Tag Archives: performance

Eating for performance vs eating for fat loss & Workout for Mon 12th March

Often when I ask a client about their goals they usually revolve around performing better and losing weight.

Pretty much the same for the majority of us, right?

So what’s the issue here then? Surely these seem like logical goals?

They are, and there’s nothing wrong with them.

In performance sports it often pays off to be a little bit lighter: CrossFit and gymnastic efforts; weightlifting/powerlifting classes etc.

The issue lies in the approach required to achieve these goals.

You see, in order to lose weight we need to be in some form of a caloric deficit (taking in less energy than we burn). Whereas to increase performance we need to be in a caloric balance at least (if not a small surplus).

So then how do we achieve these goals simultaneously?

It can be tricky to do, and partly comes down to how long you have been training for.

Oftentimes it is best to focus on one or the other, and this is where nutritional periodisation comes in.

Prioritise weight loss in the ‘off-season’, where performance gains aren’t necessary. Then, when the target weight is achieved, a recovery/reverse diet can ensue.

This allows the weight loss to be maintained while picking the metabolism back up and improving strength/performance.

First let’s take a look at eating for fat/weight loss.

Nutrition for fat loss

If you’re a beginner (0-1.5/2 years training), then you’re much more likely to be able to put on muscle while in a caloric deficit, as long as you eat adequate protein to spare and build muscle tissue.

However, if you’re beyond the 2 year training mark, you’ll find it hard to build muscle while in a deficit. Again though, you can spare muscle tissue being lost as long as you eat enough protein (1-1.2g per lb of BW is the most agreed amount).

However, if this is your first time tracking your intake and paying attention to your nutrition, you may find that by regulating your intake you get a slight performance increase whilst being in the deficit.

No matter your level of training, you want to ensure that your deficit is as small as possible while still allowing fat loss.

This prevents loss of muscle tissue, increases dietary adherence, and lowers the risk of a rebound when you’re done losing weight. This also ensures that you can still eat a decent amount of carbohydrates to fuel your efforts in the gym.

For performance athletes focused on losing weight, the best macronutrient to lower is fat as long as you don’t go below the minimum amounts (around 10-15% of total calorie intake).

This allows plenty of carbohydrates in the diet to fuel the performance efforts, and also provides a large enough deficit (as fat is so calorific at 9kcals per gram).

As you lose weight, your body will begin to adapt to your intake. This is known as metabolic adaptation.

This means if your rate of weight loss slows, you’ll need to make adjustments to keep losing fat.

I would recommend a weight loss target of 1-1.5lbs per week, so that you’re still getting plenty of food for performance and muscle mass retention.

It is often quoted that 3,500kcals = 1 pound of weight. Although it isn’t as black and white as this, this is a good starting point.

So for a weight loss of 1lb per week you can aim for a 500kcal daily deficit.

No matter your weight loss goal, I would recommend a deficit for around 2-3 months before coming back to maintenance and having a break.

This not only will allow you to progress further, it also limits metabolic adaptation and keeps you sane!

So when you’ve reached your target, then the time comes to restore your metabolism, keep the weight off, and start fuelling your performance gains.

Nutrition for Performance

As mentioned earlier, performance increases requires caloric maintenance or even a slight surplus.

The body requires a certain amount of food in order to perform at it’s best, so you better fuel appropriately if you want optimal performance.

If you’re coming out of a weight loss diet, then bringing your calories up slowly is the key to avoiding weight rebound.

Start by adding in 200-250kcals per day each week and monitor your weight and how your body feels so that you don’t overdo it.

If you’re not trying to lose weight, and are focused solely on performance, then it’s worth tracking where you are now and how your body feels.

A lot of the time if we’ve chronically under eaten then our bodies will have simply adapted to this and gotten used to it.

If you feel tired all the time, sluggish in workouts, and have zero mojo, then you’re probably under eating.

This is common for a lot of performance athletes focusing on the highest quality foods and often avoiding a lot of carbohydrates.

My advice here would be to obviously eat more food, and especially carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are the optimal fuel source for intense training and glycolytic activity. It is also the preferred fuel source of the brain so can help in adequate CNS recovery and function.

In Conclusion

If you’re a beginner trainee, you’ll often see some performance improvements while in a calorie deficit.

However, it is still best to try to lose fat when your performance needs are lowest (so far away from competitions/qualifiers).

