Weight is always a sensitive subject, but a lot of people over the years have gotten very discouraged when running does not lead to the expected weigh losses…I have some thoughts on this issue, but before I give them I want to remind everyone that everyones’ body is a little different. So what works for some may not work for others, and what is a healthy weight for some, may not be for others. So when you are thinking about your weight, try not to be held hostage by the bathroom scale, by how your friend looks or by the airbrushed magazine covers…
That being said, here are some thoughts on running and weight.
Calories In – Calories Out = Weigh Gain or Loss.
I know that all the recent diet fads (the Atkins, the grapefruit, the Neanderthal, low fat, high fat, medium fat, liquid diets, high carbs, low carbs etc..) talk about how you should eliminate certain foods, but my opinion is that all diets can be boiled down to this: if you burn off more calories than you consume you will lose weight. Conversely, if you eat too much of whatever, you will gain weight. The Atkins diet works because instead of eating a hamburger and the bun, you just eat the hamburger. By eliminating carbs you lose weight because you eat fewer calories, it has nothing to do with the fact that you ate nothing but protein.
So why am I running and still gaining weight?
Bottom line: unless you are an 18 year old boy running 60 miles a week, your weight has more to do with your food consumption than it does with your activity level! Running burns about 115 calories per mile. It takes a lot of effort to go for a 5-mile run (575 calories), but it takes 5 minutes to eat 600 calories worth of girl scout cookies!
If you have gained weight over the years, you have been consuming too many calories. So adding those 20 miles a week does not necessarily mean that you are running enough to make up for the extra calories. You still might be eating too much. Not only that, but running increases your appetite, so your new level of food intake may have more than compensated for your increased activity. Finally, if you are a new athlete, running will add to your lean body mass, and muscle weighs more than fat. (That kind of extra weight is good!)
I want to safely lose some weight, how should I do it?
For increased fitness, focus on running. For weight control, focus on what you put in your mouth. I hate counting calories, but if you can do it, here is a way to approximate how many calories you need during a day:
Multiply your weight by 15*, multiply your miles by 115. Do some mathemagic by adding those numbers together, and that should be your caloric consumption for that day to maintain your weight. Example: I weigh 170, I am pretty active during the day (I am a high school teacher), and I ran 5 miles yesterday: I should have eaten 3125 calories yesterday to maintain my current weight. (170 x 15 + 5 x 115).
*Note: “15” applies if you are moderately active during the day. If you work at a desk, you may want to multiply by 12, if you work construction you may want to use 20.
If you want to lose weight, multiply your weight by 10 instead of 15. Example: if I wanted to lose weight, I should have consumed 2275 calories yesterday. (170*10+5*115).
Here is the two-stage Mark Miller fad diet:
1) Stop eating desserts and soft drinks for a month…and… limit your beer intake to one. (That one is hard for us Nasties I know….)
2) Everytime you eat, put your normal portions on your plate. Then cut the meal in half and save the 2nd portion for the next meal. This is especially true when you eat out at a restaurant, it’ll save you calories and $$$.
See you on Wednesday for Run #2!
PS: NCAA bracket scores after 2 rounds: Hunter Lane is out in front!