by Dr. Jason Lemieux, Chiropractor, Physiomed Oakville
Weight loss is one of the most searched topics on the Internet and there is an abundance of information — not all of it good — available for people looking to lose weight.
We can all learn something from Mixed Martial Arts superstar George St. Pierre in terms of weight loss and consequently weight gain. We can apply that information to our own lives, and I’ll share my own experience from this past Easter Weekend 2011.
For St. Pierre’s latest fight, he had to weigh in at 170 lbs. Yahoo Sports reported that he lost approximately 25 pounds for the Friday weigh-in and gained most of it back by Saturday night for his fight. Now any health professional will tell you that rapid fluctuation in weight is not healthy, and I’m not recommending anything of the sort. We’ll consider GSP a special case, since he’ll make a couple of million dollars through winnings and endorsements, and of course he’s supervised by experts.
The question is, how is it possible to see such dramatic changes in body weight in such a short period of time? The answer is carbohydrates’ effect on water retention. According to GSP’s main trainer, Firas Zahabi, in the six days leading up to the weigh in, GSP’s diet consisted mostly of protein and vegetables, low carb to almost no carbs. His exercise volume was dramatically cut, as he’s put in a tremendous training volume leading up to the weight cutting. For the last day, cardio, saunas, and other sweating techniques helped drop the remaining 6-7 lbs. GSP weighed in at 169.5 lbs on Friday.
Shortly after the weigh-in, GSP would typically have a carbohydrate recovery drink, and then have normal meals (higher in carbs) and water for the rest of the day. On Saturday Yahoo Sports reported that GSP stepped into the octagon at 192lbs. That’s 22 lbs gained in 24 hrs.
My own diet is relative low in carbohydrates, especially refined sugar and complex carbs. The Thursday night of Easter Weekend I weighed myself at 199.2 lbs. I was in Ottawa visiting family, and was exposed to a significantly higher amount of sugar, and pasta (my wife’s family is Italian). Even though I had a very strenuous workout Saturday morning, by the time I returned Monday afternoon, I weighed 207.6 lbs. The eight pound gain can be mostly explained by my body’s adaptation to the high carbohydrate load and subsequent water retention.
The take home message for people trying to maintain a healthy body weight is simple. If your diet consists of a high amount of simple sugars and complex carbohydrates you are more likely to retain water in addition to fat gain from the extra insulin release associated with higher carbohydrate diets.
If weight loss, or specifically fat loss is your goal, I strongly recommend that on a daily basis, you should consume carbohydrates primarily from fruits and vegetables. Simple sugars or complex carbs should be consumed only within a 3 hour window AFTER having exercised strenuously. If you want the pasta, rice, and a sweet dessert, you have to earn it.
Note – after returning to my normal diet, I was back to 199 lbs within 8 days.