Burn Fat, Lose Fat with SUP
Whether you are gliding through glassy waters, or chugging it hardcore through some gnarly swell, stand up paddling burns calories and is definitely considered exercise. (Refer to last article: Is SUP really exercise?) But how many calories exactly? Some people say a man can burn anywhere from 800-1000 calories per hour, while a woman can burn from 400-800 calories per hour. But the fact of the matter is….who cares?
When you’re out in the wild blue yonder expending energy within nature, just the way man (or woman) was supposed to, calories begin to not mean that much any more. However, if SUP is your avenue of choice to get fit and lose fat, this article will en-”lighten” towards inches lost and optimal health in several easy-to-incorporate ways.
Fat loss comes from adapting your body to burn stored body fat for energy in three ways. In part one of this article, we will discuss THE number one way: Nutrition. Bottom line is that even if you are hauling your cookies, so to speak, and your board to the water while eating lots of refined, highly processed “convenience” foods you will not see the body fat results you are looking for.
Number two: Proper rest and stress-relief. No matter how fast you paddle, or how many dark leafy greens you eat, if you do not digest them well because your digestion is all out of whack due to deadlines at work, you will not see the body fat results you are looking for.
However, I will say that SUP is a great stress-reliever if approached with the proper mentality and you avoid overtraining. We’ll get into that in just a bit. Then we will address number three: The right fat-burning workouts for your lifestyle and fitness level.
So if you are ready to turn your love for SUP into the fat-loss dream plan of your life, then let’s explore
Part 1: Nutrition and Stress & How it relates to SUP
Not only will proper nutrition help you shed excess body fat and feel good in the skin your in, but with the proper nutrients listed here, you can achieve optimal health, with the side effect being pure fat loss as your body’s delicate system begins to function as it’s supposed to. And interestingly enough, research states that body fat loss begins with teaching your body to become “fat-adapted”.
We’ve become a nation of granola bar-crunchin’, low-fat cereal munchin’ convenience eaters, who are afraid that if we eat fat we may gain fat. But all that carb-laden food, which is low in fat, and quickly converting to sugar, sends insulin spiking and crashing thereby sending hunger signals all throughout the day that we are “hungry, hungry, hungry for sugar, sugar, sugar.” To understand where all this carb-laden food is hiding throughout your day, let’s go through the typical American’s day of eating:
• Breakfast: a large bowl of cereal, a banana, and 8oz of orange juice = 28 tsp of sugar in the body • Mid-morning snack: Mocha latte from Starbucks = 15 tsp of sugar in the body • Lunch: Sandwich on whole-grain, apple, and chips = 17.5 tsp of sugar in the body • Dinner: Low fat pasta with garlic bread and 2 glasses of wine = a whopping 32 tsp of sugar in the body.
Total Teaspoons of sugar (or sugar cube equivalent) for the day: 92.5 tsp!!
Overtime, eating like this creates and overproduction of insulin, and since insulin is your fat-storing hormone, we tend to put on weight specifically through the middle, and even more than that, our energy plummets, our joints begin to hurt, and we suffer from constant cravings. As you can see from above, there isn’t a whole lot of fat in this typical American’s day, as we have become a nation afraid to eat fat for fear of getting fat.
But here’s the key to successful fat loss for life: Crowd out the carb-laden foods with good saturated fats. Eat fat to create fat loss. Why? Fats do not spike your insulin and by taking in ample amounts of “good for you fats”, you are telling your body, “Hey, Dude. No insulin spikes here, so go ahead and paddle out and use stored body fat for the energy to do so.” And your body gladly responds with a giant Shaka sign as the fat starts melting off. The right fats taken in all throughout the day will create satiety (satisfaction with meals), rid you of energy slumps, aid digestion, and regulate your moods and hormones. What are the right fats?
Saturated fats from clean grass-fed and wild-caught animal protein, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil and olives, eggs (yes you can eat the yolks, in fact that’s the best fat-blasting part of the egg) and even butter. So if we were to crowd out the carbs with these good fats in the meal plan listed above, our typical fat-burning day might look like this:
Breakfast: 2-3 eggs scrambled with a couple handfuls of spinach cooked in coconut oil alongside a piece of nitrate-free bacon = 0.5 tsp of sugar
Lunch: 1 whole avocado mashed with canned salmon or chicken topped with salsa and all tossed onto a palm-sized baked potato = 6.75 tsp of sugar
Mid-afternoon snack: 1 piece of dark chocolate and 1 tbsp of almond butter = 1.5 tsp of sugar
Dinner: Steak, roasted asparagus in butter and a large side salad with oil and vinegar for dressing = 4 tsp of sugar
Total Teaspoons of sugar (or sugar cube equivalent) for the day: 12.75 tsp (quite a big difference in your bodies need to store or burn fat).
As you can see, becoming a fat-adapted-fat-burner does not mean becoming low-carb. It means the right carbs to give you just the right amount of whole food glucose (sugar from starch) that your brain and liver needs. This is where vegetables, potatoes, and even some small amounts of fruits become your carbs of choice.
