Four Key Weight Loss Tips for Runners #running #fitness #weight loss

running-advice-bugYou might think that running and weight loss are a match made in Heaven. Many people would have us believe that running is a ‘free pass’ that let’s us eat whatever we want and stay thin forever. Unfortunately, the truth isn’t quite that rosy. Staying thin and losing weights means paying mindful attention to what we eat, even when we have a lifestyle that includes lots of exercise. Today, four key weight loss tips that runners should keep in mind.

4 Weight Loss Tips for #runners

4 Weight Loss Tips for #runners

1) Running is not a free pass to the buffet — Contrary to popular belief, you can’t eat whatever you want, even if you are a runner. Why not? First off, running doesn’t burn all that many calories in relation to the number of calories that may be packed into the modern foods that we eat. If we assume that we burn very roughly 115 calories per mile when running it’s going to take a lot of miles to burn off a high-calorie meal. Let’s go crazy and have a plate of Pesto Cream Penne at Calfornia Pizza Kitchen: 1,210 calories. That would take you 10 1/2 miles to burn off. And that doesn’t include the bread, salad, desert or a drink. Plus there’s worse news here: 690 of those calories come from fat, which isn’t especially helpful to fueling your runs. So that advice that you heard about carb loading needs to be taken carefully.

2) You do need carbohydrates, but you don’t need sugar — I know that strictly speaking carbohydrate and sugar are in the same family of nutrients, but they have very different impacts on your body. You have likely read that carbohydrate is helpful to fueling your runs, but loading up on sugar is not at all helpful to a lifestyle that leads to weight loss. Eating sugary foods quickly raises your blood sugar making you feel full quickly, but the effects of this surge are not long lasting. You’ll be hungry again quickly. And simple sugars aren’t good for stocking away to be used in endurance workouts. So the first thing to do here is to look at the ingredients of what you eat and try to eliminate added sugars. The second thing to do is to eat foods with slowly processed sugars (also known as low glycemic index foods). A helpful tip here is to eat starchy foods like bread, potatoes and pasta the night before a long run, but watch out that your food choices aren’t loaded with hidden sugars. Get other natural sugar in your diet by eating whole fruits. The fiber in whole fruit slows its digestion in the body, giving you longer lasting energy and less of a sugar rush than other highly sugary foods. Plus fruit is packed with healthy vitamins and anti-oxidants.

3) Eat small, frequent meals — Eating smaller, more frequent meals keeps your blood sugar more consistent and keeps hunger at bay. Perhaps worse than other people runners get “hangry” when they get hungry. Their bodies do need calories for fuel and hunger is simply a signal that you need to eat. But the longer you go between meals, the more prone you are to over-eat. Keep hunger at bay by eating frequently. Learn to snack on healthy foods like nuts and whole fruit. If you’re saying, ‘I’m not really that hungry’ by dinner time, you will be less likely to pig out late in the day before you settle in for the night.
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Nutrition — Five Easy Calorie Killers for Runners

running-advice-bugSo we’re in week number two of the New Year and I continue to hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions. I was talking with one young woman at the track today who was complaining about not having any energy this week. What had she changed in her diet I asked? She was trying to lose a few pounds, so she had started skipping breakfast. Probably the cause of her lack of energy. Skipping meals isn’t ever a good idea, especially when there are so many places where calories hide that we can cut without even really missing them.

So I thought I would give a couple of pieces of advice on easy places to cut calories to support your New Year’s weight loss resolutions. We all need to keep in mind that running itself only burns about 115 calories per mile, so running say 4 miles only burns away about 450 calories — not enough to give you a license to eat anything you want. Here are my top five calorie killers for runners looking to shave off some weight in the new year:

Calories lurk in places like the coffee drink

Calorie Killer Number 1 Kill the coffee drinks — Sorry folks, but skipping breakfast and then drinking a Venti Carmel Macchiato is not going to cut it. People seem to think that the calories in those coffee drinks don’t count for much. Unfortunately, they do. Many of the ingredients in coffee drinks are loaded with sugar or fat. To give you an example, a yummy Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream (but only 2% milk) comes in at 500 calories. That’s more than your four mile run would burn away. You can check out the calories content of all of your favorite Starbucks drinks can be found by clicking here. But don’t get me wrong, there are good choices on the menu at your local coffee shop. Regular coffee has almost no calories and opting for skim milk dramatically cuts the calories on most drinks. Opt for drinks with sugar free flavorings if you must have them or even better, drink your coffee black.

