A Simple Fix To Eliminate Weight Gain While Exercising

If you’re doing a lot of exercise, and gaining weight, then this article might give you ideas about how you can get back on track

I did a bunch of lactate testing last week (thread here), the testing gave me a nudge to reduce the intensity of my endurance sessions.

The tests also showed that my fitness is increasing faster than my fueling.

Let’s break the results of my summer program:

  1. My ability to fuel exercise with carbohydrate sources has improved significantly
  2. My ability to fuel exercise from fat sources has not improved as much

I’m in a typical position for a new endurance athlete:

  • Increase in exercise
  • Increase in eating
  • Increase in sugar/sport nutrition intake
  • Increase in body fat

It’s counterintuitive but common… exercise doesn’t imply weight loss

Now, I didn’t start my program to lose weight.

My weight’s been stable for years.

However, I don’t want to double my exercise and gain fat.

What to do?

Cut sugars.

My main intake of sugars is during my rides. I use sports nutrition on my longer bikes, where my output is ~700 kcal per hour.

The sports nutrition doesn’t fill me up, at all. I’m dumping liquid calories in me to fuel exercise.

If I drop my output by ~15% then I can cut my sports nutrition intake by 50%.

Reducing intensity starts a virtual circle of improved fat burning, eating primarily real food and, hopefully, improved body composition.

These changes do not leave me depleted because, at a lower heart rate, I can eat real food before, and after, working out.

Real food gives me something… I get full.

++

I wanted to pass this along because…

Many athletes gain fat when increasing exercise stress – the temptation is to work “harder”, which reinforces the cause of weight gain!

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When I started my return-to-fitness campaign, I thought training my body to handle sports nutrition was going to be a limiter.

I got that wrong.

Re-training my body to use fat for fuel…

…that’s the key adaptation required for me to go long, again.

Sunday Summary 24 July 2022

Top Threads

  1. Book Thread: Do Hard Things by Steve Magness
  2. Inflation & Real Estate: Ben’s Article & Mine
  3. Swedish Coffee Challenge – my sleep back to normal after a month
  4. Dealing with DNS, #1 Nutrition Error & Bike Interval Sets
  5. Exercise loading, specifically after COVID with AC

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Swedish Coffee Challenge

Coach Monsy tradition is swim your age in 200s – if you look in the lower left corner then you can read a fun note from our son, “good luck swimming 16,000 when you’re 80!”

At the end of May, Johan asked if I’ve ever tried 1-2-4 with coffee.

1-2-4 is the pattern I came across with regard to alcohol, or anything really, that reduces the chance of over-doing-it.

  • One an hour
  • Two a day
  • Four a week

Johan’s timing was perfect.

A month earlier, I was talking with Dr. Jeff Shilt. I had a concern that sustained, high intensity training might be bad for my health. Jeff was succinct…

If you really want to do something for your health, consider drinking less coffee

I knocked out alcohol a few years ago. Coffee, however, has been a 20-year habit. I’ve metabolized a heck of a lot of caffeine in my life.

I told Doc J that I wasn’t interested in that adjustment, and we left it.

However…

I pride myself on being a model-patient and I remembered what he said

…and, behind the scenes, I noticed it was taking more and more intake to get a coffee buzz

…and, then Johan came along and said pretty much the same thing


I found myself in the position of ignoring a doctor, an Olympian, two goal-medal coaches, and a long-term friend… all rolled up into two people.

I decided to give it a shot.

I stopped the morning after Johan’s question. Johan’s on a break as well.

3.5 weeks so far.

  • No headaches
  • Drinking more water
  • Overall hydration better (assess via urine color) – likely means my recovery is better

The one drawback has been waking up _really_ early (3am) and, for the first two weeks, I couldn’t fall back asleep.

Cravings, perhaps.


The Stories We Tell Ourselves

One of my fears of stopping coffee was I wouldn’t be able to wake up. The autobrew was my alarm clock.

FALSE – if anything it’s too easy to wake up!

Another fear, I’d have less energy.

FALSE – no change in energy

Two things this experiment have proved to me, yet again.

