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Running to Lose Weight Is a Terrible Idea – The Daily Meal

It’s a pitfall of too many dieters: They decide to “get healthy” — by which they mean “lose weight” — so they start eating salads and going on runs.

Ugh.

Experienced runners everywhere hear this and cringe. Running to lose weight is a terrible idea.

Weight loss is not only an appearance-oriented reason to run that likely won’t provide enough intrinsic motivation to last, but it’s also a misguided motivation. Running does not efficiently, if ever, make you lose weight.

Running is what exercise professionals like to call “steady-state cardio.” This is cardio that lacks the intensity to produce an extreme response by the body; you can tell this because your heart rate remains relatively stable throughout the run.

Your body is smart: It goes first for the stores of energy it saves from intra-muscular stores of fat, circulating free fatty acids, muscle and liver glycogen, and blood glucose, all of which it uses to fuel your daily activities and lower-intensity conditions of exercise.

So you’re not actually burning fat with exercise until your body needs more energy much quicker — during high-intensity exercise. When your heart rate is at an extreme high, your body recognizes it’s under extreme conditions, and it dips into its precious, last-resort stores of fat.

If you were to go on interval training runs, where you ran sprints or trudged up hills, you might enter this actual fat-burning zone.

But if we’re talking normal running, you would have to run for hours and hours to run out of alternative sources of energy (or eat dangerously little, which we do not recommend you do). And even if you do run for hours and hours, it might still not work to dip into your fat stores and lose the weight you want to.

I’ve known people who have trained for a marathon with the intention of shedding pounds. During their training, I watched them run mile after mile and become increasingly agitated because they continued to gain weight as the runs got lengthier.

This (understandable) frustration comes from a misunderstanding many people hold about health. “The healthier I get, the thinner I’ll be!” False. Sometimes, the healthier you get, the more weight you put on. Your body’s just trying to survive, after all.

Allow me to explain. When you run, your body expends a great deal of energy — especially when you’re running long distances. Here’s something your body doesn’t want to be: tired.

There are a few different places your body searches for its energy: your food, your fat, and your muscle. First, it’s going to plow through your energy from food. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s probable that you’re eating at a calorie deficit, i.e., expending more energy than you consume. So you’re likely not eating the extra calories you would need to support those runs. So when it’s out of that, it has to choose: Is it going to dip into your fat or your muscle?

It will likely dip into your muscle. Your body’s on preservation mode. What does it need more, the energy stored from fat or the muscle that burns fat?

Try driving a car on just a few droplets of gas at a time. That’s the mechanical equivalent of trying to force your body to function without gathering an energy reserve. Now imagine that a car was smart enough to save gas for later. What do you think it’d do?

Your body saves fuel for later. It puts on weight — saves some gas. And it plows through the unnecessary muscle (running requires a minimal amount of physical strength). So as you get better at running, as you practice and run longer distances, you might just get heavier. And healthier. You’ll gain endurance, build a few key muscles in your legs, improve mental and physical stamina. You’ll be more capable, better equipped to outrun an attacker, and have a much stronger heart.

You might just get healthier and heavier. At the same time.

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t run. If you want to run, by all means — run! Just don’t do it for weight loss.

There are so many more valuable reasons to feel proud of running a marathon or dedicating yourself to training that have nothing to do with fat loss or whether you can fit into those size 4 jeans. Here are a few:

  • Get in better touch with your body.
  • Get healthier and stronger (though maybe heavier).
  • Spend meditative time outdoors.
  • Fight depression.
  • Alleviate anxiety.
  • Join a new and uplifting community of other runners.

And there are many more. Everyone’s reason to run is different, but they should all have one thing in common — they shouldn’t involve running to lose weight.

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You Asked: Can You Lose Weight Just from Your Stomach?

Whether you have some extra weight in your upper arms or rear end, it makes sense that targeting those areas with exercise—curls for your arms, lunges for your butt—would slim them down.

Weight-loss experts refer to this as “spot reduction.” But it turns out that in most cases, this kind of laser-focused weight loss isn’t possible. One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that six weeks of intensive ab workouts did nothing to slim the exercisers’ midsections. A related study found that 12-weeks of one-armed workouts resulted in less loose skin in the trained arm, but zero fat loss.

