What constitutes a 'workout'?


adabeie

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What do you feel constitutes a workout? Would you classify a cycling commute as a workout? Anything that makes you sweat? Any sort of focused activity over a certain caloric threshold?

 

I'm curious because whole I do some light hiking and bike commuting still, I've largely cut back on what I considered intense workouts, but I'm also thinking I may be slightly underfeeding myself with these lighter activities in mind given that I'm also trying not to snack. 

 

The kinds of commutes I have in mind are something on the order of 20 somewhat hilly city kilometers in about 50 minutes. It's not what I'd call a "lot" but it's not nothing, and the calorie calculators I've looked at in the past (not recently, I'm trying to balance this more intuitively and because they feel like a scale) called such a commute about 300 calories, but there are a lot of variables like bike weight (mine's light) or gearing.

 

Should I consider activities like this 'workouts'?

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Ugh, but what length or intensity of workout constitutes the need for the pre and post WO meals? I run for about 35 minutes a few days a week. Are those long enough to need the extra food? One day a week I do a semi-long run of about an hour. That one I think would need the extra food, and also my weekly long run of up to two hours. I teach Zumba twice a week for almost an hour....extra food for that?? And I lift for about 45-50 minutes *intensely* twice a week..... That class is very early, so should I have a post-WO meal when I get home or just have a big Meal one? I'm so used to portion control, and I'm concerned about overeating.

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The lifting session would definitely warrant a postWO as well as meal one, and if the postWO will be more than an hour after wakening then I'd probably go for a preWO too - it need only be a single boiled egg for pre, and then a few bites of say chicken and a few bites of sweet potato immediately after, then shower, then meal one.

Cardio is slightly different IMHO so the shorter runs probably don't warrant much in terms of extra meals (at least not for me), the semi long run I'd probably go with a postWO bite or two, and the longer run may require both, especially if it's early doors  - again we're not talking a full on meal here, but it will take a little bit of trial and error.

For zumba I'd say it depends when the classes are - if it's evening I'd probably ensure I'd had adequate fat in meal two to carry me through the class, grab a quick bite immediately postWO, and then have meal three.

Personally I only take a preWo when I'm training very early in the morning which more often than not is a heavy lifting session, but I always eat to the high end (& then some) of the recommend meal template - I'm 5'2" , train on average 6 days a week, and weigh 125lbs with a BFP of under 20%


 

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I'm so used to portion control, and I'm concerned about overeating.

 

I here your frustration. It will take a little time to trust your hunger cues but please try.

 

The need for pre- and post-workout food depends on your context. For most people, a walk wouldn't warrant it, and a 60 minute heavy lifting session would. For some people those requirements kick in sooner. It depends on your level of fitness, your overall health, your body weight (someone severely underweight might need to take in more), etc. , etc., etc. Make your best guess given what you know about yourself and the recommendations we offer. Try it for a good long time, then adjust. If you find you are hungry or not recovering well or low energy, that is a good clue that you could use some extra fueling, or maybe also some extra rest. honor that.

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Thanks! I'll consider adding another boiled egg (or something similar) into the mix before any brisk ride of moderate length.

Just wanted to say sorry, adabeie, I didn't mean to hijack your thread. I just had similar concerns as I woke up quite early because I was super hungry on this my day two and felt like I overdid my pre-WO meal. Then wondered if I should've even had one. Your question resonated with my concerns. Hopefully no hard feelings! :-)

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I have similar questions regarding cycling.  I am rehabbing from knee replacement and I am riding about 9-11 miles in 48 - 60 minutes once on the weekend.  I ride 3-5 during the week about 3x a week.  When I was doing triathlons regularly, a 10 mile bike ride did not warrant any extra food unless it was part of a brick (running or swimming right after). Because it is taking me much longer to get to 10 miles, I wonder about pre and post workouts especially if I ride right after breakfast or right before lunch. I am in day 3 so don't have much actual experience to go on yet.

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I have similar questions regarding cycling.  I am rehabbing from knee replacement and I am riding about 9-11 miles in 48 - 60 minutes once on the weekend.  I ride 3-5 during the week about 3x a week.  When I was doing triathlons regularly, a 10 mile bike ride did not warrant any extra food unless it was part of a brick (running or swimming right after). Because it is taking me much longer to get to 10 miles, I wonder about pre and post workouts especially if I ride right after breakfast or right before lunch. I am in day 3 so don't have much actual experience to go on yet.

Well, I don't usually weigh in on others' specific situations because I hardly feel qualified, but in the randonneurs' group I used to ride with, "rider's gut" is a real thing, ie, even dedicated cyclists often overestimate either how much energy they're using, or where that energy is coming from. This might be affected by the type of cycling involved (lower pace, aerobic, with burns only during climbs for the kind of distance cycling I'm talking about) vs higher intensity cycling, eg track or road racing. A lot of the guys in the group have a bit of paunch. They're great endurance riders, but there is a sort of joy to gathering around a ridiculous amount of food after 50 miles in the mountains and piling it on, even if over the long term intake probably exceeds output. 

