Hi Dr. Amanda
I currently run 2-3 times per week and do strength training 1-2 times per week. Even though I have been training and somewhat following a meal plan, my BMI has increased and is the highest it’s ever been. Any advice you could provide, please?
Dr Amanda’s answer:
It is great that you are following a regular exercise routine as it’s a great investment in your health and longevity. Keep it up. As far as the increase in BMI goes, I would suggest the following:
Tracking your weight and BMI is not the best way of actually knowing if you are increasing in muscle mass (good thing) or body fat (not so good). Maintaining or increasing your muscle mass is good as it increases your metabolic rate and helps you to burn fat, even while you’re asleep. As you get older your muscle mass and metabolic rate naturally declines and exercise is a good way of preventing this decline.
It would be great to track your body fat to ensure that it stays within the healthy range. If you are a Virgin Active member then use the Tracker in the health club to track both your BMI and body fat percentage.
How to keep your body fat in a healthy range
To help keep your body fat in a healthy range, you might need to pay a bit more attention to what, and most importantly, how much you are eating. Is your food intake really matching how much physical activity and exercise you are doing to burn energy, or are you overdoing the eating a bit?
OR, you might want to up your exercise efforts a bit by increasing your intensity, duration or frequency of your training sessions. Take it a step up if possible.
OR do a bit of both.
I suggest you keep a exercise and food diary for at least a week – by doing this you will become aware of what you are eating versus how much you are exercising.
Start by decreasing the frequency and portion sizes of the calorie-dense foods such as high-fat foods (marg, butter, oils, fried or creamy foods, chips, cheese, nuts, fatty meats or processed foods), take-aways or eat-out foods, as well as the sugary foods or drinks you have. Take stock of these and make some adjustments where needed.
After that you might also need to take stock of your portions sizes of the “good” foods from the other food groups (meat, and make tweaks these if needed. Portion control = calorie control = weight control.
Remember to fill up on the fruit and veggies (salads, soup, on sandwiches) and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day!
Hope this helps!
Photo by Paola Kizette Cimenti