Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ravenous Postworkout Hunger

Ever start a new exercise program and realize that afterwards you are just ravenous?  I got an email from a family member about problems one of their coworkers is having and decided to share my response...

Question: "'L' just started working with this trainer and is doing this really hard workout session. She's ravenous every time after her work out. Do you have ideas on what she should eat or drink that would make her feel satisfied?"

Caveats: There's limited information in this question.  I am going to assume that her goal is weight loss and that she is currently eating a mixed diet without restricting particular foods/groups.  Something that I'm not likely going to make dramatic changes to via a simple email. 

Response: There's a lot of things that could be in the works physiologically here.   Psychologically, it may all be in her head.  Based on the limited info available we have a few options.  Just eating a well-balanced meal with lots of extra veggies will take up volume and reduce the amount of overeating that can be done.  On the other hand, if the body is hungry really hungry after the workout, it may be because its glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is depleted and it wants you to top off the tank.  If glycogen depletion is the goal of the workout [as it is in some cyclical ketogenic training/diet approaches] then she may just need to tuff it out and keep working on self discipline.  Other options would be to modify the exercise program to something that is less depleting to her carbohydrate stores (E.g. a a couple shorter, very intense workouts [primary carbohydrate, but not too much total burnt off because it's short], mixed with some low intensity long duration stuff [capable of preferentially burning fat for fuel assuming they're not drinking Gatorade or high carb energy snacks before or during the workout], and some total body resistance training.  Primal Blueprint Fitness is a free resource with a pretty decent intro to this minimalistic training style).  Or ... just go ahead and eat a bigger meal after the workout ... focusing on real, whole foods. And then eat a moderate breakfast and a light lunch.

It may take some experimentation to figure out what works best for her.  Order of implementation would be something like:

1) After the workout, wait till she gets home, eat a dinner with lots of veggies and healthy protein sources---with these she can eat a large volume ad libitum without counteracting her workout efforts.  If 20 minutes after the meal (the time is important) she still craves something, then go ahead and have a small/moderate portion.  This is also a good time to make sure that all the basic nutrients are being met. If she's lacking in something particular, then her body may be telling her she's hungry because it's trying to find that nutrient. It may be sodium (or iodine) from salt or sea vegetables that she needs. A particular vitamin if she's not getting enough fruits or veggies.  Or iron if she's not getting enough meats/iron rich foods.  A nutrient rich, real food diet is key.  A multivitamin MAY help but not likely if needs are being met in the diet.  Omega 3's are also generally useful.

2) If that doesn't work, try to mitigate the hunger by adding a small, protein-containing snack before or after the workout.  I'm not adamant about one being superior over the other (or required at all for recreational exercisers).  Just what make sense to you based on time, convenience, tolerance to pre/post workout snacks, etc.

3) If those don't work, then go ahead and eat a bigger post-workout meal that contains starchy carbohydrates/tubers.  Preferably real foods at home.   But then make the meals after progressively smaller. So an evening workout would be followed by a large dinner.  A moderate breakfast.  A light lunch.

4) If she's still not getting results, then consider changing up the exercise program to something that doesn't make her so hungry.  Her body may just be adjusting to the shock.  And I imagine she's already paid the trainer.  So I'd recommend sticking with it for 6 weeks before making any changes.  If after that we're not happy.  Talk to the trainer about changing things up or get a new trainer.  There's lots of ways to work smart-hard and get results while avoiding some of those hunger causing cues.  Run for two hours or do a couple aerobics classes and you're going to be hungry to put some sugars in the tank.  Period.  If you're training for a specific endurance event, this may be inevitable.  Conversely, there's documented cases of people doing low intensity exercise for years with minimal carbohydrate needs: Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance.  The ideal approach is likely something in the middle that is challenging and enjoyable.  Some very low intensity/long stuff.  Some very short, high intensity stuff.  Some resistance training.  Lots of rest and sleep. 

