Burning Fat Without Crash Diets: A Guide To Weight Loss For Endurance Athletes
By Science Of Sport Magazine
The following article was written by a professional sports nutritionist with over 15 years experience in the field. She has worked at some of the top teams in Europe and North America, including Team Canada, Team USA, and the U.S. National team.
Her expertise includes all aspects of training and competition nutrition, from performance enhancement to recovery techniques for elite athletes.
In this guide she will provide readers with practical advice on how to achieve optimal results when it comes to losing weight while competing in your sport. You’ll learn what works for her and why, as well as tips on how to improve your own personal approach to weight loss.
We hope you enjoy reading this guide!
What Is Burning Fat? And Why Do I Need To Know About It?
“Burning fat” refers to the process of burning excess body fat for energy during exercise. While there are many theories about why we burn fat, most scientists agree that one of the main reasons is because our bodies have an enzyme called lipolysis (or lipogenesis) which breaks down stored fats into usable fuel.
Lipolysis is a very complex process, but as endurance athletes we can control it to a certain extent based on our training and nutrition.
While lipolysis is an important process in the body, it’s not the only one. Another process called ketosis also burns fat and is very important for endurance athletes since it can prevent many of the unwanted side effects of ‘hitting the wall’.
Science Of Sport’s Guide To Burning Fat
While most recreational athletes think that burning fat is only important for bodybuilders and fitness models, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
As an endurance athlete, burning fat is just as important for you as it is for a bodybuilder since you will use it for fuel during your event.
Research has proven that the brain prefers using fat as fuel over carbohydrates since it’s less taxing on the body and doesn’t require as much energy to metabolize.
This means that if you’re able to burn more fat during your event, you will have more energy for the entire duration of it.
To achieve this, you must train your body to burn fat as it primary source of energy during exercise (called being ‘fat adapted’), and train your body to use more fat during exercise.
This is good news since this means that you can improve on this ability simply through training, as opposed to trying to lose weight, which will be harder to do if you’re an athlete.
There is a small catch though.
While you can improve on your body’s ability to burn fat, you body’s ability to store fat is slightly out of your hands (you can improve it a little through certain foods and training). This means that if you’re serious about your event, and want to get really good at it, then you will always have to keep a slight amount of body fat so that your body has enough fuel to get you through it.
How Much Body Fat Is Acceptable?
As an endurance athlete, the optimal amount of fat vs carbohydrate that should be in your body is about 60% fat and 40% carbohydrate. So for every gram of carbohydrate your body should have 1.6 grams of fat.
Most people’s bodies are more in line with the average sedentary person, which is about 85% carbohydrate and 15% fat. As an athlete you want to be as far away from this as possible, which means that you want to keep most of your fat in your body.
Since you need to keep your carbohydrates down to a healthy level, this means that you’re also going to have to keep your protein intake lower as well.
To accomplish this, you should consume about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, then you should consume about 120 grams of protein per day.
Keeping your body in this state is slightly more complex than just cutting out carbs and fats though. There are also a few supplements that you can take to increase the rate at which your body metabolizes fat. Remember, you want to be burning fat as opposed to carbs since fat is a much more efficient fuel for the brain. This will also help you burn fat during exercise.
Here are the supplements that you should take:
1. CLA – Conjugated linoleic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid that helps your body metabolize fat more efficiently.
Studies have also shown that it has a small effect on increasing muscle growth as well.
This is the most important supplement for your goal. Take 1000mg every day.
2. Green Tea – Studies have also shown that green tea can help in fat loss as well as exercise performance.
It should be helpful for you as well. Drink plenty of it.
3. Fish Oil – Getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is also very important.
Take a fish oil supplement to help increase these intake.
Here is a workout routine that you should follow.
Monday – Run hills
Start off your week with a bang by doing some hill sprints. Find a hill that takes about 2 minutes to run up, and do sets of 10 sprints up the hill. Rest equal amounts of time that it takes you to run up the hill (so if it takes you 30 seconds to get to the top, rest 30 seconds).
Tuesday – Swimming
Swim as far as you can for the duration of the day. Take a break if needed, but try and push yourself.
Wednesday – Rest
You’ve worked hard the past two days, so your body needs to rest and recover. Go for a light jog or something along those lines, but nothing too intensive.
Thursday – Biking
Bike to and from work if you can. If driving, try to walk a mile or two in the morning and in the evening.
Friday – Medium Run
Run for 30 minutes at a pace that is somewhat hard for you. You should be breathing hard, but still be able to speak in complete sentences.
Saturday – Long Run
Once again, run for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Set your mind to complete distance no matter what.
Sunday – Rest
Once again, your body needs to heal and repair itself from the past 4 days. So no matter how tempted you are, do not exercise on this day. Lie around, watch football, eat yummy food, but most importantly, REST!
This is just a sample week for you. Feel free to switch up anything you want. Just make sure that you’re running 6 days a week (with the only exception being when you’re racing).
Q & A
Q. I’m running everyday, but I’m not losing weight!
What’s going on?
A. Chances are, you’re eating too much. You might not be aware of it, but eating too much will counter act all the exercise that you’re doing. Eat less, and you should start losing weight within a week or two.
Is this routine going to turn me into Usain Bolt?
A. No. But if you follow this routine for at least 3 months, you will notice a difference in your running capacity and endurance.
Q. I’m injured.
What should I do?
