details (33yr old, 88kg, goal 73kg) but it gives a TDEE of 4610 whereas all the online TDEE calculators Ive used say around 2500 for my details.

Any idea what im doing wrong or could the calculation be wrong on the spreadsheet?

Thanks
Wayne


#19

I’m not sure how it’s come up with that - but here’s a few ideas.

Firstly, there are two ways the spreadsheet calculates the TDEE that shows at the top - one way is an initial estimate based on the startig weight you put in, and for 88kg it should look like this:

The most important thing to note is that it will only give you the initial estimate if there are absiolutely no other weight/calorie measurements in the spreadsheet.

The other way that the spreadsheet calculates TDEE is by taking an average of your calories consumed, and then adding on the calories equivalent to your weight loss (or subtracting for weight gain). So for example, the screenshot above says that it expects you to lost 0.5kg a week if you consume 1970 calories a day.

If I force those numbers in, it looks like this:

(side note - the spreadsheet assumes that any blank cells are exactly the same value as the next populated cell to the left - this way, if you miss a day, the spreadsheet still works out a weekly average based on this assumption)

I’ve told the spreadsheet that you’re consuming 1970 calories a day and losing .5 kilos a week, so it’s quite happy that it’s initial TDEE estimate was correct.

However, if I say you’ve been losing 1kg a week:

it shows that your TDEE must be higher, because you’ve lost more weight than expected for your calorie intake.

Likewise, if I say you’ve only lost .25 kg a week, or that your weight is steady:

it adjusts the TDEE accordingly, and the most recent TDEE estimate is always the one that shows on the top

In reality, your averages will look a lot less uniform and your TDEE each week will vary accordingly:

but what really seems to throw the formula off is if the first cell is significantly less than your starting weight - so for instance if you enter a starting weight of 88 kg, but then your first weigh-in is actually 86kg, the spreadsheet assumes that you’ve lost 2kg in your first week and thus estimates your TDEE in the low 4000’s:

Not sure if this is what you’ve done, but it’s the only way I managed to replicate the estimate. Hope this helps!


#20

Ahh! Very useful info!

My starting weight was 88kg because that was the last weight I had taken before starting (maybe a few days/a week max before) so I put that in for the 1st day. 2nd day weight was 85.9kgs, I had put my weekly loss to be 0.5kg as a minimum! If I lose more then great, I didn’t think that the formula wants me to lose .5kg a week no matter what, even if that means actually putting weight back on to achieve!

That makes sense now, so basically I will just ignore it as im quite happy if I lose more then .5kg each week (within reason of course!)

Thanks for the explanation.