Calorie Killer Number 2Lose the beer and wine — They say that moderation is a virtue, but some of us seem to drink beer and wine with a sort of nutritional blind-spot. Runners World even had an article in the January 2012 issue talking about how runners love to drink beer socially after their runs. But, as with coffee drinks, there are a lot of calories lurking in them thar beverages. Most “normal” beers (meaning not “light” beers) come in around 150-200 calories per twelve ounce bottle. My favorite beers seem to have the most calories, including Blue Moon that comes in at 171 calories with 13.7 grams of Carbohydrate. You can see a list of calories in many domestic beers by clicking here. As with the coffee drinks, opting for light beers will cut calories. But drinking in moderation will help a great deal as well.
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Training — Why Does Your Body Weight Fluctuate When Running?

running-advice-bugWe have a good reader question today from Ashley about body weight fluctuations. While Ashley has recently lost a lot of weight, the question has broader application to everyone out there. Let’s start with the question:

“I had a question that I am sure is common but I want to make sure! I had weight loss surgery 1/7/10 (LapBand) and have lost 70 pounds. I have always been active with things such as spinning, kickboxing, running, etc. When I run, it is usually 1-2 times per week for distance and 1-2 times per week with interval(2 mins brisk walk, 1 minute sprinting for a total of 18-24 minutes). When I run for distance it is usually 2-2.5 miles. I recently started practicing for a 5K, which is not much more than what I usually run, but it seems my weight has gone up 2-3 pounds in one day. Is this common? I am just concerned because it is not as though I have just started running, as many people with questions have stated. Of course after having lost 70 out of my 75-80 pounds that I want to lose to be at my goal, I don’t want to go in the opposite direction. I started lifting 3 times per week on July 4th as well, could this also be part of the gain? I have been racking my brain for the last two months because my weight is fluctuating so much and I’m trying to find the culprit.”

First, good job Ashley on the weight loss accomplishment. The main thing to remember is that your weight is an indicator of your overall health. By losing this weight, you have eased the burden on your heart, your joints and your muscles. All of these are good things for your body that will help you a longer and more healthful life.

When it comes to weight fluctuations, there are usually two factors in play. The first is the amount of fluid in your body and this increases and decreases throughout your day. We all instinctively know that we lose fluid through sweat when we exercise, which has an impact on our weight. But we also increase out weight throughout the day as we drink fluid. Fluid is heavy and as we go along through the day drinking water and coffee and other beverages, not to mention eating, our weight does tend to increase a bit. Our body weight can also be impacted by things like going to the bathroom in the morning and (of course) what we’re wearing when we weigh ourselves. It isn’t uncommon for body weight to move 1-3 pounds in any given day, depending on your weight and these other factors. Keep this in mind as I make some recommendations below on how and when to weight yourself.
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Training — Dissecting the Overweight Runner

running-advice-bugIn a post earlier this week, I was writing about methods for people to start running when they are overweight. I mentioned in that post that despite the fact that there is an image of runners as “tall skinny people”, we runners have been heartily challenging that image lately. The number of runners carrying more than their fair share of weight around during marathons seems to be climbing.

So the question that I wanted to revisit today is simply this: how is that some marathon runners can be overweight?

The answer is really not that complex. Runners are subject to the same rules as everyone else when it comes to the food choices that we make. Let’s dig in and look at four factors that could lead runners to be overweight.

Fat Factor 1 — you can’t eat whatever you want, just because you run. Although running burns calories, we runners still need to match our caloric intake needs with the amount of calories that we actually burn. Too often I hear runners say, “I run so that I can eat whatever I want.”

Most runners burn about 115 calories per mile, so in a 4 mile run, they’re looking at burning just 460 calories. A McDonald’s Big Mac has 560 calories in it (according to McDonald’s web-site) and when you add a shake (550 calories) and fries (380 calories), you can start to see how we really can’t eat “whatever we want” based on running a few miles a day.
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Training — Overweight and Starting a Running Program

running-advice-bugA reader of another forum named Debra wrote in with the following question:

Q: My question is all about running. I’ve just read that if you are fat and overweight that you shouldn’t run because it’s just too much strain on the joints. But I’ve also heard/read people say that anyone can run regardless of size. Also, there seems to be varying advice about how often to run. Daily is OK says some yet others will say never run two days in a row. I’m a newbie, overweight runner and have no idea what to believe. What’s the scoop on running safely?

A: First, let’s start by clearing up something that might help with the first part of your question: there a plenty of fat runners. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either not a runner or has never been to a running race. I say these with a certain amount of glee, because so many people have an image in their heads of the “skinny runner” and today the spectrum of people that run spans every imaginable body type. (The subject of WHY there are fat runners is another topic that we won’t go into today.)

So if there are fat runners, then that leads right into your question: how does one start running when they are overweight in a manner that will lead to successful, weight loss inducing, injury-free running and even a modicum of happiness? I’ll give you five tips on the subject that I hope will answer this question and debunk a few more myths in the process.

