• Helen Phillips

Don't pig out and pile on the pounds

You've been running for a while and maybe started running to lose a bit of weight. But instead of losing weight, training for your marathon you've gained a few pounds!

Yikes! What's going on?

Whilst that might be the additional muscle you're carrying from increasing your fitness, all too often running, and training for a marathon, can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Don't pile on the pounds!

Here are three shocking reasons why runners training for an endurance race such as a marathon gain weight. Are you guilty? Read on to find out, and for tips on how to avoid unnecessary weight gain as you train.

Reason #1 You've been for a run ... so you deserve a treat!

Let's look at the stats. A 30 minute run might burn around 300 - 400 calories (depending upon your weight, the effort and speed of your run). Hey not bad! But if you go and reward yourself with a chocolate chip muffin (380 calories) or pint of beer (350 calories) each time you run, you can see how the running vs beer or cake maths doesn't quite add up!

Run Cals < Cake Cals = Lard4Life!

Be mindful of how many calories you're burning on your runs and make sure that you eat a balanced healthy diet, with only the occasional treat, rather than rewarding yourself for a good hard run with nutrition poor, highly calorific cakes, chocolate and booze.

Reason #2 Carbs are your best best friend

It's true that your body burns carbohydrate and fat to fuel your runs. But unless you're planning on a long run epic or in the final weeks of serious marathon training, where you'll mostly likely be running up to 60 miles per week, you don't need to load up your plate with pasta, cake and bread ahead of every run you do.

Unless you're planning a hard speed session or long run, where you're going to need a little extra carbohydrate to power your workout, it's not necessary to fuel up before your run. Your body stores carbohydrate, as glycogen, in your muscles ready to be used to power your exercise. Unless you've been working out hard earlier in the day you should have enough glycogen in your body to fuel 60 - 90 minutes of running. Definitely enough for most of your workouts, especially if you're planning a short or easy run.

Also running some workouts with lower levels of glycogen in your body will encourage it to burn fat as fuel. It's worth trying out an easy run on an empty stomach if you're training for a half or marathon, as it might help you run for longer before you deplete your glycogen levels in these longer distance races. However, when I've done this I've always been super hungry after, so if you're looking to lose weight watch the amount you eat after your workout!

Carb load before a gentle 5k jog ... and you'll likely load up the lard for life!

When you're choosing what carbohydrates to eat it's always best to go for wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholegrain pasta and wholemeal bread and choose starchy veg such as sweet potato and butternut squash as these carbs have the added benefit of being lower GI (so you won't get so much of a sugar spike than eating white bread or sugar) and providing you with loads of essential vitamins and minerals.

Reason #3 You're working out ... so you can load up large!

The first marathon I trained for I was working out hard, so though that gave me 'permission' to load my plate high with food. I supersized large and ate what I liked.

Come race day, whilst I was a little more toned I was larger than before!

If you're training for a race, or taking your running seriously, if you're looking to lose a few pounds then loading your plate won't help your weight-loss goals.

Marathon training your body needs more essential nutrients to keep it healthy and to repair from the pressures you're putting it under training. So rather that loading up on empty 'nutrient deficient' calories make sure you're eating plenty of fruit and veg, wholegrains and lean protein. You'll notice a massive difference in your training and recovery, and maybe lose a little lard along the way!

Are you guilty?

If you need to tune up your diet for your training take a look at Eat Right for Running my nutrition coaching programme designed to help you transform your training for good! Eat Right for Running includes 8 weeks of coaching workshops, Q&A's and advice to get you in shape, ready and prepared to run the race of your dreams next spring.

Let's do this!

Tune up your diet for training next spring.

Helen x

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