Working out just one part of your body probably won’t slim it down, but some body parts are more likely to shed fat when you exercise. Your stomach is one of them.

MORE: The TIME Guide To Exercise

“Some fat deposits are more metabolically active than others, and those may be more responsive to exercise interventions,” says Arthur Weltman, a professor of medicine and chair of the department of kinesiology at the University of Virginia. “Abdominal fat in particular is one of the most metabolically active fats.”

When you exercise, your workouts trigger the release of hormones, Weltman explains. The higher the exercise intensity, the more of these hormones your body pumps out, and the more of that metabolically active fat you lose. (Some of Weltman’s research suggests that high intensity interval training (HIIT), in particular, may slim your midsection.)

If you have fat stored in your gut, arms and chest, a lot of your fat is metabolically active, so it will likely respond to exercise and diet changes, he says. That’s especially true of your abdominal fat. The bad news is that extra fat in these regions is also linked with a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other ailments.

MORE: How Apple Cider Vinegar May Help With Weight Loss

On the other hand, if you store excess fat in the hips, butt and thighs, that fat is not metabolically active. You have a lower risk for many diseases, “but that fat is very hard to reduce,” he says.

What type of exercise is best for targeting the tummy? One study compared strength training to aerobic training in terms of fat reduction in different parts of the body and found that while aerobic training—running, swimming, cycling—led to greater whole-body fat loss, resistance training targeted abdominal fat in particular.

In a nutshell, spot-targeting fat isn’t very effective—in most cases. But if you’re trying to lose fat around your stomach, a mix of resistance training and high-intensity aerobic exercise, along with a healthy diet, may help reduce your belly fat.

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How to lose weight without giving up alcohol

Alcohol and weight loss don’t usually mix as seamlessly as vodka and club soda but that doesn’t mean socializing and losing weight have to be worlds apart.

Health professionals like myself can rattle off tons of reasons why drinking too much alcohol can impede weight loss but I’m sure you don’t want to listen to that speech with only a few weeks left of summer. So instead, I’ll share my favorite strategy to help you strike the perfect healthy balance whether you’re at Center City Sips, a backyard barbecue or down the shore. All you have to do is ask yourself these questions:

How much of a socialite are you?
One night out is fine, even two isn’t a problem, but if you’re out more nights than you’re home, you’ve got a problem.

Whether you have client dinners, book club (aka drink wine and eat cheese night) or a date, you must make room for grocery shopping, sleep or exercise. Failing at these weekly routines makes losing weight harder than it needs to be.

Choose one of these routines — grocery shopping, sleep or exercise — and make it a priority on the week you have a packed calendar. If you know you’ll be out Sunday night, have Instacart deliver groceries so you’ll have healthy food on hand to start your week. Going on a date? Suggest meeting just for drinks and schedule it earlier in the evening so chances are you’ll be home in time for a decent night’s sleep. If you usually go to the gym in the evening but have an event after work, wake up early to get a short workout in instead of skipping it completely. For every 15 minutes of intense cardio, allow yourself one drink — but reasonably limit yourself to four.

How complicated is your drink?
Strawberry mojitos, margaritas and sangria aren’t waistline friendly. The more ingredients in a cocktail (i.e. simple syrup, triple sec, house made bitters etc.), the more calories. Plus, the additional sugar intake in these cocktails can make you hungrier. When imbibing on these drinks, your blood sugar skyrockets higher than it would from beer, wine, or a shot of liquor mixed with club soda.

So when it comes to cocktails, remember that the simpler the drink, the better. Choose something straight up and simple like wine (rose, sauvignon blanc and champagne is lighter in calories compared to a heavier red), clear liquor (over dark) or light beer.

Do you sip and snack?
What many people fail to understand is alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat. Since alcohol is a toxin, your body can’t store those calories for later, in the way it does with calories from food. When you drink, your metabolic system must stop what it’s doing (burning off calories from your last meal) to get rid of the booze you’re ingesting. Basically, whatever you recently ate gets stored as fat until your drinks are metabolized. That’s why what you eat before and after happy hour is important.

