A friend and I walk briskly for five miles on Saturdays and then chat over a breakfast of bagels or pancakes at a nearby diner. Are we undoing any benefit of our exercise with the breakfast we eat?
It depends on what health benefits you want from your five-miler. No matter what you eat, you are still getting valuable aerobic benefits from your walk. If weight loss is your goal, however, you should rethink your routine.
Are bagels and pancakes the pot of gold at the end of your outing? Then balance them with some protein like eggs, peanut butter or cottage cheese. Also consider how much you're eating.
"Depending on whether the bagel is Lender's size or bakery size, you will be getting 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates," says Monica Dorsey-Smith, a dietician / educator at Union Memorial Hospital.
While she recommends that 50 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates, remember that this includes fruit, veggies, milk and other often unrecognized carbs. As long as you add some variety to your breakfast and don't inhale an extra-large stack covered in butter and syrup, there is nothing wrong with indulging a little after your weekly trek.
I have been reading that one's body mass index is more important than one's weight. Is that true? And if so, how can I find out what my body mass is?
Body mass index is the ratio of your weight to your height. By taking into account both weight and height, it serves as a gauge for total body fat.
Under federal guidelines published in 1998, a healthy BMI is 18.5-24.99, 25-29.9 is overweight and 30 or higher is obese. Below 18.5 is underweight. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (or take your weight in pounds divided by the square of your height in inches, and multiply that total by 704.5).
If all that makes your head spin, use an online BMI calculator (www.caloriecontrol.org has a good one). BMI is a better measure than just weight, but it is flawed. The weight-height ratio doesn't differentiate between fat and muscle, so a lean, well-built person may have a BMI in the overweight range when in fact he or she is just muscular.
Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.