My roomate Devin Nowroski gave some of the best advice to me the other day about working out, your food intake and not being misled about the misconception that running for example equals more energy or that you lose weight via traditional methods. I’ve been running about 5-6 kilometers 2-3 times a week, but still feel my gut getting bigger or less “thinner.” I do have to admit I’ve been reducing my stomach and back exercises a bit recently, but Devin’s advice still is some great stuff I don’t ever want to forget.
“Thanks for sending the article. It was an interesting read. The author was not entirely inspiring though. I feel like the average person who reads it could be less inclined to exercise all together, which is not really ideal. The point they are trying to make is fine, and correct in my opinion, but not giving enough info to the reader. Stuff like that makes me angry. My physical condition is a lack of discipline, not knowledge, so I’m always bothered when people don’t get enough information. Some people with the right knowledge would see a huge difference in their results. When I use what I know, I see the results every time. The body does not follow a strict formula, but there are some general principles it follows. So I’ll write about what I do know, but it will probably be a long rant. Feel free to use it on your show, doesn’t matter if you use my name.
One thing she was talking about was that after exercising, people are inclined to eat more or treat themselves, or feel they can eat more because they exercise. That logic is the problem, they should have just focused on that to start. Fix that misconception before worring about the effects of exercise. If people want to lose weight, there is a relatively simple formula: burn more calories than you consume. Once you learn how much energy you expend, which is often by basic calculations you can find online, or just by trial and error, then that is the first key to your success. I’m sure you’ve heard that it is not so much what you eat, but how much you eat. You can have chocolate every day and still lose weight if you work it into your caloric intake. You can eat lots of food, just eat food that is lower in calories.
People need to begin with the basic parts of food, and read labels. Protein, Carbs, and Fats. There are lots of minor details, but start with that and you are doing great. Proteins and fats make you feel full, carbs tend to burn off faster so you will feel hungry quicker. Protein and carbs 4 calories, fat 9 calories. If people can do 50-60% carbs, 25-30% protein, and 15-20% fats (good fats), then they’ll be laughing. Follow those ratios, and you’ll be OK. Right now, I’m trying to get about 35-40% proteins, 40-45% carbs, and about 20% fats. I have a slower metabolism, I want to make sure I maintain muscle, and my #1 goal is to burn fat. I may jump around a lot, but I’ll give you an example of meals for one day with that ratio.
1/2 cup oatmeal uncooked 150 cal
1 banana 80 cal
1/2 scoop protein powder 50 cal
150 ml milk (low fat) 100 cal
1 egg with 3 egg whites fried 120 cal
Total: 500 cal
100 grams salmon 170
2/3 cup brown rice 150 cal
1 apple 80 cal
1 chicken breast 150 cal
2/3 cup brown rice 150 cal
1 cup veg 50-100 cal
1 Chicken Breast 150 cal
1 potato 100 cal
10 almonds 70 cal
1 cup cooked spinach 40 cal
Total: 360 cal
1 small can tuna (low fat) 150 cal
1-2 cups veg 120-150 cal
Low fat dressing 30 cal
Total: 300 cal
The total is about 2000 calories for a day. Now, that is less calories than needed even for an average male just for maintenance. That is less than I should be taking in theory, even for weight loss, but I feel healthy and comfortable, and I mix it up a little day to day, and my goal is weight loss. But when you look at it, it seems like a ridiculous amount of food, and most people are still surprised when I say 5 meals a day works best. The breakdown in my examples above is about 170 grams protein, 230 grams carbs and 45 grams fat. Now, for men who want to maintain muscle mass, they should be having about .8grams to 1 gram of protein/pound of body weight. So this amount of food meets the proper calorie ratio, the recommended calorie intake, and though I haven’t broken it down, has most of your daily nutrient intake. The meals may sound boring, but you can add some tasty veg and spices or sauce to cook your food up with a minimal change in calories.
