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Discipline of Getting the Fat Down for Optimal Power-to-Weight

The Everest Challenge is a 10-month training effort, at least to be competitive. But for me to have a chance at the podium (Men’s Masters 45-54) this year requires not only disciplined training for endurance and power, but maximizing the power-to-weight ratio for those grueling climbs. Well, and my right leg has to cooperate and it’s being cranky at present, but no joint issues at least.

It means getting my body weight down to a stretch goal of 165 (sea level), 168 being acceptable, but no higher. Those figures mean body fat of around 6%, which my body finds quite unappetizing and fights all the way down, getting more and more efficient at utilizing calories (steady-state for me is around 12% even with a good amount of exercise). It means breaking through 2 or 3 “set points”; weights which the body does not like to drop below. For me that’s generally 180, 174, 170 pounds. And it means doing so while losing fat and minimizing muscle loss.

Recording weight every morning and graphing it is essential to ensure staying on track because 2-3 pound variations can occur, which can be discouraging. But with daily recording a trend emerges and this is a psychological boost and motivator. Or a chance to correct course: I had a devilishly hard time losing any weight in December/January though maybe my body was trading some fat for some muscle (so I hope). But I saw that it wasn’t working, so I dropped the red wine which was wrecking my daily deficit.

So I’ve refocused my efforts, which means counting calories (weighing to the gram for accurate intake figures), using kilojoules => calories from my SRM power meter for highly accurate energy expenditure figures, and most challenging, always being a little hungry. It took me a few weeks to refresh this skill which does not come easy: it means constantly being aware of whether it’s real hunger or busy-eating.

Click graph to view larger.

Weight trend and calories with training for 2014 Everest Challenge
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