Free Expert Tips To Train For A Marathon Need advice to run a marathon? Or maybe you want to complete your 42km in a faster time? Check out these free expert tips and nutritional advice to assist your training.
Just what are calories? The more calories we take in, the more flab we add. And if we cut back on them, then flab starts to recede, too, right? The truth is, there’s nothing simple about calories. Bust these five myths and lose the lard easily.
Myth: Calories fuel our bodies Myth Busted: Your body is powered by chemical energy, fuelled by the oxidation of carbohydrates, fat and protein, and not by calories. A calorie is simply a scientific unit of measurement for heat. In nutrition, a food’s calorie count is estimated from its carbohydrate, protein and fat content.
Do: Track carbohydrates, fats and protein – not just calories – when you’re evaluating foods.
Myth: All calories are similar Myth Busted: The body handles calories from protein, carbohydrates and fat differently, says a nutritionist. For instance, the top calorie burner is protein: For every 100 protein calories you consume, your body needs 20 to 30 for digestion. In contrast, for every 100 carbohydrate calories you consume, your body expends 5 to 10 in digestion. With fats, you expend slightly less (although thin people seem to break down more fat than heavy people).
Do: If you want to lose weight, make protein a priority at every meal.
Myth: Our bodies absorb all calories consumed Myth Busted: Not all the food we swallow is digested. And 5 to 10 per cent of calories slide through unabsorbed. Fat digestion is relatively efficient. As for protein, animal sources are more digestible than plant ones, so a top sirloin’s protein will be better absorbed than that of tofu.
Carbs are processed at different rates, too. Glucose and starch are rapidly absorbed, while fibre is the slowest. In fact, the insoluble fibre in some complex carbs, such as vegetables and wholegrains, tends to block the absorption of other calories. With a very high-fibre diet, say 60g a day, you might lose as much as 20 per cent of the calories you consume, says a nutrition expert. Another study found that a high-fibre diet leaves roughly twice as many calories undigested as a low-fibre diet. And fewer calories means less flab.
Do: Aim to consume at least 35g to 40g of fibre every day.
Myth: Exercise burns most of our calories Myth Busted: Fitness nuts burn no more than 30 per cent of their daily calories at the gym. In contrast, most of your calories go towards fuelling the processes that keep you alive. Normal bodily functions account for some 60 to 70 per cent of our total caloric expenditure, says an expert. This includes replacing old tissue, transporting oxygen and so on. For men, these processes require about 11 calories per half-kilo of body weight a day.
You also lose calories to NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). These are the countless, non-gym daily motions you make – such as preparing breakfast or chasing the bus. An expert says evidence suggests that making an effort to spend more time on your feet might net a greater calorie burn than 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Do: Take frequent breaks from your desk (and couch) to move your body and burn bonus calories.
Myth: Low-calorie foods help you to lose weight Myth Busted: Artificial sweeteners, which give sugary sweetness without the caloric payoff, may actually lead to overeating. One study found that drinking just three diet sodas a week increases a person’s risk of obesity by more than 40 per cent. So, don’t obsess over calorie counts. Focus on the content of the food.
Do: Avoid artificial sweeteners and load up with these bona fide low-calorie saviours: fruits and vegetables.
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