Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weight loss and running

Running may be a fantastic way to stay in shape, but it is not the end-all be-all to weight loss. We need to watch what you eat as well. We won't lose weight by running more, if we just replace it by eating more.

How much do we actually know about the basics of diet? I can tell you that I learned more than a few of these things researching this story. A little education, as well as determination, can help us all make diet decisions that will help us reach our goals. Let's take a quiz.

Here you go:

What are calories? (Aren't they the things that we count when we are trying to eat more healthy or lose weight?)

Calorie: A unit of food energy. In nutrition terms, the word calorie is used instead of the more precise scientific term kilocalorie which represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a liter of water one degree centigrade at sea level. The common usage of the word calorie of food energy is understood to refer to a kilocalorie and actually represents, therefore, 1000 true calories of energy.

According to, "Calories reside in almost 100% of the foods that we eat. Even evil-tasting rice cakes contain calories - but you sure wouldn't think they would. Anything that tastes like cardboard shouldn't contain calories, but yes they do indeedy."

I don't think we need to check the facts on that one. I think we can trust that to be true (rice cakes really do suck).

Those same people at Dietbites say this: "Calories that go unused by the body fly into our fat cells. Even pencil-thin people have fat cells. Once stored, they stay until they are needed by the body.Once released, they turn into energy and are burned through activity. It's like storing energy in a bank. However, it's not a good thing because those plumped up fat cells register on the body and are often times visible even through vests and snug sweaters. I need a tissue...can you please hand me the box?"

So far I like the writer for Diet Bites.

What is Fat? And I am not looking for answers like: 1.The two people I always get stuck between when I can't get an aisle or window seat. 2. The guy that says "Get in to my belly." or 3. That bad ass Harley I have had my eye on. (that one is spelled PHAT) tells us this about Fat: "1 Along with proteins and carbohydrates, one of the three nutrients used as energy sources by the body. The energy produced by fats is 9 calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates each provide 4 calories per gram. 2 (was boring, so I deleted it). 3 A slang term for obese or adipose. 4 In chemistry, a compound formed from chemicals called fatty acids. These fats are greasy, solid materials found in animal tissues and in some plants. Fats are the major component of the flabby material of a body, commonly known as blubber. "

Here is the big one. (For those of you that already know this, quit looking at the rest of us like we are clueless. That's why we're over weight, leave us alone!)

How many calories equals one pound? This is the basics of weight loss. It is nothing more than math. If I were to take one pound off body mass, how many calories are in it?

Three Thousand Five Hundred. That's right, 3500 calories weighs one pound. 3500 calories will always equal 1 pound, no matter what you eat! So, what does that mean to you. Well, lets use this example (Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) are a daily calorie intake of 1940 calories per day for women and 2550 for men.)

If 3,500 calories is equal one pound of body weight, then the rest is easy. Generally, dieters dump an average of 1,000 calories per day in an effort to lose 2 pounds of body fat per week. That means for a woman that is burning an average 2000 calories per day would need to cut her intake to 1000 calories per day, or increase her burn to 3000, or a combination of the two, to lose 2 pounds per week.

Regardless how much you run and how many calories you burn from fat, if you increase your calorie intake to replace all the calories you burned, you will not lose any body fat.

Here is a calorie/ weightloss calculator that works very well to explain what I am talking about...

Now lets take this information and relate it to running. According to "Depending on your speed, body type, and the terrain over which you are running, you can burn around 350 calories by running for about 1 hour at an easy gait."

The Bodybugg I wear on my are tells me that I burn about 100 calories per mile when I run. I will use my Bodybugg's 100 calories to make some examples.

Jane and I were running Sunday morning going North on 5th Avenue. As we crossed the I-10 overpass I realized that for the second day in a row I was having a hard run. I would catch myself comparing my breathing to Janes as she was kicking my a$$. Then my mind would wander off into the never ending internal debate of the dieter, "Is my appreciation and passion for the consumption of good food and beverage worth all this sweat?"

When I snapped out of my trance I could see the stoplight up ahead at McDowell, where we take a right and start back towards home. I was thinking about this story, and how I could relate the run to the calories. It then came to mind that this 4 mile run would not burn off the Kettle Corn that I had eaten on Saturday. I had 10 ounces or so. At 140 calories per ounce, I would need to run a half marathon to burn that off. Is it worth it? (remember that I will have been training for six full months when I run my marathon in January).

When we got close enough to the intersection to read the sign I realized that we were approaching Encanto, not McDowell. That means we are another half mile from our turn. That means I need to run another five minutes to still be 8 miles short on burning off yesterday's extra calories. It makes you think twice.

Add a shot of Bailey's to your coffee on Saturday morning, a mile and a half. 16 ounce coke, 2 miles farther. How about a Big Mac? According to, you will need to to run nearly 5 1/2 miles to burn off that extra 540 calories.

Here is the point. I run a lot. I am still overweight. You need to work on both ends of this equation. Burn more calories, while also addressing the amount you are taking in.

Read the lable, do the math, then go for a run. Just remember that those miles are sometimes hard, and maybe sometimes, you could just eat a salad.


  1. is good to find the right balance of how many calories you need to fuel a kick butt workout where you totally nail it to the wall--no "easy gait" stuff, which in turn along with rest and recovery(weel, and easy gait is okay there) builds a stronger monster. A lot of people cut back too much on the cals and then have no energy and put out pussy workouts which git nuthin done. Feed the beast!(Celeste)

  2. Encore, Encore!!!! Very true. I actualy think that is why my runs were more dificult than usual last weekend. Skipped dinner the night before, due to on Kettle Corn.

  3. and don't forget as you get higher in mileage you actually ahve to take in calories as you are running...WTH? how can anyone loose weight when you burn 100 calories per mile and take in 100 calories per 3 miles, plus the carb loading...hmmm no wonder I am still overweight