I have spoken to numerous people in the past about why they joined dragonboating and there seems to be 3 common reasons:
1. To lose weight
2. To get fit and then to maintain that level of fitness
3. To be competitive in the sport
So, over the next few days I will be talking about how food plays a role in each of these areas and how it is invariably different for each.
For today, I will be discussing about losing weight in Dragonboating. Now most people may think that if they don’t eat much and just train hard, they’ll burn those calories and then the fat will automatically come off. There is truth to that part, but that is only a small role it plays – around 10-20% of losing weight. The majority of the work comings from eating the right foods, and I have discussed about the different types of food in my post Nutrition for Dragonboating, which gives you a detailed explanation of the different food substances that we need to fuel our body. If you haven’t read it I suggest reading it now to get a better understanding before reading further.
The role of food in weight loss
Good news is that with weight loss you don’t have to worry about counting the calories, but focus on changing what you eat. You can still eat just as much to feel satisfied and still end up losing fat without obsessively counting calories.
3 Fundamental Steps in weight loss
There are three simple steps to achieving weight loss and it is only when these three steps are adhered to that you can achieve permanent weight loss.
Step 1: Energy in Vs Energy Out
The ‘Law of Energy Balance’ states that in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume each day. This is generally not a problem for most people attempting to lose weight, but is only part of the equation (which is why most people fail at losing weight). If your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is greater than your food intake and you follow fundamental steps 2 and 3 you will burn fat for fuel, which is always the goal to weight loss.
Step 2: Meal Timing
This is one of the key problems why most people are not able to lose weight. People rarely eat frequently enough! As hunter gatherers our bodies are always looking for triggers to store fat. This is known as our starvation or survival response and it has kept us alive for tens of thousands of years throughout times of famine. It is our starvation response that is always attempting to add to our fat batteries to ensure our survival. When we don’t eat at least every 3 waking hours our bodies go into fat storing mode, not fat burning mode, as our body fears famine is coming.
Step 3: Meal Type
A calorie is not just a calorie. It is important that meals are made up of the correct macronutrients (As discussed in the previous post here) for permanent weight management. If a meal type is not correct then it creates a series of biochemicals signals that make it impossible to burn fat due to the role of hormones.
Therefore a simple formula is:
Thermic Effect of Food
Did you know that you burn energy when you digest food? Well, good news is that if you understand this simple principle you will be on your way to losing weight. This is called the thermic effect of food or dietary thermogenesis. Let me give you an example how this works:
Lean proteins are highly thermic, around 30% compared to most carbs and fats which is around 3-4% thermic. So if you ate say 100 calories of chicken breast (protein) your body will use 30 calories simply in the breakdown and digestion. This forces your digestive system to start working and in turn elevates your resting metabolism.
By eating 6 protein meals a day your body’s resting metabolism will increase and in turn burn fats for fuel automatically during the day. You can say then that protein is a metabolic stimulant.
Metabolic rate is without question the most crucial factor in weight loss and must be the number one priority to focus on. By eating every 2-3 waking hours is the most powerful thing you can do to help your body lose weight and increasing your metabolism. Therefore this equates to 6 serves a day and ensures that your body will never go into starvation mode. A very simple concept to follow below will help you eat 6 meals a day:
1. 7am: (Meal) Breakfast
2. 10am: Protein Snack
3. 1pm: (Meal) Lunch
4. 3pm: Protein Snack
5. 6pm: (Meal) Dinner
6. 9pm: Protein Snack
Remember that our bodies are designed to store fat for survival. At any given moment the body is looking for a reason to store fat just incase for a famine. Your job is to not give it a reason to. Furthermore having big meals also cause storage as the body assumes you are stocking up for lean times ahead. Therefore portion control is important so that your body doesn’t think you are going into starvation. Keeping to small meals every 2-3 hours is essential.
I will continue more about weight loss tomorrow with some additional information to help create a simple step by step diet and exercise program.