You can then reach your target weight while being happy with muscle mass maintenance, and then slowly ramp things back up as your performance needs increase.

For those of us in performance sports, decreases in intake should be mostly from fats (though obviously personal preferences will affect dietary adherence), and increases should then come from dietary carbohydrates.

Stay tuned to how your body responds to your approach. Stay clued in to your energy, sleep, hunger, and performance and make decisions based on evidence, not what you hear may work.

If you’re reading the above and think your approach needs work, then get in touch.

If you are interested in finding out more about nutrition coaching with Jonny Landels, check out this info.


Workout of the Day – CrossFIt

A) Back Squat 1-1-1

B) In a 3 minute widow complete:
10 Thrusters 40/30kg
30 Double unders
10 Thrusters
30 Double unders

In the next 3 minute window complete:
12 Thrusters
30 Double unders
12 Thrusters
30 Double unders

In the next 3 minute window complete:
14 Thrusters
30 Double unders
14 Thrusters
30 Double unders

*Start a new round every 3 minutes, adding 2 reps to the thrusters each time.
*Repeat until you cannot complete the work in the 3 minute window.

Are you tracking your progress? – Jonny Landels, Nutrition Coach

Progress Tracking

The metric that most people forget about when embarking on their journey to lose weight, get stronger, gain muscle, and improve their health.

However, it is by far the most important.

If you’re not tracking your progress, then how do you know if you’re improving or regressing?

Most people’s attempt at tracking is poor, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Some will start a ‘diet’ or exercise routine, and weigh themselves just a few days later, see no difference, and decide to do something else as it’s clearly ‘not working’.

Others will stick with it for a while, but will use the scale only to track, and after one bad weigh in on a random day decide to pack it all in or make some dramatic change.

It’s inconsistent tracking and unreliable data that causes us to make rash decisions when attempting to improve our physique or health in anyway.

If this sounds like you, this article is for you.

Here are the measures I use when tracking my client’s progress:

Weight

Unavoidably, weight on the scale is a metric we need to track when trying to lose/gain weight.

I sometimes wish it could be done without it as people can be very emotionally attached with this number, however, when combined with the other data, it can be a good indicator of fat loss/muscle gain.

But not always.

Weight gain doesn’t necessarily mean that fat has been gained, and a lack of change doesn’t always mean that fat hasn’t been lost.

Weight fluctuates on a daily basis due to water levels, muscle glycogen levels, and gut residue.

So I get my clients to weigh themselves every day and record the weekly average.

It sounds like overkill, but this will allow you to see past the day-day fluctuations, and notice actual weight change week to week, and month to month.

Do this first thing in the morning, naked, and after your morning trip to the bathroom.

Body Circumference Measurements

For accuracy, I love the 9 site measurement data that Andy Morgan from rippedbody.jp suggests on his article on tracking progress.

These 9 sites are:

– Chest
– Right arm
– Left arm
– 2″ above navel
– Navel
– 2″ below navel
– Hips (widest point)
– Right thigh
– Left thigh

Of course this takes time, so if you’re rushed, neck, waist, and hips will do.

These can be hard to do by yourself so I recommend buying an Orbitape measure so that you can comfortably get it done without relying on anyone else.

Do these once a week and note to the nearest 0.1cm for accuracy.

A guide to using this tape measure can be found here.

These body circumference sites when used in correlation to the scale weight will show you if body fat is being lost or muscle being gained.

Subjective measures

Everything affects everything…

I get my clients to record how they’re sleeping, what their stress levels are like, how their appetite is, and how they’re feeling during their workouts.

All of these measures will affect each other as well as your training and weight progress.

So if you feel your progress in the gym or on your diet is poor, think whether you have the above dialled in or not.

Progress Photos

I get my clients to take progress photos from the front and side every 4 weeks.

There is no need for them to be more frequent than this, and these can be just for you to notice differences in physical appearance.

These can be great to keep you motivated and accountable to the process.

Dietary adherence, Training adherence, and Progression
For my clients I also ask them to rate their adherence to their nutrition and training plans, as well as notes about their progression in performance.

This can be useful for you to note also before you make drastic changes.

If the scale weight and measurements didn’t change but you’ve not been to the gym and you had more treats than you would’ve liked then that’s probably the cause of the issue rather than the exercise or diet not working.

