LA Weight Loss - Diet and exercise as a construction worker.

Mr Peterbed
07-09-2009, 08:00 PM
Hey everyone.

I've been looking around the net, and either I'm horrible at google, or not very many construction workers attempt to diet, but I've got a question or two that I could use some help with if anyone might know.

First off I've settled in at about 1800 calories per day and added to my diet more fruits in the mornings and vegetables at night for dinner. Now I know that if your body can't get the energy it needs it'll eat into muscle. My question is this, should I add more protein into my diet, or take protein supplements since I've gone on this diet? I looked around and I believe the formula gave me 204g of protein a day, should I increase that to keep muscle loss at bay?

My second question is what to do about exercise? Working in the summer heat down here in Louisiana is murder on my body and when I get home I honestly just don't have it in me to exercise. On the weekends I walk/jog a mile or two to keep some activity, but during the week there really isn't anything I can do.

Should I count my eight hour day at work as eight hours of exercise? Aside from a few breaks from the heat and lunch I'm up and down ladders carrying 2x6s to 2x12s or walking material from this point to that. After a day of that my body can't handle much cardio or weights.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I want to drop this weight, but I don't want to wreck my body doing it. My co-workers wouldn't appreciate a 2x12 dropped on their head because my body is chewing at my muscle.

07-09-2009, 08:17 PM
I would recommend protein shakes if you want to add more protein to your diet. Not only will they give you a good boost of protein, they will help you stay full longer if you drink one in the morning with your breakfast. You can also find some yummy flavors, and there are a few places (Max Muscle) that will let you try a sample to make sure you like the taste before you buy them. Many people drink the shakes after they work out to help their muscles repair faster.

As far as expending calories, it sounds like you're doing pretty well. My husband worked construction for a long time and he never had the energy to work out on the weekends, so good job on that!

07-09-2009, 08:33 PM
Seriously, you might not be eating enough to work 8 hours lifting and carrying heavy stuff up and down ladders. If you were female, 300 pounds and working a desk job I'd almost certainly suggest that you start at 2000 calories a day. I'd think you could easily start at 2500 (maybe even higher) and still lose weight. I know a guy from another board, doing less work, but a little working out and he's mid 200s and eating minimum 2700 and still losing weight on that.

Me, I walk 5 days a week, lift weights 3 days a week and I still lose on 2000 cals/day (a little more on lifting days).

If you've got a job where you're expected to be active it is important to keep the calories out. Definitely keep the protein up, and although I wouldn't suggest it for most people, you might look into some type of sports drink in the afternoons. I'll give you a link for a low-carb one (but if your calories allow you might add sugar... or take it with fruit).

I mentioned the sports drink as if you're working outside in the heat all day you're often going to throw your electrolytes out of whack. I did poorly working in an automotive plant on low cals (on my feet all day, very hot), and I realize now that I needed more fuel for my body.

07-09-2009, 08:44 PM
Hi there, and welcome!

I'm SO not an expert on construction workers and weight loss, but I do have some thoughts, so take it for what it is worth:

First of all, I think that your idea to count calories is great. I found a guide here that can help you calculate what you need, and it specifically mentions working in construction:

We all need a minimum number of calories simply to survive, but we can also set a calorie limit to maintain a healthy weight. You can calculate the total number of calories you need for your type of lifestyle, then use this figure to decide on a range of calories to consume each day - it's not an absolute figure.

1. Calculate the minimum number of calories you need by multiplying your current or desired weight in pounds by 10 if you're a woman, 11 if you're a man. This number represents your basic calorie needs.

2. Calculate the number of calories required for your activity level (see tips, below) by multiplying your basic calorie needs (the calculation from step 1) by your activity level - 20 percent or 0.2, 30 percent or 0.3, 40 percent or 0.4, or 50 percent or 0.5. The resulting number represents your activity-based calorie needs.

3. Calculate the number of calories your body needs for food digestion and absorption by adding your basic calorie needs and your activity-based calorie needs (the answers from steps 1 and 2) and multiplying this sum by 0.10. These are the calories you need for digestion.

4. Add the three calculations from steps 1, 2 and 3: This is your total daily calorie need to maintain your desired weight.

Use the following as a guideline for determining your activity level: 20 percent if you sit or lie still for most of the day, with little or no exercise; 30 percent if you walk less than two miles per day; 40 percent if you are somewhat active, doing activities such as dancing, doing a lot of work in the house or garden, or taking exercise classes; and 50 percent if you're actively involved in a sport or you have job that requires a great deal of physical labor, such as construction work.
There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so to lose one pound per week, you need to decrease your calorie intake by 3,500 calories a week, or 500 calories a day.

My second gut feeling is that you are plenty active right now. It might be a great idea to focus on your eating plan first, to get comfy with it and to see what happens when you stay within your calorie levels at your current activity level. Construction work is HARD, and you might be getting enough of a workout as it is.

And if you plan for a 1-2 lb per week weight loss, I don't think you'll have to worry much about protein supplementation and so on, because at this rate of loss, the vast majority of the lost mass is fat, not muscle.

There are other calorie counters there, so you might want to post on the Calorie Counters Forum, located on the main page, for more expert advice from those who have alot more experience at it that I have.

Let us know how it goes!


07-10-2009, 12:42 AM
Seriously, you might not be eating enough to work 8 hours lifting and carrying heavy stuff up and down ladders. If you were female, 300 pounds and working a desk job I'd almost certainly suggest that you start at 2000 calories a day. I'd think you could easily start at 2500 (maybe even higher) and still lose weight.

Great minds think alike because as I was reading the original post I also thought he should start at 2500 calories given the hard physical work he does.

07-10-2009, 07:25 AM
LOL - I was going to suggest 3000, but thought he might freak out! I'm eating close to that this week (on purpose) and maintaining, so I don't think of it as excessive. It can be tough keeping the calories up without resorting to junk food, so I admit that I use a protein shake as a morning snack to push up the calories and the protein.