A few weekends ago, I attended NSCA’s North Carolina State Conference. I was very impressed with the speakers who attended the event. One of the talks that was given focused on metabolism and body composition for athletes. I wanted to share some of the points that I took away from the lecture. Enjoy!
America does not have a problem losing weight. Every year in January we see thousands of people join the diet craze. They all are able to shed weight but it is only temporary. Many of them end up lowering their metabolism with these detox diets that rely on elimination and eating hypocaloric (less than they are burning throughout the day). After they do these diets, they go right back to the way they ate previously and expect to keep the weight off. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t work!
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Recent research coming out of the University of North Carolina’s Exercise Science Department is making correlations between the amount of weight that is put back on after dieting with the amount of lean mass loss during the diet.
What they are finding is that the body wants LEAN mass. When dieting, it is crucial that you are doing exercise and using nutritional strategies that support keeping lean mass. We all know how much easier it is to put on fat compared to being able to put on muscle. It takes a LONG time to add 1lb of true muscle.
What the body does when you lose lean muscle mass from a hypocaloric lifestyle, is that is CRAVES more calories to get that lean muscle back. This is why we are so hungry after our diet. We have this crazy ability to shove food in our mouth until our stomach hurts. The body wants to get back your lean body weight that you lost during your diet. It doesn’t care about your fat mass. It will do whatever it can to get you to eat more and get that lean mass back. This causes us to gain more fat mass than we had before the diet. All diets that are designed for large amounts of weight-loss are set up for failure because the body doesn’t want to do it. Your body likes homeostasis (no change). We are creatures of habit both mentally and physically.
While it is impossible to limit weight loss to just fat, there are different nutrition and training guidelines that can maximize your potential for holding onto lean muscle mass.
The researchers at UNC have found that a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio has been best for keeping lean body mass. While there were questions about the ketogenic diet, there has not been enough research to support any of the claims. The presenter emphasized that your body will function better as an athlete with carbs!! The last thing that was emphasized was that females need more fat in their diet than males. They should still have the 2:1 ratio but if their fat intake gets too low, their hormone cycle can be thrown for a loop. It is important to keep them high enough to not experience any variation in monthly cycles.
Another idea that was brought up in the lecture was the idea of periodizing your nutrition. Have specific times a year that you eat more, less, and just maintain your body weight. I have seen so many people who are looking for diet device who have been eating in a deficit for the majority of the months of the year. What I tell them, is that they need to eat more. Some people may need to gain a few pounds before starting to continue to try to lose weight.
Eating more food increases your metabolism. Eating less, slows the metabolism. If you are always eating less than you are burning, your metabolism is not going to be very high. This makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. Spend some time each year upping your calories to make dieting easier on you. Losing weight off eating 2000 calories is much better than losing weight eating 1200 calories!
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The researchers are finding that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) along with proper nutrition has shown to decrease the amount of lean muscle loss during a hypocaloric phase. HIIT interval training stimulates large muscle Type II fibers and uses the glycolytic pathway to keep the muscle! Slow and steady long-distance work stimulates Type I fibers and uses the aerobic pathway. If you aren’t familiar with these pathways and fiber types, don’t worry. I’ll make it simpler. Look at your long-distance marathon runner and compare them to a world class sprinter. You will see the sprinter is JACKED while the marathon runner is thin. This is because to be good at endurance running you need as little amount of body weight as possible to run. You don’t want big muscles that make you heavier and make you work harder to go long distances. Sprinters need to create POWER. Power comes from muscle!
When trying to lose fat mass and spare muscle mass let’s switch our focus to this HIIT training.
Here are just a few examples of ways to do HIIT Training:
Type of Exercise: Row, Run, Bike, Jump Rope, Stairs
10 reps of (30 seconds -1 minute of activity), (30 seconds – 1 minute of rest)
5 reps of 2 minutes on (hard), 1 min of rest
3-4 reps of 3-4 minutes on (moderate to hard), 3 minutes of rest
This can be done 2x a week and with 4x being the upper limit to allow your body to fully recover.
Research has shown that there is even a higher compliance to this HIIT training with obese clients compared to a traditional slow and steady training session. It feels AWESOME to feel like you worked hard! Just look at CrossFit. It is a variation of high intense interval training!
I hope this was educational! If you want personalized help with your nutrition/weight-management check out the online nutrition coaching!
If you guys live near Lewisville, NC or the surrounding area, we are open for business at LEAN Fitness (home of Mash Elite and TFW Winston-Salem). If you want to try us out for a FREE Week or have any questions, email us at email@example.com.
Coach Matt Shiver-
Coach Shiver is currently pursuing his DPT at Duke University. He is also an avid weightlifter himself.