#1 // when you get to a place were more ceases to work, try less

#2 // every so often, call your bluff on the stories you are telling yourself

My inner narrative on coffee proved false.

Not the first time, I’d been fooling myself.


Related Post is The 30-Day Test // binary choices are easier for me than moderation, less cognitive burden

Q2 2022 Top Twitter Threads by Engagement

  1. Building the capacity for One Big Slow Day
  2. Review of Longevity… Simplified
  3. Training Zone Lingo
  4. Effective Nutrition
  5. Remove One Thing
  6. Before Swimming Harder Try This
  7. Getting Mentors Interested 
  8. My Home Gym
  9. Late-Season Peaking & The Need To Do
  10. Zone 2 is Light
  11. Training Nutrition Thread
  12. Where to Spend
  13. Sub-max Benchmarking with Power

Sunday Summary 26 June 2022

Top Threads

  1. Dead Simple Nutrition
  2. Three Part, Submax Bike Benchmarking Workout
  3. Using the benchmark data – How To Endurance
  4. Extreme Plyo – drops (read comments!)
  5. Johan and I work on Swedish Article Readiness Test (SART)

Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Dead Simple Nutrition

Take advice from someone who has done what you’re trying to do

I started out fat and clueless.

The lessons I learned are different from someone, who grew up a star athlete.

  • If you want to be fast, take tips from someone who figured out how to be fast
  • If you want to lose weight, take tips from someone who lost the weight
  • If you want to improve your healthspan, read Howard’s book!

Know your goal and choose your reference set carefully. So much noise out there.

  • 360 days for health
  • 5 days for performance

Choose wisely


LOW can be better than NO

  • Low glutten
  • Low processed sugars
  • Low manufactured food

Less, rather than total elimination.

Pay attention to the bloat. For me… cereals, pastas and breads

Bloat items are better swapped with something I tolerate. When I swap them, moderate the portion, add a protein source and mix in some veggies.

Pay attention to well tolerated energy sources. For me… rice, rice milk, quinoa, potatoes.


I use Protein differently:

  • Protein with every meal
  • No long gaps without protein
  • ‘Recovery’ drinks across long training days – rice milk with protein powder
  • Real meals between sessions – avoid gel hell

Protein, especially with good fats, moderates my appetite and keeps my digestion happy.


Dairy

I tolerate it well but I’m careful not use as a sugar crutch.

There can be a lot of added sugar in dairy (especially “vegan” yogurts).


There is information in cravings and binges.

Cravings => usually a depletion signal. High-performance athletes need to train the ability to process food for fuel. Long sessions provide enough depletion, even when eating.

Binges => a sign of too much – too much intensity, too much stress, too much load.

To make progress with your body, and counter your binges/cravings, trade stress for the ability to lose fat.


A stable weight is a sign you have your act together.

Get to a stable, strong weight and stay there.

Effective nutrition is defined by what is not there:

  • Swings
  • Cravings
  • Binges
  • Injures
  • Illness

Where to focus:

  1. Eat less sugar – sweeteners are everywhere. Do not restrict whole fruits, they fill you up and reduce processed food intake.
  2. Protein with every meal – all day long
  3. Incremental change – lifetime journey!
  4. Start by improving the quality of your non-training nutrition
  5. Appropriate levels of carbohydrate – fuel the burn

Don’t get hooked on brand names…

Just Keep Winning


Sunday Summary 12 June 2022

Top Threads

  1. I Allocate Money to Create the Wife & Life I Want
  2. Late-Season Peaking
  3. Swimming better & my return
  4. Buddy Runs for ultras & heat
  5. Fast Amateur SwimRun Training

High Performance

Workouts & Working Out

Sunday Summary 24 April 2022

G – Literally Just listened to your catalyst podcast – excellent!!!!  Wow, truly good – thank you for putting that out there.  I took 8 pages of notes and I have already read your writing for decades


Family Wealth

High Performance Case Studies

Workouts

1,000 Day Pacing for Big Guys Losing Weight

Growing up, I had a buddy.

James Brown, his real name!

James was a lot of fun, and very patient with my younger self.

