Archive for August, 2008

Working Out to Lose Fat – EPOC

August 29, 2008

Before I even get to what EPOC is let us visit a statement that is just dripping with common sense, whether we want to admit it or not. [I know it is hard]

We humans are not made to sit around all day in front of a computer or at a desk. If that describes your job like it does mine, then you need to get to the gym and hit it hard to make up for all that ‘do nothing time’. You can’t get in there and walk at a comfortable pace reading a magazine and then head over to the bike so you can sit some more and just spin the wheels. We need to get to huffing and puffing. We want to have the sweat dripping and suffer from dehydration if we didn’t drink a quart of water earlier and a bit more during and after the workout. 

Make those endorphins flow and you will become addicted to the workouts. I am craving workouts, I kind of took it easy this week after my triathlon and I am jonesin’ for a bike ride or a bout with the elliptical trainer. It is a foriegn feeling to me and I love it. Love it I say. I… Love…. it! It only took 10 weeks of commitment, and now I am truly addicted. I am sure I could ween myself from it if something happened like injury but I am of course going to try and keep it up.

Everyone has seen the cardio thing on the equipment that tells you fat burning is in the low range, and cardio is higher. This could not be further from the truth. Unless you are prone to injury you should work out hard. By hard I mean your heart rate should not be in the fat loss zone as labeled on the machines, it should be in the cardio zone with bouts above it. Again, unless you have heart issues which you have to talk with you Doctor about. Now I got to tell you hard for someone trying to lose weight is going to look like an easy workout to someone fit. Heck, I can sneeze a couple times and get my heart rate over 100. While the marathon runner, who does things so efficiently, would have to run 5 mph to get up to 100. The key is the heart rate.

Now the myth of the fat loss zone needs to be described, or you wont’ believe me. I mean anyone can just up and start a blog. [Have no fear I provide references.] The fat loss zone is like taxes. If you work and make $25,000 a year and have a kid, you will not have to pay many taxes, for an example let’s say you paid $2,500 if you add up everything. You are living in the low tax zone, you only put 10% in to all the stuff we as a society share. You are making just enough money to get by and the Government is going to give you a break on your taxes. Sure it is written in a bunch of confusing rules and regulations, you pay in one spot get credits in another, but none the less, overall, you don’t pay all that much in taxes. Now, you make more the next year, Lets say you make $35,000, that is an extra $10,000, now you pay your $2,500 from the year before and another $1,500 on the $10,000. You are now paying 11.4% in taxes. You make even more and you will pay even more. Someone could come along and argue that you want to live in the low tax zone you need to make less money. I say if you can make $120,000 and have to pay $25,000 in taxes, who cares, for every dollar you make you get to keep more. This is how the fat loss argument works too. You might burn a higher percentage of fat if you workout in the magazine-reading-fat-burning zone, but you will burn more all together if you up it to the cardio and above. Put another way you could do a low intensity workout to burn 300 calories, of which 150 are fat, so 50% of your effort directly burned fat. If you instead workout intensely and do 500 calories you might drop to 40% fat, lower fat burning, more of your effort is “wasted” right? Well, you burned 200 calories, which is more that 150. If the story ended there this would be convincing enoguh argument. But it doesn’t. Now the fun part, EPOC.

EPOC is the key to losing weight with workouts. EPOC stands for excess post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Another way to put is is: “You just increased your metabolism”. You burn more just sitting there after a hard workout than after an easy workout. And we are not talking about the few minutes it takes you to get back to a normal heart rate. We are talking about, depending on the intensity, of as much as 36 hours later. Now there is a lot of mumbo jumbo science stuff to describe all the details. I think sometimes I go into too much detail. Instead, I am going to try and describe it a little more simply.

