Tag Archives: muscle gain

You Are as Powerful as a Lightbulb

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Continuing from my last post about energy; I was having a chat with a friend who told me that people burn through enough energy to power a lightbulb.  Whaaaaaaat?!  So, I googled & it’s true! I found this fascinating, so I’m sharing the basics here:

Think about a person who consumes 2000 calories in a day. Every calorie from food (kCal) is equal to 4200 joules of energy. Used over the course of a day (86,400 seconds), this person uses an average of 97.2 joules a second, meaning they have an average power of 97.2 watts. Certainly a person could juggle quite a few hamburgers, but in the end humans only average the power of a bright lightbulb.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but the above quote is the basic jist of it from a blog post on Bryn Mawr College’s website.

How is this relevant? Well, I don’t suppose it is per se, but a bulb is a tiny piece of glass with an even smaller element inside that heats up & a byproduct of that heat, is light. 2000 calories, to someone that is used to eating a lot less than that can seem HUGE, but if you compare it to a bulb, it really isn’t & the energy that you need in order to survive/function as an “average” human (I say average, as 2000 is about average)  is just enough to power said bulb.  *shrugs* I thought it was cool.

Anyhoo…………..

Continuing on this theme of energy; what happens if you don’t get enough calories? (your bulb would be a lot dimmer, that’s for sure!) Under eating is different to eating to a calorie deficit, one is a tried & trusted method to lose some weight, the other isn’t good for you. Your body is a smart, energy efficient machine – or it should be. Just like anything else that requires power, if it doesn’t get enough, it can’t do its job correctly.   Effectively, your body slows down.  Like load shedding (sharing power in an energy deprived country) your brain notices the calorie deprivation if it gets too low & will reduce your BMR to compensate – meaning that when you first chose to slash your calories to 1,000 per day it was fine, yeah…a little hungry, but continuation to do this will change your metabolic rate so that you become more efficient in using the calories, but that means any weight loss you initially noticed will slow down & stop.

The rate at which a body burns calories is determined by the amount of muscle that you have – more muscle, higher BMR.  This is why men have a faster metabolism than women – as they usually have a higher muscle percentage than we do.  Ultimately, muscle burns a lot more calories than fat so when we lose muscle, our metabolic rate drops and we burn fewer calories. In fact, research shows that the body loses a proportionately high amount of muscle with a very low calorie intake and this may considerably suppress metabolism by up to 45 percent….which in turn can see you with a much higher body fat percentage than you’d originally wanted.

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These women are both the same height, but the one of the left weighs 110kg in comparison to the right who weighs 50kg

A calorie deficit is just that, a deficit – it shouldn’t be that low that you can’t concentrate, struggle with basic tasks, and have terrible sleep, skin, etc. halving your calories is a sure fire way to not get results – in order to get the result that you want, the first thing to do is to know your BMR:

BMR calculation for men (metric)

  • 66.5 + ( 13.75 × weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 × height in cm ) – ( 6.755 × age in years )

BMR calculation for women (metric)

  • 655.1 + ( 9.563 × weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 × height in cm ) – ( 4.676 × age in years )

Then, calculate your TDEE, you need to HONESTLY work out your activity levels:

  • Little to no exercise – Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2
  • Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55
  • Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725
  • Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

Once you have your figure you can reduce it by around 200 calories, in order to keep the calories in lower than the calories out, but not to a level that is gonna have a negative effect.  As you lose weight & gain muscle, you will need to revisit this calculation a few times as when your weight changes, so does your BMR.

 

 

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Week 1 – 6 of Intermittent Fasting

So, do you guys remember through the past few posts of mine I’ve mentioned a change in my diet?  Yeah.  I’ve been fasting for the past 11 weeks, however my blog post was getting quite long so I decided to break it up.

This is part one

I’ve been looking at changes to my diet, not faddy changes or “Do this for xx weeks & drop x dress size”, no.  Something that is right for me. For life. Probably….hopefully.  I did Dukan a few years ago,but it wasn’t feasible to do something like that long term; even though everything I read about it said that you could – I personally felt that it wasn’t.  I looked in to IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) but, still being a n00b to all things macro it sounded epically complicated.  A colleague of mine told me about Lean Gains, so I looked in to it….It also didn’t feel 100% right, but I pursued this path & finally (after discussing it with Andy) settled on Intermittent Fasting.  I chose to eat between 2pm & 10pm – meaning my 7:30am gym sessions would be fasted.

May the fourth.  Day 1 of IF.

I have my BCAA, prepped 4 days worth of food stuffs & Omega 3 supplements.  I’ve read countless articles on-line about it & have sought the advice of Andy, my PT as well as a colleague who has been on an IFplan for some time.

