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Running the Des Moines marathon? Skip the pizza

Posted October 16, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

There is a common misconception in the fitness community that as long as you work out, you can eat whatever you want.

While this is 100 percent untrue, and no study has ever produced evidence supporting this thought process, people with fitness goals, whether it be to lose weight, run a 5k or PR at their next marathon, continue to think their diet will not affect their progress.

Your body composition is about 90 percent determined by your diet. Your recovery process can be enhanced between workouts by consuming anti-inflammatory foods, and getting your daily amount of vitamins is vital to muscle production. But even more than the properties of the foods you are consuming, the way your body breaks down chemicals can drastically affect your recovery process and weight-loss efforts.

Consider this: There is a measurement of energy in food. Your body must burn calories to digest food, and so the macronutrient content of food affects how easy it is for your body to digest. The harder it is to digest, the more energy you burn during the process. Sugar, fat and refined carbs (like cookies and cake) break down more easily and expend little energy. Cooked foods digest faster than raw, as do processed (a hamburger) versus unprocessed (steak). Unprocessed meats and high-fiber foods take more energy to digest and yield fewer net calories.

With this information, it is no wonder that a diet of sugary or processed foods may ultimately result in weight loss, but will likely result in a loss of muscle tone as well. People tend to overestimate how many calories they burn working out and tend to underestimate the caloric value of what they are eating. That compounded with our tendency to consume salty, sugary, processed foods helps us understand why our weight-loss efforts are not getting us the results we want. For progress, choose whole foods that will not break down easily. Not only do these up your daily caloric burn, but the macronutrient content that makes up these foods will provide your body with necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as protein, that will help it rebuild in the recovery stages, making you faster and stronger.

Information provided by Julia Steggerda, Fitness World 24 – Downtown, 418 Sixth Ave., #110, 288-1111.

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