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mountaineering and metabolism

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mountaineering and metabolism

Postby mountaingoat22 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:36 am

I have been a climber for about 10 years, but recently I have had a period of time in my life over the last 2-3 years where I have been unable to climb. I have tried to remain at least semi-active in other ways (re: running, walking, lifting weights, swimming). However, I have noticed a drastic decrease in my metabolism during this time, and it almost seems as if anything I put into my body goes straight to my hips or man boobs. I can't eat anything I used to anymore, I'm basically eating a lot of vegetables and salads to help keep off weight. No junk food whatsoever, no pizza, no beer, no fast food...you get it. It also seems to take growing amounts of exercise to keep weight off.

My question is: is it possible that the big efforts I have put forth during climbing in the past (re: 12-24 hour days climbing technical routes on mountains) have essentially trained or programmed my body to horde every calorie and all fat it gets, even though I'm not climbing now? That this history has altered my metabolism in some way? Or am I just a 28 year old man with really bad genes?

I understand that this post is probably hilarious to some, but this is something I'm really struggling with. Poking fun is allowed, but I'd love some serious suggestions as well! Cheers!
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:31 pm

mountaingoat22 wrote:My question is: is it possible that the big efforts I have put forth during climbing in the past (re: 12-24 hour days climbing technical routes on mountains) have essentially trained or programmed my body to horde every calorie and all fat it gets, even though I'm not climbing now? That this history has altered my metabolism in some way? Or am I just a 28 year old man with really bad genes?


From a physiology standpoint, and take this with a grain of salt because I only took one human physiology class as an undergrad, one would expect the opposite. Typically when people eat calorie restrictive diets without exercise the body becomes programmed to hoard calories. This phenomenon has been well studied and documented. I have never heard of calorie hording as a result from exercise. Your previous climbing should have trained your body to metabolize stored fats efficiently. Maybe see a doctor to see if there is some underlying health issue (thyroid?) and a nutritionist. Maybe you are eating more calories than you think? I know I do.

Best of luck,

EB
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby JohnP » Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:39 pm

An underlying thyroid issue was my thoughts as well. You didn't mention any symptoms such as lack of energy, depression, or irritability which may be present in cases of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). A visit to your doc and a simple lab test is usually all that's necessary. Also, ask your doc to check your testosterone levels which could also account for your weight gain. Both of these conditions are easily managed through your doctor. Good luck!
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby mconnell » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:03 pm

Sounds to me like someone is getting old.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby pvnisher » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:07 pm

It is easier to stay fit than it is to get fit.

"
One key reason that older people sometimes have lower muscle mass and higher amounts of fat is their level of physical activity. When you are less active, you lose muscle mass and gain fat, which burns calories more slowly than muscle. This causes your basal metabolic rate to decrease, decreasing the amount of calories you need. However, many people do not reduce their calorie intake appropriately, leading to more weight gain and an even lower BMR. To prevent this, you need to stay active throughout your life, especially as you age.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/50114 ... z2VenkiQM0"

Decrease your caloric intake, increase your physical output. And do those 2 things consistently for a long period of time. You'll be fine.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby mountaingoat22 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:22 pm

JohnP wrote:An underlying thyroid issue was my thoughts as well. You didn't mention any symptoms such as lack of energy, depression, or irritability which may be present in cases of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). A visit to your doc and a simple lab test is usually all that's necessary. Also, ask your doc to check your testosterone levels which could also account for your weight gain. Both of these conditions are easily managed through your doctor. Good luck!


I had my TSH, T3, and T4 levels tested about a year ago. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to get them tested again. I know this is the most common metabolic disorder. I spoke with a climbing partner's wife who is a dietitian who said there is literature evidence that suggests that people have picked up viruses from drinking water in foreign countries that permanently alters their metabolism.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby mountaingoat22 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:25 pm

pvnisher wrote:It is easier to stay fit than it is to get fit.

