Category Archives: Life

Food and Thermogenesis: How what you eat affects your body temperature

Energy produces heat. If you didn’t sleep through science class, they probably taught you this.

There are all sorts of circumstances behind what we now call climate change, the steadily rising temperature of the planet. But one key element is the fundamental existence of more human beings than have ever been on the planet in recorded history.

All humans produce heat. Every mechanical, electrical, chemical anything we have ever done produces heat. Vehicles and other machines produce heat when they operate. Anything we built that moves produces heat. Even the coldest fridges, freezers and air conditioners produce heat to cool what’s inside: The heat is just emitted out of the back or top of the device into the surrounding atmosphere.

And our bodies produce heat. The bigger we are, the more active we are, the more heat we produce. This is a key reason why your perceived temperature is hotter when you’re running than it is when you’re walking or still. You produce a lot more heat when you exercise.

Even the energy required to digest food produces heat. The act of digestion producing this energy is a little something scientists call thermogenesis.

Some foods require more energy from thermogenesis than others. This is one of the keys behind why it’s generally healthier to eat unprocessed meat and vegetables than processed sugar.

Insoluble fiber and most proteins require a lot of digestive energy for the body to digest its nutrients. These foods are highly thermogenic.

Meanwhile, chemically refined sugar is by design quickly digested, as these foods are chemically engineered to not satisfy you hunger and make you crave more of them. These foods are lightly thermogenic.

You can eat 500 calories of sugar cookies, and still be very hungry immediately after eating them. Meanwhile, you can eat 500 calories of steak, and be so full you won’t want another bite of anything for several hours. And woe is the poor soul who tries to eat 500 calories of broccoli… if he even manages to get it all down (1 cup of cooked broccoli is about 60 calories). He will end up spending a regretful amount of time on a toilet at some future point.

Broccoli and other vegetables are among the most thermogenic of foods. Many require more caloric energy to burn them than the calories the vegetables themselves contain!

Now, why bring up global warming when bringing up the thermic effect of food? Is Steven saying that broccoli causes climate change?

Continue reading
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Ten Rules for Fat Burning

I have previously offered tips and principles for training and fat burning. But if you’re seriously trying to lose fat, these are firm rules you should follow. Following these will produce short and long term results on burning the fat you need to burn off.

Weigh yourself every morning

Arguments exist either way, but your weight is the ultimate scoreboard for how much fat you need to burn. If the number is going down, you’re trending in the right direction. If the number goes up, you’re trending in the wrong direction.

The one way to keep track of how your fat-burning is progressing is whether the number on the scale is going up or down.

If you ate something unhealthy for dinner, Intermittent Fast the next day

Sometimes you have to eat a processed, unhealthy meal. Life gets in the way. This is not a killer. Ideally, the meal had a lot of protein, but the key is to clear the inflammatory mess from your body as soon as you can.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure you skip breakfast and intermittent fast the next day. Your body’s 16ish hours without a meal going into tomorrow will churn and burn the mess you ate last night, and it will pass from your digestive tract and bloodstream more quickly.

Ideally, you break this fast with a clean meal. But the big thing is that, once your stomach has been emptied, your body taps into stored bodyfat, uses the unhealthy food for all it’s worth and sends it packing through your intenstines and kidneys.

If you wake up heavier than yesterday, Intermittent Fast the next day

Regardless of the quality of your last meal, the scale showing more weight than it showed yesterday is a sign that you’ve got some water weight and/or extra fat to burn.

So get to burning it, and make sure you go 16ish hours before your next meal. Load up on coffee and water, and give your body a chance to fat-burn and flush any extra water that’s accumulated.

Unless you eat a ton or eat really badly out of that intermittent fast, you should get the scale number moving once again in the right direction.

If you ate something unhealthy for dinner, drink 1 extra glass of water the next morning

Along with intermittent fasting, the best way to flush out inflammation-built water weight is to give your body more water. This will encourage a cellular reset, and more so will encourage your body to ditch the extra water and flush it towards your kidneys and bladder.

You don’t want to drink yourself into hyponatremia nor do you want to overkill and spend a ton of time running to the restroom. So the best middle ground is to take whatever water you usually drink in the morning and add an extra 16oz, 2 cups, one (typically sized) glass of water to that during the morning.

