Long time readers and clients may already know this, but for those of you who recently joined, I thought this blog entry would be a good, simple reminder that you can still enjoy tasty treats while observing good nutrition. I am encouraging the “tasty” part because too often, people see nutrition as some kid of bland hellhole when in fact, some of the most flavorful meals I’ve had were the healthiest.
IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING
Simply put, eat what you want, and if it happens to be a carbohydrate, consume it around physical activity, i.e. you want a piece of chocolate or a cookie, have it. You deserve a sweet treat once in a while, enjoy it as your reward after a nice, but intense workout, be in weight training, yoga, a martial arts session, a tennis match or some interval running. Any kind of interval workout, which all of the aforementioned types qualify, makes you burn carbohydrates. All other times, you are burning fat. An endurance workout on the treadmill, or a walk will not burn enough calories and elevate the heart rate to levels of intensity that will solicit your body to tap into your carb tank.
Hence the misunderstanding of the “Fat Burning Zone” on a treadmill.
So, you may consume carbs pre- and/or post- training, and stick to protein, natural fat and fiber all other times.
THE MYTH OF THE FAT BURNING ZONE
Dated beliefs and misinterpreted, skewed data will have you believe that there is a Fat Burning Zone, which falls on a lower elevation of the heart rate. On a treadmill for instance, the claim is that you will BURN MORE FAT at low intensity, and that when you run like a mad person at a full 12% incline and 10mph, you’d be burning LESS fat. While that is true, it is not quite how it works, because while the higher intensity of an uphill fast run burns carbs rather than fat, it also burns a heck of a lot more calories than a leisurely walk in the Fat Burning Zone. The FBZ comes from the fact that at rest, we burn fat. As I frequently tell about, overweight people may ask “if I am burning fat while at rest, why am I still fat?” Answer: because you consume too many carbs, which you STORE in your FAT CELLS (picture them as pockets). Thus, our heart rate is lowest at rest, when we burn most fat, and therefore, a lower intensity workout will burn more fat.
The laws of thermodynamics also dictate that thermogenesis occurs by burning more calories than you take in to lose weight. If a pound of fat equals 3500 calories, then a high intensity interval hill run with a heart rate at 85% of your maximum heart rate will get you closer to your weight loss goal than a low intensity walk of the same duration, because the latter will burn way, way less calories.
SO, WHAT CAN I EAT?
– Protein (meat, fish, eggs, protein shakes made with water and low carb/sugar content).
– Fiber (veggies, yet they are considered carbs too, no starch in them).
-Natural fat sources (nuts, olives, cheeses, avocados…)
Some of the time (around workouts or, the night before in preparation of a sustained, high intensity caloric burn like a marathon ):
-Carbohydrates (natural sugar from fruits, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, dairy -which also contains fat and protein).
There is enough information out there for you to find out on your own what foods fall into what category. Although, I recently interviewed a new weight loss client who told me she ate very well, “a ton of protein every day” and when I asked her to name me the types of protein she ate, she mentioned lots of bread, lots of white rice and lots of bananas… True story. If you don’t see the problem, feel free to email me for a complimentary phone consultation for us to design a nutritional program for you 🙂
(Part 1 of this 2 part post can be found here).