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Weight Loss and Marathon Training

For some people, when they decide to train for a marathon their motivation is fueled by wanting to lose weight.  However, this isn’t always the result.

As an exercise physiologist, weight management consultant & marathon coach I have helped many clients reach their goals but this combination can be very tricky.  These are two major goals but I believe you can find that balance to achieve both.   You might wonder…

-What should I eat & how much?
Have you ever experienced “runger” – increased hunger because of running?  As soon as I started running 3 times a week, I noticed a significant increase in my appetite.  I was hungry ALL THE TIME.  It seemed like no amount of food was satisfying.   The book “The Runner’s Diet” specifically addresses how to lose weight without sacrificing energy or performance by eating the right foods at the right times. The book recommends a 50-25-25 eating plan – 50% of calories from (fiber-rich) carbohydrates, 25% from protein and 25% from fat.  Those totals are the daily total food make-up.  Also, be patient.  Healthy & realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.  The magic number is 500 calories per day deficit, which amounts to 1 lb a week.  I find it helps to log your food on a daily basis.  I like to use the app “My Fitness Pal” which also shows you a percentage of your daily caloric intake.

– How I should best fuel my body to train and perform as well as possible?
Try to avoid empty calories and focus on eating foods that give you the most nutrients per calorie. These include good sources of whole grains and starches (like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, barley, amaranth, millet, and rye), lean proteins (fish, chicken, Greek yogurt, eggs, and beans), healthy fats (avocados, nuts, and olive oil), and of course fruits and veggies to provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

– How can I lose weight faster?
Strength training to increase muscle mass will also play a role in weight loss.  Increasing muscle mass with strength training three times a week will help you burn more calories at rest.  In other words, increasing your metabolism.  You want to focus on all the major muscles and choose a weight that is challenging without compromising your form.  Think high repetitions and low weight.

I hope these tips help you reach your goals in 2014!

Paula Smith, ACE CPT