The Key to Weight Loss For Runners
Do you ever wonder why you aren’t losing weight from running? While there are many women who find it difficult to put on weight most of us fall into the opposite category.
For those who find it difficult to lose weight there seems to be a common underlying thread. While I am not suggesting there is only ever one miracle answer there does appear to be a common theme or pattern of underlying behaviour that if changed, is likely to lead to weight control. If you are suffering from any of the following this may also be the cause of weight gain/inability to lose weight and should be treated in conjunction with your health professional:
• Food or alcohol addiction
• Insulin resistance (Metabolic Syndrome/Syndrome X)
• Heart conditions
Firstly, let’s look at the reason people want to lose weight.
• Aesthetics – we think we look better
• Fitness – we feel better physically and mentally
• Self esteem – we are more positive about and our level of influence over our bodies (this can become negative control in some people)
• Increased performance – distance, times, frequency and recovery all improve
• Professional – competition or professional athletes need to maintain a certain weight
It doesn’t matter what the reasons are of your desire for weight maintenance or loss. As long as it is not an unhealthy obsession, or you have been advised otherwise by your health professional, the patterns of behaviour can be broken.
What are the patterns you wonder? They are repetition! We all get bored doing the same thing over and over, and need new challenges, but did we ever stop to think that our bodies may also get ‘bored’ and static? If we attempt to continue with the same patterns of training and diet our bodies think that is the normal state and while weight loss may occur initially it will not continue. I call this the ‘fat thermostat’. The body is lulled into a sense of security with your cells thinking that it is in the normal state, even if you are only consuming 1200 calories per day! This is contrary to popular belief that calories in equals calories out. What a myth that is!! Of course, if you over-eat habitually you will put on weight but even when this happens most people get to a regulated state and stay there. The body is trying to find its level of homeostasis and the ‘fat thermostat’ is lazy, seeking a point of equilibrium. As soon as it gets there it thinks ‘great I like it here and this is where I will stay!’.
How do we change this? Confuse the body! Instead of eating the same foods and same amount of calories each day, mix it up to keep your body guessing.
1. Alter your macro-nutrient intake: alternate between high protein: low carbohydrate and low protein: high carbohydrate, change the levels or percentage of fat intake, one day eat high fibre, the next a little lower. Always ensure over the week the amounts are not in excess of requirements or too low.
2. Change the frequency of eating. One day eat only 3 meals per day, the next add some healthy snacks between meals.
3. Change your portion sizes: eat a large lunch: small dinner one day, a small lunch: large dinner the next.
4. Alter your meals: do not eat the same breakfast, lunch or dinner every day.
Changing your eating habits will alter your metabolic rate and encourage the ‘fat thermostat’ to recognise additional fat and burn it off.
Further Points On Weight Loss
• Supplements: are you taking the right ones for you? Do you need more B vitamins than your friend who is taking the same multivitamin and mineral product?
• Green tea: is thermogenic creating heat to burn fat.
• Plan your meals for the week. It only takes 10 minutes.
• Maintain focus yet alter your training regime also.
• Set goals and stick to them. Change them every 6 weeks to shake things up.
• Don’t mistake thirst for hunger. When you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Try having a drink before you eat an additional meal or snack.
Try these tips and let us know here at Running 4 Women how you get on!
Emma Wight-Boycott MSc Nutr (2009), PGDip Nutr, PGcACNEM, Dip. Sc Nutr