Exercise during the VLCD programme
Generally about exercise
Exercise as a part of active life – the change is achieved with small steps. The traditional Finnish way of starting exercise is starting to run with enthusiasm on the first sunny days of spring, at least it was some time ago. The first thing to keep in mind is that exercise should not be gorged either, but you should start moderately and increase with your fitness level. Springtime running truly cannot be recommended as the first form of exercise.
The current exercise recommendations are 150 minutes of brisk exercise per week, preferably outdoors, or 75 minutes of higher intensity exercise, such as gym training.
Invest on everyday exercise
Everyday exercise is exercising without knowing it. It is good to keep in mind that low heart rate exercise burns fat relatively more efficiently. Perhaps the maximum for this kind of training could be described as the intensity where you can still talk to your exercise buddy without effort and becoming significantly out of breath. Increasing everyday exercise is the most sensible way, as it is like exercising without knowing it.
Everyday activities may be surprisingly significant in weight loss and weight control.
Everyday exercise does not need to be planned or prepared for, but rather it is about increasing and intensifying everyday chores. For household chores, an example could be reducing the use of various machines. We can clean the traditional way without self-moving vacuum cleaners, etc. Some first examples could also be walking and cycling short distances instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Or walking the dog for a little longer. You can find countless similar things, once you think about it for a while.
What kind of exercise can be done on the VLCD programme?
Low-intensity exercise is easy to manage, especially from the second week of the diet onwards. Low heart rate exercise burns fats efficiently as an energy source. In addition to everyday exercise, low-intensity exercise includes walking, low-energy cycling, swimming, rowing, etc. When defining the heaviness of exercise, a good indicator is the ability to still talk to your exercise buddy without effort and becoming significantly out of breath. Depending on your fitness, your heart rate would then be around 110–130 beats per minute.
You should do all kinds of outdoor exercise especially in the beginning, as outdoor activities significantly improve your condition.
Of course, depending on your fitness level you will be able to do other kinds of exercise, as well. More about that.
Is it possible to exercise with a low energy intake?
Yes, but with limits. You should not try to do very vigorous exercise at least during the first week or first couple of weeks on VLCD. Your recovery sets your exercise frequency. If you recover well, you can train more often. Generally during the VLCD programme your glycogen reserves are diminished, so high performance levels may be difficult to achieve. The salts lost with sweating must definitely be replenished during the VLCD programme. The body expels salts efficiently anyway. When doing exercise, you should monitor your salt intake with regard to how you are feeling.
If you start feeling clammy or feeble during the VLCD programme, you should try to heat a salty meat/fish/chicken stock cube, for example in half a litre of water. It contains about 5 grams of salt. The dehydrating body needs to be hydrated during exercise.
How can I manage gym training?
This is a very popular question on VLCD programmes. You can and should train at the gym, because it helps maintain muscle mass. Studies show that during the VLCD programme, you should consume for example 25 g of whey protein after exercise to boost recovery. Whey is also available in a low-lactose form by the name of whey isolate.
The amount and intensity of training as well as the overall strain should be monitored. Training according to your own ability suits well with the VLCD programme. Too hard training does not help with muscle growth. If you had muscle growth, it would be very slight anyway, because your energy deficit is large during the VLCD programme.
Some may find it more suitable to train short times with heavy weights, while others for several sets with light weights. Everyone may train according to their habits and strength levels.
What dietary supplements for exercise can be used on the VLCD programme?
In addition to whey protein, you can try a creatine supplement, as well as caffeinated energy-free drinks. You can also try beta-alanine and citrulline malate. Sometimes it is recommended to consume a few dozen grams of carbohydrates half an hour before training. For example, a goal-oriented exerciser may have 30 g of carbohydrates in the form of a small banana half an hour before training. That amount is suitable for people with normal weight.
You do not need an actual recovery drink during the VLCD programme, and it is not recommended.
How about endurance sports during the VLCD programme?
Again, this is individual. It is well known that some people train normally during the VLCD programme. Observations have also been made that recovery may be faster during VLCD.
The diet provides enough energy to exercise at the aerobic threshold. Fasted running has also been done. People have participated in races after fasting for three days and ran in an international 12-hour ultramarathon on water and salt.
You can perform as long as the speed is right. In the ultramarathon in question, the runner’s after-race recovery was observed. The result was a great surprise to the internationally respected runner. They had never recovered so quickly from a 12-hour run: in a mere 36 hours.
Sufficient intake of salt is the cornerstone of endurance sports along with sufficient hydration, not so much carbohydrates, if the speed is scaled appropriately for the situation.
Long-distance swimming also requires special attention to the sufficiency of salt intake, in addition to water.
How about an athlete’s protein intake?
Express Diet products provide approximately 50–70 grams of protein. This is considered enough for a normal-weight person who exercises moderately. Proteins provide energy, so you should not take very large extra doses of protein during the VLCD programme. The excess protein is converted into sugar in your blood stream.
An athlete should not consume more than 1–1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
It is good to remember that the daily protein circulation mainly consists of proteins released through breakdown of the body’s own tissues. Their share of the daily protein circulation is approximately two thirds. And this is always secured. The need for protein from nutrition is smaller.
Too much protein disturbs the VLCD programme.