Here we are at "that" time of year again - the "off" season where many of us are faced with the double-whammy of reduced training volume/intensity (so we're burning fewer calories) and Holiday celebrations (so we're consuming more calories).
Many of you have probably seen the Velo cartoons about "Old Guys Who Get Fat in Winter" - which are funny to laugh at until YOU become that guy (or gal).
The average American gains 5-10 pounds during the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's day - and many athletes gain substantially more during their off-season period. Most people also lose some of those "holiday pounds" through the subsequent months (think about the panic that sets in for many people as bikini season approaches and they still have their winter layers of fat). Unfortunately, studies suggest that most of us only lose about 80% of our holiday weight - meaning we "keep" 20% as accumulated fat - which accounts for the observed 1-2 pounds of fat gain that most Americans experience each year. A couple of pounds certainly doesn't sound like a lot - especially when we consider that fact that 70% of Americans are overweight/obese (by at least 30 pounds) - but after a couple of years of gaining a couple of pounds, you'll start to FEEL the extra baggage on your run and on your bike (but, hey, at least we float higher in the pool, right?)...
Avoiding Off-Season Weight Gain
How can you avoid some of that holiday or off-season weight gain? It's overly simplistic to just tell people to "eat less and exercise more" - we do plenty of that in our competitive seasons.
I have a new book out (released yesterday) that talks about using "Biochemical Balance" techniques to help our bodies become better at burning fat, especially intra-abdominal adipose tissue, or "belly fat."
The book is called The Secret of Vigor (vigor is defined as a "3-tiered sustained mood state characterized by physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being) - and vigor is associated not just with general physical/mental energy (what is called "Qi" in traditional Chinese medicine), but also with athletic performance.
The Secret of Vigor book focuses on helping people to FEEL better (energy/mood), LOOK better (fat loss), and PERFORM better (physically/mentally) - which are some of the main reasons that each of us trains for and competes in endurance events. You can check out the new book at Amazon or at pretty much any bookstore. I guarantee that improving your Vigor will translate into a greater enjoyment and higher performance in your chosen sport.
Earlier this month, I presented a several studies at the annual scientific conference of the American College of Nutrition. One presentation was an overview of vigor research in different populations that tend to have low vigor, includingovertrained cyclists, stressed-out moms, and dieters (for weight loss).
In each situation, we found that restoring Vigor improved various measures of physical/mental performance, including stress hormone levels, energy levels, mood, feelings of tension, mental function, appetite, and belly fat levels. The presentation was selected as one of the "Best Presentations" of the 2011 Conference (placing 2nd) - which was cool, because it tells me that other scientists and health professionals are becoming more interested in the significant links between mind/body performance.
Encouraging Off-Season Fat Loss
Another of the presentations that I delivered at the American College of Nutrition conference was about the fat-loss and metabolism-enhancing benefits of brown seaweed extract. The extract that we studied was standardized to a combination of a carotenoid compound known as Fucoxanthin and a polysaccharide compound known as Fucoidan (we have this exact blend at the heart of our "Wicked-Burn" blend in our Intense Defense multivitamin to help endurance athletes improve metabolic rate and enhance fat-burning).
Previous work in animals and humans has suggested that daily dietary supplementation with fucoxanthin, may have beneficial effects on fat/weight loss through an enhancement of overall metabolic rate and a reduction in both blood glucose and abdominal fat accumulation. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the effects of this seaweed extract in a population of humans undergoing a weight loss regimen. Using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, we supplemented moderately overweight subjects (N=20 per group) for 6 weeks with a proprietary supplement blend of brown seaweed extract (Undaria pinnatifida, standardized for fucoxanthin and fucoidan) or a look-alike placebo.
Significant differences were found between the Supplement (S) and Placebo (P) groups for measures of Body Weight (-5lbs in Supplement versus +3lbs in Placebo), Body Fat (-4.2lbs in Supplement versus no change in Placebo), Waist Circumference (-1.2 inches in Supplement versus no change in Placebo), and Blood Glucose (-9% in Supplement versus no change in Placebo). More subjects in the Supplement group reported "reduced appetite" compared to the Placebo group (78% in Supplement versus 50% in Placebo) and "would recommend" the supplement to others to help with appetite and weight loss (78% in Supplement versus 44% in Placebo).
These data suggest that the Supplement combination (the same amount and blend of fucoxanthin/fucoidan found in Intense Defense) is effective in improving blood glucose control, which improves appetite regulation, and reduces body weight and body fat levels in subjects trying to lose weight.
To those of you who have used Wicked Fat supplements in the past - we say THANKS!
To those who may be considering giving Wicked Fast a try, we say there is no better time to try a new supplement than in the off-season. Doing so gives you a chance to see how your body reacts to it - and gives you time to build a bigger engine in the off-season that can carry you faster and further when your races roll around in the Spring/Summer/Fall.
If you've reaped the recovery benefits of Recover-Ease in the past, then now might be the best time to try Energ-Ease for its stamina/vigor benefits. If you've used both of these already, then now might be the time to add our Intense Defense multivitamin to provide essential nutrients, protect you from environmental toxins, and promote lean muscle mass and fat metabolism.