Tag Archives: Heart Rate

Metabolic Efficiency Part 2–The Weight is Coming Off!


So I started this whole Metabolic Efficiency thing at 243lbs back on July 21st and since then I’m down to 226lbs.  I knew the basics to it, burn more fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate.  I knew that it didn’t include counting calories.  I knew that it included the whole low-carb high fat diet.   I had my doubts about it, because it went against everything that you learn from personal training and in terms of fueling the body during long endurance sports.   I also know that 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories of energy and 1 gram of carbohydrate gives you 4.  So you have more than 2 times the amount of energy in fat then carbohydrate.  However, your bodies preferred method of energy is carbohydrate.

So how am I going to get my body to burn more fat and less carbs… well decrease the carbs and increase the fats!   Been doing this for 2 weeks now, and surprisingly I’m eating more spinach, squash, zucchini, and kale then I ever have before.   I’m eating more fish (I try not to eat beef, pork, or chicken), and I’ve reintroduced actually bacon and butter back into my diet!   Little did I know that even though I’m eating tons of greens/carbs I never really knew how low value of carbs they were and filling.   Stuffing my face with spinach and kale (about 2-4 ounces) every day is hard work.  You can see from my MFP (My Fitness Pal) screenshot that I eat… a lot.



In doing so, I’ve actually started to become accustom to finding that I’m enjoying cooking more, and looking at more veggies, and the side effect is little to no sugar!  So you can see that even with 80 grams of carbs I’m still getting most of my energy from “healthy” fat sources.  You can see on there avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.   Now keep in mind yes I’m under my calorie goal by MFP… I don’t count calories so I couldn’t care less about it.

So what about my performance during my workouts?  Let’s just say that I can go 2 hours without needing anything besides maybe water and electrolyte salts on a hot day.  How do I know this?   Well I got a Metabolic Efficiency Profile test does that tells me what % fat vs carbohydrate I’m burning at various intensities.   I now know that if my heart rate is cruising at 151 (Z2) I’m burning roughly 75% of my calories from fat… and with 2000 calories of stored carbohydrate I’m going to go for a while.  If my HR is racing at 155 then I’m reaching that 50% cross over area where I’m getting half my energy from fat and from stored carbs.   So since I’m a slow runner I can now start increasing my effort while trying to maximize my fat burning engine so I don’t need to worry about all those sugar based drinks and gu’s out there that could cause all those wonderful GI issues.  So what do I take on those long training days that are 2+ hours?   I hate Generation UCAN, which is a super starch designed not to spike your insulin levels so you can keep burning fat, and not sugar.  Yeah it can get a bit goopy but so far, it’s working out great!

So now that the science behind it is out of the way, I’m 2 weeks into it.   I haven’t felt any energy crashes.  I raced Solana Beach Triathlon on nothing but water and felt great the entire time.  Took 4th in my division, I’m ok with that cause once again I’ve been training for an Ironman, not a Sprint.  I’m down almost 14lbs, mostly fat.  I’m sitting at approximately 18% BF and I’m feeling like things are falling into place.  Putting on some muscle to get some power back on the bike and I’ve never really ran at this weight for a long time so I’m going to be curious to see how my body adapts to being not just lighter but leaner.


VO2 Max and Cardiovascular Metabolic Profile–COOL STUFF!

So this week I went and had a Cardiovascular Metabolic Profile at the Fit Shop and talk about lots-o-information!  I should also say it was an AH-HA moment as well.  All through training I really had no clue what an easy pace was for me other than a number on the treadmill.  I didn’t even think anything really had to do with what my HR was so I never really paid much attention to it and continued with my 8./1 run/walk method but at a slower pace.   I’d watch my HR go up during the 8 minutes and then recover some during that 1.  So all these numbers I was getting I “Sort of” had an idea how they all worked, I just didn’t know how it they worked with me.

VO2 Max: Definition: VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight

VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best indicator of cardiorespiratory endurance and aerobic fitness.


So I’m almost at good (42) but I am above the average.  So I can still improve and better utilize the O2 I take in.  So how do I do this?  Well I have to improve my cardiovascular economy.. DUH.   IN WITH THE HR ZONES!   We know them as Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and you can find lots of online calculators that will do them based on your age and weight and resting hr etc, but how accurate are they?  I have no clue.   Either way I got this chart  before that showed my actual fat calories burned verses stored carbohydrate (Glycogen) burned.


The black line is the total calories burned while the brown line is my fat calories burned.  Now with each minute after my 5 minute warm up the intensity went up after the warm-up.  Around 7.minutes when my speed was about 5.5 on the treadmill you can see that fat burning bumps and after 8 minutes when the speed was increased by .5 mph my use of fat for fuel went steadily down to where at 12.5 miles it stopped completely and I was using stored carbohydrate for fuel for 3 minutes before I was done.   So while I attained a max speed on that thing of 8.5 MPH (could have been 9) as I was getting dizzy you can tell that I don’t have a big gas tank once the peddle to the metal went down.   But when I was running at 5.5 I had a HUGE gas tank!   So how to improve?

HR Training Zones:

So from the graph above and my report I got this HR training zone dialed in for me to use.  Zone 2 is where I need to be to improve my overall running economy or efficiency.  I was very unhappy to see that it means I have to keep my HR no higher than 147.  I know this meant slow and currently from the 6 MPH, and most of all no way I can attain a 2 hour 13.1 race.  But looking forward to IMAZ it is what I need to do.

