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Why Do I need to sweat when I workout?

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Short Answer:
Sweat is an indicator. Sweat is produced when the body needs to cool down from heating up too much. Except for when it’s hot outside the increased heat is from heat lost in metabolic reactions (i.e. your body working, breaking down fats and sugars). Sweat is used to cool the body down.

Short Scientific Answer:
Sweat is an indicator for increased metabolic activity through increased heat loss, increased body temperature and an increased negative feedback control to decrease the body temperature back to normal, homeostasis, 37 °C.

Long Answer:
“Why do P.E. teachers, coaches, personal trainers, etc always know that I’m not working hard enough during a workout?” And why do they always want you to sweat or heat up? Sweat is an indirect indication for increased metabolic activity in the body. What exactly does that mean? Metabolic activity refers to the breaking down and building up of fats, sugars, and proteins in your body. It’s a term that accounts for the sum of everything going on in your body. [I previously did a post on What is Metabolism? that you might want to take a look at.] Average metabolic activity or average activity has things breaking down and building up normally, this is called your basal metabolic rate and it stays around the normal temperature that you’re used to (37 °C or 98.7°F). It won’t increase the body to higher temperatures because they are uncomfortable and unsuitable / dangerous if all the time.

Let’s say you go to the gym, get on the treadmill and walk five miles. Your body is still going to increase its metabolism because it needs to break down a lot of sugar and fat to give your body the energy it needs to keep walking the five miles. But, most people want the most for their buck when they go to the gym, they want to workout the least they possibly can for the most benefits, as do I. Now, let’s say you do interval training where you run / jog ten miles in the same amount of time. Your body is going to have to work even harder, you’re going to increase your metabolism, this is going to increase your body temperature, because your body temperature is increased your body is going to do things to decrease your body temperature, i.e. sweating.

How does your body produce heat from metabolism? Your body produces heat from metabolism because metabolism consists of anabolism and catabolism, building things up and breaking things down, respectively. Anabolism and catabolism are words that refer to chemical reactions in your body. Chemical reactions occur in many of the things we use daily. Consider a laptop with a good battery, most of the time the laptop doesn’t get that hot. This is because the battery is efficient, the battery is able to create chemical reactions that don’t have a lot of heat loss. Heat loss meaning that the reaction gives off heat and will increase the temperature of the device, for example the laptop will get hotter if there is more heat loss. The laptop will cool down a bit if there is less heat loss. And what do we do to decrease the heat on a laptop? A fan (or a cooling system). A confusing example but it works, an efficient laptop is like a light, non-intense workout. An efficient laptop creates chemical reactions that don’t heat up the laptop so much that it is overwhelmingly hot, this also means that the fan (or cooling system) doesn’t have to work as hard.

Now, let’s say that you have a less efficient battery on the laptop. What normally happens when you have a laptop for a long time? The laptop heats up really quick, the fan is roaring to keep the laptop as cold as it can. To anthropomorphize the laptop, it’s working hard. The laptop is working so hard that the laptop is getting really hot (due to heat loss from chemical reactions) and the fan has to work even harder to keep the laptop cool. This would be comparable to a harder, intense workout. Your breaking down so many sugars and fats to give the body energy, that there is a lot more heat loss from all those reactions. Because there is a lot more heat loss, your body gets hotter, your body temperature increases. You start to get red, you feel warm, and depending on how hard your working you’re probably huffing and puffing; however, the best indicator would be sweating. Your body temperature is so high that the body needs to figure out something to do to cool the body down just like the fan in the laptop. Your body cools you down or decreases the temperature with sweat (the cooling system). The harder you’re working your body, the higher the temperature goes, the more sweat you will produce. A guy at the gym who has no sweat on his t-shirt isn’t working has hard as the guy who has a pool of sweat all over his shirt.

You could very well get away with not sweating while you’re working out but your body is not working as hard as you probably want it to be, you want to get the most for your buck. Because getting the most for your buck in this case, means that your breaking down fat and building muscle, or toning muscle and your doing that to a better degree than you would be if you weren’t sweating. Or to put it more simply, your losing weight faster.

This of course isn’t always foolproof because your body temperature can increase without working out, just on a hot day and your body won’t be working any harder per say. But, if you get a feel for how much you normally sweat without working out you might be able to gauge when it’s from working out. Most gyms are cooled, and as long as it’s not 5 o’clock when your there (too many people), odds are most of the sweat you’re producing is from working out.