Take A Hike
 Almost anything will work for a little while so it's good that she's began her program.  Now she has some options for fine tuning.  If she keeps her head in the game and is smart about things, results will come.

Catching Up

Greetings.  It's been months since my last post and I apologize. If you saw my goals post for the year then you understand that I had several ambitious goals.  Between training, working, studying for two very big examinations, and attemtping to maintain relationships with my friends and family ... several things had to go.  Facebook, emails, blogging, television, etc. are pretty low on the priorites list. 

The good news is I've made progress on many of my goals.  I aced both exams and am now a Board Certified Speciliast in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in addition to my existing credentials.  I couldn't even begin to count how many hours of studying went in to both of those.  Additionally, I've made progress on all my lifts and am within striking distance for testing at the end of year.  I hit my goal of 10 consecutive muscle ups and have worked out much of the details of our business plan for the Health and Performance business we'll be starting up in Oregon.  I'm headed home over Thanksgiving and will do final scouting for the location.  So if you live in the Portland-Metro area, get excited and keep an eye out for anouncements of our opening.

I missed the opportunity to go home for my family's big 4th of July campout--a family tradition where my brothers sisters, and cousins from our 5 uncles.  There's nieces, nephews, food, fireworks, outdoors, and lot's randomness that could only be understood by those initiated into our fun, weird family ... it's just cool.  This was important to me because I haven't been home for the campout [or Christmas or Thanksgiving] for 4 years due to being overseas, in training, etc.  But, mission demands did not allow this year either and that's a very small sacrifice compared what my brothers and sisters in arms have done to keep our country safe.  I WILL be home for Thanksgiving though and [with separating from active duty at the end of the year] will be home for good soon.  I am sure you don't care if i go home for the Holidays, but perhaps you can relate in that it's important to keep in mind what/who really matters as you endeaver to meet your goals. 

With several challenges behind me, I hope to get back in to writing.  I have several health, performance, and nutrition topics lined up.  Some may be familiar, others may not.  Optimistically, all will have a unique spin, simplified explanation, or offer further understanding.  Furthermore, I recently rescued a dog from a local shelter and may share some of the strategies and results of the species-appropriate primal diet I have been transitioning her to. 

Meet Keeva

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Links Beyond Well -- deadlifts, sleep, meal frequency, fasted training vs. stress

Today's links bring a good mix of tried and true wisdom combined with critically thinking, or questioning "conventional wisdom".  As with any diet, exercise, or lifestyle change you consider, please remember to take a moment to think about "why you are doing it" and consider implications from multiple angles.  Enjoy!

Fasted Training, Cortisol, and Stress -- Christian Wernstedt, Modern paleo
"I have learned about some qualifiers that one might want to take into account before rushing headlong into fasted training, particularly if one's mode of training entails frequent- and/or intense workouts added to a perhaps already somewhat stressful life situation."
"Having cortisol out of control can actually lead to the paradox of a lot of sugar floating around the blood stream, even if one eats as little as zero carbs."
Deadlifts and Viagra -- John Welbourne, Talk to Me Johnnie and CrossFit Football
"... if you want to make gains in the squat and other lifts, use the deadlift sparingly. You can create a monster pull with a steady diet of squats, reverse-hypers for strength and flexibility, abs for a strong trunk, a ton of grip work for strong hands and heavy weighted dips for strong shoulders and upper back."

Is Sake Paleo?..

Easy Ways to Be a Sleep Viking in 2011 -- Julien Smith, RobbWolf.com
".. it tends to be those who have the worst problems are who know the most about it. When it comes to sleep, that makes me guilty.  This is because I had epileptic seizures from 16 onward, and kept having them until I got my sleep, stress, and exercise in order. I’m now seizure-free for 10 years (knock on wood)– and always working to know more and improve how I sleep and eat ... With this in mind, let’s talk sleep and how to improve it in 2011."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Selfish Goals Post 2011