James used to joke that his boat had two speeds: full and repair.

As a young man, much of my life was lived this way.

ON or OFF

The greatest achievement of my married life was finding another gear => SUSTAIN


EVERYONE knows what’s required to gain weight.

Where we struggle is sustaining weight.

The ability to sustain is the key that unlocks the ability to choose.

The capacity is choose is a foundational skill for success.


I’ve got two things that are going to help.

Let’s start with the most important.

What’s the trigger for eating more than 1,000 calories after 10pm?

For me, it was ALWAYS one of the following…

  1. Didn’t eat enough during the day
  2. Drinking

By the way, combine the two and I was going BIG.

So if you’re going to “go binary” on something… you get a much better bang for your buck by not getting wasted.

Slamming 700 calories, of anything, at 2pm is a winning strategy => break the habit of late-night binging. You don’t have the option of being binary with food – you gotta eat.

Anybody that tells you otherwise has already lost the weight and forgotten what’s going on.

Not eating, and thinking about eating all day… losing strategy, not sustainable.


Next tip

Do something before breakfast.

It doesn’t need to be a workout!

Do one positive thing that moves you towards where you want to take your life.

Every. Single. Day.

After you do it, you get to eat.


That’s it.

1,000 day pacing.

Keep small promises to yourself.

It works.

Getting Your Desired Body and Keeping It

Tacos del Gnar in Ridgeway, CO
On the way to Telluride, worth the stop

Last week, I was in Telluride with my buddy, Mark. He asked me a question, very much on point…

Aren’t you afraid you’ll gain weight?

Why yes, I am terrified!

The context was my current “far less than I used to” training program. Sure, I was scared, and that’s why I kept the volume rolling for so many years.

However, like so many fear-based quirks in my life, my fears proved groundless.

Further, creating a lifestyle catered to misplaced fear crowds out a lot of useful work!


Telluride

Get Off the Wheel of Sugar

AC has been crushing with a series of threads encouraging athletes to improve their stamina and fat burning. The lessons run much, much deeper. Creativity, cognition, and metabolic health – all benefit from working on the low-end of our fitness.

Many of us use training protocol as a way to justify our food choices. With the best intentions, we remove a food group, and end up replacing it with sugar.

OR

Starting to train, we shift our nutrition towards “sports nutrition.”

My buddy, Jonas Colting, calls this getting caught in Gel Hell.

Not a win.


Removing the friction towards better choices

Two tips work here:

  1. Aim to eat more veggies than my vegetarian pals.
  2. Stay below my sugar threshold.

#1 requires a bit of effort, but not too much. My main gig is salads and stir-frys.

#2 can be scary – it implies less total duration, less intensity.

Both these changes nudge us towards sustainable choices and, as we age, reduce the risk of ruin from following a Chronic Endurance lifestyle.


More Telluride

Get Strong

Back in the day, folks used to debate the utility of strength training for endurance athletes. Do y’all still do that?

I’m not into debating, I’d rather use something that works.

Strength Training Works.

There is a conscious, and unconscious, attraction to people who move powerfully – moving well, is attractive.

You want to be more attractive, trust me (see below).

Being attractive improves our self-image, which sets up a virtuous circle in our larger lives.


Door #1 was fast, but I’ll go out on a limb and predict my wife would prefer Door #3

Remove One

Trying to change everything at once leaves me feeling scattered and distracted.

It doesn’t work.

Again, here’s what works:

One person, one habit, one pattern, one choice…

Each of us has a habit, relationship or pattern that we can eliminate, for gains.

  • 2 beers before bed
  • A basket of bread with lunch and dinner
  • Cheese
  • Bread + cheese = pizza 😉
  • French fries
  • Soft drinks
  • A friend who’s a feeder

Don’t try to do everything.

Don’t think you need to change “forever”.

Simply take a break for 30 days and pay attention.


With all this stuff, letting go of my fears seems daunting.

No way, I’ll be able to pull that off.

You don’t have to.

Try it out for 30 days and pay attention.

Iterate towards better.


Where do you go that makes you feel at peace?
For me, it’s the mountains.