To wrap it up, you need to sweat during a workout because it’s a great indicator for getting the most for your buck when working out. Your body is going to breaking down sugars and fats at a rate that is much faster than if you weren’t sweating during a workout. This breaking down is going to create heat loss that will increase your body temperature and sweat will be produced to decease body temperature. The body is working harder and your losing fat and gaining muscle at a faster pace.

[Disclaimer: this is just the basics of sweating and doesn’t include other factors that are involved. This does not mean that if you sweat for hours you will lose weight. The body likes stress and increased heat but not for long periods of time, don’t go crazy with it. I am not a licensed clinician and I am not a registered dietician but I know a few things from my biology courses.]

Categories: Helpful, Uncategorized

What is Metabolism? The Only Word You Need to Lose Weight

January 27, 2012 1 comment

We all throw this word around when were talking about losing weight or talking about working out. “I really need to start exercising again and speed up my metabolism.” “My metabolism is so slow right now!! I’m gaining weight eating vegetables!!!” But what exactly does this word mean and why does it need to be fast? And most importantly, why is it the only word you need to lose weight? Dieting, eating differently, exercising more or less, all rely on one, single word, metabolism.

Metabolism is a term or a word used describe the sum of catabolic and anabolic reactions occurring in your body. Said differently, metabolism means that you add up everything in your body breaking down and everything in your body building back together. Imagine that you have a brick wall and the brick wall represents metabolism (everything building up and breaking down), at first nothing happens to the brick wall, it’s static (static means it doesn’t change). If nothing happens to the brick wall (or metabolism) then nothing would be breaking down and nothing would be building up, catabolism and anabolism would be 0 and therefore you’re metabolism would be 0. Obviously, this doesn’t exist, you would die.

Instead, let’s say the brick wall is dynamic (dynamic means that its constantly changing), someone takes a sledge hammer to it and breaks apart a few pieces, and another person takes a sledge hammer to it and breaks apart a few pieces while someone on the other side has mortar ready to stick back together the pieces that broke apart, this person has to glue the individual pieces back together to make a full piece of brick and he has to glue them back on to the wall if he wants to get the wall back to where it was.

The people destroying the wall or breaking apart the wall are participating in catabolism, the break down of molecules in your body (simple examples are carbohydrates or sugars, basically from big clumps of sugars to smaller usable clumps of sugars; and fats, same thing, bigger clumps of fats to smaller clumps of fat). They’re taking the full, complete wall and taking a chunk out of the wall. The people who are gluing the pieces back together to get them back on to the wall are participating in anabolism, the building up of molecules in the body (this would be the opposite of the last one, smaller clumps of sugars would form bigger clumps of sugars and smaller clumps of fat would form bigger clumps of fat). They’re taking smaller pieces of the wall or smaller pieces of brick, putting them together in one spot, and putting them back onto the wall.

What happens when the person destroying the wall uses the sledge hammer against the wall? They’re using energy. And if they’re having a bad day, they’re using a lot of energy to blow off some steam. So, now you’re probably thinking well damn, let’s just break down the whole wall and we can be skinny the rest of our lives; but that would be comparable to saying we’re not going to eat again and we’re going to work continuously, what’s going to happen? You’re body will use up all the energy that it has to function or stay alive and it will cease to exist. So, the other variable that we have to add in or the other thing we need to mention is that the wall likes being complete or finished or whole. So, as you’re breaking down the wall it wants to be built back up again.

So, what happens when you go work out? You’re burning calories right? In a simple sense, calories are a term used describe energy, particularly metabolic energy. This means when you work out you’re burning calories or to say it differently, you’re using energy for catabolic reactions in your body. What was catabolic again? Breaking down of things in your body. That was the guy who would take a sledgehammer to the brick wall. When you eat and / or when you’re resting after the work out, you’re building up the wall again, you’re using energy for anabolic reactions in your body. Anabolic being the build up of things in your body. This concept of energy is the same as your cell phone. If you keep your phone on the energy in the phone goes down and if you charge your phone the energy in your phone goes back up.