HR Zones

So then why do I need to run in Zone 2 and why can’t I just run faster?  Well remember that peddle to the metal up top?  If I run faster my HR goes up and while I will increase my top speed, I won’t increase that gas tank size.   So what I need to do is run in longer periods of zone 2 and as that gets easier I will gradually increase my ability to run at a faster pace at a great efficiency without running out of gas.   What about the GU’s and drinks that have all the carbs (gas) can’t I just take them?  I could, but here is the problem with that.  The body can only take in 200-300 calories per hour and as you can see above if I keep up in Zone 4 I’m going to burn through 1192 calories in 1 hour.   If I could somehow manage to even run for 1 hour at that speed that’s 1000 calories that I can’t get back and I will end up on the ground with nothing left.    I would have to be able to take in 1200 calories an hour to even maintain that speed (assuming my muscles could handle that of course).   So while I could maintain that speed for about 1 mile it just doesn’t make sense in my current state to try and run that for 13.1 or 26.2 miles.    Where I can run in Zone 2 and burn my stored fat as a fuel source.  By the way the average human being has 80,000 calories in stored fat!

So as you can see from everything above I have LOTS of room for improvement and it will get better as my weight and body fat goes down even farther.   I’ll go back for a retest in May before my Bass Lake Triathlon to see how I’ve improved but with everything coming together now I can’t wait to see the difference.

13.1 Miles Down, More To Go!

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I’ve been doing 13.1 Half Marathons on and off for the last few years but I’ve always cramped up in the later miles.  When you’re 6’4” 260lbs that’s a lot of energy to expend.  I did the Rock n Roll San Diego Half for the first time Sunday and I had 1 main goal which was to finish under 3 hours.  My first 13.1 I finished in 3hrs and 20mins with cramping at mile 9 so I had to walk the last few miles but I did not quit.  As the years went by I did a few more and my time went down with my fastest ever was 3:07 last December in Las Vegas.  I started cramping at mile 10 and walked the rest in.  I was really let down I had trained for this one I had changed my diet and really put some focus into it.  Then revisited my training and my diet and my race day nutrition and it paid off with not only my fastest time ever at 2hrs and 38mins but I was able to actually run the whole thing the only times I had to walk was around the hydration stations from other people slowing down.  I didn’t come into this race expecting it to be an A race it was a C race for me.  My A race is Saturday in Utah, but I set the stage for an even better race I hope I just have to recover properly.  My next A race will be in September at the Tri-Rock San Diego doing the Olympic Distance triathlon with another B race 13.1 in November in Las Vegas.  I’m excited to see where my training takes me for those races.

So what possessed me to start doing a half marathon (13.1)?  Well it dates back to 2007 when I first started to lose weight.  I said that I wanted to run in the Rock n Roll Marathon, that was my goal.  I started doing some 5K’s and realized that I needed to do a 13.1 at some point so my first ever was the Carlsbad 13.1 which I described my experience above.  I was very humbled with it cause mentally I hit the mental wall around mile 7 I really questioned myself and what was I thinking.  Had I set my goals too high and too fast?  Then the cramping set in and I had to walk the final miles.  The moment I crossed the finish line and I realized I did it the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt was amazing.  Weeks afterwards I questioned my goal of running a full 26.2 miles and I abandoned it.  Mentally I don’t think I have what it takes to stay in a run that long before getting to that really dark place.  So I decided to stick to 13.1’s and try to improve my times and be able to actually run an entire 13.1 without stopping to walk.  I reached that goal this past Sunday and I am hoping it’s a building block of more to come and maybe I will revisit a 26.2 at some point. 

So what changed in 6 months for me to turn a 3:07:00 finish into a 2:38:00 finish?  Well aside from running 15lbs lighter, I started running 3 days a week and much longer distances and I brought my leg training back into the picture.  My usual training consisted mainly of running for 4 minutes and then walking a minute for a set amount of miles.  On my HR monitor I noticed that at the start my HR would be around 130 BPM and inch upwards towards 168 BPM towards minute 3-4 and then I’d recover during the minute back down to 130 BPM.  I’d rinse and repeat this process mile after mile.  On distances longer than 8 miles I knew I needed my hydration belt cause of the sheer amount of energy I would expend.  Then 1 day I decided to try and run a full 5K and see if I could do it.  Sure enough I did it and felt really good about it.  When I looked back at the HR monitor I noticed 1 thing, my constant HR range of 150-155 BPM which really seemed a key range for me.  So I started to look more into HR training and right around the same time my Personal Training Coach Spencer Aiken was going through intensity levels and HR rates and like a light bulb it all went off that if I’m going to run the entire 13.1 miles I need to keep within that HR Range which was about 60% of my capacity and at my current fitness state that’s right around my Lactic Threshold (LT) as well.  Now that I have that figured out I needed to focus on race week/day nutrition.  In 13.1 miles at the 12:00 mile pace I burned through a whopping 4310 calories on top of what my body needs for minimal function.  Upon reading several race day diets and nutritional needs articles from pro’s I also realized 1 critical error that I had made in every single race.  I gulped everything down mostly water and Gatorade.  The GU pack’s that you got I quickly devoured several of them as fast as I could and kept on running.  Every article I read had 1 common factor and that was the runners would drink through the race such as through the next mile and they would take small bites of whatever they had sips of gel.  I brought all this together and low and behold I had a very good 13.1 by my standards.  So now I can really focus on what I need to do to increase my run times in preparation for my next 13.1’s and new goal 70.3.