Monday, September 19, 2011

Marathon Training Does Not Always Mean Losing Weight

Me finishing the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon

Ask me how I know?
If you've ever trained for a marathon, you probably expected to lose weight. And why not? Long runs that last two, three, and four hours burn a serious number of calories. But many runners step on the scale just before race day and discover that instead of dropping pounds, they've added some. Runners sometimes gain weight because they change their diets along with their mileage, or because other factors, such as hormonal fluctuations, come into play. And occasionally extra pounds are actually a sign things are going right. Here's why the numbers on the scale go up during training, and how to fuel yourself so you get to the start at an ideal weight.
From my experience since beginning marathon both in walking and running, if you do not watch your diet closely, it is easy to gain body weight.

Most training programs say do not diet during your training and keep everything the same. Well, I say BS to that.


I am using My Fitness Pal on my PC and Android phone ( and am monitoring all of my training (for calories expended) and dietary intake (calories in). I am so making sure I have sufficient carbohydrates in my diet to replace the muscle glycogen used on my long runs and protein to help repair muscle fibers.

I have lost 11 pounds in about 11 weeks (which is my goal). I have a long way to go but my body appreciates not lugging around the extra pounds on Saturday morning when I go out for at least 6 miles and now ramping up to 26.2.

Why do you gain weight?


Marathon training almost always requires more mileage, which boosts the number of calories you burn as well as your appetite. "Your body is trying to help fuel your increased activity," says Jenna Bell, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition consultant and coauthor of Energy to Burn. "One of the ways it does this is by making you hungry." It's worse for women: Researchers at the University of Massachusetts discovered this heightened sense of hunger is stronger in women than men because exercise accelerates the production of appetite-regulating hormones, prompting them to eat more; men, it turns out, aren't as susceptible to these changes.
You go for a 10-mile run, come home starving, and inhale a stack of whole-grain pancakes, a smoothie, eggs, bacon, toast, and a few well-earned cookies. Oops, you've eaten 1,200 calories—a few hundred more than you burned on the run.

To limit overcompensation—that is, eating above and beyond what you need for recovery and erasing the calorie deficit achieved during a workout—you need to make smarter food choices all day. Bell recommends eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods rich in carbs, fiber, and protein. The latter two take longer to digest, keeping hunger at bay and helping you avoid eating more than you should. Sabato also warns runners against falling into the "I deserve it" mind-set. "Going for a long run does not give you license to eat an entire batch of cookies," she says.
By using a system to monitor your daily NET calories, you can set a body weight goal and lose weight while training for a marathon. Do not use the marathon as a crutch for weight loss.

It is all about the calorie math.

Besides, aren't you training for the marathon for other reasons?

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