Eat Like A Runner Series Day 1: Don’t Sugar Coat It – Tips to Keep Carbs and Sugars Under Control
DAY 1: Don’t Sugar Coat It -Tips to Keep Carbs and Sugars Under Control
I am not a nutritionist or a doctor but I have been successful at both losing and gaining weight over the last 15 years. I’m not saying my eating habits are perfect but I have learned some things that have helped me to stay healthier and keep pretty good control over my weight when I practice what I preach. When I first started to become a runner about 13 or 14 years ago I was able to lose about 75 pounds over about a year period of time. I must first say that a good running program is unbeatable as an effective weight loss tool. I do not however believe that it is the only element in a good weight loss or maintenance program and is certainly not the only component in a healthy living plan. Any good program that will make you look, feel and be healthy has to include a good nutrition program. I don’t like the idea of dieting because diets always end and then you go back to old habits and inevitably get out of shape and unhealthy. I think that the true key to losing and maintaining weight is to start to view foods as fuel and nutrients to keep your body running and looking how it should. Eating right can be extremely hard because sugary and fatty foods are very addictive and they are always around. However, the older I get I find it easier and easier because I realize each time that I overeat, or eat the wrong foods then I don’t feel good. This happens for a reason. Your body doesn’t like bad foods, it likes good foods that are full of nutrients and help it run smoothly. It is a pretty simple equation, eat good = feel good, and eat bad = feel bad.
You can make this process easier by planning ahead and creating an environment where you have the right tools and tricks to help you eat healthy. Over the next 4 days I am going to post a series called “Eat Like A Runner.” Each day will give some important tips in different areas that can help you to eat the way your body wants.
I read a tweet the other day from a lady who said that she didn’t have time to count calories so her philosophy was to eat real, whole foods and move around until she sweats. I think this is a great philosophy and I agree in many ways. I am much the same way, I have never been a good calorie counter because I don’t like to take the extra time to calculate everything that I eat but I have found that if I will take the time to count my calories every once in a while for a week or two it will keep me on track. During this period I not only track calories, but also grams of fat, protein, carbs, sodium and fiber as well as the amount of water that I drink. I think a lot of people miss the boat when they only count calories because their ratio of carbs to protein and fat is way out of whack. When I keep track I find that one of the most difficult things for me to control is that I eat too many carbs and sugar and not enough protein and good fats.
Here are some good rules of thumb to follow to keep carbs and sugars under control:
- 40-50% of your calories should come from carbs (1 gram = 4 calories)
- 25-35% of calories from protein (1 gram = 4 calories),
- 20-30% of calories from fat * Note that fats have more calories/gram (1 gram = 9 calories).
- You should consume about 25 grams of fiber per day.
- The USDA sugar guidelines recommend that only 8% of your daily calories should come from sugar.
- You should have less than 2500 mg of sodium per day.
- For water intake an active adult should drink about their body weight X 75% in ounces per day.
- Cut fruit juices out or way down. Eat the actual fruits instead of drinking their juices. Fruit juice is an easy way to consume a lot of sugars quickly.
- Look for high protein, lower sugar cereals or eat good old fashioned oatmeal. You still can eat too much of these cereals and oats but they are better. My cereal of choice right now is Kashi Go Lean.
- Snack on nuts, jerky, low fat string cheese and veggies instead of chips, crackers, candy and sweets.
- Cut out soft drinks and drink more water. If you get tired of drinking plain water then stock up on different flavors of Crystal Light to give your water some flavor.
- At lunch and dinner time replace pasta, rice or bread with vegetables or a side salad with a low cal vinaigrette.
- Go open face. If you are eating a peanut butter or almond butter sandwich just drop one of the pieces of bread and eat it open face. This trick alone can save you around 100 calories/day or more which over a year is about 10 pounds.
- Cut condiments out or use them sparingly. Ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and salad dressings can be very high in sugar content.
- Stock up on some low sugar sweets for those times when you need a sweet taste but don’t want the sugars. Some of my favorites are Dreyer’s no sugar added popsicles and sugar free Jello and sugar free pudding.
- Stay away from these words when shopping, bleached, enriched, processed or refined. These foods will be empty calories that are void of nutrients and give your body very little energy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to eliminate carbs from your diet or go to the extreme. Runners need carbs to fuel their bodies but we still shouldn’t overdo it and we should make sure that we are eating the right carbs that give us the most bang for our buck.