Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Middle Aged Spread - The battle Continues

I will be moving this to a new custom made, slim and nimble little blog of its own soon btw.

What struck me with the Atkins diet (all info to adhere to the diet is freely available btw on their web site) was that you remove of course all the goodies in life, our little self allowed luxuries, completely during the diet period and then only creep them back in later. Luxuries are high sugar basically: beer, chocolate, sweets and then high carbo-fat combinations like crisps or chips and then finally high sugar-fat combos namely cakes and buns and the like.

What I pondered, if you cut out all these extras , beer and crisps and sweets, and then ate a healthier, fairly high carbonhydrate diet? The old F-plan fibre diet?  Then if you did a lot more exercise in the fat burning zone you would not need to cut out all the luxuries?

If like me you eat healthy meals but have middle aged spread and it goes up and down a few kilos but is really about 20-30% over your ideal and stable, then you are actually balancing your luxuries and binges against either dieting or the amount of exercise you do. The beefy rugger player, the chubby but fit cyclist, the jogging mummy with the un-shiftable spare tyre round her middle.

As I said in my last blog, my luxuries account for 9000kcal a month, so on top of a normal diet with no exercise, I would gain a kilo a month, and around Christmans I do! However my exercise in training this year has been about 12500 Kcal / month on top of normal activity (@ 500kcal av.per hour, 5 -7 hours per week) So given for miscalculation, forgotten snacking,  injury down time and larger dinners which I thought weren't luxury, I am about in balance and that was reflected by a meagre loss of maybe 4 kg in the last six months, away from my super heavy 118-120 kg.

Back to the cutting out of all things bad. Well if you do a lot of exercise you can have luxuries if you know the rest of your diet is healthy and around the recommended daily intake for man or woman. Only you have to be strict on what amount you have, and be open to include all sorts of extra hand-to-mouth-repeat opportunities.

Then it does come to counting calories: In an Out. This has been weight watchers mantra for years. I decided to up my training duration to improve my cardio vascular and put my body in the fat burning zone longer. My sessions went up from 45 mins-60 mins to 90-160 minutes with a total of five to seven hours per week since second week in january. Plus then some other walking to the shops, school "run" and so on. However four kilos loss on a target of 20 was poor, and I did not weigh myself often enough to know if I had hit a lower figure and bounced up since I was afraid to do so.

I found it to be my luxuries and I include extra whole portions of dinner in that. Sometimes I just need to bowls of pasta to be satisfied after training days or cold days. However that was being used as an excuse along with the now well trodden lie of "carbo loading" for the next day's training.  From a standing start, anyone who is middle aged and healthy has enough energy in glycogen for at least one hours intense 600-800 kcal training. There is no need to carbo load.

Snacking and training are also bad. You should look to not snack at all during anything under three hours exercise unless it is -7 or below when after an hour you may need a small snack to keep going another hour comfortably. Then when you finish exercise, midt in the danger zone for the munchies, have your lunch in the car or a single piece of fruit to hand, and do not what ever you do go into the shops. Alternatively have half your lunch or dinner with you, and control the other half at home.

Being strict means setting the number and then counting the beers, the squares of chocolate and the grams of crisps you are allowed by virtue of training or a raised level of physical activity, walking being not bad at 300Kcal / hour. You then need to keep a tally somewhere and use a weekly basis, beginning each Friday morning with a new week such that you do not split your goodies friday-saturday between two weeks. You may use up all your goodies on Friday, in which case you may put on wieght that night, but you will then be exposed to how much you used to eat, if for example you like me come on halving luxuries as creating a calorie deficit. That is it, your allowance is used up until next friday by which time you will have had almost a week's training in abstinence!

I included those extra meal portions as a big culprit, and have only allowed myself two per week. A fly on my wall from the last six month's training period, may argue that I was up at six or seven doubled dinners! Saying I have two, and now this week I have by the way used them up, means that I do not allow myself more on the basis of carbo loading or being empty from the day.

The next real culprit was beer and crisps, so they are cut way back, with a miserly 100g crisps and no nuts , or 50 -50 per week. The other thing about crisps and nuts was that I was using them to bridge the gap to dinner after training or when the school run home was running late due to sports etc.  100g is not very much, a couple of small bowls full, and it is still about 200Kcal at least but there I have the discipline of a red light through the week, and a little green one for a single bowl each night of the weekend.

If you have more limited time for exercise then you can make it count more by doing it before breakfast and after dinner, with no eating there. A good alternative is to have a light breakfast, walk 45 mins to an hour to work or to transport to work, or with the dog locally. Some people respond well to this in stimulating their metabolism for the whole day, I happen not to really burn any fat this way as I have tried.  I need the two hour sessions plus a higher general level of activity and less snacks to attack the issue personally. Otherwise for me it would be no luxuries and also calorie counting on ordinary meals during and after the diet weight loss period, which I think is tedious and unsustainable for me.

Two hour sessions can burn a whole hours worth of fat for most people which means that over a month of eight two hour sessions you can burn about a kilo of fat. So think again of those saturday mornings with the paper, twitter and FB and get out. Or think of those one hour sweat sessions followed by a bar of chocolate which are quite possibly putting fat on you! Extending sessions take will power and planning around jobs, family and as said above, meals. The trick is then not to snack.

The only snacking I allow myself is fruit, and I have take fruit as a "free" but I have also taken that two or three pieces of fruit after exercise can be a convenient lunch. Bananas and grapes should not be combined: they deliver a lot of sugar over a long time from first injestion. Pears are quite low in sugar as are fresh strawberries. Apples are about mid way.

Because fruit is more satisfying to your appetite than salty or refined sugar based snacks, you will quite likely find that snacking urges begin to disappear as you loose a bit of that Pavlovian-dog response. That is to say the mind has associated  a reward, which is transiently satisfying, with finishing exercise and learns to expect it, more over it demands it!  ( I have it terribly for beer and snacks in either way at the weekend, having never ever got the munchies from beer as a young adult!)    Furthermore,  those type of foods actually lead to cyclic cravings for more of the same, because they were high value foods in our species' evolution and we were  subconsciously encouraged by the evolved feedback mechanism to gorge ourselves on them so as to take advantage of the rare sweet or salty find. Like Honey for example, or a salt deposit on the inland plains.

I think that saying no to all luxuries in life is counter productive when you are doing a lot of exercise which is in the fat burning zone, mid intensity, high duration or before breakfast for example. I remember 14 years ago I was actually unemployed a while and very poor,  I  had only £10 pounds spending money per week after bills and basic food, while I had access to a virtually free public gymn and pool. I also walked about 8 km home, sometimes both ways too. I lost about 10 kg, yeah,  but I was miserable. I felt good with the weight loss though, but when I started in a new job I became weekend snack central! It all went back on without me noticing and I was very chubby once again within a year. So I did not learn to manage my luxuries because I was so pleased to be able to afford them without really needing to think about budgeting for them again. I think that is an unreasonable way to go about things if you are willing to do some serious hours of exercise per week, with 2 hour sessions being at least two of the times you do it.

Once the "diet" is over then you have to be able to avoid the things which will rebound you out, and the only way to do that is to go back to tallying up. However once at a desired lower weight, you can probably do less exercise, concentrating on one hour or less conditioning and strength exercises which will keep your body in trim and strong. Keep an eye on your weight, and as with Atkin's maintainance period, you may find that you need to reduce luxuries more, and be aware of weeks you do not achieve much exercise or when there are many temptations.

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