Sure, you will still take an extra trip or two to the toilet. But this will speed along the body’s return to homeostasis as well as the flushing of inflammatory nonsense from said body.

Do a minimum of one hour of demanding exercise activity every day.

Diet may be roughly 80% of your body composition, but 80% is only good enough for a B-. Honestly, while you could conceivably lose weight just by overhauling your diet, you may not feel too great and losing the remaining fat could be a longer, more difficult process as you approach a more normal weight.

It’s here where exercise really covers the gap. 60 minutes of solid activity, anything from walking to any other kind of demanding exercise, will burn at least 300 calories as well as any residual afterburn from having revved up your heart rate and associated hormonal effects.

You will simply burn more fat in the long run from having exercised than if you hadn’t.

Why an hour rather than half an hour? Anything less than 45-60 minutes is a negligible difference in your body’s net basal metabolic rate, and can be undone as easily as eating a slightly too large portion at one meal. The 300+ calories or 60 minutes of exercise carves out enough calorie/fat burn to make it so you’d need to make a clear eating decision to get back to maintenance calories.

Plus, the aerobic, circulatory and metabolic benefits of exercise are best manifested at and around the 60 minute mark. To exercise for less is to stop short of where these max bodily benefits would kick in.

Break every fast with a clean, non-processed meal. Prep the night before if you must.

Obviously, avoid eating garbage. And if you have just gone more than 4-6 hours from your last meal, the metabolic impact of that 1st meal post-break is more substantial. If it’s unhealthy, you set a negative metabolic tone for your body for the rest of day. You’ll probably feel crappy. And you won’t burn as much fat over the next 12-18 hours.

Eat healthy. Eat a lot of protein and other healthy, whole foods. But eat a nutrient-rich natural meal that your body will put to good use, and set a tone that will maximize the benefits of any food or exercise you do the rest of the day.

If this is hard to do from scratch, then you will want to spend the previous evening preparing or gathering food you can immediately grab and eat for your first meal the following day.

For example, back in Chicago, I would often set my rice cooker to have brown rice ready the following morning. I’ll also buy cans of tuna, fruit and other ready to grab food with the plan to eat it for lunch on subsequent days.

Worry less about net calories and worry more about calorie quality

I’m as big on counting calories as anyone. But I also recognize that 400 calories of lean whole food animal protein is a lot better and more nutrient-rich for me than 400 calories out of a box.

People who eat the same number of calories as before but much cleaner, whole food versions find that they still lose weight. This granted is in part due to shedding water weight from no longer being inflamed by processed food. But the whole food is put by your body to much better use and isn’t sitting in your bloodstream further rendering you insulin resistant. Your muscles are rebuilt, instead of your fat stores and retained water mass.

Even if you eat the same amount of food as before, just make that food non-processed instead of processed, and you will certainly notice a difference on the scale either way.

Protein first, fat/carbs second.

The easiest way to adhere to a cleaner, whole food diet is to front load all your protein, and make sure every meal is built around a protein source. Meat, dairy, eggs, fish, perhaps a amino-friendly combination of nuts, grains and legumes. Make sure you have a satisfying portion of one or more of the above, and then add fats and carbs as desired. This will ensure more satisfying meals without the need to gorge or overeat.

It’s very hard to overeat on a protein-rich diet. And your body needs the building blocks of protein anyway.

Give every carb a purpose.

I’m not a fan of low/no carb dieting, unless you live a purely sedentary existence and your only exercise is a brief visit to the weights at the gym 2-4 times a week. Sure, you can fat-adapt, but your brain and organs still use carbs, and often a low-carb diet just leaves the user feeling fatigued from the perpetual lack of glycogen.

Fat can be adapted a primary fuel source but it burns very slowly, much more so than glycogen. Your body will want to slow down in kind to keep up. Those who find success with such diets tend to have the necessary privilege and lifestyle to allow for that diet to provide suitable energy. Someone who is more active will need carbs.

That said, most people overdose on carbs, eating hundreds of grams a day despite being sedentary and not really exercising. Imagine trying to fill your gas tank everyday even though it’s full, and not caring that the excess petrol overflows all over your hands. Yet that is what most people do with carbs.