Last year was a good year. This year will be better. Did you make any goals or resolutions? Are they specific? Attainable?
I've talked to a lot of friends who have set resolutions to "be stronger", to "eat better", or "be less stressed". These are good ideas, but what do they mean? Does eating better mean eating an extra vegetable each day? How strong do they want to be? What does being less stressed mean? Seriously.
There are a lot of good tools out there for setting specific, attainable goals. A classic is the SMART system. Whatever you use ... it's helpful to be specific about what you want, when you want it, and how you plan to get there.
This is a "selfish" post, because I'm not going to write any "how to's" or "about", just simply want to share some of the things that I'm working on in the coming year.  I sat down with some paper new years day and thought about what I wanted to accomplish in 2011.  A few were things I've already been working towards, however it still felt good to write them down.  Here's what I came up with:
Fitness Goals
  • Snatch Bodyweight (165) - Personal Best 155
  • Back Squat 2x Bodyweight (330) - Personal Best 275
  • Dead Lift 2.5x Bodyweight (412) - Personal Best 380
  • Clean and Jerk 225 - Personal Best 192
  • Freestanding Strict Handstand Pushup
  • 10 Consecutive Muscle Ups - Personal Best 7
  • Maintain a sub 9:30 1.5 mile run (for Air Force PT test) - Most recent 9:12
No bells and whistles, just wood, steel, and dust
Educational Goals
  • Test for Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) February/April 2011
  • Test for Certified Sport Specialty Dietitian (C.S.S.D.) July 2011

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Links Beyond Well -- Eggs, Travel and Protein, 'The Doubler'

Todays reads help clarify how to decipher the language of eggs, offer some great insights on travel, and look further into the roles of protein in the diet and how we can find the best sources.  Enjoy!

The Truth About Free Range, Organic, Cage Free Eggs Nutrition – Which Ones Should You Buy And Are They Safe Raw? -- Scott Kustes, Fitness Spotlight
"A pastured egg from a chicken eating something very close to the primal version of a chicken diet is our baseline, not the conventional egg. It’s not that pastured eggs are packed with more vitamins. It’s that conventional eggs have less nutrition."
More on eggs ...

The Conscientious Omnivore: Eggs -- Whole9Life
" “cheap” eggs are not really cheap when you factor in all of the hidden costs to the environment, animal welfare, society and your health. In addition, reading and interpreting the claims made on an egg carton is a confusing and complex task. Labels like “vegetarian fed”, “all natural” and “cage-free” may sound healthier, but often these stamps are worth less than the ink with which they’re printed. "

20 Things I've Learned From Traveling Around The World For Three Years -- Gary Arndt Guest Post on The Blog Of Tim Ferriss
"8) You Don't Need A Lot Of Stuff: Condensing my life down from a 3,000 sq/ft house to a backpack was a lesson in knowing what really matters. I found I could get by just fine without 97% of the things I had sitting around my home. Now, if I purchase something, I think long and hard about it because anything I buy I will have to physically carry around. Because I have fewer possessions, I am more likely to buy things of higher quality and durability."
*Also see 8 Exotic Destinations You Can Afford for some travel ideas--a great way to spend some time away from the daily grind.

Does Eating More Protein Reduce Fat and Increase Muscle Mass? A Paleo Diet Advantage -- Don, Primal Wisdom
"Many people notice a decrease in fat mass and an increase in lean mass when they increase the protein and decrease the carbohydrate content of the diet. This results from the hormonal effects of these nutrients, which are ignored by those who assert that 'a calorie is a calorie.'"
I procured a freezer full of grassfed beef straight from the farmer who raised it via eatwild.com
 Eat Wild -- eatwild.com provides:

  • Comprehensive, accurate information about the benefits of raising animals on pasture.
  • A direct link to local farms that sell all-natural, delicious, grass-fed products. 
  • Support for farmers who raise their livestock on pasture from birth to market and who actively promote the welfare of their animals and the health of the land.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can Geeking Out on Energy Pathways Improve Your Performance and Sex Life?

