Tuesday March 11, 2014
March is the time of year when many new runners hit the pavement to lose weight and get in shape. And it's a good time to start. The weather is generally mild and the roads aren't too congested with cyclists and other traffic. But if weight loss is your goal, there are certain guidelines to follow and pitfalls to avoid.
3 Tips to Help Runners Lose Weight
- Get help. I'm not a running coach, so I can't address issues related to running form and training mechanics. I can however, recommend that you get a coach or a certified trainer because those issues are important even if you are new to the sport. Proper running form will help prevent injury and will keep you healthy and active so you can stick to your plan to lose weight. Find a coach in your area by searching the USATF Coaches Registry. You'll also find great online advice from Christine Luff, the About.com Running Expert.
- Watch your diet. Running burns a lot of calories, but not enough to justify an overly indulgent diet. In fact, one of the most common mistakes made by runners who want to lose weight is eating too much. Make sure you consume enough protein, balance your carbohydrates and eat healthy fats, but don't eat too much. Evaluate your caloric needs or make an appointment with a sports nutritionist to make sure you create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
- Get proper equipment. Running shoes and a few other accessories will make or break your running experience. Visit a locally-owned running store that is staffed by qualified experts who can evaluate your gait and make suggestions for the proper footwear. You should also have a Road ID and other accessories if you run solo.
(photo source: morguefile)
Monday March 10, 2014
I always wonder about diet experts who pick certain fruits and claim that they are bad for weight loss. Last year, we were told to avoid bananas. Now, grapes have been added to the hit list. I recently read a blog where an expert claimed that grapes can ruin your diet.
Is Fruit Bad for Your Diet?
If you deep fry your fruit and cover it with chocolate, then fruit might be bad for your diet. But in most cases, fruit is a great addition to your diet. Some people who are on medically-controlled diets like the diabetes diet should control their fruit intake for medical reasons. But if your health care team hasn't told you to avoid fruit, then eat fruit! Yes, most fruit is high in sugar, but sugar isn't always bad for you and when you eat fruit, you eat naturally occurring sugar that is combined with fiber and healthy vitamins.
Best Fruit for Weight Loss?
So is any fruit really better for weight loss? Nutrition expert Elisa Zied, M.S. RD, CDN recently told me that raspberries are one of the best foods to boost your diet. If I had to vote, I'd vote for raspberries too. You can make flavored water with raspberries, freeze them, add then to cereal or yogurt or snack on them plain. Yum.
But if raspberries aren't your favorite, then choose another fruit and use it to replace higher calorie, starchy foods to satisfy your sweet tooth. And if you're wondering if there are really any fruits that are "bad" for weight loss, my personal opinion is that any liquified fruit isn't the best choice. I'm not a fan of juicing for weight loss (and sometimes even smoothies can be problematic if you're on a diet).
(photo source: morguefile)
Friday March 7, 2014
My regular readers know that I'm a big fan of high intensity interval training for weight loss. Workouts like Tabata training are not only quick and efficient but they help you to burn more calories all day long with EPOC. So the recommendation I'm about to make might seem slightly contradictory. But for some people who are trying to lose weight, hard core training is a bad choice.
If you are new to exercise, if you haven't worked out for a long time, if you are obese or if you have an injury to accommodate then doing too much too soon is a huge mistake. In fact, it's one of the most common workout mistakes cited by experts. Not only do you put yourself at risk for injury and exhaustion, but you deny yourself the opportunity to realize some of the most important benefits of exercise, like renewed energy and mastery of new skills.
Over the past several months, I've seen people sign up for marathons, begin CrossFit training, or join bootcamp programs to lose weight. Many of those same people have already quit. Each of those programs has specific pros and cons. If you are considering one of those options, consider both the benefits and drawbacks before you make an investment of time or money.
(photo source: Mike Harrington/Getty Images)
Thursday March 6, 2014
The World Health Organization suggests that you should consume half the amount of sugar that they previously recommended. The organization proposed the new guidelines yesterday, reconfirming that you should consume only 10% of your daily caloric intake from sugar, but making a new suggestion that you should aim to consume only 5% of calories from sugar to achieve better health. For people of normal BMI, that equals about 6 teaspoons of sugar each day.
Guidelines Can Be Confusing
It can be confusing for consumers to discern exactly how much sugar to consume each day as recommendations vary from organization to organization. In addition, some recommendations refer to "added sugar" while others like those announced by the WHO, apply to all sugars - added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in food. Americans will benefit from the new Nutrition Facts label recently proposed by the FDA that will specify "added sugar" on the label.
Find Sugar, Reduce Your Intake
If you are trying to lose weight or improve your eating habits, reducing your sugar intake is a great first step. But finding sugar in your food can be difficult. Sugar is added to many foods that you wouldn't expect, like spaghetti sauces, ketchup, salsas and salad dressings. Use these guides to find hidden sugar in your food and then follow expert advice to reduce your sugar intake, gain energy and lose weight.
(photo source: frenchbyte/morguefile)