Take a training log of your exercise so you can see your frequency and performance levels, and be honest about whether you’re following your nutrition habits as well as you should be.

The training log will help you see if you’re progressing with your weights or not, and also what weights you should be using session to session.

If you find you aren’t recovering or progressing, and your subjective measures are bang on, this will show that a change to your dietary intake could help.

Staying objective about your data

All of the data together will help provide you a picture of progress when trying to lose weight, gain muscle, get stronger, or just improve your health.

If your weight increases but your stomach measurements decrease, this indicates fat loss and muscle gain at the same time.

Muscle growth can hide fat loss so don’t just rely on the scale.

If your weight suddenly increases (which it will sometimes) then don’t get disheartened, this won’t mean fat gain. Check your stomach measurements for change, if there isn’t any, then you’re fine.

This weight increase will be down to an increase in glycogen, maybe from extra carbohydrate or some salty food.

For women, your weight will fluctuate with your menstrual cycle due to water retention, so make sure you’re comparing data at the same time in your cycle not to be discouraged.

I see weight fluctuations much more in women, so measuring the body and progress photos become even more important.

In terms of gym performance, a strength increase is always a good way to measure progress – are you lifting more than the week prior.

However, if you are losing weight, then maintaining strength levels is also a great sign of progress. This shows that your fat loss isn’t affecting your muscle strength as you’re moving more load in comparison to your new bodyweight.

I hope this article helps you stay objective with your progress when trying to make a change, as always, questions welcome in comments or on the Thames Facebook Group.

To find out more about nutrition programming with Jonny, check out this post!


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Barbell Cycling – Snatch

21-15-12-9-6-3

Increase weight from week 1 and start over.

B) Midline and Stability Work

3-5 Rounds:
5/5 Banded cycles
10 Hollow rocks
30 Second hollow hold
15/15 Flutter kicks

Rest and Recovery

DSC_0126.JPG

Am I overtraining?

Here at Thames CrossFit we all like to push ourselves and others hard during the workouts. We do this as we know that it is the high intensity that provides the optimal adaptation, leading to improved fitness. Feeling tired immediately after a session and the following day(s) is a normal response to this high intensity stimulus but is there a point where that tiredness is a sign that you should be slowing down during a workout or maybe even decide to back off and just take the day off? We are not talking about the moment where that little voice inside your head is telling you to give up during a workout but a more long term issue of overtraining.

Let’s take a look at some common signs and symptoms of overtraining:

  • Insomnia
  • Achiness or pain in the muscles and/or joints
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sudden inability to complete workouts
  • Feeling unmotivated and lacking energy
  • Increased susceptibility to colds, sore throats and other illnesses
  • Loss in appetite
  • Decrease in performance

As we can see, being in a state of overtraining is not a happy place to be.  However, more often than not these signs creep in slowly and not all at once. At first we might not even be able to pinpoint the cause for a subtle decrease in performance or altered sleep quality.

So how do I know if I’m overtraining?

There are many ways to keep track of this. Here are two solutions you can apply:

  1. Just listen to your body for the above listed signs. This is something that takes time to learn but here is a practical way to get started: If you are feeling tired and not quite sure whether you should train today or take the day off, the first step to take is to come to the gym. When you are at the gym, changed to your workout gear and looking at the whiteboard, you can decide whether you need to take the day off or not. If you are still feeling like it’s not a good idea then back off, do some stretching and call it a day. It is way too easy to feel tired after a hard week at work and just decide that “yep, I’m definitely overtrained and will need to take today off (and maybe have a beer or two in the process)”.
  2. Slightly more technical solution is to keep a log of your resting heart rate (HR). The best time to do this is after waking up (before getting off the bed) in the morning and just before turning the lights off (already in bed) in the evening. You can then establish a baseline resting HR for yourself. You can now follow the changes based on your training. A 5% increase from the baseline means you should take it easy that day and a 10% increase means it’s time to take a rest day. Although this might sound like a bit too much hassle at first, it’s actually quite easy to implement in your daily routine

Next time we are going to consider the possibility that you are not actually overtraining but just under recovering..

WOD:

Note there is no park WOD this weekend…however, some members were planning to meet in Greenwich for an informal WOD. Post details and enquiries to comments.

9 rounds of:
1 min run, 1 min rest
Hold distances as consistent as possible.