Running as part of a weight loss program is a great idea. However, there are a few common mistakes often made that can absolutely ruin efforts to get rid of a few pounds. If that is the ship you seem to be sailing in, don’t be discouraged. All is not lost.
One common error is overestimating just how many calories were burned during a run. Pre-run you consider that you need fuel for the effort and intensity you will soon demand from your body and load up on carbohydrates. Afterwards, you congratulate yourself on a job well done and indulge. The reality is, you actually have no idea how many calories were actually used in the run.
On average, a man will burn about 125 calories per mile. A woman will burn, on average, about 100 calories per mile. Do the math and adjust your diet. If you indulged in a few cookies or a sugar-laden iced coffee, there goes all the progress in your run.
Don’t make the mistake of eating no-fat rather than low-fat. Too little fat can create its own set of problems just like too much fat. The human body needs fat in order to absorb certain vitamins like A, D, E, and vitamin K. Fat is also needed to regulate cycles of hunger because, since fat is digested slower, those hunger pains show up less often. Female runners should also keep in mind that fat helps a body regulate hormones. So, don’t get your body all out of whack by eliminating fat completely from your diet.
To make fat intake a healthy part of your diet, consider that it should make up about 25 percent of your daily calorie intake. Trans fats that are found in processed foods should be avoided. Stick to fats found in meat and dairy products, however limit intake of these saturated fats. The more acceptable fats to include are the mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and olive oil. Not only are these going to help protect your heart, they will also help your diet efforts by giving you a more full feeling.
If you are in the habit of early morning runs, be sure to eat breakfast first. Running on an empty stomach is a good way for the body to burn carbohydrates stored in muscle tissue rather than burn fat. This will bring on a sudden case of fatigue that can slow your down and thus burn fewer calories. It could even put a quick end to your efforts altogether. Fuel up properly about thirty minutes pre-run. It doesn’t have to be a complete breakfast but should at least be a 100-200 calorie snack that is carbohydrate and protein based. Something as simple as a banana with peanut butter and a full glass of water is sufficient.
And what exactly are you doing post-run? Are you coming home, falling on the sofa, turning on the television and “relaxing” for an hour or so before deciding to re-fuel your spent body? All that time your muscles have been starving. If you put off tending to the hunger needs of muscles, you will only feel much hungrier and then run the risk of overeating. A better plan is to eat a snack that is on a carb/protein ration of four to one. Try to limit the calories of this snack to no more than two hundred. Something as simple as drinking a cup of low-fat chocolate milk is just the thing to replenish spent muscles about a half hour after a run.
The general lesson in all of this is calories, calories, calories. Success in losing weight by running is all about the balancing act of how many calories you need to burn as well as consume for your body to operate like the fine-oiled machine it is designed to be. Count your calories and feed your body before it burns and after the burn. A starved body is a body that is not going to work efficiently. And, KEEP RUNNING!