Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Proper Nutrition

This post is a long one about my fitness regimen and how I have needed to change my intake of food to supplement it. I understand if you don't find this interesting, so stop here if you would rather not hear a long and drawn out (and sometimes mildly scientific) discussion of fitness and food.

With summer arriving, it has been hot at the gym. My instructor never turns on the A/C in there - he is old school that way. That is fine with me, but it makes me sweat even more than I already do. My workout schedule on a weekly basis now looks like this.
  • Monday - one hour strength circuit training, one hour muay thai class, one hour of pad holding for fighters (this is more tiring than you might think) or body boxing with fighters if there is an odd number
  • Tuesday - off day
  • Wednesday - same regimen as Monday
  • Thursday - off day
  • Friday - off day or optional light five mile run (all miles under 10 minutes)
  • Saturday - one hour muay thai class, optional light bike ride in summer (20 miles or less)
  • Sunday - long bike ride in summer, always over 50 miles, sometimes hill work. In winter, treadmill for 5 miles (all miles under 8 minutes) and light muay thai workout
As you can see, in summer I am churning and burning the calories. I always sweat a lot in my workouts, and the level of sweat is increased the hotter it gets. I noticed on Monday after an extremely active weekend that my weight was pushing below 170. I also was feeling ragged - looked like a million bucks, but this situation isn't good. Several people have told me (most importantly, the wife) that I need to stop losing weight and they are right. I think 175-180 is a good weight for me. The only thing is that I am eating everything in sight and still losing the battle. After thinking about this for a while I figured out that my workouts are so intense that I am basically eating myself internally. This is a hard realization to come to for a guy who has been overweight almost all of his life, but it is true. I simply can't eat enough food to give me what I need in my current regimen. I decided to talk to my muay thai instructor. He recommended I talk to the person who sells him his supplements and I did. It was quite revealing.

First off, as I had thought, I am eating myself inside out. Adding the strength training to my other things (which were high cardio to start with) was what pushed me over the edge. After discussing my diet and what I ate with the nutirtion guy, he basically said that I was shorting myself ONE COMPLETE MEAL PER DAY. I knew that I needed to eat more, but not that much. After discussing how the body breaks down food, and the hows an whys of a lot of other things, he came to a few recommendations.

I feel pretty good about these recommendations since I was referred here by my instructor. It is always nice to have a connection.

I still can't believe how far I have come with this fitness thing. When I started riding bike five years or so ago, I weighed around 225. I am now around 170 (that will go up soon) and rock solid. In the end, I will end up eating MORE than I ate before. Pretty weird.

So here is what I am going to try.

Monday and Wednesday heavy workout days:
  • Breakfast - instant oatmeal
  • Mid morning - 10-12 oz. yogurt, mixed with one scoop whey protein and a handful of blueberries mixed in
  • Mid afternoon - one bagel, sliced in half longways, cream cheese on top of each half, with 2-4 oz smoked salmon on top of each half
  • During strength training workout - Endure mixed in with my water
  • After workouts - if hungry, banana or other healthy snack

Off days:

  • Same breakfast
  • same mid morning snack
  • for mid afternoon - back off to one half bagel open faced with cream cheese and salmon
  • normal dinner portions with family at home

I will probably have to back this diet down just a bit in winter, as the bike riding goes down considerably.

So here we have it:

Now a few words about the supplements.

Whey protein - the brand that I bought will give me an additional 23 grams of protein per serving (one scoop in with the yogurt). I am told it is a pretty basic product that many people use. I was also told that many women in particular use this as a meal replacement to lose weight. The scoop is only 120 calories, 20 from fat. But that 23 grams of protein is 45% of your daily requirement if you are on a 2000 calorie diet. Which I am not going to be on. But with my new diet this will help immensely. The only non natural ingredient in the whey protein is sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener to make it palatable.

Endure - this product is a little more exotic than the protein, but is needed to rebuild my muscles after strength training. The guy I spoke with said that the newest research says that you need to start rebuilding your muscles as soon as you are done working out, and that the best way is to ingest this stuff during your workout. He claims that the product will even give me an energy boost during the workout - that remains to be proven. It looks to be basically an amino blend that aids in the recovery of muscles. I don't know a lot about the science behind it, but did a little research on L-Leucine, one of the main ingredients. Looks legit from reading about it here, and here. There are also a bunch of others in there, like L-Valine, L-isoleucine, and others. I am basically going to trust the guy. The product looks to be very popular in certain circles.

Hopefully this new diet and supplements will help me improve my muscle mass and have more energy. And gain weight. I never thought I would have to say that.

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