Saturday, December 6, 2008

Losing fat

If you've been reading, you may have noticed that the counsel given to 'lose weight' is different than that given to 'lose fat'.
They are not the same thing. A caloric deficit alone (eating less) will allow you to lose weight, but in all likelihood will not allow you to lose much fat.
Typically, a reduction in caloric intake over a prolonged period (72 hours to 2 weeks or more) leads to a downward trend in resting metabolic rate, or so biology, physiology and nutrition texts tell me.
But why? Is it a loss in lean or metabolically active mass? Not in 72 hours.
It is most likely due to the downregulation of hormones like Thyroid stimulating hormone, or responses to changes in blood glucose or glycogen stores that shift the body towards an emphasis on preserving energy.
Fat is energy. If you want to lose fat, the last thing you want to be is 'energy efficient'.
If you want to win a marathon you must be energy efficient; that's why most ultra endurance athletes share a common look with refugees, internees, prisoners of war and survivors of genocide. Harsh perhaps, but it's just common sense.

This is , one of the world's leading 10K 'ers

In order for your body to lose fat, there has to be a regular supply of food, and the balance of hormones has to slide towards things like Growth Hormone, glucagon, testosterone and IGF-1.
Most of these hormones are produced or released in greater amounts as the intensity of exercise goes up, there are numerous studies (mostly misapplied to running... at 70% VO2max versus 100%VO2max etc) showing this. They show that serum GH goes up while Insulin goes down as % VO2max goes up. Taken to it's categorical imperative it should be clear what a positive impact resistance training, which is always in excess of 100% VO2max as far as relative power output (work done/time) is concerned, can and will have on the balance of metabolic hormones. This is part of why bodybuilding via weighlifting is effective, whilst bodybuilding via jogging is by comparison an absurd idea. But people still try to do both at the same time...

The hormones responsible for the mobilization of fat as an energy source are for the most part the same hormones that enhance protein synthesis. Ie, in the sense of fat loss or muscle gain, the prescription for exercise is much the same. What is different is energy intake.
That's right folks. That's what I am saying. Do the same workout. One goal requires you to eat more. One goal requires that you eat less.

Am I oversimplifying? Yes. There are things that I would change in programming for each, but the similarities would far outweigh the differences.

Let's face it; Exercise alone won't make you big or lean.
Diet alone won't make you lean either. Small maybe, but not for long. We'll discuss that soon.

You can only train for so long each day. Let's say you do Crossfit, and you go 3 on 1 off. That means on average you train 5.5 days a week. Let's assume you spend 45 minutes doing your Crossfit workout. That's 248 minutes, or about 4 hours and some change a week. What about the other 164 hours (or 97.5%) of the week? If exercise choice, selection, volume and performance (and in this case 2-3 times the exercise most americans get) only accounts for less than 3% of the time can it really be the sole component in success? Doesn't there have to be something else going on?
There's plenty of research out there that shows that people that diet regain most of the weight lost in a few months to a few years. If you take it for granted that diet alone isn't very effective what's the missing link?
Exercise changes hormones. Hormones change body's use of food. Exercise for hormones 3% of the day, have hormones do the work for you the other 97% of the day. Endocrinology is the missing link. Exercise that directly and expressly enhances hormones that will change your metabolism.
These athletes run too. The only difference is how fast and for how long. Same exercise.
They are Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt. Two jamaicans who contest the title of 'World's fastest Man' every couple of weeks it seems.

They look different don't they.

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