This post discusses how our body uses energy during exercise, the primary ways it replaces energy in order to keep moving, and some of the dietary-, health-, and body composition-related implications of exercise at various intensities.
Estimated read time: 9 minutes + videos

If you have a background in exercise physiology, have been to a level one certification, or remember the CFJ article What is Fitness, then this discussion of energy pathways will probably look familiar to you and hopefully provide some further insights and topics for reflection.

If you don’t have any interest in physiology, then this may bring back nightmares of your biology or biochemistry classes.

The graph below shows the three primary energy pathways and ~ how much they contribute during activities of various intensities and duration.

Graph courtesy of What is Fitness

Before we get our elbows dirty, let’s preface with the agreement that we are almost never using exclusively one energy pathway. Rather, at any given time, we are using multiple energy pathways/fuel sources in various amounts dictated by the type, duration, and intensity of activity.

We’ll start with short duration high intensity and work out way to long duration, lower intensity.

The phosphagen (a.k.a. ATP-CP) energy system can produce the greatest power outputs, but it is depleted rapidly.


ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) is the energy currency of life. It is a molecule containing 3 phosphates, and the bond to each of those phosphates releases energy when it broken (when ATP releases energy, a phosphate is released and it becomes Adenosine Di-Phosphate – now containing 2 phosphates).


CP (Creatine-Phosphate) a.k.a PCr (Phosphacreatine) is another high energy molecule that can rapidly replenish ATP by donating it’s phosphate to ADP.

CP + ADP = ATP + Creatine

There is only enough ATP in the body to fuel a few seconds of activity, or to sprint ~ 15-20 yards. There Is about 3-5 times as much PCr stored in the body, and as such, the ATP-CP system [if running exclusively] could fuel about 10 seconds of activity or sprint just under 100 yards.

Note: the primary logic behind creatine supplementation is in that if we are able to store a greater amount of PCr in the body, then we could maintain maximal efforts for an extra few seconds (or perhaps an extra few pounds or an extra couple reps). Hence, studies have found creatine monohydrate to be useful to performance in short duration activity, resistance training, and power sports, but relatively useless to aerobic/endurance exercise.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ruth The Farmer Hooks Me Up

I love Farmer's Markets.  Fruit and Vegetables taste so much fresher when they are picked the day (or occasionally a few days before) they are sold than if they are sitting on a supermarket counter for a week.  Local food doesn't have to travel as far and leaves less of a carbon footprint on the planet.  The prices are comparable and sometimes even better than at your local grocer.  And there's something really special about meeting and talking with the person who grows your food.  (Maybe not quite as special as growing your own ... still very cool)

Meet Ruth:

It's 12 o'clock, do you know where your food is growing?

Ruth has been a key part of the Eglin/Fort Walton Beach Farmer's Market since 1982.  She brings her fresh produce, honey, and canned goods to the Farmer's Market at the Fair Grounds off Beal pkwy from ~0630 to 1200 Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  She and her late husband began Farming when he retired from the Air Force.  After he passed away, she continued the tradition with her children and now grandson comes out to help.  Ruth doesn't like chemicals and uses very minimal amounts when she grows her crops.  Many small farmers don't see a financial benefit from going through the high expense and long process of being certified as "organic".  However, when nutrient content of fresh local fruits and vegetables are compared to "supermarket organic" the local foods will almost always win.

I found this Farmer's Market the first week I got to Florida with a simple google search for "Farmers Market near Eglin Air Force Base".  The first day I went out on my motorcycle because I was still waiting for my car to arrive from my last base.  I remember trying to stuff as many zucchinis, sweet potatoes, and peppers as I could fit in my backpack and riding back to billeting with a big smile, thinking "I wish I didn't have to cook these in the hotel microwave."

If you're in the Fort Walton Beach area, go meet Ruth on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday.  If you're outside of the area, do some sleuthing and find a market near you.  The food tastes better! and if we don't support our small farmers, I fear it won't be long until corn and soy are the only "vegetables" in our stores.

Today's bounty.  Which goes in the belly first: the turnips or their greens?