The One Year Project

A Personal Experiment in Deadline Transition

Week 7: Strength Training, Cardio and Fat Loss

with 7 comments

Body Fat Analyzer

Body Fat Analyzer

All aspects of Week 7 were a success except one.  Monday through Friday included light cardio.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday were weightlifting days.  I ate clean every day between 1800 and 2100 calories.

When I jumped on the scales yesterday, I weighed in at a surprising 244lbs.  Three pounds more than last week.  I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing, though, as I could be gaining muscle (and I’m sure I’ve gained a bit of muscle in the last two weeks), but I’ve had to analyze the last week to see if I can pick out any bad habits.  I’ve narrowed down a list that I think explains it.

  1. Too Little Cardio/Too Little Variety

    Since the beginning I’ve been doing 10 minutes of light cardio based on this video at SparkPeople.com.  And in the beginning the workout totally tore me up.  I think it’s one of the reasons I lost weight so quickly and so well in the first couple weeks.  Now, however, I barely break a sweat on this video.  My body has gotten so used to doing it that it’s almost second nature.  So, ten minutes is as good as doing no cardio in this case.  Plus since my body is so used to it, it’d likely be very ineffective even if I bumped it up to 30 minutes.

    Solution: I’ve chosen two other videos that I’ll cycle through either week-to-week or day-to-day to prevent my body from getting used to any cardio routine.  I’ve also already taken the initial steps to begin running when the weather warms up (or at the earliest, when the snow melts).  Starting today I’ve bumped my cardio up to 30 minutes per day.

  2. Eating Carbs Before Cardio

    All last week I ate a bowl of bran flakes topped with a little honey and covered in milk for breakfast *right before* my cardio workout.  From what I’ve read, this seems to have been a truly awful move on my part.  From what I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong), carbs are converted to glycogen when they are eaten and hang around a bit in glycogen stores before they are converted to fat.  When you expend energy, your body goes for the glycogen first and *then* the fat, so by eating carbs before exercising I ended up burning zero fat.

    Solution: I’ve read that eating pre-workout isn’t necessary for moderate-intensity, steady state exercises like the type I do.  So, this morning I drank some water and jumped right into the cardio before I ate anything.  Post workout I drank a couple protein drinks for 52g of protein and 32g of carbs.  I’ll continue to do this every day this week and hopefully I’ll see some results.

  3. Entering “Starvation Mode”

    I found out that in as little as 4 hours of not eating the body can go into “starvation mode” where more fat is stored.  I have been aware of “starvation mode” for a long time but had I known that it could get started in 4 hours I’d have been eating more strictly.  I’m fairly certain that in this week I’ve waited more then 4 hours to eat.

    Solution: Starting today I’ve timed 6 meals/snacks two hours apart.  I’ll eat at 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, or if I get a late start (like I did today), 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.  This will ensure that my metabolism stays working and that I never enter starvation mode.

  4. Inaccurate Measurements

    I’ve known this was an issue from the beginning but in the beginning I hadn’t planned on lifting weights so it didn’t seem like such a big deal.  Lifting weights means I may lose fat, but gain muscle.  So I’d be in better shape but the scales would lie and possibly discourage me.

    Solution: Wednesday, when I noticed something was up this week, I bought a body fat analyzer.  This analyzer gives me a reasonably accurate measurement of body fat percentage.  I’m not so much concerned with the accuracy because the device is *very* consistent.  From week to week I’ll measure the reduction in my percentage of body fat.  I’ll also add another widget to the side of the page to track body fat percentage and BMI.  I may eventually start measuring my arms/chest/waist/etc., too.  This week my body fat percentage was 28.0%.

So with all these changes in place, I’m looking forward to an awesome Week 8!  Almost two months!

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Written by J. Bentley

February 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Losing Weight

7 Responses

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  1. You are doing great! And you are right on about the carb before workout thing. The body wants to access the easiest energy stores first. That is why if you camp out in the cold, you can stay warmer by eating a boat load of carbs before going to sleep. You would have to burn through the sugar stores before you ever to get to the fat, which is harder to access. You are better off intaking a protein-based meal before a workout with very little carbs. A serving of ground turkey with no bread works well.
    Good call on diversifying cardio workouts. I will be taking that advice. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    Matthew Wilson

    February 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  2. Yeah I was thinking about some ground turkey or egg whites or something before cardio. Most days I do steady state cardio, though, so eating isn’t necessary as long as I eat within three hours of waking up (so I’ve read).