One of the reasons this is so hard is because people don’t have the knowledge,or they want to eat food for pleasure and not think about math, or they are just used to what they have grown up with, but more importantly it takes time to prepare and eat that many meals. Most people don’t like to lug 3 meals to work with them, or don’t feel like preparing that much food or timing their meals. And those might be the same people who complain of being low energy or not losing weight. I’ve tried lots of different diets (not fads, but different food portions) and so I know the difference between sticking to this, or eating the normal 3 meals day with somewhat healthy food. That may maintain your body, and you feel alright, but may not give you changes you want to see.
There is an idea that a calorie is a calorie, but I don’t know if that is true. If you have 2000 calories in veg, vs 2000 calories in chocolate, does that have an effect on your weight? Probably, it depends on how easily that food is broken down, how efficiently your body can use the energy, if it is over a short period time you eat it or a long period of time. And that is not even considering nutrients, just calories. So it makes sense that if you find a right mix of calories for you, your body can use it more efficiently. For example, their is a protein in milk that breaks down differently that in meat, and they say that protein is good for after a workout. I think I told you cinnamon can help control how your body uses blood sugar. In this case, a calorie is not just a calorie, there is a large amount of control in how our body absorbs and uses the food we give it, based on combination and timing.
One of the most helpful principles I’ve been using is eat every 3-4 hours. Also, make sure you eat first thing in the morning. You can find lots of research online, and people always say it, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your metabolism is running at its highest in the morning, you need energy to get your day started because you were fasting overnight, you will be less inclined to grab an unhealthy snack or have a huge lunch. Some people may not need a full meal every 3 hours, but a snack is a great idea then. Feeding your body at regular intervals trains it, and provides a steady source of energy throughout the day. But snacks need to be healthy, a piece of fruit and some nuts, protein shake, half a chicken sandwich. When people start thinking a muffin and diet coke is a good snack because it is lower in calories, then they will not see as good results as they want. Your body needs food that is good for it, if you want really good results.
Also with timing, you should be having more carbs in the morning, less at night. Fruit, potatoes, rice, pasta, are all better in the first half of the day. That is when are bodies naturally expend more energy, we need to get that energy faster, so those complex carbs are great. In the last half of the day, we should reduce complex carbs when possible, and try to ingest more fibrous carbs, which is pretty much all vegetables. Fibrous carbs break down slowly, and when you look at veg, you can eat a lot and they are sill lower calorie, which is perfect because you want less calories toward the end of the day, even if you work in the evening. Our bodies naturally start slowing down later at night, and even if we stay up all night, that natural evolved processes of our body don’t change.
When eating protein, which athletes and people losing weight really need to focus on, you need to take in carbs to help them be used properly. They are the building blocks of muscle, and muscle is in a constant state of breaking down and rebuilding. Keeping the protein coming keeps the muscle, which means your body will be burning fat. Most people when they lost weight reduce their calories, and reduce their protein, so they end up burning muscle and fat. Muscle is practical in that increases metabolism, and is functional for every day life. Muscle lets us shapre our body the way we want, unlike fat which usually shapes us the way we don’t want. To look good and be healthy, we gotta keep the muscle. We don’t want to sacrifice that to lose weight.
As for exercise itself, the secret, in my opinion, is weight training and an active lifestyle. I still do cardio, and try to do it 4-5 times a week when trying to lose weight. But most people only lose 300 calories from a cardio workout, so maybe 1500 calories a week. One pound of fat has 3500 calories, so on a good week we are burning half a pound of fat. Now people shouldn’t be disheartened from the numbers, that becomes 26 pounds over the course of the year, and to take one year to change your lifestyle and your body is not a long time, cardio is totally worth it. It also helps your endurance, gives boosts to your metabolism, and has all the other health benefits from it. The reason I like weight training is it prevents loss of muscle, with the right diet, so that your body is using extra fat for calories to burn off. Also, even though you burn less calories lifting weights, it give a big increase to your metabolism for the whole day, while cardio is more a short term boost. I also find my body craves protein when I do weights, which is what I need to eat anyways. An active lifestyle is key because when we are busy we often eat less, unless we don’t make any time for food then we binge at the end of the day. Also, we burn more calories, taking stairs, a short walk in the evening, playing with your kids, walking instead of a taxi. Those little increases throughout the day may equal one cardio workout, so if you don’t have time for cardio you still burn calories, or you can add that to your cardio calorie loss.
