I – like every other American – want to shed a few pounds. Over a year ago I’d dropped almost 50lbs and then slowly gained some back all in the name of “I need it for training!” I never packed it back on, but I did add 10-125 lbs back. This is hard for me because I’ve already got a large bone structure and the thought of dipping under 200lbs is work.
Having a large frame structure is hard in today’s society because of the sarcastic joke “oh you’re not fat, you’re just big boned.” No really, I’m not fat – I literally have a ginormous skeletal structure.
In mountain bike race terms – I could be considered a Clydesdale class because of my weight. I’ve never raced in that class because I’ve always been on the borderline of 200 anyway so it didn’t matter. But recently I’d gotten up to 213 and wasn’t happy about this at all, so I figured it was time to come up with a way to fuel my body and lose weight at the same time which is not an easy balancing act.
I’m not a fan of fad diets because I think they are a temporary solution to a permanent problem. There’s the Atkins diet where it’s an “All-U-Can-Meat” and the Paleo diet where you eat like Fred Flintsone and the low carb diet where you kiss bread and pasta goodbye. In the 80′s and 90′s it was the grapefruit diet plan (I remember my mom buying tons of grapefruit for us to eat – then my brother and I would just coat them in sugar so we could stomach that nasty tasting fruit).
All that said – I kind of subscribe to the low-carb and paleo diet. Not completely, but it seems to make the most sense. In fact as reluctant as I am to bring up this book, I lost all my initial weight adhering to Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body. Ugh, it was a pain to get through that book and not because I had to give up carbs, but because I had to read all about him beating his chest and talking about how great he was (I’m not one for bragging unless it’s about me and how unbelievably good looking I am).
I’ve been training for the TourDivide like crazy. Six day training sessions can be brutal but what’s worse is to hop up on the scale and see that I’ve gained weight. It’s hard because I’ll watch some of my friends drink a coke and a eat donut then completely kill it in a race.
I’d made some gains here and there with endurance and stamina – but making gains on the scale felt like I was going backwards, especially mentally.
A few weeks ago I did a short track race called Turn-N-Burn where you’re redlined for 30 minutes or so going at your hardest and best. I had a good ride, felt strong and felt like I did well. My coach came to congratulate me by saying “Great job, Scott! Now we’re going to work on losing 10lbs!”
My coach switched me to doing some exercises other than being in the saddle like jump rope, push-ups, air-squats and burpees. The first day I did the exercise set, I wanted to hurl. Even being in shape I could barely jump rope or do a burpee correctly (I utterly hate burpees).
I’m not going to even go into details about the intervals he’s got me doing.
The weight was coming down, but not much, and sometimes there’d be gains which was frustrating. I’d go from 208 to 205 then back up to 207 then down to 204 then skyrocket back up to 210. Nothing was very consistent and it was an exercise in mental toughness to not get down on myself about it.
Ever since I’ve started training – I’m always hungry. I remember one time at dinner while I was eating my stomach was still feeling the effects of hunger even when I was done. I know it’s from the training, but damn this is frustrating. I would try to deal with the hunger pains and would finally cave in and eat something (which was generally healthy – but eating later at night is not really smart).
I recently started using Google+ (don’t laugh, it’s cooler than you think) and found a group of cyclists and marathon runners in there. I asked them about my diet and the hunger pains and was asked how much fat I was consuming.
I, like every other suburbanite in America, believe that “fat. is. bad.” I mean we’re inundated with fat free everything. Come to think of it, in the 90′s when America went “Fat Free” we got fatter and more obese.
It was suggested to me to add some fat back into my diet. Like real fat. Like butter.
I decided I didn’t have much to lose at this juncture – I was always hungry and not losing any pounds. So for dinner I went out and bought some fatty italian sausage and real butter. I got out the frying pan and melted two tablespoons of butter in it which was 200 calories and 22 grams of fat. Then I added in two links of sausage in there which I’m sure was something in the range of 80 gabillion grams of fat. I ate it at 6pm and by 11pm I still felt like I was going to pop per I was so full.
I got on the scale the next day; I’d lost a little weight.
I decided to add a little more fat into my diet. Coconut Oil and Plain Greek Yogurt with 10% Milkfat (instead of the fat free stuff I usually would get).
I lost more weight.
I started lumping in even more fat into my diet balancing it with raw veggies, fruits and nuts. I found myself being less hungry, and getting on the scale was not a bummer.
My new found fat-consuming and -burning body had not done any strenuous hard rides with lard floating around in it. The result was bad – a bad ride, fatigue and not much fuel to work off of. I knew that meant I’d probably bring in more carbs at first, but I thought I’d lose a little more weight before I started doing that again.
I continued to eat more fat in my diet and started reading up on some theories by people who claim to be experts (once again – I don’t like fad science or diets, but I don’t mind reading and learning).
Mister Paleo Person himself, Mark Sisson states on his blog
The Fat Paradigm, under which the human species has thrived quite effectively for two and a half million years, recognizes that human metabolism is pre-programmed by evolution to be primarily fat-based (the real preferred fuel). In other words, our genes expect us to function optimally when we consume fats and can easily access our stored fat.
Alright, I’m listening – fat as a preferred fuel..I get it, I think. I read more about using fat as fuel and came across this interesting article from Runningtimes.com
you’re not after a perfect performance — you’re building long-term benefits you’ll reap on race day, which could be weeks or months away.” Some experimental studies have seen improvement in athletes’ fat-burning abilities in as little as three weeks
There’s a pretty tumultuous hill at Oak Mountain State Park that I climb. It’s called Red Road, and it’s got three very nasty climbs with steep grades (I don’t have the numbers but lets say it’s a billion feet of climbing with a steep 1% grade. How’s that?). I generally do okay climbing it, but I’m generally hating life when I get to the top. The other night I decided to climb it on some fairly fatigued legs.
Before I go on with this next segment it should be noted I’ve been doing a lot of intervals and a close friend of mine gave me some excellent tips on pedal efficiency. The next part of this article should not read in your mind
“ZOMG EAT BUTTER AND I WILL BE A ROCK STAR!”
When I hit the climb I found myself in very little pain, in fact I felt really strong and decided to ramp it up a bit. The first nasty climb came up, I backed off for a moment but then decided to up my cadence. To my surprise, I was able to climb it quickly, and before I knew it I’d crested the first part. The second was not bad at all and even on the third I was able to hammer it up with still having energy to spare. When I got to the top my heart rate was indeed spiked, but I felt great and so I yelled in victory:
“ZOMG EAT BUTTER AND I WILL BE A ROCK STAR!”
Okay so maybe next week I’ll blog saying “butter = bad. I’m now on the “Chase After Cats” diet” or something. Who knows. But I do know that the past few weeks of trying different things, adding fat is a success. I’m going to continue researching using fat as a fuel and a weight loss tool as well.
I’m always open to hear other people’s thoughts, opinions and suggestions, please feel free to voice them!