I. AM. READY.

Well, sort of.  I’ve read that IF can whack female hormones out of balance & if you’re completely ravenous you SHOULD eat because that’s your body’s way of alerting you to something being really wrong. (something to do with the instinct to be able to carry life & whathaveyou) also, I’ve decided to learn my macros as I go. I know what they should be, but I don’t have that kind of relationship with food that I instantly know whether I need more protein or more carbs, etc.

I got a little peckish around 11am, but didn’t give in. I got myself a huge cup of water & chugged those til it got to 2pm…..the start of my eating window!!  I easily blasted through 1,000 calories at lunch & felt quite, quite stuffed.  Returned home after work & ate some Greek yoghurt with nuts/seeds/oats and had my dinner an hour later.

I’m below my calorie intake for the day, but not by much.  I could quite easily only eat 1,000 calories in a day before, so being at 2,000+ today is a pretty big deal.  I still feel full.

Measurements:

  • Underbust: 29
  • Waist 32.5
  • high hip 37
  • hip 41
  • thigh 20.5
  • calf 15
  • bicep 10.5

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Day 2 – quick update.  Still felt full when I went to bed, woke up & wasn’t hungry.  However, slept longer than I’d have liked to. Not sure if I was too tired or whether it was a weird side effect of LG.

Day 6 -weighed myself in the gym yesterday, showing a 3kg (6lb) loss.

Week 2:

Hunger still kicking in at around the 11:30am, however most days I have stayed strong – only nibbling on a smidge of protein if I felt like my stomach was gonna eat itself.

I’ve not used My Fitness Pal this week to track macros, I’ve not used anything & I know I need to rectify this.  MFP has been too inaccurate due to needing different levels of calories on training and non-training days.

I did go to the gym one morning without previously having BCAA’s – which I will never do again!  I had to admit defeat and stop training because everything just felt too heavy.

Eating seems to be falling in to a slight pattern:

Training:

2pm Breakfast

4pm Lunch

6:30pm Snack

8pm Dinner

Non Training:

2pm: Lunch

5pm: Snack

7pm: Dinner

Week 3:

My hunger pangs have gradually started to take longer to appear, ranging to mostly after 12pm now.  Tiredness subsiding & training getting back to normal in the gym.

ended up ravenous one morning, so ate when I woke & then didn’t touch food for about 9 hours.

Week 4:

Towards the end of the week I’ve started to get tired again, I’ve not tracked my macros this week (oops) which I know I should have, however I know the tiredness is due to not eating properly, so from tomorrow (start of week 5) I’ll be on more structure (hopefully)

Week 5:

The weeks seem to be flying though. This week – tracking macros a little better than I have been, I’ve lost about 10lb since I started too!  Strength training is starting to normalise as well – not back up to weights on a few moves but not as bad as it has been, sought advice from a different PT as I wondered if it was psychosomatic but he said it’s most likely to be the lack of calories on a morning; which I guess makes sense.

Week 6:

Macro counting religiously didn’t last long, I still check it from time to time, but I tend to focus on what I’m eating – I weigh my foods out when portioning for work & ensure to include good carbs in every meal.

Weight training is/was getting back to normal – I seem to be balancing out now my body is getting used to training fasted….mostly.  i have a new programme as well.  This week has not been good for training though, I’ve not had as much training time as I’d have liked, but it’s almost a new week!

*****

I told a few people what I was doing & I got some really, really mixed reactions.  Some were supportive but a lot were confused as to why I was doing it.  I don’t need to justify my eating habits to anyone, & I definitely do not need the opinions of others thrust down my throat about why I shouldn’t do it, cos “I don’t need to lose weight” it’s not about weight loss & it never has been.  I struggled to get up early enough to eat a decent breakfast prior to going to the gym on a morning.  This way I can grab an extra half hour’s sleep, drink my BCAA while I cycle & then drink my bodyweight in coffee/water until my feeding window.

The science behind IF is just:

 Fasting can accelerate fat loss by creating a favourable metabolic environment for the mobilisation and burning of fatty acids. Such environment is characterised by lower insulin (the “storage” hormone) and higher growth hormone levels. In addition, exercising in a fasted state can further enhance the fat-burning effect.  A favourable metabolic environment means you have the potential to burn fat. The degree to which you actually do depends on a number of factors, including your body’s ability to run on fat rather that “sugar” (or glucose, the preferred source of energy).

**Weeks 7-12 will be published in early August, due to having minor spinal surgery next week.**

A mild image spam for you with special thanks to Andy for the deadlift pic (taken between May 5th & end of June)

*I’m aware most images are of my back – however, that’s been my main focus for strength, so shut up!*

If you would like to know more about IF,  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting is a great start