You have a few concepts now, the wall wants to be whole and you use energy to break or build the wall. Since you can’t eat a brick wall, imagine that you have a sugar cube. Daily activity and small or light work outs would be like taking a few grains here and there from the cube. And later you would put the grains back onto the cube. Harder, intense workouts would be like breaking the cube in half and using half a cube; or if you want to use the brick wall example, it would be analogous to running a truck through it. If you run a truck through a brick wall, what’s going to happen? It’s going to take more energy and time to build the wall back up. Same thing for the cube, it would take a lot more to put that half of the cube back together.

This is essentially what your body is doing. Since it’s hard to picture molecular sugars and carbohydrates and fats, let’s use the sugar cube example again and let’s use a real muscle this time. Your bicep is a muscle that allows for arm movement and your bicep like all the other muscles has glycogen stores that when broken down release glucose that can be used by the cell for energy. What? So imagine glycogen stores as sugar stores, imagine there’s a sugar cube (glycogen) on your bicep. And when you work out your muscle will take bits and grains of this sugar cube so it will have energy to do the workout that you’re doing. If this is getting complicated remember this is the same thing as charging your phone and the battery on your phone using energy to work or function or stay on, you’re phone is using energy to turn on. The same thing is happening in your body, your body is using energy from the sugar cube (battery) to power the muscle with fuel (phone) so it will work. What happens when you run an app on your phone that takes a lot of memory? You use up a lot of battery. The same thing happens when you do a big / hard / intense workout, your body is going to use a lot of that sugar cube (glycogen / glucose) to fuel your body. That’s going to leave the sugar cube very depleted and the cube likes to be a whole cube. So, you’re going to replenish with other stored up sugar in your body or you’re going to eventually eat and that will replenish the sugar cube in your muscle (or the glycogen stores in your muscle).

In essence, this is what metabolism is. This is why the biggest indicator for losing weight (or gaining weight but most of us don’t want to do that) is calories in – calories out. What does that mean? The energy you’re putting in your body minus the energy your body is using (metabolism = catabolism + anabolism; metabolism = break down of energy + the build up of energy). Therefore, gaining weight is basically anabolism overpowering catabolism, you’re building up a lot more energy in the body than you are breaking down. Losing weight would be the exact opposite, catabolism would overpower anabolism, you’re breaking down more energy than you’re building up.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff. There are only two things in your body that are used for energy (to make it simple). Fats and sugars. Protein is used, in the simplest way, to build muscles back up; another way to say this is that protein is the brick and fats and sugars are the energy used to put the brick wall back together. Despite what we all think fats are incredibly good for you, without fats we would all inevitably die. The thing that we don’t like in modern society is an excess of fat or to put it differently, an excess of stored energy for the body to use.

Fats have this great ability to store energy. For most of us, this ability is too great and we begin to loathe it and some of us can go so far as to abhor it. Fats if they’re not used will be stored in fat cells as we all have heard and we all know too well. Since fats have such a great ability to be stored and store energy, the best fats that you can get are fats that don’t store well. Again, the best fats that you can get are fats that are not stored well. Another way to say this is fats that are broken down easily. What fats are these? Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats don’t store well in the body (if you want to know more about this, it’s because of the double / triple bond character in the molecule that doesn’t allow it to clump together well). And the deviled trans fats and saturated fats store all too well in the body. So, if you’re eating a lot of trans and saturated fats, what’s going to happen in your body? You’re going to have a lot of fat around that stores well, i.e. a gut. If you’re eating a lot more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats what’s going to happen? You’re less likely to store these fats and less likely to have a gut.

The dreaded sugars. Again, despite what we all think, sugars are extremely vital to every single cell in your body, especially your brain. Sugars break down quickly in the body, what happens when you put a sugar cube in water? So, the best way to get sugars is sugars that don’t break down easily. These are your complex sugars, they’re structure is complex and harder to break down. Simple sugars as you can imagine are simple, they are easier to break down. We all have a pretty good grasp of sugars; the difference between eating an apple or a carrot vs. a candy bar.

And what happens when you eat too much sugar? It either gets converted to glycogen stores, it’s used, or it gets stored in the form of fat. So, if you don’t use the sugar that you ate for the day, what happens to it? It will go to fat cells and be stored as fat. What happens if you eat fat and the fat is not used? It will get stored as fat in fat cells, this is why they don’t recommend eating that much fat for daily consumption. To tie this back into the original discussion, if you’re eating too much sugar or you’re eating too much energy for the day it will store the energy for later use (it stores it in the form of glycogen or fat to be used again when you need it), if you’re not using enough then it will use the stores of fat / glycogen that you have for energy to fuel the body or fuel your muscles / cells for the work they need to do (i.e. give your body energy for a workout).