A. First, follow the advice of a physician. Depending on the type of injury you have, you may or may not be able to continue the program. If you can, back off a little bit. Reduce the amount of running and exercise you’re doing and only return to the routine when you don’t feel pain anymore.
Q. This is way too much running!
Can I just walk instead?
A. Sure. Walking is a good way to get exercise as well. However, this program is designed for people who are really committed to running. You might have more luck with the below routine (Tucker’s Walking Program) if you’re more of a walker than a runner:
Tucker’s Walking Program
This routine is designed for those of you who want to use walking as your primary form of exercise. Feel free to substitute running for any of the walking exercises if you want a more intense workout.
Try to walk fast for 5 minutes, occasionally speeding up as much as you can in a minute. Walk normally for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this cycle for 5-10 cycles.
1 Hour – Normal walking. Try to cover as much ground as possible while you’re out and be sure to pay attention to your surroundings.
30 Minutes – Jog (or at least fast walk) for 30 minutes. If this is too much for you, you can break it up by jogging for 10 minutes and walking for 20.
5 Minutes – Walk fast for 5 minutes.
Try to slowly decrease your speed and end the session feeling good. Take a deep breath, smile and soak in the feeling of a job well done!
Sunday – Rest
Like before, lie around, watch football, eat yummy food (in my case, pasta) and most importantly, REST!
That’s it for Tucker’s Total Body Plan. Like I said before, feel free to mix and match Tucker’s Programs. There are plenty of options out there for you. Just make sure you’re having fun and enjoying the process!
Alright, you made it past the halfway mark! You’re halfway to your goal.
Are you having fun yet?
If not, don’t worry, it’s not too late to turn back. However, if you’re still reading, I’ll assume you’re ambition and desire to be fit (and maybe a little masochistic) so let’s get started.
The next four weeks are going to be a little different from the previous eight. The next four weeks are what I’d consider the “thinking” part of this program. You’re going to learn a few new skills that you need to know in order to keep yourself safe and healthy for the rest of your life, because quite frankly, nobody else is really going to do it for you.
First up, Tucker’s Guide to Talking to Doctors!
Doctors are weird. You basically hand over your life to them on a silver platter and hope they don’t screw anything up.
Unfortunately, most of them graduated of the Jack “Scalpels And Sedatives Are Pretty Much The Same Thing” Daniels school of medicine, so you need to be extra careful when talking to one.
First and foremost, unless you’re actively bleeding/having a break/choking/drowning/getting bitten by a snake/having anaphylactic shock, don’t see a doctor. I’m dead serious. Unless you’re in an emergency situation, you’re better off waiting until the next day to see one. Here’s why: the less time you spend with a doctor, the less likely they are to screw up your life.
I know that visiting a doctor for wisdom is something our grandparents did and not something us modern folk do, but bear with me.
Besides, since when is common sense old fashioned?
So you have a problem.
Maybe you’ve woken up to discover that you’ve grown a second head or maybe you’ve gotten a disease from your promiscuous neighbor (you do realize that your promiscuous neighbor has Promiscuous std right?
). The point is, you have a problem that needs to be solved by a professional.
Finding a doctor is easy. Finding a GOOD doctor is hard. Most of them graduated from Jack Daniels med school, mentioned earlier, so your chances of finding a quack are very high. That’s why we’re going to do this the old fashioned way.
I’m going to give you a list of questions to ask and things to look for before you settle on one.
First of all, when you go in, don’t sit in the waiting room. Wait until you’re called in.
There’s a reason why they call it the waiting room. People are literally waiting to see him, so he’s going to be tied up with patients that he currently has. By sitting in his waiting room, you’re preventing someone else from getting treatment and possibly dying because you want to get in sooner.
When you do get called in, ask him questions. Get to know his views on life, the world, and everything. If he seems like an ego-maniac that’s only interested in talking about himself and seems to have a superficial answer for everything, get out as fast as you can. Also ask if you can contact other patients of his and do so.
If they all say good things about him, then you’ve just succeeded in finding a good doctor. If not, well you’ve just wasted your time.
Also, see if you can get a second opinion. Go to another doctor and ask him the same questions you asked the first one. If his answers are consistent with the previous doctors, then you’ve just succeeded in finding a good doctor. If not, well you’ve wasted your time once more.
Remember, stay away from the following specialties: Obstetrics, plastic surgery, and psychiatry.
Sources & references used in this article:
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I’m not dieting,’I’m doing it for science’: Masculinities and the experience of dieting by A Mallyon, M Holmes, J Coveney… – Health Sociology …, 2010 – Taylor & Francis
Nutritionism: The science and politics of dietary advice by A Lynch – 2008 – Basic Books
I’m, like, SO fat!: helping your teen make healthy choices about eating and exercise in a weight-obsessed world by G Scrinis – 2013 – books.google.com
Effects of energy-restricted diets containing increased protein on weight loss, resting energy expenditure, and the thermic effect of feeding in type 2 diabetes by D Neumark-Sztainer – 2005 – books.google.com
Dieting makes you fat by ND Luscombe, PM Clifton, M Noakes, B Parker… – Diabetes …, 2002 – Am Diabetes Assoc
The obese patient with infertility: a practical approach to diagnosis and treatment by DE Polkinghorne – 1984 – Suny Press
Relationship of dieting history to resting metabolic rate, body composition, eating behavior, and subsequent weight loss by G Cannon – 2019 – books.google.com