In my last blog i did some simple calorie counting arithmetic, adding up JUST the calories from high calorie treats, beer, snacking and extra normal food portions per week, and then multplied by four to get a short month's worth.
The pre amble here for you dear also Sporty-Fatty, is that I do not binge eat or snack frequently, i just know like anyone that i have some beers some nights, some chocolate after meals, a cake or two here or there, and so on and so on. All small offences, and anyway I train so I should get some freebies right?
Well that sum of lifes wee luxuries came to an astonishing 22,000 kcal per month. That is around 3kg ,half a stone of fat from what i considered a perfectly reasonable allowance of goodies. Put it another way: It is almost ten extra days worth of eating per month.
However by in large when i was training short and often, i wasnt putting on weight, but did put it on at xmas or on holiday. When i set out on fat-burning longer duration sessions january this year, 2014, I very slowly then, over five months, lost three kilos (half a stone)
Simple arithmetic: i was doing arround 24 hours training exercise a month @ 600kcal per hour on average, so was burning off around 14 000 kcal per month in addition to just being alive.
In net effect then compared to intake of just extras as the enemy, i should have been losing the battle by 8 000 kcal per month and therefore putting on a kilo. But I was slimming a bit, at about 650g per month. That is about 5000 kcal equivalent.
So then I thought, wait up here, the longer training sessions are switching my fat catabolism on at last, since coming off the atkins a year before and putting all that diet loss back on. But compared to my bad habit calorific intake , I am getting a net better net negative effect anyway (???)
The reasons for this discrepancy in my calculations could be several or a combination: Perhaps as a big bloke i burn more like 1000kcal per hour on skis or the mountain bike. Perhaps my treats actually in part constitute say 500 kcal per day of my non training calorie needs. Perhaps my body has learnt to catabolise fat and does this after exercise when I am recovering, or maybe at night ?
What ever the causes, I was slimming ever so slowly without actually changing underlying diet : i was not going crazy in comparison to the excesses of Christmas 2013 and last years vacation in cheap beer and wine land, Denmark. However per month i was going mental in taking ten extra days total intake in treats and extras!
It seemed though a lot of training hours for 3kg and vulnerable to putting it back on if injured. I considered a back up plan of atkins again. Then i went back to my joke of comparing atkins to a diet with no beer and sweeties!
So here I saw the opportunity to grasp my appetite and lifestyle while demands of work and family allow for 5-7 hours training per week in two to four sessions.
Basically i can eat a few treats to keep myself sane.
Here is what i decided to allow myself since i was going down in weight a little anyway without limiting my extras well:
Two beers a week, 400kcal
100g chocolate. 450kcal
1 cake bit / muffin 400 kcal
50g nuts/ crisps. 250 kcal
Two extra portio. 600 kcal
Total per week. 2100kcal
Per month c. 9000kcal
Versus calorie burn:
14 000kcal per month
Net effect. - 5000 kcal per month
The last three months I have lost a kilo per month with fairly good levels of "compliance" say around 90% for the cut back on extras, and reaching 7 training hours per week.
This is as noted above, a kcal net minus less than the theorised 7000 kcal /kg . This does not trouble me ! There can be some tissue fluid loss. More likely i am burning a training relating 20 000 kcal per month because i use more per hour and i go onto burn fat in particular upto an hour after training.
So in effect i have decided to ONLY count the extra calories on top of what I usually eat. I actually avoid desserts, but have a yoghurt twice a week and maybe an ice-cream dessert. As long as I train and avoid extra portions of these I can continue then.
Also i take fruit and wine as "free" calories because I consume them in moderation. Exclude more than one banana a day or one 50g portion grapes though. Wine means a bottle per week of normal red or white. Avoiding doing it all in one night that is!
Another change I made was being careful not to snack before or after exercise by planning out meals to take, or planning to eat at a time where i avoid snacking in between. Alternatively, the snack is healthy and replaces a meal. Or i count the snack as one of my two extra portions dinner allowance per week.
Also on the point of extending your fat burn after a two to three hour session, in recovery modus , avoid simple sugar sources like the plague for an hour. A banana gives quite slow blood sugar release as it is digested so is ideal for example, right after exercise. Two bannanas ,some nuts, and an apple would constitute a meal post session.
So it certainly isn't monastic at all, but the key is to keep the training to over two hours for at least two sessions a week, and then avoid snacking and adhere to the weekly quota.
Now into my fourth month and having had a mixed active /sedentary holiday, I am still on track 1kg per month but also i am starting to find it much easier to conform to the avoid-extras-dieting side, and my appetite is starting to go down.
In essenced what i present above is a target of 7 hours duration exercise per week and a limit to my extras to 2100 kcal.
By default i have counted the calories for you ! The fatty calories are all in our extras and luxuries, not from a 'staple, balanced diet' which includes usual single plate portions of protein, fats, green vegetables and carbos.
For your own sporty-fatty calculation, I bet you that you were like me and taking in currently a net surplus on paper of about 5000 to 10,000 kcal/month verus exercised hours at maybe 800kcal per hour but short duration.
For me the bug bear was beer, 10 to 12 a week before. Here I have totally decimated intake. Poor me? Well no, wine and clean spirits are free and i take a chilled fizzy water or diet cola as an alternative "cold one". Everything else is ' halved' but more over to that, it is controlled while still being a nice treat to look forward to.
The other bug bear for me was what i once called my post exercise "snackette", which filled in during the time it took to arrange dinner. With planning I now avoid this unless the "snackette" replaces a meal, or if i downsize the meal ,or if I count one of my weekly extra meal portion allowance. Also a snackette should be healthy: a whole meal bread sandwich, a fruit bowl, 50g of nuts and raisins.
My final general black dog on the shoulder was justifying a lot of additional intake of calories by actually having exercised in forty minute to one hour sessionsp, two to five times a week. This plagued me for years and gave me a super-appetite. Also this was a hang over from old cycling days where carbo loading for a four or five hour training run, or a race, was a necessity: stuff yourself or go empty.
I think there are many sport forty somethings or even younger folk for whom this is hitting the nail right on the head. Also for the onlh wee bit chubby sporty, who is maybe at a competitive level but still carries a bit of unsightly lard.
My point of view is that if you are going to count calories then start with your sociable drinking in the pub ,then sweeties and cakes ,then salty snacks, then any more than two juices / 500ml sugary drinks per day, more than three desserts or starters per weekx, then also extra portions at meals. Your regular diet as the lay person and sporty type is likely to be a healthy balanced diet which you do not need to alter the core of. Also if you change your duration up to two hour sessions, two to three times a week you can live easily with some wee luxuries and loose weight in a sustainable and healthy way.
Sports diet supplements (which are over 200kcal per half litre or 250g) are a trap: they are for endurance sports or if you train very regularly and hard, with a total of over 10 hours per week. Despite being healthier than sweets or cola, they are extras, to be considered as such in the 5-7 hour week plan.