YOU’VE heard it before: Never stop learning. In the field of health education one of the best topics to learn is how to take care of our body. There are a lot of questions and concepts that need to be answered but because of different opinions of how to do it, we are confused. Here are some questions and answers which I hope will enlighten you. It’s up to you whether you agree with them or not.
Eating and exercising
Q: If you’re trying to lose weight, is it better to eat before or after you exercise?
A: It depends on the type of exercise you’re
doing to shed the pounds. If you prefer light-to-moderate activity, such as walking or recreational cycling it is, it’s probably better to eat before. Ten percent of the calories you eat are burned simply through the process of digestion and that is called the thermic effect of food. By exercising within the first half-hour after a meal, you can actually boost that thermic effect and burn 15 percent more calories.
Eating first is not a good strategy. Though if you lift weights, run or do another type of training that calls for greater exertion. Strenuous exercise
requires extra blood flow to your internal parts. Your circulatory systems equipped for only one or the other. Do both and you’ll get nauseated which is a self tactic, the body uses to prevent strain on the heart. At this point, either you’re going to stop exercising or you’re going to stop digesting. I would suggest the former.
Walking versus running
Q: I was pretty much out of shape and decided to take up running, which I used to do 10 years ago. My friends says speed walking is just as good but easier on the body. What’s the deal?
A: Well, go with your friends advice particularly since you said that you’re just getting back into training. Speed walking—by which we mean walking as briskly as possible without breaking into a jog—offers a couple of advantages over running. The most important of these is that it is less demanding. Half the battle in starting or restarting a shape up plan is simply hanging on for the first four weeks when exercise doesn’t feel very good. That’s not always easy. Too many people push themselves too hard out of the starting phase and end up quitting their programs. In this critical early period 25 percent of people get discouraged and hang up their sneakers for good.
We understand that most people wanting to run because it burns calories at approximately 1 1/2 times the rate of speed walking, but speed walking (especially called power walking) does burn calories faster than regular walking. It’s about 50 percent faster. An additional benefit of speed walking is it is safer to the knees. During the run, the precious joint absorbs roughly three to four times a persons body weight with each step, with speed walking, you never have both feet off the ground. A note on form: You should land on your heel, roll on the outside edges of your foot and push off with your toes. Keep your elbows bent so your movements are fluid. I know what you’re thinking, but you won’t look like a duck if you
concentrate on proper form and don’t exaggerate your upper body movements. In the meantime, you might want to practice after dark.
Q: I’ve been working out quite regularly, and lately my muscles have been getting sore. Is this
because my workouts are working or because I’m over-training?
A: Muscle soreness comes in different varieties. There’s the mild burning sensation you get after a workout that is your body’s way of reaction cause by the lactic acid build-up. But if your soreness consistently comes in the body and soreness lasted for two or three days, you’re probably overdoing it.
Soreness that lingers for more than a day or two indicates excessive damage to the muscle. While some strain on the muscle fibers is necessary to muscle growth, overdoing will actually impede your progress. If you are going back into the gym still sore from the last workout, you are not giving your muscles the recuperative time they need to
rebuild and grow.
Other telltale warning signs of over-training
include general fatigue, loss of appetite, depression or a plateauing in your workouts which means you cannot add any more weight or repetitions.
Constant pain coupled with any of these signs is a sure way to scale back your training routine to something slightly less than super human.
Working out with a cold
Q: I’ve heard that exercising while you have a cold is fine, as long as there’s no fever or soreness. Is this true?
A: The best answer for a bout with the common cold is a dose of common sense. Exercising while under the weather won’t hurt you so long as you’re planning to run a marathon or set a new sprinting record on a 100 meter dash. If you have just a cold, a runny nose, sore throat, the usual—then it’s okay to engage in moderate activity. Breaking a sweat might even help lift your spirits and make you feel better. On the other hand, a bad case of the flu is a different story altogether. If your lungs are congested, you’re running a fever or you experience aches throughout your body, head for bed. Extreme exertion at a time like this won’t do you any good and could make you a good deal sicker.
Maintaining healthy fat intake
Q: Magazines say that a healthy diet should get no more than 30 percent of calories from fat. Does that mean I should never touch foods that go over the limit?
A: Absolutely not. What they’re referring to is an across-the-board average. Say, you’re eating 2,500 calories a day, about average for an active 175-pound man. That means no more than about 800 calories or 89 grams worth, should come from fat. Now, you can keep to this limit by following either of two different routes: 1. Eat nothing that’s above 30 percent fat all day long, which isn’t practical (a typical cut of steak gets 40 percent of its calories from fat). 2. Eat whatever you want as long as you eat less than 89 grams of fat each day. For example, you could conceivably blow nearly half your daily fat allotment at a single sitting by consuming a cheese burger or two slices of Supreme Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut, and then still keep your days total to less than 89 grams of fat by sticking to low-fat fare for the rest of your meals.
Importantly, though, even if every morsel you bring to your lips is less than 30 percent fat, you can still eat too much. Calories count too. A lot of people will eat a whole box of fat-free cookies, but what they don’t realize is there’s still a ton of calories in there. Eventually, those excess calories turn to fat.
Eating late and gaining weight
Q: I’ve gained 14 pounds in the last three years and I suspect that part of the problem is that I’m eating so late. I generally get home from the office around 7:30 p.m. By the time I have a beer and rustle up something to eat, it’s 8:30 or later. Are these late dinners the problem? And since my boss wouldn’t approve of my cutting back my work hours, is there anything I can do to offset my late eating?
A: Those late meals may indeed be partly responsible for your weight gain. Studies of obese people show that most get more than half of their calories after 6:00 in the evening. The problem is that if you eat late, you’re stockpiling fuel for the least active part of your day, the hours that you sleep. Instead of being burned up as fuel, the food you eat before bed has more of a chance of going into storage.
If you exercise frequently or have a high-serving metabolism, nocturnal noshing isn’t that big a deal. But if you spend most of your day at a desk only to come home and ride the couch, you may need to do a few of the following things to get rid of that paunch.
Schedule snack times throughout the day. Eating a big dinner causes the body to produce excess insulin, a hormone that helps transport energy into storage. But consuming a series of smaller meals—say, four or five throughout the day—keeps insulin levels low, meaning you’ll burn calories more efficiently, even at night. And a hearty 5 p.m. snack will mean you’ll have less of an appetite at dinnertime.
Eat your bigger meals in the morning and afternoon. By consuming most of your calories before 2 p.m. you’ll be fueling yourself for the most active part of the day.
Get active before you eat dinner. Take a few minutes out for a light jog, a series of jumping jacks or some push-ups and stomach exercises like leg raises and crunches. Research indicates that, exercise suppresses the appetite, so you’ll be less likely to pig out. It increases the rate at which your body burns calories, even after you’re done exercising.