What you want to do is either:

  • Plan your carb intake around your exercise.
  • Plan your exercise around your carb intake.

Maybe you should workout right before dinner, if dinner with the family requires you eat a lot of carbs. Or maybe you can plan every meal… and it just makes sense to have those potatoes and fruit at breakfast right before that killer workout. Runners often don’t need to worry about carb timing, because they’re often running long distances and can easily use all the carbs they’re ingesting.

Try to look at your diet, and ask yourself, “When and where do I plan to use those carbohydrates?” No need to do complex Romijn glycogen calculations on your exercise. Just know that, if you want to have potatoes at dinner, you need to know at the very least when in the day or next day those carbs are going to get burned, or what exercise requires that you restore your glycogen stores.

Be conscious about what carbs you eat and why.

Dinner should always be satisfying, protein rich, and as unprocessed as possible

The crappier (i.e. less nutrient rich) your dinner, the worse you will sleep that night.

Sleep is where you recover not just from exercise but the rest of your life. Sleep is where your energy re-generates. What and how you eat impacts your sleep. If you go to bed having last ingested a dearth of nutrients, your body will either keep you awake wanting for more nutrients, or will wake you up during the night having exhausted the garbage you arte of all its lacking nutrient value, and starving for more nutrients that you likely aren’t going to eat at 3am.

A lack of sleep also inhibits fat loss. It promotes the product of fat-building cortisol and other damaging hormones and inflammation. You’re not helping yourself.

Eat well, eat right, for your last meal of the day, so you can sleep well.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Energy Availability and making sure you don’t undereat when training

Currently I’m tinkering with my diet, not necessarily the foods but the meal timing and the calorie macros.

It’s not so much that my weight loss has currently stalled. In fact, it did drop to a month-low 168.9 lbs over the weekend… though it has been tough, slow going to move the average down.

I’m trying to naturally maximize my energy levels, which when I’ve fasted had tended to stay low. This means I need more nutrients around these times, which indicates I should stop fasting.

However, I went back through my RRCA training course materials… mostly because I was walking on a treadmill for an hour and the spiral-bound book was one of the only books I had that I could suitably read while on the treadmill. In any case, I went through the information-laden appendicies and it includes a robust booklet on nutrition by the IAAF.

In the IAAF’s Nutrition materials, they mention an interesting stat: Energy availability. The idea of Energy Availability is that aside from calories burned in exercise, the body has a certain number of calories it needs to rebuild and recover from that exercise.

Continue reading
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Twelve (12) Training and Lifestyle Tips For Fat Burning

There’s a lot I could say about fat burning, and there’s a legion of users-guide material throughout the internet world about methods to healthy fat burning (and many more about unhealthy fat burning ideas, which I will not bother to cover). I could write a piece about a dozen topics.

But I think it would help you to get some actionable tips in one place, and perhaps a shorter bit of writing on each of those in one place may help you more in the present. I can always cover all of these topics in additional pieces later.

So instead, I’m going to put a dozen topics into this long post, and succinctly get into why you should make it a standard or best practice.

If you’re trying to burn fat and struggling with it, these tips should help spur things along or keep things moving in the right direction.

Continue reading
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Considering a long training project, and the complications

I had considered, as a personal project, doing a year long stepladder program, meaning:

  • Perform a full 12 week training cycle for a 5K race.
  • After a week of recovery, train 12 weeks for a 10K race.
  • After a week of recovery, train 16 weeks for a half marathon.
  • After a week of recovery, train 16 weeks for a full marathon.
  • Take two weeks off, then do whatever I want after that.

I would not have planned to run any official races, because honestly due to Coronavirus it may be late 2021 before society returns to normal and live events like races can fully happen again. Some may even argue I’m being optimistic hoping for that, even as others are being foolishly optimistic in holding out hope for upcoming fall 2020 or spring 2021 races that likely will get cancelled (especially if there’s a serious wave of Coronavirus cases this fall/winter).

All this training would have been to not just gradually, safely stretch back out to the marathon distance, but to also practice the specific endurance skills for each of those distances. I would likely follow the blueprint from Jean Francois Harvey’s Run Better, and would thus continue to strength train twice a week.

