Friday, December 10, 2010

Fatboy´s Nutrition Series: The nutritional account - Input vs. output

So - even though its almost Xmas and we´re soon about to devour enormous amounts of foods, fats & cookies, sugar and alcohol - wintertime is a good season to drop a few kilos to get closer to that optimal weight.

The daily account measures the input and output and very simply put, if there is a surplus on this account by the end of the day, we gain weight (normally in the form of fat) and opposite, if we have a deficit we loose weight. So, how do we measure the input and the output?

Input is simply - since all input enters the same way... through the mouth. The unit of measure here is know as Calories, that word we´ve heard our mother babble about over and over again. Calories or actually kilocalories (in the metric system known as Joules, kiloJoules or kJ). So count the amount of kcals in your daily diet, which is easy if you (as eg. Janne) follow the same diet every day. I really don´t want to tire you too much about this, but take a few days or a full week to actually measure (make a log) how much you take in - and you´d be surprised! Consult the Nutritional Data Web as a reference for kcals in almost all food and drinks or just look at the nutritional facts per 100g on the back of all normal supermarket goods.

Output is a bit more complex. These are the calories burned during the day. We have to add up these 3 measures:
1. BMR - Basic Metabolic Rate.
What your body burn at rest. Use a BMR calculator or a body fat scale. My BMR is around 1700 kcals per day.

2. Kcals burned with other activities than training.
This may be 8 hours desk work adding up to around 850 kcals per day.

3. Kcals burned during training.
Well use the HRM calories output or that of the treadmill. A rule of thumb for me is that I burn 1000 kcals during one hour run and 800 kcals during biking - but you need to find this your selves. There are a bunch of online calculators for this.

So - say I follow Janne´s diet, my daily input is 2500. I run for 2 hours, which means my output is: 2000 kcals + 850 kcals (from desk work) + 1700 from my BMR = 3550 kcals or calories burned a day. Hence, my account for this day a deficit of 1050 kcals (3550-2500) and I can expect a weight loss. The morning after a strong deficit on the account, I normally wake up very hungry.

Of course - it´s not only this simple. Later we will discover how smart the body actually is (to help us survive in fierce competition or during times with no or low amounts of input).

Use this nutritional account calculation also in periods where you need to feed for peak performance, eat like a champion - here the deficit can not be to big during several days or we will suffer power loss and may even fall ill. Hence, no diets during peak performance weeks.
Try to log your input for a few days and post here as comments. No shame - we all eat too much marzipan and drink too many Xmas beers these days, but let me see a few daily logs from each of you!

And finally, remember what Woody Allen said:
When we lose twenty pounds... we may be losing the twenty best pounds we have! We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty.

Fatboy´s Nutrition Series:

I: Nutrition - optimal weight vs. peak performance
II: The nutritional account - Input vs. output
III: Nutritional Value - crap vs. performance intake
IV: Eating like a champion
V: Supplements

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fatboy´s Nutrition Series: Optimal weight vs. peak performance

So - Janne had a great point on his HamburgerMan Diet post. I invented "Diet from Hell" based on a the advice of Catalan nutritionist and it works wonders for me too, while trying to control my weight around 71-72 kgs, which is my racing weight.

I read this great book on Racing Weight and it´s definitely worth looking at in terms of understanding better the concepts I introduce in the Fatboy´s Nutrition Series.

Quite easy in theory really - leave out as much processed food as possible; bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and substitute with raw foods, proteins from meat and fish, fruits and veggies - and call it the Caveman Diet if you will. This (and any other diets) works well, especially if you, like Janne, actually starts enjoying its content and make it your normal routine and daily intake, not a hard-to-follow diet!

However - once we get closer to race day and we´ve (hopefully) reached our own optimal weight, some long and hard trainings and also race days will require a different intake of carbs, proteins and what-not. You really can´t get through build and peak periods on a diet - so if you wanna drop weight, do it now before these race specific training pop up in your agenda!

There are many theories on how to eat well for peak performance, but one thing is certain; the body engine burns glycogen, a fuel which is being generated in your stomach based on the input of carbs, proteins and fat (and beers) we pour onto it. The body is so damned intelligent and chooses the best fuel first, which are carbs, then burns proteins then fat. When the reserves stored in our muscular cells are depleted it starts asking the stomach to produce more glycogen fuel, but performing at high intensities the stomach is too slow and cannot deploy enough fuel. The body then starts burning stored body fat (great!!) but also muscle fibers and that hurts. Running at e.g. marathon pace this occurs after approx. 2.5-3 hours and we know the pain as "hitting the wall". During race we can add fuel to the equation by drinking energy drinks, eating bars and gels - but in an Ironman race at some point the body will turn to burning fat and muscles - and through our long trainings in base and build period we are working to getting the body used to the pain following this.

It is recommended to add 100g of pure carbs before a key performance workout. Many think that carbs are the same as pasta and I often see people surprised, when you tell them that an apple is 99% carbs (actually much more than pasta). So chunk some fruit, energy drink, a power bar or maybe muesli before the core training - but of course don´t over eat.

Now and then some (including myself) does long trainings in the morning fasting - that means no breakfast before hitting the road. Hence, you will hit "the wall" maybe already after 1-1.5 hours and start pushing the body´s limits, burning fat and muscle and also getting the body and mind used to work in this situation, which WILL eventually occur for any of us during a Ironman race. Try it first on a 2-3 hour bike ride, bring an energy bar just in case. Great way to get lean fast too.

That´s it for now - I´m back soon with more on The Nutritional Account - the daily equation on input and output. Stay tuned

Fatboy´s Nutrition Series:
I: Nutrition - optimal weight vs. peak performance
II: The nutritional account - Input vs. output
III: Nutritional Value - crap vs. performance intake
IV: Eating like a champion
V: Supplements