Lots of people want to lose weight but don't have the slightest idea how to do it. Exercise coupled with a low-fat diet can be the key.
Scientific data show that low-calorie diets alone are not effective in permanent weight loss. Besides, few people are willing to spend the rest of their lives on low-calorie diets that force them to go to bed hungry when food is available.
On the one hand, severely restricting fat in your diet will help you lose weight while allowing you to eat when you are hungry. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Avoid meat, chicken, eggs, all dairy products made from whole milk (choose products made from skim milk instead) and all bakery products except those specifically low in fat and sugar. Stay away from nuts, seeds, margarine, butter, mayonnaise and oily salad dressings, too.
For exercise, choose two sports or activities that stress different parts of your body, such as working out on a rowing machine and pedaling a stationary bicycle. Alternate the two activities -- row one day and ride the next. Always stop as soon as your muscles feel heavy or hurt. Some workouts will last only a minute or two while others can go for 20 minutes.
There is no need to severely restrict overall food intake; just be sure to severely restrict the amount of fat you eat. And, remember, there's no need to exercise for more than 30 minutes a day.
Furthermore, people with slow metabolisms have a much harder time than others when it comes to losing weight. They especially need to follow a strict program that combines more exercise and less fatty foods.
Q: How much rest is needed before and after running a marathon?
A: It takes at least a month of reduced training to properly prepare for a marathon and at least two months to recover afterward.
You need to run long and fast in practice to compete in a marathon. But such hard running damages muscles. You will know your muscles are damaged when they burn and feel sore. In one classic study, Harm Kuipers of the University of Limburg in the Netherlands showed that, after running 17 miles a week, none of the runners in his study had muscle damage. But after running 31 miles a week, 33 percent had injured muscles. And after running 50 miles a week, 57 percent suffered extensive muscle damage.
One month before you run a marathon, cut back on your training mileage. If you have been running 75 miles a week, for example, cut back to 30.
As long as you continue to run very fast in practice, you will not lose any conditioning. But stop all fast running about seven days before you compete.
Microscopic examinations of muscle tissue from marathoners have shown that, after a marathon, some muscle cells are destroyed, others are swollen with fluid, blood vessels burst and free blood leaks into muscles. It can take several weeks before muscle cells can store adequate amounts of sugar, the major source of muscle energy.
The vast majority of runners should not run fast or long for at least two months after a marathon. It takes at least that long for muscles to recover.
Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.