However, it wasn’t the likely 61 week timeline for all that which deterred me. We’ve all obviously got a lot of time right now with no events to work towards due to the Coronavirus situation. I have plenty of time.

Continue reading
Tagged , , , ,

This post probably belongs on LinkedIn

So on Monday I left my most recent day job.

Basically, the company (under wraps for confidentiality but they do retail distribution; I processed and reported retail orders) is under new leadership as of last month. The new leadership all but made clear their plan is to either assimilate with their current properties or to liquidate, despite official “business as usual” claims (and others at work had corroborated these suspicions). Actions speaks louder than words.

With the writing having been on the wall for the last month, my mounting workload and day to day complications there were no longer worth the stress, trouble, or what I was being paid. It was negatively affecting my personal life outside of work, even when I was working from home.

So I said enough, and turned my equipment in for good Monday morning. Even though this was a job that to some degree I liked, walking away felt like being paroled from prison. It had gotten that bad, and rather quickly.

Even with the specter of needing to secure another job and its income, I have felt a substantial positive difference. I’m a lot less on edge. Yes, being able to take afternoon naps and not having to commute right now certainly helps.

Of course, now I’m applying for other jobs, and while updating my resume and completing applications hasn’t been that big a challenge… I’ve once again entered that job hunter’s internal conversation of adding value and being an employer’s best choice for a suitable role, balanced against finding a position that meets my salary and lifestyle needs.

I don’t worry. I’ve done this before. Like apartment hunting, doing personal business, my own health, and many other personal matters, I’ve learned how to handle the process of job hunting better than most.

Continue reading
Tagged , , , , , ,

A few random words about ramping my current volume

Today marked the first time I’ve run four straight days since March, and the first time I’ve run four straight day all outside since December. After months of 2.0-2.75 mile runs, three of the four runs have been 3 miles or more.

Incidentally, each of the last couple days, I didn’t feel good about a morning run. But in each case I just started at as comfortably slow a trot as I could, and within 10 minutes I was running at closer to a normal easy cadence. If you had asked me at the start of each run I’d have said 3 miles would be tough to do, and by the end of each 3+ miles wasn’t a problem.

None of this is to preach or to reinvent the wheel. There’s a legion of anecdotal advice about how 90% of a workout is just getting it started and how making yourself doing the work is worth the reward of having done, and so on. I get tired of that preaching as well.

And who knows… maybe I wake up tomorrow and successfully talk myself out of running. However, probably not, because I recognize how easy it should have been to talk me out of the last three runs.

It’s very hot. I’m feeling weary. Given how little I’ve run, you could justify taking a rest day. I’m already strength training later in the day on top of this. If I need 10,000 steps I can go on a long walk later or a long walk that morning instead, which is way easier.

But along with my pursuit of 40 miles in a fortnight thanks to all ill advised Garmin challenge badge, and knowing I probably need to run 2-3 miles everyday for it to be in reach… I also realize that the easiest way to hit a step goal like 10,000 is to go on a 30-45 minute run.

By the time I finish each run I have 7000-9000 steps already, and it’s typically not even 8am. That makes getting the last 1000-3000 fairly easy, having the whole entire day to do it. Often I’ve hit the goal in midday or early evening with little to no additional effort.

I could if needed take a couple days off during this challenge fortnight, as long as all my other runs are this same 3.3-3.7 mile distance I’ve somehow been able to comfortably hit. So it’s nice to have that buffer.

At the same time, I also want to see how much running volume I can handle with everyday 3 mile runs. I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in virtually any week since the lockdown, and now I’ve already got 12. For reasons I’ll discuss in a bit, I have the luxury of being able to rest most of the day. So while others may get injured ramping up their volume like that (plus, again, I’m also strength training with mostly upper body exercises between all this), I may be able to successfully handle the intense ramp. I want to see how far I can take it. After all, like I said, I can afford to take a day or two off during the next week if I need it.

Not a lot to report here other than me trying to run everyday right now despite 115°F midday heat, just to see what I can do in a time and place where there’s currently not a lot to do.

Tagged , , ,