Saturday, November 27, 2010

Calorie counting: It's a must!

Hey everyone!
Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I sure did, although I ate way too much food.  One of the toughest things for me is making sure I don't over do my food intake.  There was a time when I was running 50 miles a week and still gaining weight!  Crazy!  That's why it's extremely important to watch what you eat; to do that I also count my calories.  It's actually fairly easy after you get the hang of it and get a feel for the calorie content of different things.  Once you see how many calories are in things it makes you more aware of what you're eating and also gives you a better sense of your daily needs.  There are several different formulas and methods for determining caloric intake, however, they all vary and the online calculators aren't always entirely accurate.  If you have ever read a food label, you will notice that it says based on a 2000 calorie diet; which, for most of us is probably not nearly enough.  I like this chart, called the Harris Benedict equation:

BMR calculation for menBMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kg ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) - ( 6.76 x age in years )
BMR calculation for menBMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.76 x age in years )
BMR calculation for womenBMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kg ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
BMR calculation for womenBMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Little to no exerciseDaily calories needed= BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1-3 days per week)Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week)Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6-7 days per week)Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)Daily calories needed= BMR x 1.9
The first chart allows you to calculate your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate, which is essentially determines your daily caloric needs.  You can then take your results from the BMR chart and use it in the next table to calculate your specific BMR needs.  For example, if I put in my information in the above chart it calculates that my daily caloric needs are:  roughly 1,795.  Then if I take that number and calculate it in the first line (for a person that is relatively sedentary), it calculates that I need 2,154 calories.  That is the amount of calories I would need at minimum if I did no exercise and pretty much sat around all day.  However, I like to use the moderate exercise line to calculate mine, because I usually frequent the gym about 4 times a week and then do some home ab and stretching exercises.  When I calculate my caloric intake with that method, I get a daily caloric need total of:  2,782.  That is before I add in my running miles for the week.  So, to determine how many calories I need for running, I go with the guideline that for every mile I run, I need an extra 100 calories.  So, for instance, this week I will run a total of 43 miles (43X100=4300 extra calories).  4300/7 days of the week=614 calories.  So, if I had the 2,782 calories plus the 614 calories I need on an average day for running, I get a total of almost 3,400 calories a day to maintain my weight.  However, on days I run less, I eat less than that, and on days I run more I eat more (that is just an average amount).

The formulas are actually very easily to calculate and as you go down in weight, you need to recalculate your daily requirements, since your needs will be lower.  If you have a specific focus of trying to gain or lose weight, you need to add roughly 500 calories or subtract 500 calories from your daily needs.  Any more or any less than that will cause an increase in excess fat or inhibit starvation, causing your body to hold on to any fat it has, preventing weight loss from occurring.  3500 calories equals one pound.

Well, I hope that was a valuable lesson on the importance of counting calories.  In regards to my training, I have been taking it fairly easy right now.  I have been in the gym a lot more than normal, trying to strengthen my body for the upcoming treachery of the Marathon training season.  I really need to focus on strengthening my quads for the rigors of those mighty Boston hills and I also need to strengthen my upper body-it's weakened gradually over the past Marathon training season.  It is very important to still strengthen your legs, even if you do run, because running causes some inbalances in your muscles.  Running specifically strengthens your hamstrings and calves and puts a lesser focus on the quads.  So, in the weight room, it's important to focus on strengthening the quads. It's also important to focus on stretching and strengthening hips and using the foam roller to roll out any tight areas.  

I am going to try and incorporate valuable advice in my posts that all can benefit from.  Marathon training is just 16 days away.  I'm getting prepped for it.  I still need to find a training program that I can use.  I am not sure if I want to go with extremely high mileage (topping in at around 80 miles for my peak week), or go with a lesser mileage amount (of around 60) and incorporating more strengthening and Plyometric training. I will figure out my training plan and post it by next week. 

"Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it's hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clearheadedness that follow a long run." 
-Monte Davis

Go Run,

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