Weekly Bullshit # 2 – Burning Fat Running and Cycling

In early 2020, I started a new cutting program to get rid of the excess fat for summer. You know the deal. Less fat, more abs. Smaller waist and wider shoulders. Things went slow, but were progressing. Things were actually working better under lock down as I got a chance to experiment in a controlled environment; I was at home doing the same things every day. So I pretty much had my caloric expenditure nailed down.

May rolled around and summer was slowly approaching. We got more sun and the temperature was rising above 20° Celsius. So I bought a mountain bike and I started riding again. A lot. My waist got bigger. A gained a little weight. Even though I was supposedly burning up to 1000 more calories a day; well above was caloric intake. So I experimented by increasing my caloric intake. There was no change. Then I remembered having read an article a number of years ago about endurance cyclist (in an experiment) gaining the similar sort of weight. The consensus was that the body, was preserving energy, and even increasing fat storage. (I haven’t been able to find the article online; I had read it in print at the time; but I just did another Google search and found this tidbit.)

But I did ask that question online and got similar stories of some individuals giving up running because it was causing them to gain weight. That just sucks. Someone did suggest that I follow up a weight lifting session with a 20 minute HIIT before going on a run or ride. So I did try that the next day and got success right away. I’m not suggesting I lost any fat, but my stomach content went down a bit.

I have been trying to reproduce the above with no success. My weight every morning has been exactly the same to the fraction. Usually when something works my weight goes down a bit to show that I’m actually digesting my stomach content faster. And eventually, I’ll wake up to an empty stomach. That hadn’t happened in a while.

I have been experimenting with different workout structures. Lifting heavy, followed by a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout and then running. Just lifting heavy then running. Just doing HIIT then cycling. I did come close a few days ago when I did a HIIT session on my mountain bike on a flat trail; I had to be careful not to run over any pedestrians. I pedaled as hard and as fast as I could with three or four intervals hitting almost 40KPH. That had been after a heavy deadlift day. I’m not sure what my RPMs were, most like in the 80s.

I have also been doing a lot of research. And then I remembered reading a while back about EPOCs. EPOC stands for Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. You can Google it, there’s tons of content on it. Although finding something that explains the underlying mechanics is a bit tough. But the best article I found do far was this one. From what I understand, EPOC works by recruiting your anaerobic energy source which does not require oxygen, unlike the aerobic energy source. But the body will require a lot of oxygen in order to return it into a restful state and that’s when the additional fat burning occurs.

From an implementation perspective EPOC is straight forward. Start out your workout with a ten minute warm-up to get the heart rate going. Followed by a HIIT workout where your heart rate performs at a minimum of 80-85% MHR. Your metabolism should remain quite high for up to eight hours after the workout. After this research, I reviewed my mountain bike ride and noticed that I had gotten my heart rate above 80% (see circled area below). The first portion of the ride, before the dip in the middle, I had kept below 20KPH. My guess is the the second portion of the ride should have been extended by 10 minutes with above 70BPM effort between each of my max effort pushes.

This is certainly some promising and interesting result. I plan to try this out today. And also experiment with the nutrition aspect as well. So subscribe to this blog to get updates as I progress through this. I’ll leave you with this heart rate zone chart I found online recently. You can ignore the BPMs bit, you’ll have to determine your MHR based on your age and gender.

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