One more thing to end the post: why do people always go on these 1,200 calorie diets? Your basal metabolic rate which is the metabolism your body normally does just for posture, walking around a little bit, digestion, etc is at least 1,000 calories if not more. It can speed up depending on how much muscle / fat you have. When you’re sitting around doing nothing muscle burns 8 cal/hr and fat burns 3 cal / hr so you can see that it pays off more to have more muscle, it takes a lot more to keep muscle going. So, if you’re working out and burning about 500 cal / day and you’re only eating about 1,200 cal / day you can have a loss of roughly 500 cal / day which is 3,500 cal / week which means you’re burning off a pound per week ( 1 lb / week). Which is healthy. And now that you know what metabolism is, if you speed up your metabolism or you burn more cal / hr which translates to burning more cal / day then you’re going to break down what you eat faster or quicker; in short, you’re going to lose weight faster. If your metabolism slows down you won’t break down food (or energy) as fast and you’re going to store more of it for later use.

Metabolism is the only word you need to lose weight. Dieting, exercising, diet supplements, different vitamins, minerals, etc, all act on certain things in your body to change the rate of your metabolism (the building up and breaking down of fats / sugars in your body). Your body has a great ability to adapt to these changes which is why the one thing recommended and everyone hates to do is changing your lifestyle to incorporate a continuous and long-term work out and eating plan. Anything you don’t keep long-term your body will re-adapt to which will change the the speed of your metabolism (for most people means slowing down their metabolism and putting on more weight).

[Hope this helps everyone! Quick disclaimer, I am not a clinician or practicing, I do not have a license and I am not a registered dietician but I do know a few things about metabolism from my biology courses (not everything of course, there are entire college courses on metabolic regulation). Also, this post is meant to be a breif, simple description of metabolism so people get a better grasp of what it is, it does not go in to detail about building muscle while burning fat, metabolic diseases, etc]

Categories: Helpful

Pacing is cool if you do it for a long time

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The tortoise and the hair were right or more correctly the tortoise was right. I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to explain the importance of pacing for the past few months now and I think I’ve come up with a better way than when I started. I was running at my local park, it must be a 100 yards away, and I was jogging past a bunch of people, but I was going incredibly slow. At first I just wanted to warm up and then I didn’t want to get injured (park has to many soft spots) and then I was doing a cool down.

While I was jogging past them I thought I must look really dumb jogging this slow. I must look really dumb until I come back around. If you see someone come around that slow you might think “Oh, I could probably do that, that’s easy.” Then they come back around, “Hmmm.” And around “Well, maybe I could do that.” And around “Damn. This guy just keeps going.” And around, “Show off.”

The hair is a really great runner and he has a lot of strength so he can fly by people. Doing a fly by is a really great way to impress people because they can’t see most people slow down right after the corner (at least when you’re in an event). The tortoise may have gone really slow but in the end he wins the race, people will cheer along the way but not like they do for the hair until the end of the race when the victor comes in.

6:00 minute mile is pretty fast for most people, they are running at 10 miles per hour. Not many people in the world can keep a pace that long, especially for 13 miles or more. I probably couldn’t run a 6:00 minute mile and if I could I know I would be dying to stop right after the accomplishment occurred. It’s the same for running a 12:00 minute mile or a 15:00 minute mile (jogging vs. walking, respectively). Let’s say you were jogging quickly at the 12:00 minute pace for 10 miles but then you walked a 25:00 minute mile afterward the rest of the time (not unlikely, it happened to me at an event in Irvine to a lighter degree), in the end you would finish the same time as the person walking a 15:00 minute mile pace. The same goes for times that are even closer. Roughly 11:45 minute mile pace and a 12:00 minute pace is the difference between a 2:29:00 and a 2:36:00, roughly. Seven minutes might not seem like much, but after 13 miles and 2 1/2 hours of running, it’s a huge accomplishment. If anything, if that happened to me, I’d be smiling.

