Q I run and do strength training, and Im trying to lose about 10 pounds. What is the best way to burn calories: working out before I eat (when Im hungry) or after I eat?
A Youre definitely on the right track with your running and lifting, because exercise is crucial for a successful weight-loss programme. But the timing of your meals wont change the number of calories you burn (for running, thats about 100 calories per mile).
However, timing will affect how you feel and perform when you train. If youre not properly fuelled going into a work-out, it can leave you feeling tired and shaky, and this will compromise the intensity and duration of your exercise. Whether that happens in the middle of a run or a weights work-out, its no fun, and its certainly going to compromise your weight-loss efforts.
To make sure that you have plenty of fuel in the tank, eat two to four hours before your work-outs. Include easily digested foods that are high in carbohydrates such as pasta, cereal, yoghurt, and fruit and vegetables. To speed recovery, refuel immediately after your work-outs with more carbohydrate-rich foods, plus a bit of protein from foods such as lean beef, chicken or fish, and skimmed or soya milk.
For optimum weight loss, its also important to balance calorie intake with your physical activity level throughout the day. Eat more when you are more active, and less when you are less active. You should also try to avoid eating large evening meals and late-night snacks. Most importantly keep exercising.
Your chosen method is a great programme and should bring you excellent results.
Scott Fisher, running coach and sports nutritionist