And what about protein?
Well, the fact is that having protein at each sitting will increase your metabolism by a whopping 60%, and keep you in fat-burning mode. Each of us needs about half our body weight in grams of protein in any given day. However, try to resist the urge to pile that all on at one meal with a giant 64oz t-bone. Instead rack up your protein dollars all throughout the day with good sources of animal protein like wild caught salmon, grass-fed beef, wild game, and pasture fed eggs and chicken. But please, if you are vegan, don’t flip me the bird just yet. Your plan is to attack hemp seeds, brazil nuts, chia seeds and nutritional yeast, all of which contain good amounts of protein as well as some of those sources providing ample amounts of healthy fats.
These three foods are essential to every cell of our being. Without one, your body will soon form cravings for it, until it gets what it needs. (Hence why low-fat dieters binge on fatty ice cream and fried foods when dieting is over). Finding the correct balance of Fats, Plant-based Carbs, and quality Protein is the one and only way to achieve optimal health with that wicked-cool side-effect of losing that stubborn body fat. But what about stress? Can you still see results if your day includes running around trying to fix everything and everyone like a chicken with your head cut off ? Let’s explore…
It starts with cortisol. This important stress hormone, is secreted in response to any sort of stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional. While cortisol is necessary to help you deal with acute stress, chronic stress, or stress that consumes your life leads to adrenal fatigue and essentially the inability to deal with any stress at all, as well as sleep disturbances, sugar cravings, depression, exhaustion, and mood fluctuations. Chronic release of this stress hormone also leads to weight gain.
When your body is in a stressful state, cortisol is released into the body, robbing the body of vital nutrients and slowing the metabolism. Not only that, but the cortisol ups your insulin and causes you to store fat even when you are eating healthfully and exercising. Ridding stress is just as important as ridding the Doritos from your pantry. Yet, as great as it would be to rid all the stress in our lives and just live in super-lovely la-la land all the time there are certain instances where the stress cannot be eliminated – such as studying for a big exam while taking care of your children, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or combatting a physical illness and dealing with physical ailments. So what’s a person to do when stress is part of life? Well, funny you should ask! Aside from eating like I’ve mentioned above to help you handle stressful situations and anxiety better, below, I’ve outlined the main thing that helps combat stress, and begin to induce the fat-burning potential you were born with. It all starts with….
REST! The MOST IMPORTANT: Why Do We Need Rest? We live in a fast-paced, high-stressed, chaotic world. Every day can be over-stimulating from the running to-do lists, the deadlines at work, the endless family commitments from the needs of children, spouses, and aging parents. Television and media bombard us with over-stimulating messages from the latest gadget we need to what’s wrong with us and why we need certain medications to the colors and vivid pictures that pop out at us, not to mention the news that feels our heads with images of doom and gloom.
Everything we do is fast. We drive fast, we eat fast, we exercise hard and fast, we cram as much into one day as we possibly can whether we are at work or on vacation. Just as infant gets cranky and irritable when they’ve had too big of a day out and about and need their own home environment, their own bed and some down-time from the overstimulation of colors, images, sounds and people, so too do we as adults. Our brains are not made to handle large amounts of chronic stimulation. They are hard-wired for rest and require it.
Meditation/prayer or deep breathing is a great place to start. Maybe you can’t rid your life of the stress, but you can breath through the stressful times in life and learn to calm yourself down periodically throughout the day. Even just 5-10 minutes of sitting still in a quiet place and focusing on your breath can do wonders for igniting your “rest and digest” response rather than keeping the “fight or flight” response chronically going. Studies of shown time and again that yogic breathing done in a yoga class reduces the impact of stress on the body by more than 50%.
And one of the most effective and relaxing ways I’ve found to meditate is on my SUP in the middle of a calm quiet cove or lagoon. In addition, we must sleep and we require good, quality sleep. Think of it this way: How well does your smartphone run when you use it all day, implementing all the apps, and then only plugging it in for 30 minutes? You won’t get a full charge and eventually while you are out and about, the phone runs out of battery life.
Our systems function the same way. It’s as if our brains are the internal IOS system such as that of a smartphone, and when we multi-task all throughout the day and have all these different applications running in our head, we use up a lot of battery life, or essentially a lot of LIFE. If we don’t stop and rest, and slow down and plug into ourselves and shut down some of the apps, over time that constant mini-charge of our body will lead to burnout and our systems will no longer work properly, kind of like a phone with a bad battery. This is when life has spiraled out of balance. We get sick. We get depressed. And sadly we get fat.
With the knowledge of how to eat for optimal health, not only will fat begin to be your primary source of energy burned, but you will find loads more energy to get out there and paddle your way to better core strength, stamina, and balance. Now let’s figure out which fat-burning workout you will have all this new found energy for. It requires the right kind of workout and that’s where Part 2 of our SUP your way to Fat Loss comes in.