Friday, July 6, 2012

Moderate on Those Carbs, and Try a Tabata Ocean Swim

I made sure I got in an ocean swim yesterday before honkering down with my laptop. I tried something spontaneous and new; a Tabata ocean swim routine. Recall that Tabata sprints (see Chapter 7 of my book) involve going all-out for 20 seconds, taking ten second rests, for up to eight repetitions.

Tabata intervals or sprints are probably the most popular form of high intensity interval training (HIIT).

The water was cool (about 62 degrees) so I'm going to start out swimming hard anyways to increase thermogenesis and get warm. I took about 14 freestyle strokes about as hard as I could (assuming that it takes about a second and a half at least to complete the freestyle motion with both arms – thus the equivalent of 20 seconds). Then I counted "one 100, two 100..." up till ten, and sprinted again. I did eight repetitions.

Generally, the routine seemed much easier and more pleasurable than doing the running style Tabata.

This had followed some pull-ups and about 20 minutes of upper body weightlifting, so I cannot think of a better and more gratifying Summer routine.

High-fat, low-fat diet study

The On Point WBUR radio show in the U.S. has discussed the recent study, published in JAMA, that raised some interesting issues about dietary composition and health.

In the study, which was conducted at two Boston hospitals, 21 subjects underwent a weight-loss program, then were put on three different diets, to determine which was the best diet for helping keep the weight off.

"[The] participants consumed an isocaloric low-fat diet (60% of energy from carbohydrate, 20% from fat, 20% from protein; high glycemic load), low–glycemic index diet (40% from carbohydrate, 40% from fat, and 20% from protein; moderate glycemic load), and very low-carbohydrate diet (10% from carbohydrate, 60% from fat, and 30% from protein; low glycemic load) in random order, each for 4 weeks."

So they went from low-fat to high fat diets; and high-carb to low carb diets.

The study results underlined the metabolic advantages of higher fat diets. The Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) associated with the higher fat diet, or how many calories the subjects expended per day, was more than 300 calories per day higher than the TEE associated with the high-carb diet. That's huge – about the equivalent of working out moderately hard for an hour. So, counterintuitively (at least for those of us brought up under the low-fat dogma), the high-fat diet was associated with a much higher metabolic rate than the high carb one, making it somewhat easier to keep weight off.

You can read the study here; it's distributed in its entirety for free.

Swiss Alps accident

Another climber, this one from England, has died climbing in the Alps, reportedly on a mountain called the Nadelhorn. This happened a day after the tragedy that killed five climbers in another part of the Swiss Alps.

The fact is, the Alps are highly exposed and can be very perilous for us visitor climbers. Even though they are literally half the height above sea level, they kill far more people than K2 or Everest combined (obviously more people are hiking and climbing in the Alps than the latter two Himilaya peaks). But you get the point; any mountain can pose risks and you should never climb outside of your acceptable risk zone.

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