As another note for timing of eating, we should eat about an hour before doing weights, not a huge meal, but we want lots of energy in our workout. And eating as soon as we can after doing weights. That is when our body makes the best use of the protein and energy, trying to burn calories then by not eating just wastes your workout. For cardio, you want to eat a couple hours before, the food should be mostly digested. You can wait a little while after cardio, 30 minutes to an hour because there is a residual burn in calories with that short term metabolism boost. Your weights session should not be much more than 45 minutes, and same with your cardio. The idea of long bouts in the gym are mostly counterproductive, unless you are doing specific training as an athlete. Short, focused routines, high intensity for weight training and moderate or interval training for cardio.
We don’t have to kill ourselves, just be consistent and look for improvement each week. Always try to improve, even if it is one extra rep with weights or running an extra 100 meters in the same amount of time. Our bodies like to be challenged, when we are 100% consistent our bodies get into that routine. That is why we need to change exercise routines, why we need to take days off (and especially to let our bodies heal, which people often neglect), why we should allow ourselves to have more calories some days than others, why a bad meal during the week is not big deal. If you think about it, if we lose 3500 calories/week, or one pound, for 10 years, that is 520 pounds. We can’t do it. Even with a calorie deficit, at some point our body will adapt and maintain. That is why timing of food, the kind of exercise, having a routine, but also changing it, they are important for reaching your goals. It is a science and an art, but we know both of those take discipline.
I could go off about way more stuff. But I think those are the core things to remember when you really want to make a change in your health and your body. For people who don’t want to worry about that stuff, there are ways to simplify that info so you don’t get stressed with all the info. But I know you had talk about wanting to get rid of that last little bit of fat, or wanting more energy, so that stuff could help you. Oh, a couple other things. Drinks, pop, coffee, lemonade, even vitawater, all extra calories throughout the day. Some people are a getting a third of their daily need calories from fluids. Drink water all the time, you could lose a pound a week just from that. All those drinks are just carbs and spike your blood sugar which causes your body to release insulin, which makes carbs into fat. They are delicious but not helpful. Also, I forgot to say how important water is. I drink about 4-5 liters a day. It cleanses the system, is critical for helping wash out leftovers from protein digestion, and is one of the easiest ways to reduce hunger and increase your energy level. Take a look online about the effect of dehydration, even 2%. Can affect short term memory, cognitive function. They say for general maintenance we only need a few cups each day, which is true, but if want the best results, we often need more. Now I am a big guy, so someone your size who is working out would probably want 3 liters for sure. Oh, and sleep, I forgot about that. We build muscle when we sleep, we need it to be strong, not just to be awake. And also for losing weight, they say a proper night’s rest of 7 hours helps with that.
There’s tonnes of info and research about this stuff. I just want to stay disciplined and get down to my goal. I’ve lost about 15 kilograms over the last 4 months, and that is falling off the wagon at different times for about a total of 5 or 6 weeks. It is a marathon, not a race. So along with my dream for cooking for Korea, is helping share some of the knowledge about health. I think the kids need it, in all developed countries, and you see it here more and more as they eat more snacks and fast food, and the kids are getting bigger. Also, some of the weight loss diets here are so unhealthy, just like back home, and even people in the gym are not fully benefitting themselves, just like at home. For men, especially those trying to lose weight or be athletes, diets of kimchi and rice and tofu and veg is not quite enough. They are missing the protein if they want to see big results. I’m sure some of the professional athletes have proper diets, but I think because of tradition and culture, some diet info that could be really helping some people is lacking.
Alright, I’m done. Hope that is helpful. Hopefully this stuff is actually all true, and I knock off the next 15 kilos:)”