Start your morning off with a combination of protein and fat (eggs with avocado or a protein shake with flaxseed and unsweetened almond milk), keep lunch lighter with protein and veggies and then be sure to have a mid-afternoon snack that includes protein, fiber and a healthy fat (Greek yogurt with berries or an apple and almond butter). This snack will help stabilize blood sugars without slowing down your metabolism pre-drinks. Post happy hour, avoid fried foods and refined carbohydrates.

Have a plan in place before you take you first sip. Research the menu at where you plan to imbibe ahead of time to scout out healthier options. My go-to snack picks for when I’m drinking are vegetable or seafood based options such as veggie and hummus platters or shrimp cocktail.

For those who drink moderately during the week, the above recommendations should help you establish a more balanced social life while still keeping you on track towards your weight loss goals.

Theresa Shank, RD, LDN, is a Philadelphia based registered dietitian and the founder of Philly Dietitian.


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This Is The Most Underrated Time Of Year To Try To Lose Weight

(Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

The company looked at the average monthly weight loss of its users, and while the first few months of the year unsurprisingly take the gold for the most weight lost (lookin’ at you, New Year’s resolutioners), the loss also picks up again in September, after summer slowdown and before the holidays.

Our conclusion? September might be the new, um, New Year’s. Think about it: Your weight loss might have slowed (or stopped) over the summer with the season’s social expectations—BBQs, weddings, vacations, etc. Plus, all the delish summer food: The data showed users logging hamburgers 112 percent more in summer than any other time and hot dogs 79 percent more.

RELATED: How to Turn Off Your Weight Gain Hormones

The fall also comes with a few perks that the New Year doesn’t (besides less-crowded gyms and workout classes), making it perhaps the most underrated time of year to lose weight. The weather itself is ideal. Unlike blazing summer days and frigid January temps, fall weather is perfect for getting outside and being active. The temperatures are great, parks are likely less crowded than summer, and the emerging autumn colors offer, literally, a nice change of scenery.

Plus, just like with the new year, September offers somewhat of that “fresh start” mentality. “After a fun, busy summer, the fall offers that back-to-school feeling, even for adults,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. “You can use this time to get back on track for things that fell by the wayside during the summer, like your meal prep or your workouts.”

Check out some of the weirdest weight-loss trends through history:

For example, since your vacations might be coming to an end, or at least slowing down, meaning more full weeks back to work, take advantage of the seasonal change to meal prep so you’ll have healthy lunches each day. Decide what meals you want to make for a few days, make a grocery list, and prep your food in advance to avoid the temptation of going out to eat, says Gans. Something else to get you excited to cook more: fall brings on delicious seasonal ingredients and recipes, such as roasted Brussels sprouts or beets, sweet potatoes, apples, and of course, pumpkin (just be wary of those pumpkin products that are really just sugary drinks and desserts).

RELATED: This Is The Best Workout For Weight Loss, According To Science

As for your workouts, take time to create a schedule for yourself, since your schedule is likely more steady. Put workouts into your calendar just like you would meetings, to help you stay committed to them. “Consider enlisting a friend to help out and hold each other accountable,” says Gans. Pick a pal that you maybe didn’t see all summer because of your conflicting schedules and meet up for a jog instead of coffee (or, ahem, pumpkin spiced lattes). Need more motivation? Splurge for a new workout outfit. After all back-to-school means new supplies! Or if you’re watching your wallet as much as your waistline, look through the clothes you already have. Anything you own that’s feeling a bit tighter than it was last year at this time? Motivate yourself to shed some pounds to fit and feel better in the clothes you’ve got.

Point here is that September comes with plenty of ways to re-light that fire under your ass, whether it’s simple shift in perspective you need or a more structured schedule. Pick what works with your plan, and get going! This season is all you.

‘It is so f***ed up!': Outraged Sophie Turner reveals she is ‘often’ told to lose weight for movie roles – even if …

Ekin Karasin For Mailonline

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Sophie Turner has admitted she has been told to lose weight for her work in the past, even when her size was irrelevant to the part.

The Game Of Thrones star said it was ‘f***ed up’ that film bosses ‘often’ wanted her to alter her already-slim frame for the role.

The 21-year-old actress added that she has learned to ‘keep her mouth shut’ over her years in the spotlight, after shooting to fame at the tender age of 15.

