Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why am I so damned hungry? Resting Metabolic Rate

As we're all approaching the end of our strength microcycle in our CrossFit classes, many of you by now have got the be thinking "why the hell am I so damed hungry? And how am I supposed to lose weight if I'm eating all of the time?"  Valid points.  let's hope I know what I'm talking about......

All of you have heard of the crazy buzz word "Metabolism" (MB).   What is the metabolism though and what does it mean when people have a "high or low" metabolism?  MB is the combination of two reactions  in your body: 1) The break down of food to store as fuel and; 2) The use of that same stored energy to use as fuel.  Without getting into the details of what affects the MB, like thyroid, hypothalamus, food intake, etc, I'll try to keep this as straight forward as possible.

Strength training places huge metabolic demands on the entire body like the muscles, bones, connective tissues, cardiovascular system, etc.  When the body is under the stress of external loads when weight training, it's screaming at you (louder than I do)  saying, "What the hell are you doing to me!"  Well, those screaming mus-kles are going to need quite a bit of energy to repair themselves.  If you were to look at those same mus-kles during a WOD, it would look literally like a war-zone with oozing, tearing, seeping & building going on.  Those cells need a load of energy & oxygen to repair themselves, but where do they get that energy from?   Like the plant in Little Shoppe of Horror man eating plant says, "FEED ME!"

For the body to build and repair the damaged tissues, it's first going to require lots of oxygen to keep the fire burning (a fire needs oxygen to burn, right?).  When your body is in the state of rebuilding itself after a WOD, you are usually at rest, or in active recovery (not working out).  During this time your are in what's called your "oxidative" or "aerobic" state where the majority of calories supplied for fuel come from stored, adipose (fat) tissue.  This fat has loads of calories and and is a great source of energy for the body to access as fuel, given it's location in and around the damaged muscle/cells.   While at rest after a WOD, the body is simply churning through body fat for fuel and this energy source can only be burned when enough oxygen is present.  Resting, recovering, sleeping is when you will burn the greatest amount of body fat as a result of your WODs.  You will however burn a BIT of body fat (not too much) during our WODs, but it just takes too long to break down fat for quick energy during "Kalsu",  "7's" or 300.    

When your body is constantly breaking down fat for fuel, repairing damaged cells and performing countless other metabolic reactions, the requirement for calories becomes even higher (double wammy).  Your heart beats a little faster to supply oxygen to your muscles, your body temperature rises slightly and your body fat starts singing taps.   You'll have to eat more to provide amino acids, carbohydrates most importantly, water to sustain body functions during repair.  This is the reason for the incredible success each of you have had as a result of a well designed, periodized, strength & conditioning program.  

So, forget what those silly charts say on the treadmills at Globe-O-Gym that tell you to keep your heart rate at 100 BPM if you want to lose body fat.  Instead, pull the tether cord, get off the machine and pick up a barbell for some deadlifts, cleans and snatches.  

So, don't be afraid to eat something even though you're trying to lose body fat.  If you want to lose more, eat more, and CrossFit too.

Hugs and hamsters,


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