If a winter downturn in training has caused a few pounds to accumulate, take heart, dieting may not be what you need.
Add Strength Training
Add strength training to your workout plan. You will get two calorie burning benefits. After each weight session, you will burn calories for longer than after a cardiovascular workout like running. And, as you build muscle you will increase your resting metabolic rate so that additional calories are burned even while sleeping or relaxing.
Researchers from Arizona State University found that energy expenditure was raised for up to two hours after a weight training session. Cardiovascular exercise generally raises metabolism for less than an hour following a workout.
Change Eating Habits
In addition to weight training, a few changes in eating habits without dieting, per se, can trim calories, improve your diet, and healthfully return you to your best running weight.
Here are tips from the Food and Drug Administration to improve your diet for health.
• Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grain products like whole grain breads and rice.
• Eat only small, single servings of foods high in fat or calories.
• Eat less sugar and fewer sweets.
• Drink less alcohol or no alcohol.
• Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
• Make sure fish, poultry, and meat are lean. Trim skin and fat.
• Broil, roast or steam foods.
Reduced Calories Won't Harm Performance
You will be glad to know that the reduced calorie intake necessary to drop a few pounds is not likely to impair your running performance. In a 24-day controlled study of 24 physically fit men and women, short-term calorie restriction resulted in a reduction of about 2.5 to 3.25 pounds while weight was maintained for controls.
At the same time, muscle strength (leg and shoulder press) was maintained or increased during the weight loss period. Muscle endurance measured by leg squats to fatigue and five-mile run time improved. Anaerobic capacity increased slightly in the restriction group but declined in the control group.
The authors concluded, in a statement of the obvious, that a short-term reduction in calories results in weight loss but does not impair performance. Drop those few pounds and run faster.