"
One key reason that older people sometimes have lower muscle mass and higher amounts of fat is their level of physical activity. When you are less active, you lose muscle mass and gain fat, which burns calories more slowly than muscle. This causes your basal metabolic rate to decrease, decreasing the amount of calories you need. However, many people do not reduce their calorie intake appropriately, leading to more weight gain and an even lower BMR. To prevent this, you need to stay active throughout your life, especially as you age.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/50114 ... z2VenkiQM0"

Decrease your caloric intake, increase your physical output. And do those 2 things consistently for a long period of time. You'll be fine.


I'm fit enough, and I'm not overweight.....6'0", 165 lbs. But there is definitely not enough muscle mass compared to fat.

I have reduced my caloric and fat intake. I don't eat fast food, junk food, and have even cut out most processed food. I cook everything I eat, and eat a lot of vegetables and salads, etc. I shouldn't be struggling this much.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby Damien Gildea » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:50 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote: Maybe you are eating more calories than you think? I know I do.


When researchers politely ignore what people say and record what they actually do, they almost always find that this is the case. As you say, we're all guilty.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby Damien Gildea » Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:06 am

mountaingoat22 wrote: That this history has altered my metabolism in some way? Or am I just a 28 year old man with really bad genes?


No, you're probably just a normal 28 year old man with normal genes (but bigger jeans?) :)

I always had a superfast metabolism* but it was around 28 mine started to 'slow down'* and I had been exercising hard and regularly for over 10 years and climbing, then, for 6 years. These periods of high physical activity will obviously affect your processing of calories at the time, but I would be very skeptical of significant long term affects. Things would have to have got pretty extreme to have such an effect and, with respect, I doubt your climbing training got to that level. Surviving five years in a concentration camp or 120 days lost at sea? Maybe.

It's hard to reconcile the changes in our body over time, made even harder by the fact that we don't really 'see' ourselves well. Haven't you ever seen a photo of yourself and thought "Hey that's not how I look!". Yes, it is. The illusion is what you see in the mirror.

Our assessment of our physical appearance and state is affected by lots of things, many of which have nothing to do with the actual appearance or physical state. This is one of the problems for anorexics and bulimics - they honestly don't see what we see.

These days we're told that we are the best judges of everything, that we can control everything, that every thing is in reach for us. That is not true. We lack self-objectivity (fortunately, in some cases). You have come up against the imperfection of being human and a clash of how you think things should be vs. reality. Welcome!


* Very recent research casts doubt on the whole 'fast / slow metabolism' idea.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby pvnisher » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:35 am

Don't forget to eat lean protein. Throw some tuna on that salad, grill up some chicken kabobs with your peppers.

I will likely never be in as good of shape as I was when I was 24 (perhaps my physical peak). Whether it is metabolism changes over the last 10 years (or more to he point, last 5 years!), or simply a sedentary job, family demands, location obstacles, etc... Instead of really trying to improve it seems a lot of time I'm just trying to slow the decline!
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby Yury » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:57 pm

mconnell wrote:Sounds to me like someone is getting old.
Your base metabolism goes gown as you age.
As a result the same amount of food per day would lead to larger deposits of fat. :(
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby Ze » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:27 pm

The essentials:

Vegetables - I think you've got this

Essential fatty acids - eating plenty of fish? If not , take some more EPA / DHA omega 3

Protein - Eat more, maybe lots more. At least 1 g / kg bodyweight, but can easily go up to 2 g / kg to be "safe". This will help promote retainment of lean body mass (not just muscle, but other tissues). Curiously, the more you are restricting calories, the higher your protein intake should be due to hormonal changes and the body increasingly fighting back from burning fat.
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Re: mountaineering and metabolism

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:12 am

I noticed a huge change in my metabolism at around age 30.
Had to start watching what I ate.
Started needing to sleep in on weekends.
Couldn't close up the night clubs 7 nights a week anymore.

It wasn't my activity levels - I started running trail ultras when I was 35, and was running 8 to 10 ultra-marathons every summer.
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