Thursday, February 11, 2010

3K and nutrition...

Well, I got new running shoes today. Again! I won't talk about it but let's just say that the Mizunos didn't work out and I ended up with Brooks Glycerine. I hope that's the end of my shoe hunt. I ran 3K with already and it was OK, not super, just OK ... but just OK can be good on the long run so I am hopeful....

So, I wanted to talk about weight... I am not overweight but I have a few pounds (let's say 5) that I gained over the last 5-10 years that am I constantly struggling with... Over the years I would lose and gain them time after time... but then, after my second pregnancy, it looked like they were there to stay so I saw a nutritionist to figure out what was I doing wrong... I am a healthy eating freak (always has been) so I didn't know why, after eating so well, my waist line was getting chunkier... it turned out I was eating too many carbs and not enough protein plus I was deficient in vitamin E and several minerals... long story short, I balanced my diet and lost those last post-baby pounds... interestingly, every time I increase my cardio, my weight also increases! I didn't know why?! I would gain 3-4 pounds each time I got back into running and, believe me, on me even 3 pounds show right away (I am 5'3)... Well, guess what? The pounds are back now that I am running again... but this time I was really frustrated! I thought that I had finally figured it out, that it was just poor nutrients balance... so I went back to the nutritionist and got even more surprised after her analysis of the situation... I WASN'T eating enough and therefore I was GAINING weight... but that is counter-intuitive, isn't it???? Not really. The truth is that if the body does not get the proper nutritional input, the metabolism slows down... I was running off (on average) 1,500 calories per week but was not supplementing my calories intake so my body was shifting to "starvation mode" and shutting down my metabolism... starvation mode is a very adaptive mechanism insuring that the organism can last longer when there is no food around... in some people this mechanism is not so sensitive so their metabolism will not slow down when the calories expenditure is greater than the calories intake. So when those people start a new exercise routine, they see results right away... I am not one of them... my body adapts too well so if I don't adjust my food intake, I end up gaining a bit of weight. Some of it can be muscle mass (but only if I do weight training, not with running)... but most of it is fat that is stored just in case I continue to not eat enough.

Here is the shocker! If I want to lose weight I have to eat MORE! And I mean more! I have to have at least 2200 calories on the days I run! And these calories have to come from a very specific combination of complex carbs, proteins, and fats. I was floored! I cannot eat so much! My base metabolism is about 1250 calories a day plus add 500 to accommodate my lifestyle (including moderate exercise), so 1800 calories is all I need and have been eating now. Just a quick look at my new "performance program" makes my stomach hurt... I have to be eating all the time! I can't believe I am complaining about it but I am. The problem is that I can't just eat what I want.  Simply adding 500-600 calories to my daily diet is not going to do it. It has to be specific foods and/or combination of food. On top of that, these are foods that for the most part I have to prepare myself, which means finding the time to do so. Sigh!

Another problem with me is that when I start exercising regularly, I retain water for the first few weeks. My nutritionist explained that to me too. The extra intracellular water is needed to help repair the muscle cells that have been strained or damaged during the exercise (especially if you increase frequency or intensity too quickly). Once the body gets used to the physical load, the water retention should diminish. Finally, increased cardiovascular activity leads to an increase in blood volume, which can easily add 3-4 pounds to your weight...

So, the nutritionist assured me that the extra pounds will disappear when I adjust my diet and when my body gets used to all this new physical activity... I will listen to her and do what she says. I have some great performance recipes she suggests for pre- and post workouts. She also recommended a book by Brendan Brazier (who does iron man competitions) called "The Thrive Diet". I bought it and it is very informative but a bit boring to read. However, I loved his recipes for home made sports drinks, sports gels, and power bars and already made a few of them... He has another book, titled "Thrive Fitness" which is similar but geared more towards exercise programs.

That's all for today! Happy running to all!


  1. (jaw hanging open) Are you kidding me? Eat more; lose more?

  2. I'm definitely eating more and not losing a damn thing...except my mind maybe.

  3. Jamoosh, I know, my jaw dropped too... but it all made sense at the end... the ideas is not to just eat more but to eat enough on days when I train so to fuel my body properly... eventually my body will be "re calibrated" and my metabolism will increase...

  4. I stay at basically the same weight regardless of how much or little I eat. I think I need to learn to properly fuel ... let me know how this works out for you.

    Good luck with the new shoes!

  5. Hi Miglena,
    Great post today! I always end up gaining weight when I start anything new. I am not sure what the deal is either, but my weight has been pretty steady since the summer. I think I am on the lighter side when I run more and go for longer distances. Muscle weights more than fat:) If it makes you feel better I think that you look very tiny and beautiful too!! Have a great weekend!!

  6. I wrote about this same phenomenon on my blog last weekend after watching a video on portion distortion. I may need to check out the book your nutritionist recommended. I love food science/food books.

  7. I go up and down as much as 15 but mostly about 8. I am at a good weight for me but would like to lose about 7 to be at my lowest weight.