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Just wanted to say sorry, adabeie, I didn't mean to hijack your thread. I just had similar concerns as I woke up quite early because I was super hungry on this my day two and felt like I overdid my pre-WO meal. Then wondered if I should've even had one. Your question resonated with my concerns. Hopefully no hard feelings! :-)

Not at all, I hope the collaborative style of these threads helps to create a more universally applicable tool for all of us to use regardless of our varied goals!

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Well, I don't usually weigh in on others' specific situations because I hardly feel qualified, but in the randonneurs' group I used to ride with, "rider's gut" is a real thing, ie, even dedicated cyclists often overestimate either how much energy they're using, or where that energy is coming from. This might be affected by the type of cycling involved (lower pace, aerobic, with burns only during climbs for the kind of distance cycling I'm talking about) vs higher intensity cycling, eg track or road racing. A lot of the guys in the group have a bit of paunch. They're great endurance riders, but there is a sort of joy to gathering around a ridiculous amount of food after 50 miles in the mountains and piling it on, even if over the long term intake probably exceeds output. 

 

NO NO NO NO NO! In many cases "Rider's Gut" and it's cousin "Runner's Gut" is NOT caused by over eating. It is caused by over stressing the body. This is a cortisol response. When you see those athletes skinny everywhere but the belly, there is a good chance they are under-eating for the amount of exercise they do and under-recovering as well. Even worse, is when you get the above but also over-compensate for the under-fueling by binging or overindulging on the wrong foods (because legitimately hungry from not eating enough of the right foods). It is a terrible cycle. 

 

The body is way more complex than calories in/calories out. Learning how to detect hunger cues and support that hunger with the right types of food is the way out of this. Really nourishing your body and offering it everything it needs to thrive is the answer.

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NO NO NO NO NO! In many cases "Rider's Gut" and it's cousin "Runner's Gut" is NOT caused by over eating. It is caused by over stressing the body. This is a cortisol response. When you see those athletes skinny everywhere but the belly, there is a good chance they are under-eating for the amount of exercise they do and under-recovering as well. Even worse, is when you get the above but also over-compensate for the under-fueling by binging or overindulging on the wrong foods (because legitimately hungry from not eating enough of the right foods). It is a terrible cycle. 

 

The body is way more complex than calories in/calories out. Learning how to detect hunger cues and support that hunger with the right types of food is the way out of this. Really nourishing your body and offering it everything it needs to thrive is the answer.

Oh wow, I'd never heard that before despite all the conversations I've had with active distance cyclists and triathletes in our local community. Thanks for the information, it's not a perspective I'd heard before. So.. the kind of habitual carb loading that happens to satiate hunger but not providing the proper nutrition, essentially, leads to an under nourished body that stores energy based on cortisol generated by the strain of exertion? Definitely sounds like something I need to read up more on. 

 

What does your personal recovery scheme look like? Until much more recently a rest day was all I ever took unless I was injured. The active recovery articles on the W30 site have been a real resource in reconsidering how much (and what type of) rest is necessary. If we're talking proportions of intense/low intensity/recovery proportions (and referring to the 'When The Goldilocks Zone Isn't Right' article which includes the mention of 90% below lactic threshold and only 10% intense training), what do you find is necessary? I used to do almost everything in either the Goldilocks zone or high intensity and never did 'low and slow' kinds of activities. I hadn't realized what a role those play in overall health as well as forming a foundation for performance. So is recovery time (and proper feeding) matched 1:1 for total exertion? A higher ratio to match intense exercise periods? It sounds like I'm going to be doing a lot of Googling later on tonight..

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This is probably the wrong time to wonder aloud why guys like Dean Karnazes rolls up entire pizzas during his runs, or at least for the televised portions of them, not that he's really representative of the general population..

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So.. the kind of habitual carb loading that happens to satiate hunger but not providing the proper nutrition, essentially, leads to an under nourished body that stores energy based on cortisol generated by the strain of exertion? 

 

exactly this.

 

It is hard to make a prescription for recovery. Every body is so different and what is seen as stress for one might seem fun and exciting for another. Personally, over time I have learned to incorporate many varied recovery practices into my routine. These include going to bed insanely early to support my desire to workout early in the morning (also trying to be awake at sunrise/go to bed at sunset), getting regular bodywork (massage and mfr); foam rolling daily (along with tons of mobility work, which some would consider recoveryish), sauna, hot tub, epsom salt baths and nutrition nutrition nutrition. It took a while before I started to enjoy slowing down and making time for this stuff, but now I feel it is an essential part of my lifestyle. Oh and that guy with the pizza? He's an outlier in so many ways. It may well catch up with him later in life (it often does with pro athletes), but no, I wouldn't use that example for a regular person.

 

I think there is a whole9 post about this, I'll look around for it. Here: http://whole9life.com/2014/02/recovery-vs-rest/

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Also, many people who do these longer endurance workouts (pro or not) eat heavily grain based diets and those grains can cause inflammation and the "wheat belly" that we all are so familiar with now.  

