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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Is Exercise Making You Fat?

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A woman eating too much cakeWe're already months in to the New Year. Did you vow that this would be the year that you’re going to lose weight?  Have you signed up for a road race,  whether it be a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon, because you know that more exercise can help with making those extra pounds disappear?

Many people will begin their training only to negate the calories you burned doing of all that exercise by scarfing down calorie-laden foods.  It’s too easy to think that we “deserve it” and can eat a ton of food every time we exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t make up for the calories burned with additional food.  All too often we overestimate the calories we burned and underestimate the calories we ate.    

Long distance running does burn a ton of calories; however, eating more than we burn is what often causes the weight gain during training for a road race. One common culprit: skipping breakfast before a workout and then being so famished afterwards you eat everything in sight. Another common problem is rewarding ourselves or celebrating after getting done with an exercise session. People will often say to themselves, “I just ran 10 miles so now I can eat that cheeseburger, milkshake, fries, soda, and 4 cookies.” Wrong! Calories in well exceeded calories burned.  Doing this time after time will likely lead to a weight gain, not your desired loss of weight.

It is all about balance but eating just enough to help you to recover and feel satisfied. In order to help control overeating, consider the following tips:

  • Balance nutrient-rich, low calorie foods, yet filling foods to help with weight loss (for filling think fiber and protein)
  • Reduce intake by 500 calories per day to produce a healthy weight loss of 1-2 lbs/week
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  • For exercise lasting >60 minutes, a sports drink is beneficial, otherwise drink water
  • Aim for a source of lean protein with all of your meals
  • Snack in between meals--they act as prevention to cravings and overeating later. Keep snacks around 100-200 calories.
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Tags: Healthy Eating

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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