Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hungry like the Wolf...

Also known as ravenous...

I am starving. Ok not literally because there are people who really are starving and eating dirt and clay to survive and I am very very fortunately not one of them... but I feel like my stomach may be starting to digest my spine. This is something I have begun to anticipate any time I am off my training program for a while and I start back up. It takes a while to build back up to the habit and ability to consume an extra 500 calories a day. In the meantime I feel like a wild beast constantly looking for something to eat. The rational part of my brain tries to steer my mouth to healthy, calorically dense options, but I am not gonna lie- yesterday I probably ate the extra 500 calories in chocolate and cookies. That would explain why I woke up in the middle of the night dizzy and nauseous and my workout was kinda weak this morning. I am one of those lucky people with blood sugar issues so I DEFINITELY notice it when I need to eat or if I made a poor choice. Especially on a day when I work on large muscle groups like legs, or chest and back...
I got off topic, cause I am hungry, but the reason this is relevant is because the majority of people (this is a purely unscientific observation) who start a new heavy workout routine or move from a mostly cardio based plan to a strength/muscle building workout don't realize their body is going to need a significant increase in fuel. Here is a link to a calorie calculator provided by the fine people at Beach Body... you can find lots of different calorie calculators online, I just like this one because it has a couple different options for workouts I would normally do (running, walking, biking, p90x, insanity) already programed in. For me, the caloric needs for a routine where I would be running for an hour EVERY DAY (which I would never do) are still 200cals under that which I need for my current muscle building workout.
Are you eating enough?
Why does this matter? Why is it important to up your calorie intake? What if you are trying to loose weight/body fat?
If you are lifting, if you are doing heavy lifting, you are tearing muscle and it needs to be repaired. That means you need amino acids, either through proteins or amino acid rich foods (like brightly colored veggies!) . If you are building muscle your metabolism will increase. Your body will begin to consume more calories even at a resting state. If you do not give your body the fuel it needs it will begin to store the calories you DO give it and you will have a very difficult time both building muscle AND loosing fat. You also won't have the energy to make the most of your workouts. If you have reached a plateau in your weight/fat loss you may consider evaluating your diet and eating more. Now it can be a fine line, especially for a smaller woman... There is less of a variance in what is an acceptable calorie deficit for weight loss, and what is too much... I figure better to eat a little more and slowly trim it back until you are seeing a slow steady loss in body fat.
Another thing that can be shocking for a new weight lifter is that a lot of times you will not see any weight loss for a while. If fact you may see weight gain until your body begins to adjust to the increase in calories, metabolism, muscle weight, and fat loss. You should begin to see changes in your body shape pretty immediately though, so stay off that scale and use your mirror as a guide, at least for a while.
Any adjustments you make to your diet- increasing or decreasing calories, upping your protein intake, reducing carb intake, etc. should all happen gradually, especially if you are putting your body through the stress of a new workout routine. Also remember to get enough sleep, that is the time where your body is able to do the most repair and rebuild the muscle you damaged.
Ok I hope this was helpful, I need to go eat, AGAIN, before I get desperate and reach for the easter chocolate.

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