Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marathon runner vs Sprinter

I know you've heard of  "What you eat is what you become". Infact since it is true, I feel like eating Will Smith for Dinner tonight.

The same applies to your training. How you train, determines how you look.

Let's compare a Marathoner and a Sprinter.

Now, Whom would YOU like to look? The Marathoner or the Sprinter?
My choice is , The Sprinter. I am sure, you'll choose the sprinter's too, unless you want to be a professional Marathon runner.

So Let's analyze here, why exactly these athletes look so different.
This is because, they train differently.
  1. A marathon runner trains himself by running long distances over longer periods of time at a lower intensity and speed.( Uses the Oxidative pathway of energy)
  2. A Sprinter , however, trains himself by running shorter distances for a few seconds by giving it all he's got.( Uses the Anaerobic pathway of energy)
Both seem OK on the face of it.
But there's a question that I don't have an answer for.
( Drumrollll)

Which animal on the face of this earth jogs at low intensity for 6 hours ( or how many ever hours marathon runner train) , and why would it do anything like this?

Leaving athletes who compete in the spirit of the sport aside( Respect to them), but why would people like you and me walk/ slowly jog for 1-2 hours on the treadmill to look like them? I'm sure you dont want to look like a marathon runner! Then why would you train like one??

Our Body is simple. It adapts to an external stimuli and makes itself capable of handling it.

So, why would you look like a marathon runner by doing hours of low intensity cardio on the treadmill?This is because , to sustain and get energy for a longer period, the body's only source is "FAT" .Glycogen in the muscle is used for short bursts of energy requirement and Fats are required by the body to provide energy for low intensity long duration exercises like walking /jogging for 1-2 hours.

SO , What does your body do?
It slowly, throws away the Muscles ( which fulfills energy requirement for short bursts of intense exercise) and stores more fat, because it needs to adapt itself to be able to sustain 1-2 hours of cardio.
Outcome: You lose a little bit of Fat and a lot of muscle. You may Lose "Weight" at the cost of your muscles and you'll end up looking like a Marathon runner eventually.( I'm sure you don't want that)

And, what happens when you train like a sprinter?
Again, your body adapts to be able to sustain your training.
Since energy for short bursts of heavy duty requirement like, Sprinting , short put , Boxing , Fielding in a game of cricket, Baseball Pitching , Soccer , comes from Glycogen stored in the muscles , your body tries to gain Muscles and tries to throw away the excess FAT , since it doesn't need it anymore, because you aren't doing anymore of low intensity cardio for 1-2 hours. Look at the difference between the legs of a Marathon runner and a sprinter. Notice that a marathon runner has more Fat than muscle and the sprinter has more muscle than Fat.

Besides, A Sprinter Workout takes only about 20 mins vs a Marathon runner's workout that people do for anywhere between 1-2 hours. Also, a sprinter's workout increases your BMR and helps in burning calories even after you finish your cardio.

So now, Whom do you wanna look like?


Or Them?
The choice is yours to make.
Make a choice and Train like one.

Next Post on How to Train like a sprinter, with sample Workouts.. Stick around!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Demystifying Fats

I am sure, Like most, you too are confused with the 24578 types of fats that can be present in the food you consume.Also, each of these Twenty four thousand five hundred and seventy eight types of fats have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The "Fat Types" is a big maze to many. I say this because there are times when people tell me that x type of fat is better than the y type of fat when in fact it is the exact opposite.
So today I've decided to Demystify Fats and hopefully by the end of this post you'll be able to advise people on this subject.

So ya..There are 4 types of Fats:  (24578 ? I may have exaggerated there)

  1. Monounsaturated fat 
  2. Polyunsaturated fat , further divided into the types:
    • Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fats 
    • Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fats 
  3. Saturated fat 
  4. Trans fat. 
1) Monounsaturated Fats:(MUF)
MUFs are usually liquids at room temperature.There is a good amount of research which suggests that MUFs are good for health.MUFs help in reducing the risk of Heart Disease by reducing levels of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood.They may also benefit people with Type 2 Diabetes by controlling insulin levels and blood sugar.Also MUFs are high in Vitamin E which helps maintenance and development of cells in the body.

Sources of MUFs
  • Vegetable oils  
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • High oleic safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Avocado

2) Polyusaturated Fats: (PUF)
PUFs are also usually liquids at room temperature. There are some PUFs that cannot be produced by the body, like, Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fats and Omega-6 Polyunsaturated fats.PUFs too help in reducing the risk of Heart Disease by reducing levels of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. According to Mayoclinic they may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. PUFs also help in Brain Development.

Sources of Omega 6 PUFs:
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
Sources of Omega 3 PUFs:
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish:  trout, herring, and salmon

3) Saturated Fats: (SF)
These are mostly solids at room temperature. We all know what these are. Examples of foods containing a high proportion of saturated fat include animal fats such as cream, cheese, butter, and ghee; suet, tallow, lard, and fatty meats. High consumption of SFs is a leading cause of Heart Disease along with various others.

