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      09-15-2010, 11:14 AM   #10
UdubBadger
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thought this was a good read:
Quote:
Now that the weather’s been warm for the past couple of months in most of the U.S., running season is in full-swing. The appeal of being active outdoors is almost instinctual after being indoors for much of the winter months. For many people, the enthusiasm for being outdoors, plus the desire to lose weight makes running a common choice of exercise. For those trying to lose significant amounts of weight – 30, 50, or more pounds – is picking up a new pair of shoes and hitting the pavement the best choice of exercise for weight loss? Is it possible to train for an endurance event like a marathon, and lose significant amounts of weight at the same time? Is running the best choice for those who are just starting an exercise program?

It is all too common, people bound and determined to lose significant weight, start a running program (or another intense exercise program) thinking they’ll burn the weight off. Initially, they lose a small initial amount and then the weight loss plateaus. The running gets easier, but that wasn’t really the goal. The goal was to get the weight off. In the end, they assume they just can’t lose weight. After all, they’re doing plenty of exercise and can’t lose weight. “They must just be destined to keep the weight on.” In reality, excessive amounts of exercise can keep individuals from losing the weight they so desperately want to lose. Before you take up a marathon training program, or any exercise program, you must make the decision about what is the greater priority: performance, or weight loss. In trying to do both, it’s possible you won’t succeed at either.

Nutrition For Endurance Training, Nutrition For Weight Loss

In planning out an intelligent endurance training program, you must take nutrition as serious as, if not more seriously than your exercise plan. Traditionally, endurance athletes have focused on a higher-carbohydrate diet during training and competition. Though a high-carbohydrate diet can support performance, it may work against an individual attempting to lose weight. This is why it is so important to make a decision about what is more important – training for the endurance event, or losing weight. The high amount of carbohydrate intake is used to keep muscle glycogen levels filled and reduce the use of protein for energy during endurance activity. Some nutrition experts have begun to debate whether this high amount of carbohydrate is necessary, but today the higher-carbohydrate approach to fueling for endurance activity is still common.

Contrast the above approach for endurance performance with that of someone whose main goal is to decrease body fat. Studies in recent years have consistently shown the benefits of reduced-carbohydrate and higher-protein consumption for weight loss goals. High-carbohydrate foods have been shown to have the potential to become addictive. They may temporarily improve mood, decrease stress and help people to fall asleep, but eating excessive amounts of carbohydrate keeps insulin levels high, which reduces the body’s ability to burn fat. As levels of stress increase (even if it’s from exercise), cravings for high-carbohydrate foods can increase as well. For some people, the freedom to eat “some” carbohydrates for the purpose of supporting their training can lead to uncontrolled eating. The uncontrolled eating can lead to a plateau in weight loss, or even weight gain.

Stress & Inflammation

Chronic stress and inflammation are important factors affecting weight management. Chronic stress can lead to changes in the levels of cortisol, serotonin, dopamine and other hormones. As chronic stress continues, the body’s ability to properly burn fat, store carbohydrate and retain muscle is negatively affected. Sleep may also be disturbed. Though moderate amounts of exercise help to reduce levels of stress, prolonged, excessive levels of exercise can make things worse. If stress and sleep are problems before starting an exercise program, it is critical to follow a properly-designed program to reduce stress and allow plenty of time for recovery.

Inflammation is also a common problem for individuals today. Exercise can increase levels of inflammation in an already-inflamed individual. A runner’s knee withstands a force of about eight times his or her weight. For a normal-weight individual, that force can be easily handled by a joint after proper training. For an overweight individual with a similar bone structure, the force may be too great to avoid injury. This is another reason to make sure your program provides enough intensity to improve conditioning and allows for plenty of time for recovery between sessions. Of course, eating plenty of vegetables and fruit, protein and healthy fats is critical to managing stress and inflammation. Ensuring you take in a high-quality multivitamin, omega-3 fish oil and additional minerals including calcium and magnesium is important as well.

Summary

The simple act of choosing to pursue an event may be just what’s needed to clean up the diet, get more sleep or stay more consistent with an exercise program. There is also something powerful about being around other people who have similar goals, so connecting with a running club can be an additional way to stay on track. Getting outdoors for some of your workouts has its benefits as well, especially during the summer months when you can get some vitamin D-creating sunshine.

Before you begin, you must decide: What is your goal? What is more important: losing the weight or performing well during the event? Would a marathon be more fun if you lost the weight first? Is it possible that the nutrition plan needed to train well for the event could have a negative impact on your ability to lose or maintain weight? Before you start your training program, ask yourself if you’re mentally prepared. Can you handle the added stress? Are you free of injuries that could set you back if they caused problems during the training? If you answered yes to those questions, go for it! Crossing the finish line will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.