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Candid: Sophie Turner has admitted she has been told to lose weight for her work in the past, even when her size was irrelevant to the part

Discussing her weight, she told Porter magazine: ‘There are often times when I have done jobs and they’ve told me that I have to lose weight, even when it has nothing to do with the character. 

‘It is so f***ed up.’

The X-Men: Apocalypse actress was thrust into the spotlight playing Sansa Stark in ‘Game of Thrones’.

She initially struggled to adapt to life in the public eye, so tried to carry on her life as normal, much to the despair of her ‘team’ – who worried about her social media outbursts.

She said: ‘It was so gradual that I still treated my life and my social media like I wasn’t in the public eye. 

Unimpressed: The Game Of Thrones star said it was ‘f***ed up’ that film bosses ‘often’ wanted her to alter her already-slim frame for the role

Lips are sealed: The 21-year-old actress added that she has learned to ‘keep her mouth shut’ after years in the spotlight, after shooting to fame aged just 15

‘I was a 15-year-old girl writing rash political stuff that would get a negative reaction and my team would tell me to take it down. Now I am learning to keep my mouth shut.’

Sophie – who is dating Joe Jonas – will see her stint in ‘Game of Thrones’ come to an end when the fantasy drama series ends next year.

Though she’ll be sad to say farewell to her beloved character, she said she’s looking forward to starting a ‘new chapter’ in her career and seeing what the future holds. 

It comes as Sophie,  whose character Sansa Stark has had some of the most graphic sexually violent scenes, says the HBO fantasy series in effect educated her about sex.

‘I’d be doing a read-through and we’d be talking about very graphic stuff,’ the British actress told the U.K.’s Sunday Times. 

‘The first time I ever found out about oral sex was from reading the script. I was like … “Wow! People do that? That’s fascinating!”

Let’s talk about sex: Sophie, who auditioned for Game Of Thrones aged 12, reveals the show has served as her ‘sex education’

Grpowing up on screen: Sophie, who stars as Sana Stark in the HBO fantasy series, was 15 when the first season aired. The show is known for it graphic sex and violence

In season 5, Sansa was brutally raped by her husband in scenes so shocking it caused a huge outcry.

In hindsight, Sophie explained she was ‘naive’ when she initially shot the scenes as sexual assault hadn’t affected her or anyone she knew.

At first, she told the publication, she thought perhaps the scene shouldn’t have been shown. But later, she said, she changed her mind.

She explained: ‘This sort of thing used to happen and it continues to happen now, and if we treat it as such a taboo and precious subject, then how are people going to have the strength to come out and feel comfortable saying that this has happened to them?’ 

In the interview, Sophie also spoke about her romance with musician Joe Jonas – who she has been dating since last winter – explaining that it’s a ‘very private relationship’. 

Putting insecurities behind her: The British actress says her ‘very private’ relationship with American musician Joe Jonas has helped to normalize her life and draw her out of herself


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How the 80/20 Rule Helped This Woman Lose Weight

A diet doesn’t need to be 100 percent healthy to be healthy, according to Work Week Lunch founder Talia Koren. The blogger lost 10 pounds following the 80/20 rule, which involves focusing on eating healthy foods 80 percent of the time, and less healthy foods the remaining 20 percent.

“I wasn’t restraining myself and I think that’s the key to what makes it work,” Koren tells NBC News Better. “You can have what you want, but you have to have more of the healthy stuff.”

Image::Talia Koren lost 10 pounds by changing up how she eats.|||[object Object]
Talia Koren lost 10 pounds by changing up how she eats.

The 25-year-old says she put on a few extra pounds in college. Her eating habits worsened after she started working for a busy New York City media company, where “pizza days” and free bagels were the norm. Shedding the weight seemed impossible.

“When you’re not eating well, your energy levels are affected, and that’s what I found,” Koren said. “I was really sluggish. I didn’t like the way my clothes fit. I just didn’t feel good about myself.”

Koren tried numerous diet fads, none of which seemed to help her lose weight. Exercise didn’t seem to help either. In 2015, while researching online, she learned about the 80/20 rule and decided to try it.

Daily Vs. Weekly Approach

Koren approached the 80/20 rule using what she calls the “week-long” approach. She eats about 21 meals in a week, 80 percent of which make up about 17 meals. She prefers this to the “day-long” approach, which means 80 percent of her daily meals are healthy.

