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December 18, 2007

No Blog Week

Sorry about skipping last week.  Work was crazy with training and other projects.  I finally have some time this week so I'll try to get down some of what's been rattling around in my head.

Understanding the Calorie

Everyone talks about calories but we don't always understand what calories are.

Calorie - A unit of energy.  Defined as that amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.  Also equal to about 4.2 joules.

  • Proteins have 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram
  • Fats have 9 calories per gram

One pound of body fat has about 3500 calories.  In other words, you'd have to burn 3500 calories of PURE BODY FAT to lose a pound of weight.  The problem is that you don't always burn just body fat.  Calories in the body are stored up in muscle tissue too....and in organs.  That's why crash diets are so bad for you.  If the body senses that you are in a famine, then it will respond by hoarding body fat and burning muscle tissue....and in extreme cases will burn calories stored in organs in an attempt to keep the brain alive. 

The best way to lose weight is slowly....using small caloric deficits to keep the body from noticing that we are tapping into fat reserves.  

Where Does the Energy Come From?

The process of consuming and digesting foods turn the stored energy in the macronutrients known as FAT, CARBOHYDRATES, and PROTEINS into high-energy phosphate bonds that are usable by the body.  The main molecule that carries these high-energy bonds is adenosine tri phosphate (ATP).

Think of ATP as a 3-leaf clover.  When ATP pops one of it's phosphate groups a small amount of energy is released and ATP is converted to ADP (adenosine di phosphate).  Then the body converts ADP back to ATP using fat or sugar (glycogen) for the energy to add that missing phosphate group back on.

This of course if VERY simplified (dumbed down so I could understand it enough to explain it). 

Why Does it Matter?

You might be saying to yourself, Token Fat Guy...why should I care about the science?  I don't have to understand how my car works in order to drive it. 

Well that might be true...but understanding how your car works helps you to keep up with the maintenance that it needs.  You could just run your car into the ground...or you could take good care of it and have it last longer.  Let's face it....while you can just buy another car...you only get the one body.  Poor maintenance on your body will lead to to a point where you wake up one day and find that you are morbidly obese and too depressed to want to fix it.  Like this guy.....


So let's look at the ways we can use the science to our advantage instead of being science victim.  There are 4 main ways to get that third phosphate group back.

1. Explosive Force - The easiest way is the 'explosive force'.  To grab what we want from a molecule called 'creatine phosphate' (CP).  I did this in my cardio workout today.  It is an explosive exercise for 10 - 30 seconds.  For me today, I run the speed up on the tread mill twice during my 45 minute workout.  For about 30 seconds I ran flat out as fast as I could....then dropped back down to my normal routine.  I also do this on my weight training days by doing 4 - 7 reps at the highest weight I can manage (while keeping to good form).  You feed this system by taking a small amount of creatine in your diet.

NOTE:  Currently I do not use creatine in my diet.  While it does help to fuel 'explosive force' it also makes the body retain some water.  The water is actually stored in the muscle and gives it a nice look.  However, since I'm currently trying to lose weight, I've opted to skip creatine for now.  Later when I'm more concerned with muscle growth, I might reevaluate this.

2. Anaerobic Glycolysis - The next fastest way is to convert a sugar molecule into lactic acid.  You can run this system by doing a vigorous exercising between 1-3 minutes.  I hit this on cardio days on the times when I'm running at a moderate to high rate.  I can't keep up the pace for longer than a couple of minutes without my heart rate increasing to a point outside my 'cardio zone'.  On weight training days I hit this by doing mid-range weights at 10 reps.

You feed this system by consuming post exercise protein, vitamin C, and lots of water. 

3. Aerobic Glycolysis - This is what we do most often when exercising.  Once glucose has been converted to lactate anaerobically (without oxygen), the body then burns the lactate using oxygen to create even more ATP.

By keeping your workouts at around 20 - 40 minutes, you will naturally do this as long as you work vary your intensity.  So I'll hit this normally when I'm doing cardio or on weight training.

To fuel this system you should be consuming high glycemic carbs...such as bread, bagels, sugars within 20 - 40 minutes of your workout.  In my case I push that all the way out to 60 minutes on my cardio days because I know that I'll get the benefits of my workout for up to 60 minutes after I stop...unless I eat.

4. Aerobic Lipolysis - This one is the slowest and most tricky to understand.  It doesn't actually happen during your workout.  It happens BECAUSE of your workout.  You ever have one of those workouts that you just put your heart and soul into and then you just feel run down and drained for the rest of the day?  Well that was the last system at work.  If you did your 'explosive force' correctly, it will result in an 'afterburn' when your workout is complete.  Don't confuse this with the muscle burn that you will sometimes get the day after a workout...that's something different.  The afterburn happens because your body's glycogen stores have been depleted and it takes time to mobilize fat and replenish those stores.

You work this system when you are recovering from working the 'explosive force' system.  And you feed it by NOT feeding it....by doing your workouts first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  Or you could take a small amount of caffeine pre-workout.  I do this but be careful with it if you try as it could irritate your tummy.  The caffeine triggers release of fatty acids into the bloodstream and will improve your endurance.

Working all 4 systems into every workout will help you to reach your goals.  And don't worry too much if you don't understand all the science right away.  I had to read it a few times before I was able to make any sense out of it.

funnydogs18tj3 Look...here's a pretty dog to look at....

Well...at least it IS a dog....not much on the pretty side though...

NOTE:  Special thanks to John Hussman for all the relevant information on his site.  This isn't the first time I borrowed from him.  But I didn't give props before. :P


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