Everyone knows the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You are either burning the fuel with oxygen, the normal way your body works, or in bouts of excess need your body has a way to cheat and burn it less efficiently overall but more quickly. The key to stored energy is to break chemical bonds to give off energy when you need it. A chemistry equation that has the resultant compounds plus energy released. The efficient way is to do so with oxygen, but that is a little slower. If you need it faster, you need it faster period, and a different chemical bond can be broken to give off energy. Now the thing about doing it this way, is eventually your body has to make up for this. It takes all the chemicals that got busted up quickly, disposes of some compounds and sends others down a path to put them back together the right way so you can burn them through the normal method. What does it take to do this? Well, energy. Thats right, you burn the energy the quick way and your body is forced to expend more energy to put it back right. You also get some bonus, of things like it makes your muscles that much more strong, it repairs the microtrauma in them, it makes you able to handle that same level more easily. You are building up your endurance.

Now in some of the studies they talk about how you burn fewer calories during the exercise and then “catch up” later with the EPOC. But this is because they gave the subjects less exercise to do. I would argue that you workouts are bound by two things, neither of which is a research scientist. Time and willpower. Obviously if you go to workout and have just exactly one hour, you will burn more if you do it intensely than if you just stayed in the aerobic zone. You also can’t just decide to burn 1500 calories that day, you might get a little to tired and your delusional state will convince you that it was a bad idea and you will stop. We want to stay in the keeping it fun zone or we might not be so eager to workout.

Many of the studies are concerned with resistance training, which is using weights, or an equivalent. This is not going to lose weight, but it will lose fat. Since you add muscle your net weight can’t move as much. This is still good, but discouraging to hop on the scale. The studies I looked at measured from 60-120 calories but the exercise is a 60 minute or so weight lifting bout. The other exercise to do for the highest EPOC is interval training. The ultimate goal to get the benefit of EPOC is to take you body from its resting state and disturb as many chemical bonds anaerobically as possible so that it takes your body longer to get itself back to its normal resting state. This is of course where you hit it again. Who knows what the real numbers are without personal expensive testing, but if you do a hard workout interval style for 30-60 minutes you should be able to burn the extra 100 calories they talked about. You should also be able to add some quick ones in as descibed below to keep the EPOC up there, as long as you still take a rest day to actually get back to normal sometimes. This extra 100 calories might not seem like much, but anyone overweight knows how those extra 100 calories of snacks and completely sabotage your weight over time. It will add up to nearly 10 pounds of fat in a year. Just by changing how we work out, not how much.

I recently read an article that describes interval training to increase EPOC as something you can do in 15 minutes. You warm up for four minutes, then run as fast as you can for 2 minutes, slow down for two minutes, fast for 2 minutes, slow for two minutes, and so on. If done correctly, they said you were supposed to feel like throwing up. I would tend to think that was overdoing it, but I do understand what it feels like in your core if you work out hard past the current endurance capability. [Yeah, my stomach muscles hurt after the triathlon running is what I am getting at.] It isn’t really a throw up feeling, it is more like the good muscle burn when you worked out a muscle and look at the pain through a different lens, except with your stomach muscles.

Here are links for further reading, I also listen to the naked nutrition radio podcast which is where the third link is from:

Here is what I am going to try and do:

Currently I am working out 3 times a week and I like the interval training. When I swim I do about 12×100 at about 90% effort going nearly as fast as I can. I plan to get up to 1800 soon so I can say I swam a mile. Usually I start higher and taper off once I realize I still have 10 sets left. It takes me around 2 minutes each and then I rest for one minute. I am working on keeping at that level anyway, I don’t quite make it on a set that takes me 2:20 for example. I have been hoping to be able to rest less and less time so I can eventually just do 1200 yards in 24 minutes. This is not a a short term goal, it will require some good fitness on my part, as in getting nearer my ideal weight, as well as efficincy improvements. When I do the elliptical or the treadmill I recently went from the interval to a steady pace for trying to do the triathlon efficiently. I will now go back to the interval type training and I hope to do them for 45 minutes workout plus a warmup and cool down. I am thinking about a 4-5 mile run at this time including the whole 60 minutes. There is a triathlon training class I will be going to I think where I may change some of this, but for now, this is my plan of action. I need to get some biking in, but I don’t quite know how to work it in. I might just do a fourth day every other week, or I might workout in the morning instead of at the YMCA treadmill if my wife and my schedules don’t line up a particular week. The last thing I am going to try and do is a quick 15 minute high intensity interval workout, yeah the feel-like-you-are-going-to-puke workout. I will add one or two per week. I would say two but I know how I am in the morning. I will do them in the morning so I get the benefit of feeling good about myself and what I am doing about my health first thing in the morning. Lastly, I am still on phase 2 of the South beach diet, a very liberal phase 2. I focus on eating only whole grain carbs and some fruit now and then. I still have trouble working in all the fruits and veggies. I eat too many nuts I think, usually late at night. If I can get in the habbit of working out early I can maybe just sleep during that problem time. This is at odds with my unrealted goal of trading Forex which I tend to like to be up midnight my time when the european session opens. I will just have to do that a couple of days a week and take the rest off I think.

