Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Am I Eating Enough?

Today's workouts were basic enough:  5 rounds of 8 push presses (got to 165#, felt pretty solid with it), then 4 rounds of 500 meter on the rower (got 1:37, 1:35, 1:36 and 1:37).  Legs felt a little thick, and would like to do that all in sub-1:35, so, gotta row a little more.  But, the running and swimming are more important!  Later on in the day I'm to the track and pool to get yesterdays workout in: 2 x 400, 2 x 800 and 1000 total meters in the pool by any means (posted this up before I went to do that workout, I'll talk about in conjunction with tomorrows fun). 

So, food.  The growing concern for me is whether or not I am actually fueling myself enough.  At this point, I know for sure that I am getting the right kind of nutrients in my system.  I know I splurge a little here and there in terms of carbs and sugars, but nowhere near enough to even begin to worry that I am teetering on un-health.  Quite honestly, my only question is if I am getting enough to fuel my output (I am NOT getting enough sleep, but that is a post for tomorrow!).

I know I could get all scientific, break down my energy output and my calories out, factor in resting and active metabolic rate, post-workout metabolic rate and then factor in the amount of calories I would need to take in for maintenance, weight gain and weight loss in terms of body fat.  But goodness, while I know it is interesting to do all that, I know exactly what I would become if I did (because I have gone through that whole process a few times so far in my life).  I would become this super analytical, nit-picky control freak and my life would be all about numbers which, if you know me, well... me and numbers do not mix.  So what I end up doing, whether this makes sense for most people to do or not, is I take a step back and look at my days food intake, think about it and how I have been feeling, then come to a conclusion.  Luckily I write every single thing I eat down, I have been doing this now for over 6 months and I can not advocate it enough.

So here is what I found:  For the most part I am doing pretty well, but there are probably about 2-3 days a week on average where I will go for an extended time without consuming anything.  Now I know there is this whole concept out there of intermittent fasting (IF), but I'll tell you what, I do not believe in this at all.  The cavemen fasted because they had to, because they had no brontosaurus to eat that day and there was literally nothing there to eat.  I have a fridge full of chicken, veggies and so on and I have no reason to ever be hungry.  It's a matter pf preparation.  I have no doubt that I have the ability to survive off not eating for a few hours, but as a serious athlete, my goal is to survive at a comfortable and personally acceptable level of health.  So, I need to make sure I am always prepared enough to have proper food ready whenever I need it.

Really, besides better preparing myself on a regular basis, the only thing I would change right now is my carb timing; I tend to consume my complex carbs in the evenings.  I think that if I am feeling a need to get some sort of carb-based energy (I go with rice-based crackers, sweet potatoes, oats and flax mostly, I try to stay completely away from gluten), I need to get it in the mornings or afternoons.  Also, I need to rely more on getting my carb fix from eating larger quantities of vegetables.  And, the great thing about veggies, I could just eat and eat and eat those things like nobody's business.  Totally going to add a bit more of that in.

That's how I approach all this, but, perhaps it would be good, if you've never looked at this sort of thing before, to see what the process is like to actually figure out if you are eating enough or too much.  Because of the generalization of some of the factors here, the main key is to be as brutally honest about yourself as you can.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - 

655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Now, to calculate your Total Metabolic Rate factor in your activity level according to the following:

Sedentary: BMR from above x 20 percent
  • Lightly Active (most professional office work, house work): BMR x 30 percent
  • Moderately Active (exercise most days): BMR x 40 percent
  • Very Active (regular, intense exercise): BMR x 50 percent
  • Extra Activity (hard labor or sports training): BMR x 60 percent
Last, add this new number to your original BMR number.

Now, to understand this correctly, your Total Metabolic Rate (TMR) is the number of calories (extrememly generalized) you burn in an average day.  Quite simply put, all you would need to do is decrease, increase, or stay in terms around 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, so, if want to lose weight, attempt to decrease your caloric intake over one week by 3,500 calories.  To increase, add 3,500 (probably more than this) per week. 

Here is how mine looks:
66 + (6.3 x 205) + (12.9 x 73) - (6.8 x 28) = 2108.8
2108.8 x 60 percent =
Calories I burn in a typical day = 3,374.08

When you go over the figuring-out process, it's really not that hard.  Where it starts to get a bit tedious is when you start weighing and counting your calories each meal.  But, for those of you who have a difficult time eye-balling your caloric intake, and whether or not you are eating too much or too little; I would highly reccomend giving the obsessive tracking a go for about a month so you can educate yourself on how all this actually works in practice.  Then, keep your food journal and just eat good food, on a regular basis, and don't overdo it.  Simple right?

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

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