A friend in the gym this week was on the treadmill running some intervals. Upon finishing, I asked her what she had done today. Her reply was, “I did my 60 minute cardio/strength training workout this morning, but wanted to add a few intervals to really jump start the New Year results.” I asked her what she did as far as her eating this morning. She responded that she had skipped breakfast, like she does every morning before working out. I then asked her what she planned on eating after the workout. She likes to have the steel cut oatmeal from Trader Joe’s and some coffee before going off to work. Let me take these statements apart one by one and give you some better insight into what I know are very typical mistakes being made by very hard working people that will result in very limited results.
- When you wake up in the morning your body has a very low level of carbohydrates and protein as it has slowly been using them throughout the night. Once the body runs out of carbs it will turn to fat and protein as its next main source of energy. If the body does not have protein inside the muscle cells then it will convert your lean muscle tissue to ATP energy thus decreasing the total amount of lean muscle tissue on your body. By taking a protein powder or shake before working out your body would have enough protein inside the muscle cells that it would be unable to use lean muscle tissue as energy. Another answer is have a shake with water and 2 scoops of BCAA’s. Mine is a watermelon powder drink made in a blender bottle that provides my body with the 3 proteins (leucine,isoleucine and valine also known as branch chain amino acids). These 3 amino acids (proteins) help to prevent fatigue and maintain muscle mass and strength during times of physical stress including intense workouts.
- This client was waking up in the morning and going to her 60 minute cross fit training type of class with very little carbohydrates or protein in her system. My guess is that she made it through the first 25 minutes before running out of carbs and then started burning her stored carbs (glycogen). By the time she was done with her 60-minute cardio, her body had been using lean muscle tissue as an energy source for at least 20+ minutes. So, the intervals that she was running after the crossfit session were tearing down her lean muscle tissue to use as energy to get her through the run. Yes she was burning more calories by adding in the interval training, but at the expense of losing lean muscle tissue. This is a common mistake!
- After the workout was over her muscles will continue to break down in the absence of a protein source (ideally 5-10g of BCAA’s + protein). An oatmeal, which has 3-5g of protein, one hour after her workout means she is throwing part of her workout away as her body is tearing down muscle to use for energy instead of adding muscle to increase her metabolism which is why she is in the gym working so hard in the first place.
- Her single biggest mistake was not having any means of measuring her success. Results 22 has an In-body composition scale that measures body fat and includes a segmental breakdown of your lean muscle. Had this client followed this extremely poor supplemental routine in the gym 3 days a week, the In-body machine at Results22 would have shown a steady decrease in lean muscle tissue week after week following this routine. Do you have any idea how hard it is to put on lean muscle tissue? It takes months of extremely hard work. Adding lean muscle tissue is infinitely harder than taking off fat. If she had a means to measure her progress, the worst-case scenario is that she would have had terrible results in her first week and realized the mistake she was making, which could have quickly been resolved.
It is this type of client that rips my heart out. She is dedicated to getting up early and not going through some silly workout, but really working hard weight lifting and running intervals. Eventually this individual will tire of this routine because she will not see any real results for months at a time. She will then do 1 of 2 things:
- Quit and blame it on menopause, her bad genes, or her eating, never dreaming it’s from a mistake being made in the gym, or
- She will increase the amount of time she spends on the treadmill to “burn even more calories and try to lose that last 10 pounds”. In this scenario she will be setting herself up to lose even more lean muscle tissue.
I have written about it many times! What gets measured gets made. Stop using a scale and make sure you are measuring your body fat every month to ensure that the effort you are making is providing the great results you deserve. Tell your boss you are going out for an early lunch and drive to Results22 to get your segmental body-fat, segmental lean muscle tissue, visceral fat (fat around your organs), hydration levels, and intercellular water levels measured. Do not workout another day in your life without these results. They will provide you with the best feedback to help maximize your workouts and nutrition plan.
In Good Health,