Posted by: Jane | 2009-04-14

Eating for Running?

Hi Doc,

I have a rather loaded question. I am a 24 year old female. I was always very overweight when I was young and I whatever. When I was 15, I decided to take control. I started off by speed walking 30min a day and went from 76kgs to 63kgs. I started going to gym a while after and went to the Biokineticist and she gave me some good advice and workouts to do and I went down to 58kgs whilst eating very healthily. My weight yo-yo'  d quite a bit from 18 to now. I quite gym when I was 19 and started doing Taebo off DVD'  s and went down to about 52kgs, but also went through a very depressive stage and hardly ate for 8 months and went down to 49kg'  s. I sorted myself out and started eating healthy again and I don'  t have issues with eating anymore. I started running last year around May, but only started pushing myself around November last year. I am on my 15km this week, increasing each week to try and get to half a marathon. I am not losing weight, but I feel that I should be quite a bit smaller for the amount of exercise I do. I run about 4 times a week and do Taebo once a week. I'  m not at a gym, so I can'  t do weight/resistance training even though I'  d like to, but can'  t afford it. I weigh 58kg'  s and I'  m 1.67m tall. I alternate breakfast between Oatso Easy (Apple &  Cinnamon) and Jungle B-Fast (Original) and the GI Lean Shake, lunch is Tuna Salad or Veggies and Chicken and occasionally Buckwheat Pasta or Sushi, dinner is GI Lean Shake or a lean piece of meat with salad. So, to the questions... (1) Am I eating right for the kind of exercise that I do? If not, how should I be eating to help me lose some weight? (gluten &  dairy intolerant friendly). (2) Is it very important that I do weight training with my running and will it help me with it? (3) Should I be losing any more weight or is 58kgs right for my age and length or should I just do exercises to tone myself up, because I don'  t feel lean? If so, what should I do?

Apologies for the lengthy message. Thanks Doc!

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Our expert says:
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Hi Jane

Wow what an achievement! Well done!!

I don’t know what frame size you are this it hard to say if 58 kg is too much – to me it sounds fairly ok – don’t be too hard on yourself. However if you want to lose 2-3 kg I think that should still be fine. Now the bottom line is too many calories make you fat and less will make you lose weight. You are eating more calories that you need if you are not losing weight. Thus you have to start by calculating how many calories you burn for your training regime and average that out over a week. Secondly you need to calculate the calorie need for the weight you would like to be and add that to your average of the training – at this point you may deduct around 500 calories per day for weight loss, but not end up with less than 1200 calories per day – you run the risk of malnutrition beyond that point. Divide your calories into 50-60 % carbs, 15-20% protein, and 20% fat – make sure most 2/3rds is good fats. You will certainly then see results. According to my calculations you should be consuming about 1600 calories per day and if you’re training is severe obviously more – especially on a day that you run 15 km. These calories are worked out around weighing 55 kg with average activity.

Just one warming – make sure your nutrition around your training is optimum especially since you are exposing your body to long distance exertions. That means drink about 30-60 carbs per hour during and immediately after your training and within 45 minutes take your protein shake. These calories should form part of your calorie calculation – just remember obvious the harder you train the more calories you will need to fuel and refuel and therefore it will not affect your weight – it will ensure that you balance your calorie intake around your training times, but cut calories at other meals to enforce weight loss. Once you have reached your goal weight you should eat calories that balances with that weight and your training efforts.

Now to get to your questions:
1 – it looks fairly ok to me, however I will select better breakfast options like rolled oats or oatbran – they are lower in GI. Not sure what is in the shake, but it should be a meal replacement low in fat. I would include a small portion of low GI carbs with each meal (lentils, chick peas, barley, brown rice – even it is only 2 T). I don’t see enough good fats? I would stay away from red meat – even if it is lean cuts – still too high in fat – stay with fish & chicken. It does not look like you are eating a lot of food, thus I don’t know where the problem lies – maybe your portions are too big or maybe you are drinking calories that you did not mention like fruit juice?? If you really want to know you should precisely calculate every bit that you put in your mouth and compare that with the 1600 calorie intake.

2- weight training does help – it give you strength, builds muscle that renders you more metabolic active which also helps to keep your trim as it has a higher calorie need than less muscles or more fat. Suggestion is get yourself some inexpensive loose weights and do your own weight training at home – search the web for suggestions on home training.

3 – I answered this in my first paragraph, but you know best and as you say that you don’t feel lean reduce your weight a little.

No need to apologize for the long message – wish I could have helped your better – it is rather involved and therefore difficult to consult a person by e-mail. Give it your best try and let me know how you go – we can fine tune it again.

Good Luck!

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