Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should runners count calories?

I have talked on this blog from time to time about nutrition, health and weight. Nutrition is very important to me because I need to eat "right" in order to be a good/strong runner and also because I have a strong interest in nutrition. That is why, my interest was piqued when I came across this video/article on 

I actually agree a lot with the Matt Fitzgerald and appreciated it when he compared counting calories to a set of training wheels on a bike: It is helpful at the beginning of learning to eat healthy, but does need to be used strictly once you get the hang of it.

Which brings me to the next point I liked: counting calories does not need to be a 100% accurate. Personally, I am aware (caloric and feeling-wise) about how many calories I eat per day. I am not trying to lose any weight, but I am also not trying to gain any. So, for my body and activity level, I eat/ need about 2,000 calories per day.

In addition, I like and don't like the point he made that counting calories can help train people how to eat healthy. I think it is important for one's health to stay in a particaular caloric zone. However, something can be 100 calories (ahh 100 calorie snack bars) and not be great for you vs. a Larabar that is 200 calories and is really healthy for you. So, I guess what I am saying is not only should one be concerned with how many calories they eat per day, but also the quality of calories they are eating. 

Finally, I do think competitive runners should loosely count calories, especially ones training for a full marathon. Like I mentioned before, weight gain can be pretty significant during marathon training. And most report it is due to the fact that people think they can consume more than their body is burning. So, LOOSE calorie counting can be helpful (NOTE: one does need to consume more calories on days of long runs and should consult a professional for appropriate guidelines). 

Also, when you are training for a long distance run your body craves good, nutritious foods. So, by being aware of what you eat can force you to fuel your body with healthy foods. But as in any guidelines or plan there should always be room for "cheat" days/meals where you can indulge in your favorite foods!!!

Do you think it is helpful to count calories? Should runners count calories?

In other news, I ran 6 miles on the treadmill today (Boston has snow in the forecast) in 53 minutes. It was actually a great run from start to finish. I felt great the whole time and didn't get bored once! I was blasting my ipod and dancing/singing for all the gym to see. I must have had extra energy today....

I hope you are all having a GREAT week!!!! Almost the weekend.......


  1. I count calories, but that's because even though I'm happy with my body right now, losing another 10 lbs would legitimately put my in a healthy upper-range for my BMI (right now, I'm still technically overweight).

    That being said, I'm a fairly general counter because at this point, as long as the scale continues to stay steady or move down (I'm really not on a timetable anymore), we're doing just fine.

    Summary: I definitely agree with your philosophy.

  2. I definitely don't court calories, I probably should...I mostly just try to make really healthy decisions emphasizing more veggies and making sure that I get healthy grains, protein and plenty of water in thorough the day!