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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

T minus 32

Weight : 57.1 kg
Yesterday's food : You have used 1304 out of your net daily budget of 1400 calories and have 96 calories remaining. 20% of the calories are from fat, 40% from protein, 39% from carbs
Exercise : Body Combat
1 hour 05 min: 520 calories : 161 max hr : 126 average hr

A few people (well two actually) have emailed me to ask if I subtract my exercise calories in my daily calorie count.

The answer is no I don't. I don't log exercise in Calorie King at all. I just get a reading off my Polar HR Monitor and write it on my blog.

I do not subscribe to the theory that your daily calorie input is simply how much you ate less how much you exercise. Otherwise I would be living (or dying) on less than 1000 net calories a day when I exercise.

The reason I don't believe this to be true is because calorie counting on any device include the calories you would burn just doing nothing. So you might have registered a 500 calorie burn in one hour, but if you sat around and did nothing you probably would have still burned 100 calories. If you were running after the kids, or from meeting to meeting it would be more.

I view the exercise calories I burn as a bonus rather than contributing to the fat loss equation. I exercise to increase my metabolism by building hungry muscles and by kick starting my system every morning. If I just cared about the calories I burnt in a session I would run steady state for an hour every single day. I tried that once, and it didn't work.

I think you miss the point if you just focus your exercise on burning the most calories while you do it. When I do an upper body workout, I hardly burn anything at all because my heart rate drops to resting between every set and my heart doesn't pump particularly hard while I am doing isolation exercises like bicep curls or ab crunches. But the benefit of having lots of lean muscle tissue outweighs eating back every calorie I burn during a cardio session. Doing 20 minutes of interval sprints on the treadmill means my metabolism is firing all day - walking for an hour burns more calories but the burn stops as soon as I do.

The only reason I even wear a heart rate monitor is to track how hard I am working by comparison. If I my average is dropping for the same type of training session I need to either up my weights or push more on the treadmill/elliptical/spin bike.

The saddest thing I ever read was someone who was doing WW and decided to do more cardio and less weights because they got more activity points they could add to their daily point count. It is an example of short term gains at the expense of long term benefit.

Lift weights and keep your diet consistent whether you train one day or not, and you will lose weight. Don't imagine that because someone or something tells you you have burnt 1000 calories by hiking in the mountains one weekend that you will starve if you don't eat more to compensate. Burning more calories is not necessarily better, in fact you reach a point where you actually do get hungrier if you exercise at low intensity for too long (especially if you don't sweat - think swimming).

I am all about tricking your body by stealth. Eat just a little less than your maintenance calories and you won't end up starving. Train hard and fast so that the energy expenditure doesn't burn you out, or increase your appetite. Train to reshape your form and ignite your fat burning engine not to achieve some magic number on your watch!


  1. Anonymous9:51 am

    good point love. i got more out of weight training body wise than i ever did cardio wise. not that it doesn't help either... because i am the cardio queen hehe... well besides you!

    see u tomorrow yeh? i sent u an emaillll! x

  2. You are doing fantastic! I can't wait to hear how you do in the competition. You rock!

  3. Anonymous11:07 am

    Hey hun, glad to hear you are back full of energy and so focused. I agree with a lot of todays post but i do have to say that it is a myth that people don't sweat while swimming. You are sweating just the same as you are in any other exercise, it's just not noticable because of the water environment. We did an experiment in my team to see just how much we were sweating in training by weighing pre and post session and it was just the same as if you were at the gym. I also wouldn't say it's low intensity because it is possible to do interval work through sprint sets. And you can also zone in on specific muscles through focused drills. Swimming is low impact, but not low intensity. But it is the same as any other exercise, it depends how much you put in and what your level of fitness at that chosen exercise is. Hope that made some sense.

  4. I have never increased food based on exercise either.

    And I can't tell you how many times I have been in classes and had someone ask how many calories they had burned so they could go eat more.

    This (concept) always bothers me. Especially in yoga.