Dr. Hande Hofmann is a research assistant at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Her specialties at the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences are Nutrition and Health, Sport and Immune System, Nutritional Supplements and Sport. ISPO.com met Hande Hofmann for an interview. A conversation about daily requirements, timing and the positive effects of the "Train Low" method.
ISPO.com: Dr. Hofmann, hiking increases. Day trips to Bavarian huts such as Neureuth or Tegernsee Hütte are booming in Germany. But how effective is hiking in terms of calories burned? Can we enjoy "Kaiserschmarrn" without remorse after two hours of comfortable ascent to the hut?
Hande Hofmann: That depends on the person. If you start from the recreational athlete, who walks with a low intensity, i.e. walks more, then calorie consumption is correspondingly low. And then it really isn't enough to make a delicious schnitzel with potato salad or a large portion of "Kaiserschmarrn". But you can also go hiking differently, at a good pace.
Which in turn raises the question, what is a good pace?
Here, too, you can't tie it down to speed, but to how fit the person is. It is therefore necessary to ask oneself the question: How fit am I and how strong do I call up my personal fitness level?
How intensive is the hike for me personally, how strongly do I exercise my body's own fitness. If I do this with a high intensity, then I already burn a significant number of calories. However, we are talking more about a mountain run here. This then has nothing to do with the classic hiking picture we know: a leisurely walk, slow pace. If I really want to burn calories while hiking in addition to the landscape and nature, I have to increase my speed.
Many recreational athletes are struggling with the fact that they do sports regularly, such as jogging, but their fitness does not improve any further. How's that?
Basically, I think a lot of people are stepping into this trap. Although these sports units, as described by you, are training in a way, but the body no longer needs to adapt. In other words: I do my sport, which is very good per se, but I only call up my existing fitness level at this point.
In order to get an adjustment in the body I have to vary my jogging bases. For example, by running longer laps or increasing the intensity. The topic of intensity is not about jogging 30 minutes faster, but about training at intervals. That's enough, that the heart rate adjusts, the blood circulation is increased, because the muscles need more oxygen - so I force my body to adjust.
So the same parking round should always be avoided?
If you want to boost fitness and calorie consumption, yes. At the beginning, training is more and more stimulating because the body has to get used to it first, but after a certain time the body reaches a kind of plateau and at that point you have to change something again.
Myth Calorie consumption - I exercise, so I eat?
Yes, many fall into the trap here too, because you think: I do sports, I can eat more. A lot of people treat themselves to more and that's exactly what's wrong: If you really want to lose weight, it's not just the exercise, but the "negative adjustment" of the diet. Although you have more calories available, you have to go out with a minus at the end of the day to lose weight. Otherwise there will be nothing with the weight reduction.
Let's stick to the subject of food: Let's assume that I develop from a beginner to an ambitious amateur athlete, then the media suggest to me that I can't get ahead without dietary supplements and a special diet. Is that true, or do I achieve similar, perhaps better effects with a banana?
You have to discuss it two ways. Basically, we know that a lot can be achieved through nutrition timing for performance retrieval. These approaches naturally come from competitive sports, but can also be adapted for the hobby athlete. The aim here is to find solutions on how an athlete should eat 24 hours before a competition, what he should eat a few hours before and during the competition and how to support regeneration. These are all very important building blocks for an athlete.
The question remains whether these strict nutrition plans must also be practiced by amateur athletes?
No, they don't. If I do sport once or twice a week, then I can do it well with my normal diet. I completely advise against dietary supplements, because as a hobby sportsman I don't consume so much more. Nevertheless, it is good to know your way around and know how to select food so intelligently that your body is always optimally equipped for what I want to achieve.
And what does that look like in concrete terms?
Drink enough, have a good time before eating something. The meal should be easily digestible so that you don't get stomach cramps, i.e. not too fat and only a few fibres. After the sports unit, if you don't want to lose weight, it's time to balance: carbohydrates and fiber. I can eat a banana and drink a glass of milk.
And how can I use the training session to boost my receptors?
By stimulating the body, for example using the "Train low" training method. It comes from the competitive sport, but can also be used in the hobby area. For example, if I want to use the fat metabolism more intensively in my workload. Then Train Low is a way to do that.
What does Train low mean?
Simplified it means: I bring my body into the state that it is missing something, then I train and the mechanism that has to balance that has to adapt.
- My liver glycogen will be broken down overnight. This means that the carbohydrate reserves of the liver are reduced so that my blood sugar level is maintained.
- If I then go sober jogging in the morning at a high intensity, my muscle glycogen will be attacked.
- After this sober sports unit, I eat carbohydrate-reduced.
- Then I do another training session in the afternoon and did not take any carbohydrates during the day.
- Then my body has no carbohydrates available. If I don't provide him with carbohydrates through drinks during the stress, then he has to get the energy somewhere else and it goes more into the fat metabolism.
- After the second training session I am allowed to consume carbohydrates again, preferably in combination with proteins. So the body can regenerate well again.
In summary, we can say that we have put the body on a diet as far as carbohydrates are concerned, then I go to work and then it has to work harder with fat burning. It is not completely isolated, but this method focuses on fat burning.
If I incorporate the "Train low method" once a week into my everyday sports routine, is that sufficient for medium-term results?
Yeah. I can irritate my body with that.
Another frequently asked question on the net: does alcohol stop fat burning?
When I have drunk alcohol, the body concentrates more on the breakdown of the alcohol, so that other metabolic mechanisms suffer from it. That's why I block myself when I drink alcohol and do sports, because then everything is misdirected. In other words, if there is alcohol in the blood, then our body has to detoxify and our performance suffers.
In times of vegan nutrition, the topic of whether vegan nutrition is particularly good for the regeneration phase comes up again and again. How do you see it from a scientific point of view?
These discussions cannot be held at the moment because there is simply no scientific basis for them. What is always propagated with vegan nutrition are case studies. These are individuals who may have seen a positive effect on themselves. But you can't extrapolate from individuals to the population, that doesn't work. In the vegan diet there are too few studies, too few long-term studies, or even well done studies. The data situation is very bad there. I'm afraid to make tough statements here.
What's the best thing to drink while exercising? What gives me wings, if you will?
Basically, the main factor is how fast the drink is released from the stomach into the intestines. This is called gastric retention time or gastric emptying time. The thinner, in technical jargon called "hypotone", the shorter the length of stay. Tap water and thin teas are correspondingly fast in the intestines. Hypertonic drinks/liquids (i.e. with a higher osmotic pressure) remain longer in the stomach, thus later entering the intestines and from there into the body.
These include coffee or soft drinks. Which is also often suggested by advertising: You take a magnesium shot and you'll be fine. This is only true to a limited extent: the magnesium peak is only reached two hours after ingestion. There's a lot of recreational runners on the couch again. In addition, many do not tolerate these highly concentrated shots and get diarrhea. If you think you need a high dose of magnesium, you should take it first.