Fast Friday: What am I running for?

Have you ever heard about the Fat Burning Zone? I love it when people talk to me about all the great things they’re doing to lose weight and one of them is to run 3 miles every day as hard as they can. I try to run a lot because my primary reason for running is to improve my cardiovascular endurance. If you have checked me out over at MapMyRun or read any of my posts, I’m not that fast and I’m not going to that far. A lot of times (except for this winter) I run while pushing my kids. While maintaining a healthy body composition is a priority for me, I run fast (as I can) for the sole purpose of improving my heart/lung function.

If, however, your goal is to lose weight, it might help you to take a look at this chart that one of my coworkers over at NETA created for the purpose of our personal trainer program.

This article by Dr. Wayne Wescott (What is the Fat Burning Zone?) helps explain things in further detail and why each aspect of it is important based on Porcari’s study, but I want to highlight a couple of things that I know too. Please do read that article for the in depth explanation.

The difference between burning 96 calories and 108 calories of fat in every 30 minutes of activity is minimal to me. Twelve calories in the big scheme of things is not worth killing yourself over. It takes 3500 calories of fat to burn off 1 pound, so take it easy on your body. If you don’t like to run; don’t do it! There are many other ways to burn calories for weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends this program for weight loss (Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults):

  • Perform moderate to vigorous intensity exercise (Heart rate at 50-70% of Heart Rate Reserve) that is low impact, uses large muscle groups, and is something you enjoy!
  • Do it 5 or more days per week for 30-60 minutes per day to maximize caloric expenditure
  • Include resistance training to increase the muscle in the body as muscle burns calories

With all that said, here’s a few more things that are important in this discussion. Weight loss can be a health benefit or a health hindrance. I highly suggest you talk to your physician about what the goal of you doing aerobic activities like running and walking should be and plan accordingly. I’m in it right now only for the cardio health benefits and a little weight loss if it happens.

I also know, from experience on my own and with my many clients over the last 11 years (but I am not a Registered Dietician, so take this as anecdotal only), that the more carbohydrates that you burn, the hungrier you get. This means that a lot of the time, right after you finish an intense workout, you’re going to want to stuff your face full of anything full of carbs…and they’re in EVERYTHING! So, be aware of what your body is telling you and if the goal is to replenish what has been lost or if you’re just eating for other reasons. This might also influence your choice of activity based on your goal.

And finally, too much running can be a bad thing. Read here about the Female Athlete Triad and this new study on running and the heart.


Why do you run?

2 thoughts on “Fast Friday: What am I running for?

  1. I've always said that running is not for everyone. If you're being challenged in the way that you want to see benefits, then choose something else. I personally feel the best after I run or swim….more on that in the future.


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