Most people are in the gyms and outside to impress people and, you say, “oh no they’re not” but if you know how the machines actually work and you know about physiology, most people are in it for a hair’s pace. They’re in it to strut their stuff and make a few heads turn which is a great ego boost, it’s one of the main reasons for working out, to feel better. I don’t blame them, every once in a while I do it, but, there’s always a price to pay such as increased risk of injury. Showing off will always lead to the inevitable if you’re going long distances, the realization that you’re muscles and your mind aren’t ready for the extended work.

The same thing happens for half marathons and marathons. You’ll see a few people in an event throughout the entire event and you’ll see other people that passed you up who were going pretty quickly and you feel bad about yourself, “Why can’t I go any faster?” “I must be going really slow, I should pick up my pace.” 10 minutes later you’ll see them again, and then you’ll see them at the same level as you, and then you’ll see them behind you, that is, if you care to look back. I haven’t been doing halfs for that long, only since June but it happens every time, people are going faster than they can handle; the unavoidable occurs, they either get tired or they run out of energy and everyone they just passed are now passing them.

The great thing about pacing and about pacing yourself is that you can always go slower. If you’re running 5 MPH which is a 12:00 minute mile pace and you feel like you’re going to fast then try going 4.5 MPH which will be a 13:33 minute mile pace. There are some people that can walk faster than that but if you’re still jogging at a slower pace most of the time you’ll be going faster than a walking pace and if you go long enough you’ll be unbelievably ahead (in the sense that you won’t believe how much you’ve gone). 13:33 minute mile pace and a 15:00 minute mile pace is the difference between 30:00 minutes roughly for a half marathon, it would be 60:00 minutes for a marathon.

So, when do you slow down and when do you speed up? You have to listen to your body. If you’re running a long and all of a sudden you say to yourself, “Dang, I’m not sure I can keep this up much longer.” Than you should slow down for half a mile or until you feel like you can go a little bit faster. I was jogging with a pacer for a 2:30:00 for the Tri-City Carlsbad half marathon. We were doing a 12:00 minute mile pace and some miles we were doing 11:45 and others we were doing 12:05 and the difference in your body movements is incredibly subtle but they make all the difference. If I did an 11:30 the whole time I probably wouldn’t have made it more than 5 to 6 miles. The difficult part is the change in speeds which follows with a slight mental awareness and a slight muscle strain (little burn that makes it that much harder for 10-15 seconds). But if you can power through the burn and keep your mind from stopping your body, you should be able to run longer distances in no time.

I hope this shines some light on the word pacing and makes slower a little more desirable. Take care everyone and we hope to see you at the Donate Life Run/Walk, OC.

[This post is a rebuttal to all thoughts of wanting to go quicker for a short period of time and not going slower for a longer period of time. This post isn’t really for running advice, I can provide a few tips but you’re much better off talking to a coach or a trainer (trainer that knows how to run).]

Categories: Helpful, Tips of the Trade

Happy Holidays and a Great New Year from Team WeNGUH

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

We’re sorry we took so long to wish everyone a happy holidays (Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or any other holidays that aren’t mentioned). We were a little tied up with school, work, the actual holidays themselves, and a few medical mishaps.

Here are some posts were proud of to remember year (these are in no specific order):

But as they say its better late then never so, on behalf of the entire team, we would like to wish everyone a belated Happy holidays. We hope they were relaxing and you didn’t eat too much sugar or drink too much egg nog. And if you did, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.

We would also like to wish everyone a great new year. We said that last year and the year before that and look what happened but maybe this will be the year that it all turns around. Even though you’re technically supposed to make resolutions before the new year, remember to keep your resolutions realistic. Doing less is a lot better than doing more and deviating too quickly.

Walking two minutes a day can lead to walking half an hour a day. Eating one less M&M can lead to eating only one M&M when they come up. Exercising well and eating better is hard. So keep it simple and easy.

On behalf of the team, we would like to thank everyone for their support now and over the years. We really do appreciate it. Thank you.

Quick Survey: Earn $10 Off an Event

August 5, 2010 1 comment

I just took a survey for the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. The survey wasn’t very long, took maybe five minutes and I got $10.00 for it, which is roughly making a $120/hr. You have a year to use the coupon code and you can use it to sign up for any competitor event, all the Rock ‘n’ Roll events, the TriRock events, and the Muddy Buddies. I’d say use it at one of the conventions, either for that event next year or a different event. Usually, they have deals on many of the events, so it’d be a double deal.

I did already use the coupon to sign up for the TriRock event, but feel free to use it if it happens to work.

Categories: Helpful
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