South Beach Diet Dessert – Chocolate Milk Substitute

August 27, 2008

OK, I finally found something worth writing about that uses stevia. I have not been trying all that much and when I do I run into the taste problems. Not a big deal to me, but nothing to share as if it was a breakthrough. If there is a large tradeoff in taste then I am not going to suggest it. This chocolate milk substitute is perfect however. It has a delicious taste. It is very simple and almost can’t be considered a recipe.

One cup of this stuff has 2 grams of carbohydrates, which are not sugars, and 1 gram of fiber, 3.5 grams of mono and poly unsaturated fat, no transfat or saturated fat, and 2 grams of protien. You add the Stevia bulked up with erithritol based on how sweet you want it between 2-3 teaspoons, and you have yourself a drink that tastes sweet and lucious, not like fat free milk that tastes watered down. I cannot lie, it doesn’t taste exactly like chocolate milk, but the stuff is made from almonds so it has sort of a creamy flavor all its own that adds to make the flavor better. I imagine after I buy this a couple more times I will probably prefer it to chocolate milk. The amazing thing is it has less carbos than a tablespoon of salad dressing, yet you get to drink a whole 8 oz portion. It is perfect for diabetics as well, which I suppose is who this product, since it is unsweetened, is aimed at anyway. There is a version that has added sweetener, so be sure to avoid that if you are going for the super low carbs. The stevia is a bit spendy, but once you can find it in your local supermarket and don’t have to pay for shipping it should be worth the cost.
Chocolate Unsweetened Almond Breeze
Stevia Packets

I bought the unsweetened almond breeze in my local store, but they have no stevia yet, I bet the cargill brand — truvia will work too, but I just bought some of the wisdom stuff today. I am hoping for less aftertaste than the steviva brand I bought when I first found the product.

If you are new here and are wondering why stevia is better than nutrasweet or splenda then read these if you have time:
Nutrasweet is Unsafe
Nutrasweet vs. Splenda

New Goals

August 26, 2008

So I started my quest online here about 10 weeks ago. My goals were stated in my first post and below. They are still my goals, but one of them was a milestone and I just hit it so now I need to replace it. Before moving onward I have to now consider how far I have come. 

  1. Lose weight,
  2. OK, this is one that is at odds with strength training. I know I have more muscle, so the loss, little as it is, is actually a bit impressive. I am down to 213.0 pounds this morning. If you count from the begining of the 10 weeks where I was 216.2, I have lost 3.2 pounds. A third of a pound a week is nothing to bring in fans of your method, but it could be 16 pounds if I did the same thing for a year, so it is not insignificant. It will be in fits and spurts though. for example I lost around 8 pounds while doing the phase 1 South Beach Diet week. I gained 3 pounds before and 2 pounds after to be where I am now. I suppose I could get myself all whipped into a froth about strength training and become 205 pounds and in perfect shape, but this is not likely to happen so I think I will try and put a little more emphasis on the next two for the time being.

  3. get rid of excess fat,
  4. This one is not something I am directly measuring. Not that I couldn’t do the fat caliper thing, I just don’t like the idea of being pulled and prodded. I wish there were a way to easily measure this, cause the measuring tape doesn’t really work for me either. You need to get so far along to see the tiniest movement. I am just going by my clothes fit and how I look in the mirror I guess. There is definitely improvement going on. All of my shorts that fit at the begining of the 10 weeks now require a belt or they fall off. 

