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Old 12-01-2013, 09:29 AM   #1
Brendan McNamar
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Energy efficiency discussion?

This is an unscientific discussion about what appears to be an observed phenomenon of athletes being able to do more work on less calories over time.

I have two possible explanations:

1) We are actually taking in more calories then we realize through cheat meals and items. These are enough to keep us out of nutritional trouble.

2) Our bodies are becoming much more efficient at running themselves and doing workouts on fewer calories.

One of my coaches (M/35/5'10"/200, <13% BF) had a base metabolic rate predicted at 1963 calories daily.

Using Harris Benedict Equation at the second highest activity level it would predict 1963 * 1.725 = 3386 calories a day.

He is eating 18 Zone Blocks a day. This would be around 1700 calories a day. If we put these two pieces of information together he should be in a 3386-1700= 1686 calorie deficit. Even if the calculators are off some he still has to be in a predicted 1,000 calorie deficit.

Now if his strength and met-cons were falling apart it would all make sense. The problem is he has had little or no drop in strength and his met-cons are going through the roof. He may have a shot at regionals with just a little bit of luck on the Open workouts.

He has dropped 30 pounds (Most excess body fat but also some muscle mass. He is an ex body builder) sense switching from trying to defend his weight at 230 to eating Zone and letting his weight settle out wherever it does.

So I'm interested in high performance low body fat individuals for this discussion. This is not about weight loss but fueling athletic performance.

So comments, observation and ideas about this?
Nomadic CrossFit Coach
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Old 12-01-2013, 01:10 PM   #2
Michael Dries
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Re: Energy efficiency discussion?

He's probably eating more than 1700 calories a day. There can be upwards of 50% more "hidden" calories in a block depending on your food selections. For example 1 block of olive oil is (1/3tbsp on olive oil) is 36 calories while 1 block of almonds (3 almonds) is 21 calories. That's a 71% difference.

Same for proteins

Chicken breast, skinless 1.25OZ
Ground beef (Less than 10% fat), 1.25OZ

1.25oz of raw skinless chicken breast is
Calories 43
Protein 7.97
fat .93

1.25oz of raw 93% lean ground beef is
calories 53
protein 7.3
fat 2.4

That's a 21% difference in over all calories.

Additionally how long did I take him to drop 30lbs? Working backwards with the weight loss over time will give you a better idea of what his deficit is and what his real daily expenditure is.

30lbs will make almost all metcons easier since you're moving a lot less weight around on body weight exercises.
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Old 12-01-2013, 01:10 PM   #3
Chris Mason
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Re: Energy efficiency discussion?

Your body is amazingly adaptive. It will regulate metabolism based upon caloric intake over a given period of time. The one caveat is that it seems more readily capable of slowing metabolism for reduced caloric vs. increasing it. That is why very low calorie diets can be problematic. There gets to be a point where you slow it down so much it is hard to get in the proper amounts of some micronutrients, and you can only go so low in your overall intake.
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Old 12-01-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
Brad Allen Jones
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Re: Energy efficiency discussion?

Take a look at college wrestlers. Many consume less than 1000 calories daily yet still manage to do on average I would say 3-4 lifting workouts a week, a 2 hour practice every day (many too intense for even very good crossfitters) as well as 3-5 runs per week. Some days they consume well under 500 calories. Some compete very well like this and others flake.

How? They will tell you mental toughness but I'm guessing there is a lot of adaptation going on.

I think mark twight has written about it too, how the body needs much less than we think (depending on goals and sport).
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