As a running coach for Fred’s Team it’s always amazing to watch marathoners accomplish their goals. Not only do they feel more empowered but they also change their bodies, getting stronger and leaner. Many runners use marathon training to lose weight and they are quite successful at it. Every now and then an athlete will actually gain a few pounds.
To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. You want to eat the most amount of calories and still be able to lose weight. Most nutritionists recommend that athletes do not create a caloric deficit by more than 15%. Use this calorie calculator to help figure out what the amount of deficit is right for you. Starving yourself is never an option, especially when you are training for a marathon. You need to fuel your run and replenish your body with the vital nutrients it needs.
Gaining weight could be caused by the following:
Your calorie intake is out of whack. Be aware of how many calories you are taking in. Weight loss is caused by spending more energy then you ingest. When your mileage is increasing you are spending more energy, you do need more calories. However, you probably don’t need to consume the entire buffet table. Michael Phelps famously needed 12,000 calories while training for the Olympics. Most of us are do not need anything close to that amount.
What are you eating? As you train for your big event, your body needs the most amount of nutrients. You need to fuel up AND you need to recover and build your body back up from the training. If you are eating junky over processed, sugary foods, they set off chemical reactions in your body. Your body is never satisfied, you can’t sleep you are crabby and then over consume the same types of foods. The way to go is whole foods, simple basic clean foods. Give your body the nutrients it actually craves. Because we are human, allow yourself to have one junky thing a week, whether it’s an ice cream cone or pizza, just try not to eat the whole pizza, limit it to a portion.
Overtraining. Counter to what some athletes think, more is not always more. There is enough research that shows the seriousness of this issue. Most coaches and marathon or triathlete training programs take this in consideration. But athletes get afraid and think they must go beyond what the program calls for or they won’t be successful. Overtraining creates in an imbalance in our lives and our hormones. Often an athlete doesn’t eat enough and sleep enough. And this can lead to weight gain. Your hormones are out of whack. If you don’t eat or sleep you can’t adequately recover. If you don’t eat enough, your body stores any food you put into it as backup (gains weight) because it thinks you are in starvation mode. This is a hard one to stop. Ease back from the training, get more sleep and slowly add more healthy calories. Getting adequate sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain and your body.
Finding the right balance is essential for training. Find it and you will have a great training period and be the strongest version of yourself.