My Dietary Philosophy
Recently, a new client of mine was asking me about my fitness philosophy. She wanted to know if I had any specific meal plan I recommend, as well as approximately how many calories a workout with me burns.
For the first question, I always have to caveat my answer with the fact that I am NOT a nutritionist. I can give guidance, I can provide anecdotal advice. But it would be out of my scope of expertise to provide clients with a specific meal plan catered to their needs.
What I CAN say is this: I believe that life is a marathon not a sprint. I believe it is always best to figure out a routine that you can stick to. Both from my own personal experience, and feedback from clients, colleagues, and friends, any severe restriction of a major nutrient source is hard to sustain for a lifetime. Or, there is always the chance that you will overcompensate with something else. For about 3 months last year, I went almost exclusively gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free. For 30 days I was strict; for the next two months I was pretty strict. I did feel overall less bloated, and that my moods were more even with the lack of refined sugar. I also found that- since I was not eating bread with flour- I was eating a lot of brown rice cakes, probably more than I should have, because I felt that something was "missing". With this in mind, when I am asked, I do recommend a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
When it comes to calories burned during a workout, consider this. From age 30 onwards, we lose a pound of muscle every year. Muscle mass is what speeds up our metabolism. To counteract this natural occurrence, we need to incorporate strength training into our regiment. So. We need to use weights.
In order to measure burning calories, there is nothing like a long distance running. Generally, for me, I burn about 100 calories for each mile I run. This means when I am marathon training, from an 18 mile run, I have burned about 1800 calories. This does not take into account what else I may have burned throughout the day. And, because I have burned 1800 from just a run, it is safe to assume that I will end up hungry, and my body in need of significant calorie replacement.
Running certainly leans me out. However, it does not build muscle mass nor bone density. It is the weight training and plyometrics that do that. I guesstimate that, a 40 minute HIIT session, incorporating weights and plyometrics, would burn about 300 calories. A 40 minute run, for me, where I average 8-8:20 min/miles, I burn about 450 calories. But what happens to my body at rest? After a HIIT and weight session, my metabolism is spiked for the next 24 hours. I am burning more calories at rest. Longer term, the muscle mass I am building is also burning more.
What Does This All Mean?
For those who know me well, you know I love cardio. I can be blatant about it, telling my clients they are "heading into a cardio interval". Or I could sneak it in and all of the sudden they find that their heart rate has increased. The endorphin rush is real, the mood enhancement from it is there, and physiologically it is fantastic overall for your body.
And, I will also say, cardio comes in many forms. You can run; you can spin; you can swim; you could do HIIT; and, if strength training properly, you can get that heart pumping WHILE increasing your muscle mass with weights.