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.

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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.

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

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