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NO NO NO NO NO! In many cases "Rider's Gut" and it's cousin "Runner's Gut" is NOT caused by over eating. It is caused by over stressing the body. This is a cortisol response. When you see those athletes skinny everywhere but the belly, there is a good chance they are under-eating for the amount of exercise they do and under-recovering as well. Even worse, is when you get the above but also over-compensate for the under-fueling by binging or overindulging on the wrong foods (because legitimately hungry from not eating enough of the right foods). It is a terrible cycle. 

 

The body is way more complex than calories in/calories out. Learning how to detect hunger cues and support that hunger with the right types of food is the way out of this. Really nourishing your body and offering it everything it needs to thrive is the answer.

Here is what happened last Saturday:  I did a 9 mile ride in 48 minutes at 10:30 am, about 2 1/2 hours after breakfast which was substantial but did not have any complex carbs (sweet potatoes, etc.) in it. I got home from the ride and ate lunch at about 1:00 which was salad and protien - again no complex carbs.  That afternoon I went swimming and did about 10 laps and the water walked with a friend and was in the water for about 1 hour.  By the time I got home I was starving and snacked until I ate dinner which was salmon, asparagus and sweet potatoes with plenty of fat and fruit.  Fortunately my snacks were all compliant foods but it really told me that I had not eaten enough that day.  Even though in my past life that much would not have required extra food, it appears now that it does.  What would pre and post WO meals look like for a day like this?

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Oh wow, I'd never heard that before despite all the conversations I've had with active distance cyclists and triathletes in our local community. Thanks for the information, it's not a perspective I'd heard before. So.. the kind of habitual carb loading that happens to satiate hunger but not providing the proper nutrition, essentially, leads to an under nourished body that stores energy based on cortisol generated by the strain of exertion? Definitely sounds like something I need to read up more on. 

 

What does your personal recovery scheme look like? Until much more recently a rest day was all I ever took unless I was injured. The active recovery articles on the W30 site have been a real resource in reconsidering how much (and what type of) rest is necessary. If we're talking proportions of intense/low intensity/recovery proportions (and referring to the 'When The Goldilocks Zone Isn't Right' article which includes the mention of 90% below lactic threshold and only 10% intense training), what do you find is necessary? I used to do almost everything in either the Goldilocks zone or high intensity and never did 'low and slow' kinds of activities. I hadn't realized what a role those play in overall health as well as forming a foundation for performance. So is recovery time (and proper feeding) matched 1:1 for total exertion? A higher ratio to match intense exercise periods? It sounds like I'm going to be doing a lot of Googling later on tonight..

 

Over at Mark's Daily Apple, there are quite a few articles that discuss "chronic cardio" and the stress response that occurs in endurance athletes. There's some good biochemistry reading to be had. There are also some articles that discuss ways to mitigate that stress for those who still have it as a goal to complete a triathalon or other endurance event.

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Here is what happened last Saturday:  I did a 9 mile ride in 48 minutes at 10:30 am, about 2 1/2 hours after breakfast which was substantial but did not have any complex carbs (sweet potatoes, etc.) in it. I got home from the ride and ate lunch at about 1:00 which was salad and protien - again no complex carbs.  That afternoon I went swimming and did about 10 laps and the water walked with a friend and was in the water for about 1 hour.  By the time I got home I was starving and snacked until I ate dinner which was salmon, asparagus and sweet potatoes with plenty of fat and fruit.  Fortunately my snacks were all compliant foods but it really told me that I had not eaten enough that day.  Even though in my past life that much would not have required extra food, it appears now that it does.  What would pre and post WO meals look like for a day like this?

 

Was the bike ride an intense (feeling) pace for you or more leisurely? Personally, if it was a ride that you took just to get out, enjoy the sun, etc. and you weren't pushing yourself, I wouldn't worry about pre and post-WO meals unless I had hunger cues telling me to eat.

 

Based on your hunger cues after the swim, your body was probably ready for a post-workout meal at that point. When you're in the water, you also expend a good bit of energy to maintain your body temperature so even if it wasn't a particularly intense workout, you may well still need the extra calories from some post-workout lean protein and starchy carbs.

 

I think you mentioned in another thread that you're recovering from surgery so also remember that your body is putting energy into healing from that. What was previously a non-issue for recovery is now excercise stress on top of post-surgical stress and as the total stress on your system increases, so do your recovery needs (fuel AND rest).

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For me, coming off a largely grain inclusive diet, including more sweet potatoes has been a godsend. Especially what are called 'Japanese sweet potatoes' in the west (in Korea, most squashes are called 'hobak' so it can be tough to differentiate, and sweet potatoes are collectively known as 'hobak goguma', or basically 'pumpkin sweet potato' because of their sweetness or color although there are at least 4 kinds people eat regularly that don't resemble one another in the least), which I've taken to roasting in olive oil and spices and just eating whole, provided they've been thoroughly washed. (Conventional produce in korea is reputed to use 15% more pesticides than in the US, which is a pretty staggering comparison, and recent bribery cases related to organic labeling have made me question a few of the better known national organic certifications, alas.. :-/ ....)

 

The starches are super important, in my still very neophyte experience, particularly as relates to long-term exertion. They keep me going and prevent me from feeling hungry, and offer a great culinary foundation for more interesting meals as well.

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