Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The following information is basically my opinion and my experimentation and is in no way an absolute science, take it with a grain of salt but I feel that since so many runners struggle with their weight, including myself, that I should share what has been working for me so far and why. Maybe through this, someone might get an idea how to modify what they are doing and a slight modification is many times what is needed to get the ball rolling.
I am a big, fluffy Teletubby that somehow developed a love for running. I am no where near my ideal weight so the problems experienced by those near goal weight do not apply here.
At 285 lbs, my BMR is still quite high so getting in a satisfactory caloric deficit shouldn't be that tough...right? However, I have noticed that since I started distance training, my weight loss went from practically falling off to practically non-existent. From my reading in Runners World, the forums here and elsewhere, this is a pretty common complaint.
There is a difference between running for weight loss and training for performance. They are two totally different worlds. For weight loss, neither pace nor distance matters, only intensity and duration. When preparing to master a distance, you are training for endurance and performance, training for endurance/performance is extremely difficult to do and maintain a caloric deficit. its like doing the Indy 500 on a 1/4 tank of gas... a low fuel light is your constant companion.
For me, unless I am willing to totally devote my life to mastering calorie cycling and other tricks of the trade, race training and weight loss are incompatible bed fellows for me (this is strictly my opinion).
-Where I feel the issues lies...
1) Fueling. I really started looking into fueling once I started going beyond 8 miles because i would get done with a long run and would eat anything in sight. This was the product of not enough fuel / low blood sugar condition which drove my appetite out of orbit. Once I started fueling, the problem went away like magic. The big problem with this is that while my performance improved dramatically, I was not tapping much into my fat stores. with appx 90 min of glycogen onboard then start adding gels, I was basically burning sugar rather than getting my body to tap its fat stores for fuel... a very unpleasant feeling BTW.
2) Balance. - In a nut shell, there was alot of unconscious eating going on during training. The body does not respond well to a negative caloric state or rigorous training, so it will try to compensate by upping the appetite. Remember the purpose of fat is to sustain us during a crisis. Caloric deficit is a danger and the body tries to compensate to gain equilibrium. The body is always looking for balance and stability. Imagine your shock when you see huge sums of money being drawn out of your bank account everyday. That account is your security. I promise you, you will be in a panic. Large energy expendatures and dramitic, quick weight losses throws the body into a tizzy. Your body is going to call the fat police on you.
With the exertion of training and the shift work, I was out of balance and feel that I was unconsciously compensating.
1)Nutrient Timing / Eating In Context To Activity
- I used to believe that if you stayed within your allotted calories, that it should not matter when you ate it. I believe I was totally wrong on this. I believe that when you eat those calories is just as important as what kinds of calories you consume (ie.. eating before bed / late) I try to eat according to my day with the majority of calories consumed during the times of highest activity. The tough part is that when I get home, I want to "let my hair down" and let it all hang out. Big relaxing meal, couch time etc.... this is incompatible with my goals. I dont do it all the time but I do it enough that run or no run / the timing of the meal is that of a state of slower metabolism / heart rate. My body is slowing down and will pack away the extra calories.
2) Creating The Conditions For Proper Food Metabolism.
What I mean by this, based on solution #1, is to create the environment for the food that I eat to be used for something other than storage ( at least in part) if it isnt used for metabolism / body functions.
- HOW -
As runners, we all know that there is a "magic window" of around 30 min to an hour where what is consumed will be put to use rebuilding muscle / restocking glycogen etc... While I can pare down my consumption at dinner, there is no way in hell I am going to munch celery and sip chicken broth after a hard day at the mine. My solution lies in making the 30 min concept work for me.
Usually around 30 to 45 min intervals between the indoor cycle trainer and treadmill before dinner medium effort is enough to get the ball rolling. I usually achieve a 300-500 cal deficit maybe more depending on intensity and how I am feeling at the time.
I create the state where there will be more food being utilized for repair as well as a heightened state in my body where it will utilize more calories at rest.
So far it is working.
3) "Weight Creep" in reverse.
We have all heard about 100 cal a day over our calories is all it takes to gain around 10 lbs a year. If this is true, then according to logic, the opposite is also true. 100+ cal a day extra burned should result in a weight creep in the other direction, ever so slightly. I have been making it a point to get up earlier for work and get in 200 cal on the indoor cycle trainer before I eat or do anything else. Nothing high impact, just get the system revved up for the day. Doing it in a fasted state causes my body to take more of my breakfast and use it to replenish the glycogen depleted during the night. I dont notice any difference in my hunger satisfaction, the length of satisfaction stays the same.
4) Workout to the point of a reasonable calorie burn but not to the point of provoking a hunger rampage.
- For me, I am a chronic overachiever. If I can get 1200 cal burn, I will shoot for 1500. If I get 1500, I will shoot for 2000. If I burn 2000 but then consume 1500 in a driven hunger attack from the deficit, what have I gained???. I would rather burn 600 and keep the loss than to hit the big #'s and compensate.
My burn limit is around 800-900 calories. any more than that and I am going to kill something and eat it in a big way. Basically I stay under this caloric burn limit and I eat normally. If I am more aggressive in my workouts, I will eat more and because it takes 20+ min to register that I am full, this is a problem unless I am very careful.
I would rather keep it simple for now. The less thinking and restraint, the better.
So far this is working for me and has broken my long standing plateau. I hope this helps someone or at least gives someone some food for thought to improve what they are doing.
A final thought. Weight loss is much like embezzlement. You dont drain money from someones account in big amounts or you will trigger a reaction. if you take it out in small unnoticeable amounts, you will steal more in the long run. That is why thieves only make $1.00 transactions on a compromised credit card. It doesnt raise alarm unless someone diligently checks their statements. So long as the bills are paid and things dont bounce, people dont investigate and thieves know this and take advantage of it. You are slowly stealing fat, a little here, a little there, without provoking compensation, overeating, or starvation mode.
I think there is big results in thinking small.