4) Trans Fats: (TF)
Unlike other MUFs , PUFs and SFs, Trans Fats are mainly artificial in nature. They are made by the process of Partial Hydrogenation. Liquid Vegetable Oil ( otherwise healthy MUFs and PUFs) are bombarded with Hydrogen Atoms and converted into solid Fats.
  • The World Health Organization says an adult male can have 2.6g of trans fats a day, female 2.1g and a child 2.3g
  • Pepsi Co's LAYS CHIPS (endorsed by Many cricketers and Saif Ali khan)contain 3.7g trans fats/ 100g. Earlier sold as zero trans fats chips but they removed the claim from the label later. ( Yes, they lied)... 
Benefits to the Food Industry?
  • It gives food a texture and mouthfeel that we all love so much and crave more and more ( remember cookies, French Fries , pastries, creamy frostings etc.)
  • It makes the oil reusable in deep fat frying 
  • It increases the melting point of fats
Trans Fats are the worst of the lot, worse than Saturated Fats too. Hence while buying something to eat, make sure you choose something that is low in Trans Fat ( however the new CSE study also reveals that KFC , Mc Donalds , Pizza hut , Haldiram , Lays, Maggi etc. lie about the content of Trans Fat etc. in their products).

Labels can say "0 grams of Trans Fat" even if partially hydrogenated fats are listed in the ingredients, as long as the serving size contains less than 0.5g of trans fats. Point is these less than one grams add up to your total consumption if u take more than one serving, considering the World Health Organization says an adult male can have 2.6g of trans fats a day, female 2.1g and a child 2.3g

Trans fats , like Saturated Fats are harmful , but in addition to it, also bring DOWN the levels of High Density Lipoprotein(HDL) that may be useful to us. Hence TRANS FATS ARE EVEN WORSE THAN SATURATED FATS.

Some Facts about Trans Fats: 
  1. New York City’s Board of Health voted unanimously in December 2006 to ban trans fats in all its 24,000 restaurants, from high-end eateries to fast-food joints, becoming the first city in the United States to impose such a ban.
  2. Starbucks joined the bandwagon and announced in January 2007 that it was eliminating trans fats from its stores in 10 metropolitan areas. 
So, focus on consuming Fats from Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats. Avoid Saturated Fats and strictly avoid Trans Fats!!

Handy List of Fat sources :


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Measure your Body Fat Percentage, not Weight

While your weight is way you can track your performance , it isn't the best indicator of your overall Fat loss achievement.

What truly shows you the best picture is your Body Fat percentage.
What 8 out of 10 people will continue to do is, give their weight more importance than their body fat percentage.
This is very important to understand because, at times in your fat loss effort, you might see no change in weight, but only in inches.
This is the best thing that could happen to you. This means, you are losing FAT and gaining Lean Body Mass.

What is Body Fat percentage?
Your weight is determined by various organs, muscles, fat, hair tissue etc. inside your body. So, if your body fat percentage is 20% and you weight 100 kgs, this means, approx 20% of your weight is FAT inside your body and the rest 80% is Lean Body Mass. Good for you!!

What is Lean Body Mass?
Lean Body mass can be a general term used for your Muscle, Bones, Hair, Tissue, Nails etc. Basically everything except your Body Fat.

So what I am trying to say here, is that you can weight whatever you want 60 kgs or 100 kgs or even 150 kgs. What's important is, How much Percentage of that weight at which you are comes from FAT?

  • So you could be a male weighing 120 kgs, and be at 15 % Body Fat. That is phenomenal.
  • Or you could be a male weighing 60 kgs with 25% Body Fat. That is down right obese/unhealthy.
So, it isn't the weight that matters, it's the percentage of that weight coming from FAT , that truly matters.

American Council of Exercise gives you guidelines regarding healthy Body Fat Percentages:
Essential Fat : Fat surrounding your vital organs like Liver etc. So, it isn't advisable to remain at such low body fat percentages for a long time. Body Builders get to this Body Fat percentage for a show, where they look like a walking talking anatomy chart and each surface muscle on their body is visible.

Here's a visual I found. it exactly describes what I'm trying to say here: 
A few real life pictures will make it clear: 
Muscle Definition at different Body Fat Percentages
It's best if we stop at 30%

Again, it's best if we stop at 30%

So, no matter what you weigh... 60 kgs, 70, 80, 90 or even 100 kgs! Make sure your Body fat percentage is on the lower side.
                      Here's a photo of  mean weighing 100kgs , but at crazy low body fat percentage: 

Now, How do you measure your Body Fat Percentage?
I've been using his link for many years now, to determine my body fat percentage using a Tape Measure. It's simple and quite accurate. Here's the link: ( Read instructions for measurement carefully) 

All you have to do is, enter your weight height, tape measured waist, neck etc. and you have your body fat percentage!!

Happy Measuring.