Thursday, June 24, 2010
Shhh, I Have A Fat Burning Secret
There’s always stuff that works that no one wants to talk about condoning, like steroids and ephedra. I won’t say “won’t condone” because, often times, it remains as insider secret and kept for the greater public, often in fear of them abusing it. But not all of it is dangerous, especially if you know why it works and how to do it properly. Take what I did this morning for example: the Workout From Hell Back & Chest workout on an empty stomach.
No trainer would advise doing a WFH (or any kick-ass workout) without an ample storage of blood sugar (which converts to glycogen in your muscles and liver and fuel anaerobic performance). Hard training, sans glycogen, sends your body into a deep stage of the bonk. You have to push harder than you should and, in turn, do more muscular damage than normal (and brain damage, which runs on glycogen). While this sounds bad there’s a flip side—as there inevitably is—in that your body, being forced to the brink of its performance capability, turns to body fat for energy. This is cause for no great shakes as even the most casual athlete has probably heard that your body turns to stored adipose tissue for energy when its preferred fuel, glycogen, is kaput. But what most of us (trainers) don’t discuss is that this fat for fuel equation can be trained to improve. And nothing trains it as well as pushing it to the brink.
More conventional wisdom has us train this process doing low to moderate exercise on an empty stomach. In fact, it’s what you’ll hear from me all the time (in our Beachbody literature and elsewhere). And it works pretty well. But in the sports world we’re always looking for an advantage and it doesn’t work as well as trying to perform anaerobic intervals without any fuel.
If this sounds familiar it’s because there was just an article on the wires about this process and I blogged about it a couple of weeks back. But I didn’t get into specifics, which is why you shouldn’t do it if it works so well, or why I’m doing this right now.
First off, this is not a recommended training modality because, well, people have a hard time with moderating anything they think works “to burn fat”. And it’s definitely not the kind of thing you want to do often. Even then, when you do it the recovery process must be maximized or the damage you cause will outweigh the positive training effects. So let’s go over the rules:
First, you should only do this once in a while; max once per week and in cycles of no more than 4 weeks in a row. Next, you need to eat after your workout. This, more than any time I can imagine, is the slot for Recovery Formula or something similar. Whatever you choose you want 200 or so calories of something that digests rapidly. And then an hour later you should eat a small balanced meal to keep the recovery process going. Even then don’t expect to be at your best. If there aren’t a lot of typos in this post I’ll be surprised. And I certainly wouldn’t want to take a test or try and climb something at my limit this afternoon.
PS - read the comments if you're interested in more on this topic.
pics: more than any other group of athletes, climbers tend to get pushed anaerobically sans fuel and, hence, tend to get lean. in fact, older (and far less science-minded and more food deprived) climbers seemed like the most ripped of all.