Carbs, Protein and Moderation: Master Your Health

Zurich Marathon

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve heard the worst: tales of zero weight lost even with a daily running schedule; and horror of all horrors: actually gaining weight because all that running caused an appetite increase.

Well, as a fairly new runner who is increasing her running schedule and her speed, I don’t want to hear either one of those tales! 🙂 Both of them pack a hard enough punch to knock me right back into couch potato mode – and at 50 years old, that’s not where I want to be.

My whole purpose of increasing my exercise is to increase my overall health, and of course there’s that all-important goal I have of getting my belly pierced. But that’s beside the point. I want to be healthy. But what kind of incentive is that: exercise  more and you’ll have to eat more because you’re so hungry from exercising. Isn’t that defeating your whole purpose for exercising? Unless …

Unless we’re talking about eating more of the RIGHT foods to increase energy, raise metabolic rate – is that where our minds should focus when our stomach growls at us to send down some food?  Well I can relate to that concept. This is actually the second time I’ve had to learn to focus on eating the right foods.

Are Vegetarians Taking Over?

The first time was a few years ago, when I had to learn to be a vegetarian. Now I actually became a vegetarian 20-some years ago (kinda lost track of when). I know my youngest daughter was around five, but anyway ….

When I first became a vegetarian, I wasn’t trying to become one. At that time, I didn’t even know that a term existed to describe what I was trying to do. The only thing I wanted was to feel better. I was eating lotsa beef, chicken, processed fish, beef gravy with biscuits (my favorite! especially when I melted some cheese in with the gravy!) Seemed like I could never fully get rid of one meal of meat before I piled another meal into my intestines. Maybe I had a defective digestive tract or something because all of that meat seemed to just sit in my belly and make me feel blahhhhh. I was miserable. I felt heavy, not weight-wise; lethargic. I didn’t have the energy that I have today at all.

So I cut out all meats, and I started feeling better, digestive tract started working better I guess because there was nothing slowing down the vegetables from doing their thing. But since I wasn’t fully aware of my responsibilities as a new vegetarian, which I didn’t know I was, I upped my carb intake. I was the sandwich, pasta, pancake queen! I figured I could eat what and how much I wanted. By the time I learned just how dangerous too many carbs are for a vegetarian, I had ballooned into a 30-pound heavier vegetarian, inviting many raised eyebrows when I told people that I lived a vegetarian lifestyle.

Thankfully, I now have the perfect guideline to be a healthy vegetarian. My hope is that now that I’m stepping up my game as a runner, that I can make the proper choices when all that lovely exercise makes my belly growl louder. I’ve listed three of the most important lessons I’ve learned below.

  • Carb intake: Just like everything in life there are good and bad. Good carbs include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, grains, some dairy and wheat products. Good carbs are in their most natural state and haven’t been altered by processing. I was eating  good carbs but I was eating way too much of them and enjoying too many bad carbs too. Bad carbs are processed with too many additives including sugar and fat. Cookies, cakes, ice cream, french fries, fried rice, donuts, candy. Note a difference: In its natural state, a potato is actually good for you: they are low in fat, high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. But once you slice it up and dunk them into a deep-fryer and then salt the fried results, you just turned it into a processed food loaded with fat and salt, which is bad for your health.
  • Protein: I didn’t think about how much protein my body needed when I gave up
    Examples of high-protein foods are tofu, dairy...

    Image via Wikipedia

    meat.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) an adequate intake of protein for adult women is 46 grams per day; and 56 grams per day for adult males. To get that, there are many sources: Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, tofu, all beans, tofu, soy milk, vegetables, cheese, oatmeal, cream of wheat and eggs. A six-ounce serving of Greek Yogurt packs close to 20 grams of protein. And protein helps you feel full longer. So when I eat a salad, I add protein-rich chick peas (garbanzo beans); or eat six ounces of low-fat yogurt before and after a run and as a late night snack.

  • Moderation: Unless you’ve reached a point where your doctor has to intervene, you still have a choice in altering your diet. Moderation is a much more realistic lifestyle than dieting – cutting out foods that you obviously love. The key is eating those foods in moderation, something it took me years to learn AFTER becoming a vegetarian. Now I still eat pancakes, but I’ll eat only two and NO second helpings. Sandwiches now consist of just one slice of bread, which depending on the brand can pack a walloping 100 calories per slice. Cheese, my all-time FAVORITE food, once a day period. 🙂 I’m one of these people who can put cheese on a rock. 🙂

With these main points in mind, and whatever else I can add to them, I’m training my body for more running while simultaneously training my mind to feed my hunger with mostly good stuff.

Yes mostly ….  I’ve always got room for a nice cheeeeesy pizza – in moderation of course. 🙂

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