“If 20 percent [of what you eat] is sweet potato fries every day, that’s going to add up,” she explains.

The week-long approach, however, forces her to have more self-restraint. While about 17 of her meals are healthy during the week, just four are less healthy.


What to eat and not eat

Koren began cooking her meals at home. Her healthy meals consist of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and nutrient dense carbs.

For example:

  • Breakfast: Two slices of wheat toast with peanut butter and blueberries
  • Mid-morning snack: A piece of fruit (whole apple, whole plum, whole peach)
  • Lunch: Salmon, sweet potatoes, and broccoli
  • Mid-afternoon snack: Sliced pepper with hummus, or a handful of almonds with dates
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with veggies

She decided to reserve her less healthy meals for when she eats out with friends. But she’s careful not to pick menu items that are too unhealthy.

“I love Mediterranean food,” she says. “So I would get falafel, which is fried, and maybe some cole slaw — there would be mayo in there — that type of thing, where it’s not totally unhealthy but not super strict either.”

You should never use your 20 percent “less healthy” meal allowance as an excuse to binge eat, she warns.

“That doesn’t mean you’re going to an extreme opposite like you’re just going to eat pizza 20 percent of the time,” she says. “It just means caring a little less.”

Prepare your meals in advance

What’s Koren’s secret to keeping her healthy lifestyle consistent? She prepares her meals in advance.

“Meal prepping is a huge, huge reason why I was able to stay so consistent, because no matter what diet or plan you’re on, you need to prepare,” she says.

The blogger meal preps twice a week. On Sunday she’ll prepare her meals for Monday through Wednesday, and on Wednesday she’ll prepare her meals for Thursday through Sunday. For example, she’ll cook broccoli, sweet potatoes, and salmon, and divide them into three portions for her lunch for the next three days. She says these prepared dishes prevent her from making unhealthy excuses.

“You want to beat your brain to the punch and just have the healthy meal in front of you, so you don’t even have to think about a decision — it’s just there,” says Koren.

Focus on the process, not the goal

After six months of following the 80/20 rule, Koren went from about 130 to 120 pounds.

“This is what I would call my happy weight,” she says. “I’m not trying to lose more, I don’t want to gain more either.”

The blogger says losing the weight “felt awesome,” but notes it was a result of focusing on healthy lifestyle changes, not an obsession with slimming down.

“I was focusing on the process — on the cooking process — and all of a sudden I realized my clothes started fitting better, my energy levels were very balanced throughout the day,” she says.

“It just made life a lot easier,” Koren concluded.

How to use the 80/20 rule

  • Will it be weekly or daily? On the week-long approach, 80 percent of your weekly meals are healthy. The daily approach, on the other hand, means 80 percent of your daily meals are healthy. Koren found the weekly approach more effective, since it forced her to eat more healthy meals.
  • Educate yourself. Healthy meals should consist of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and nutrient dense carbs. Your less healthy meals should be an opportunity for you to eat what you enjoy, but not an excuse to binge eat junk food.
  • Invest time in meal prep. Meal prepping is an important way to ensure you always have healthy options available, and will prevent you from making unhealthy excuses when hungry.
  • Focus on the small stuff. When you focus on changing your eating habits and lifestyle, your body and energy levels will change too.

Being healthy is just another part of the hustle my friends. I hope you guys CRUSH this week. 👊🏻Here’s my super easy spin on @minimalistbaker’s general tso’s tofu (I baked it instead of cooking it in a skillet) with roasted asparagus, baby carrots and quinoa. For snacks I have @thinkthinbars, mixed nuts and Granny Smiths! You can watch my meal prep on my story. 😊 . . . . . #healthylifestyle #fitfam #fitchickscook #fitgirl #tiufam #bbgfam #feedfeed #foodgawker #food52 #buzzfeast #minimalistbaker #tofu #foodphotography #wellness #instagood #eeeeeats #fromscratch #homemade #foods4thought #bgbcommunity #feedyoursoull #foodie #protein #iamwellandgood #healthnut #droolclub

A post shared by Talia Koren (@workweeklunch) on Mar 26, 2017 at 5:25pm PDT

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