  5. become fit,
  6. This is of course where I made some great gains. I ran a 9:20 mile, I can swim 100 yards in 1:48, I can ride my hybrid mountain bike at 15.6 mph average for 11.4 miles in a triathlon.  I lifted all the weight I could for all the different weight machines and then over the course of 7 weeks got about 50% gain in what I can lift. I try any of this ten weeks ago and I can’t come close. I am truly leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. And there are many leaps and bounds to go, I am no where near any limits that will slow the improvements down.

  7. compete in a sprint distance triathlon and finish with a respectable time,
  8. This is the milestone I reached that made me re-evaluate. I consider 1:41 respectable. Maybe it wasn’t respectable to the people I overheard asking incredulously if there were still people out on the course, but to anyone else it certainly is.

  9. inspire my kids (and anyone that happens to become inspired) by my actions.
  10. The surface is hardly scratched. Ten weeks will not change anything, ten months hardly will. This is just the commitment to do it forever, ten years or so should make the desired impact, by then it will be a part of me.

So the long term goal will always be there, #5. It cannot ever go away or I will not succeed. The first three items can be reached, but they are long term. The fourth was a short term goal. I need some more short term goals now that I reached one. I think this race thing inspired me more than I would have on my own, so I am going to do more races. The season is nearing its end so I will have to train for next year now. I love the triathlon, so I will definitely do the two YMCA triathlons. I will have to consider others as well, I really want to do one with an open water swim. I can probably find and train for an Olympic distance one late next season. This will be a goal that I will let pass a year if I am not ready, by ready I mean that I can finish before they officially close the course. I would also like to find a single sport race for each event. Bloomsday will be my run, I have entered it many times over the years as a walker, once as a runner when I was 12. My goal will have to be to beat that time I set as a 12 year old of 1:20, which was about 10:40 miles. It is a 12k race which is about 7.5 miles and is in early May in Spokane. It is the largest timed road race in the world, there are somewhere around 50,000 participants if memory serves me correctly. It would be a shame to miss this big one. The swim will have to be the Long Bridge Swim, which is just over 2 miles and is in Sandpoint Idaho in early August. You guessed it there is a long bridge that you swim alongside rather than taking the easy road and driving it in your car. I will have to find a bike race, it will have to be a mountain bike trail if I don’t buy the road bike, cause I don’t want to have a huge equipment disadvantage on top of my “Clydesdale” status. I am looking into a triathlon training class they are doing at the YMCA, but still need to learn more. I will probably get a list of events from the others in the class that I can choose from. I will not likely figure it all out until next spring. I can still train to improve my time and endurance. I need some training milestones now.

My running goal will be to run an 8 minute mile and to run 5 miles without stopping at a pace of 10 minutes or better. My swimming goals will be to swim 500 yards in 10 minutes without stopping. I know I can swim this pace now, I just stop from being too tired, so this is a very realistic goal. I will have to bike the same triathlon course as long as the days are good. This way I can easily compare my results to the triathlon as well as become intimately familiar with the course for next year. It is a great place to ride. I think a pace of 16 mph would be something I could do now without the swim and run sandwich. So my goal would have to be in mph gains. 17, 18, 19, and of course 20. This would be a great pace for the hybrid bike. This would be basically improvements of about 2 minutes per mph or, 40:14, 38:00, 36:00, and 34:12 total times.

If I made all these improvements and factored in doing them all the same day, my time would be about 1:26. I don’t think it will be hard to beat this goal, none of the numbers are crazy improvements, as long as I continue to train. It would be a 15 minute improvement and put me near the middle of the pack.

I think the weight loss and fat loss goal can be tackled from another direction as well. Which is to eat well. I am going to continue to try and stay on phase 2 of the South Beach Diet, but my main emphasis will be to train so much that I can’t possibly eat more than I am burning. Eating healthy things just makes you eat less cause they are not as calorie dense and they fill you up. I feel like I burned calories this weekend with the intense workout, and I never got ravenously hungry. I just ate when it was time to eat and didn’t really crave the food. If crazy workouts do that to me then my eating will just take care of itself if I concentrate on the workouts and improvement goals.