Quantifying this knowledge, defining health and fitness markers, and using these markers to set measurable goals is the backbone of the “quantified self” trend. It’s the reason why heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and even blood and urine testing kits are seeing massive growth in popularity.
In February, I was given the chance to join this trend and try out the “Stoffwechselkammer” or “Metabolism Chamber” at the Max Delbrück Centre, just outside Berlin. This would measure my oxygen usage, the composition of my exhalations, and my physical exertion during a simple fitness test, and thereby, it was promised, provide me with detailed information that I could use to maximise my results by making simple adjustments to my training and nutrition.
I turned up at the centre late (Public Transport in Berlin), soaked (February in Berlin), in the wrong clothes (Baggage Handling in Berlin), and extremely hungry- you have to be in a fasted state in order to complete the tests. By “the wrong clothes”, I mean that I now had to complete an hour long fitness test, indeed, be photographed during said test, wearing my Levis, a big thick rugby shirt, and my Timberlands. Not exactly what you’d call performance gear.
Despite that, the tests went by rather quickly, and four hours later, after being reunited with my luggage, I was filling up in a McDonald’s on the way to Hamburg (I didn’t get to 110kg with celery and water, after all). Two weeks later, the results were in.
So, why the mixed feelings? Well, all that efficiency means that I don’t have to burn much to achieve a certain level of result, confirming what I already knew: My body hates losing weight! Those at the other end of the scale would burn approximately 6 times more calories achieving the same result. Whilst this means I’d have to resort to cannibalism far later in a survival environment (remember that if we are ever trapped together and you have to choose who lives!), it’s small solace outside of that situation.
In addition, my resting metabolic rate is only 94.5% of the average; meaning that my body also uses less energy to keep ticking over.
This, obviously, has implications for both my optimal diet and training.
According to the Doctor, I should eat 2-3 larger meals per day, and try to leave large gaps in between. This suits me to a T, as I’m somewhat of a feaster. Should I eat a large meal in the evening, the Doctor added, I should also avoid eating before 11am the next morning. As I’ll be applying the 16/8 approach to Intermittent Fasting, I am sure to meet this. For more information on Intermittent Fasting, I highly recommend Martin Berkhan’s Leangains (LINK).
Another recommendation of the Doctor was to incorporate more steady state training into my plan; this is something I was intending on doing alongside my strength training to bring up my base level of fitness anyway. It’s good to know that it’s also the right thing for my waistline!
I'll be posting my training concept and nutrition plan in the coming days. Stay tuned!