Friday, May 31, 2013

Train right: Burn fats, not carbs

Training is not altogether that fun, especially when you’ve to do something out of your comfort zone, like training more hours and not fueling prior to workout.

But this discomfort is the very thing that’s pushing me to go to places I’ve never thought I could go, and do things I’ve never thought I could.

Let me explain. Prior to this, it would be impossible for me to train without first having a pre-workout bite, even if it’s small, like a piece of plain bread or a small bowl of oatmeal. I have experienced sessions where I’d start a workout on an empty stomach and my training would be highly compromised because I would be dizzy with lack of food and fall short in my speed during training - in other words, I wouldn’t be able to perform to a level that I would be capable of.

Thus this concept of the need to fuel prior to a workout became an important backbone in my training philosophy. I could never understand how some of my other triathlete friends could start a long bike without first having breakfast - I’d need at least 2 slices of toast with thick peanut butter spread, at the least, else I wouldn’t last the first hour of the ride.

When my new coach came along and insisted that I start my workout on an empty stomach, with only water for the first hour up till 1.5 hours, I was obedient to the tee and eradicated all temptation to fuel during the first 1-1.5 hours. Only after 1.5 hours did I consume energy bars to fuel me for the rest of the usually 3-4-hour workout.

I surprised myself but how my body actually adapted to this new practice so quickly. From day 1 of training, I strictly practiced this method and not only was I able to go through the whole workout with little trouble, I was effectively teaching my body to burn fats instead of carbs - thus becoming a more efficient endurance athlete, which is super important in the sport of triathlon. I also noticed that after a workout, I wasn’t crazily famished and ready to chew off my arm as I was previously on a high-carb diet pre, during and post workout. Now, after a workout, I could go on without food for another 2 hours before I have my meal.

It’s fascinating what the body is capable of doing when our mind understands the right sciences and endeavors to do it right.

For change to happen, it first must happen in the mind - the mind must first comprehend, only then will the body co-operate and perform accordingly.

Weight loss: Burn fats, not carbs

The best way to change a fixed routine that you’re unhappy with is to pack up, get up and get away for 2 weeks. That way, you’re setting a new routine, and when you get back, you’re gonna realize that your old routine doesn’t stick no more. Try it - I have, several times now, and it works.

Let me be more specific. I was doing high intensity training 1.5-2 hours every day, and naturally, my body craved and needed carbs to fuel those workouts, even after, I’d constantly be needing to fuel every 2-3 hours. I experienced sugar spikes and dips throughout the day, and was always looking for bread, biscuits, or snacks to satiate my appetite.

Then came a 2-week vacation where I was running an hour every morning at moderate intensity, driving and walking a lot, and eating only 3 meals a day. I wasn’t craving for food all the time as I did previously.

Then I got home. And the old routine of desiring snacks every other hour completely left me. In fact, I couldn’t stand the sight of snacks and threw them all away - biscuits, cookies, chocolates - all I wanted was healthy, natural, whole foods. And I wasn’t needing 5 or more meals a day as I did previously, now all I need is 2 meals and I’m good.

Why 2 meals? That’s because I’d start my morning workout without any breakfast, on an empty stomach, and after 1.5 hours of workout, I’d have a energy bar that would last me for the next 1.5-2 hours of workout. And after the 3-4-hour workout, I’d have an early lunch, followed by an early dinner 5 hours later.

I’ve lost weight with being disciplined in working out such that I’m burning fats and not carbs, and with that, I’ve acquired a less dependency on carbs as I was previously so accustomed to.

The general rule of thumb is this: the more you learn to burn fats in your workouts, the less carbs you need and the less carbs you crave. What you’d end up craving is healthy, whole food, wholesome meals, just 2-3 a day, and little or no desire for snacks, except for fruits and nuts.