Tip 1: start slowly, be patient — I realize the double-entendre when I’m advising you to start slowly, but I’m not so much talking about speed here. What I mean is that when you take on a running program, take it in small bites and let the results happen over time. The worst thing any new runner can do is to go and start running say 4-5 miles a day, every day. Within a week, you’ll sitting with ice-bags on your shins wondering what went wrong. Start out with just one to two minutes of running interspersed with one to two minute walking breaks. Doing five run intervals and five walk breaks would take just 20 minutes and this should be a great place to start. If that’s too much, do even less. The important thing is to start small.
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Season 2 – Episode 28 – Running and Weight Loss

running-advice-bugWe’ve found over the years that one of the top reasons people come stumbling upon our blog is that they are looking for an answer to the following question: will I lose weight when I start running? Good question. That’s the topic of the conversation today between Coaches Dean and Joe.

On this very important episode:
– Will you lose weight when you start running?
– What types of workouts will enhance weight loss?
– What other factors influence weight loss in runners?
– Can you be a fat runner? (Yes!)

To visit our video pages with links to all of the episodes in the series, go to:
Season 1 Video Page

Season 2 Video Page

Running Advice and News


Nutrition — Weight loss suggestions for runners

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

One of my athletes wrote to me with a question that’s on a lot of runner’s minds. The question goes like this:

“I was wondering if you had a list (or know where I can find one) with foods that will help me with running and also slim me down? I would like to drop about 15lbs by the end of November, and I want to make sure I am eating the right foods to do that.”

I’ve already written a great deal here on the blog about choosing the right foods to fuel workouts and how to figure out the more technical details of things like the number of calories we burn during workouts. Let me instead give some of my secrets to eating that will lead you to lose weight, by picking more nutritious foods and having better eating habits. If you follow these tips, you’ll essentially be doing the following: cutting down on fats, increasing the amount of nutritious foods from fruits and vegetables, and eating at the right time of day to fuel your workouts.

General weight loss tips for runners (and everyone else for that matter):
Fuel during the day, diet at night — as a runner who is trying to lose weight you still need food to fuel your workouts. What you need to do is provide yourself fuel during the day to power your activities and then cut down on what you take in late in the day before you settle down for the night. Eat normally at breakfast and lunch and then cut down on the size of your meals at dinner. Too many people leave their calories until the end of the day and then eat too much because they are hungry. Eat or snack every four hours to keep hunger from building up and then eat a lighter dinner. This is one of the most effective things to do to lose weight.
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Nutrition– Accelerating the Weight Loss Results of Running

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

In previous articles, I’ve talked about two related issues: first that running does not always lead directly to weight loss and second the role of diet in that equation. The bottom line is that running, even burning lots of calories, can only result in weight loss if the runner is not over-eating calories that keep them storing extra calories an everyday basis.

But there is another side of this discussion that I haven’t treated here: how can a runner make their running workouts burn more calories, helping contribute more to their weight loss goals? This is a great question that Coach Dean and me talked about with some runners over the weekend, so let me share the answer with you.

The Role of Calories in Fueling Workouts
Food calories are required to fuel workouts. In fact, particular foods are required to power your body through workouts. The most important foods are those that fuel your muscles and your brain, which come from the simple and complex carbohydrates. Because these foods act as fuel for working muscles, it is important for a dieting runner to eat enough carbohydrate to provide them fuel for their workouts.

This is the first area where most dieting runners (or just dieters) run into trouble. It might feel logical to cut as many calories as possible from their diets to lose weight, but in doing so they then cut out the fuels needed to do their workouts. It is important to keep in mind that exercise is a means to an end for dieters: fuel is required for exercise and although it feels sensible not to eat, this just reduces the impact of the exercise itself.
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Upcoming: New nutrition series begins next week on Running Advice and News

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

As the height of the Marathon season has now passed, we here at Running Advice and News can move back to the “advice” part of our mantra for the winter season.

We have a number of product reviews, movies reviews and interviews that we’ll publish in the coming weeks, but what I’m most excited about is a new series on nutrition that will debut next week.

Nearly every day our articles on nutrition are some of the most popular on our site. Now, we’re going to expand this area with some in-depth articles that look at weight loss, healthy eating and cooking tips for the marathon runner.

Look for these new articles with the “Nutrition” designation in their titles starting next week.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Managing Editor, Running Advice and News


Training: some tips on tracking your weight

Lisa from Sioux Falls wrote to me asking a question that I seem to get all of the time:

“I’m so frustrated. I’m trying to lose weight and when I weigh myself, my weight seems to go up and down constantly. Even in the same day, I could be a few pounds up or down. What’s going on!?!?”

The first thing that I’d sugges to Lisa is that she stop weighing herself mutliple times a day. When you’re tracking your weight for weight loss purposes, it is important to realize that changes in your body weight should be tracked over time, but that differences in your weight within the same day are most likely caused by changes to the level of fluids in your body — not an increase or gain in fat, which is what you really care about.

Here are a couple of tips that will keep you from getting so frustrated:
— Plan to weigh yourself once or twice per week and write down the results. Over a period of time you can then look at the numbers and see if they are a trending up or down.
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