    I’m supposed to be doing interval workouts on Saturdays and I’ll be running as soon as the snow melts so I’ll have to figure out something. So far the ground turkey idea sounds best. I’ve always got tons of that on hand.

    J. Bentley

    February 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  3. Hello,
    I just want to start by saying I am not a fat loss expert. I don’t play one on TV and certainly don’t play one in real life. But, what I am is a Strength Coach. I teach Athletes how to reach peak performance. I came across your blog via twitter and after reading it I had to comment. I hope I don’t continue saying what you have already heard but if I do I apologize.

    You are beating your head against the wall. You are doing this several different ways. First and most important is that steady state long duration exercise is not the best way to lose body fat? And it is certainly not the best way to gain muscle. Right now the most effective way to make a body transformation is by utilizing what is called HIIT training. What HIIT training stands for is High Intensity Interval Training. In a nut shell this is working your ass off for short intervals resting for short intervals and then working your ass off again. One of the more popular methods of HIIT is the Tabata Method. This is 8 intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. It sounds simple. That is 4 minutes of work. But, this is designed for highly trained athletes. So, how can this work for you. It sounds like you are already monitoring you diet which is good. If you eat shitty food then you will most likely gain weight or stay at an undesirable weight. So, you are eating good foods. But, you gained three pounds last week and worked your ass off. So, let me try to explain. You did not gain new muscle. Everyone knows muscle weighs more than fat. But, to gain three pounds of lean muscle in one week is a stretch. Sorry, to burst any bubbles but it’s the truth. People on elite level programs designed by some of the best coaches in the world would not see those kinds of gains. So, here is the explanation. You touched on glycogen. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose which is a simple sugar. Glucose is what the body uses to break down into ATP which is what is uses for fuel. Each molecule of glycogen is stored with three molecules of water. This is why you gained weight. You have been training for 7 weeks and are beginning to adapt to this. One of the adaptations is that you store more glycogen. Thus more water and thus more weight.

    You also touched on that you need to vary your workouts. This is true but trying to burn more calories during workouts is not the way. You want to burn more calories post workout. How you do this is to take advantage of EPOC. Or Exercise Post Oxygen consumption. What EPOC is also called “raising your Metabolism”. Working harder will cause you to burn more calories because you have put yourself into a need for oxygen. Basic human function requires oxygen. If you put the body in a position of needing more oxygen then you will raise your metabolism. This in turn will burn more calories. Calories is what burns body fat. To lose one pound of body fat you must burn 3500 calories. You could do this in one work out. But, then you would also lose a shit load of water put yourself at risk of dehydration. Remember glycogen is stored with 3 molecules of water and fat is also a stored form of glycogen.

    Anyway, this has been a long rant. My best advice is Google HIIT methods and potentially invest in a qualified personal trainer. By qualified I mean someone certified by an agency that requires a college degree with a background in exercise science. There are many different personal training certifications out there and not all are created equal. The National Strength and conditioning Association or the national council on strength and fitness are too of the best organizations for certifying personal trainers.

    I hope you have found this of interest.

    JP

    Jason Price

    February 3, 2009 at 3:15 am

  4. Hey Jason! Thanks for this great comment!

    I know steady state cardio isn’t the best way to burn fat and I also know that working extra hard during the workout won’t help me all that much. I learned that during past attempts to lose weight when I lost very little and gained back more than what I started with. It’s not that I’m working extremely hard on cardio. I thought that 10 minutes was too little to do any good though.

    I’m loosely basing what I do on what I’ve read in the Abs Diet. It recommends at least one interval workout a week. I don’t have a gym membership and I do simple cardio sessions in the house because the snow is awful. You better believe I’m going to check out that Tabata Method! I know very little about interval workouts. I only just read about it in the Abs Diet, along with this idea of burning more post workout. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a solid foundation on how this works and I thank you for packing even more knowledge on!

    I would like to ask a question. How should I go about eating before an interval workout? High protein meal an hour before? Simple carb an hour before?

    Something definitely hasn’t been working for me and while I’m doing my best to figure out exactly what’s going wrong, you don’t know how much I appreciate your checking into it. I wasn’t giving HIIT any priority and based on your comment I’m pretty sure that has to change.

    J. Bentley

    February 3, 2009 at 9:39 am

  5. I’m sure that body fat analyzer will be great for you! Can’t wait for week 8!

    carla

    February 3, 2009 at 10:35 pm

  6. protein bars always come in handy whenever you need lots of protein after a heavy exercise _

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