Gaining Weight While.... Training for a Marathon?


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Every runner, elite or novice, has probably imagined what it would be like to train for and run a full marathon. After all, it is the ultimate endurance test and a common bucket list item to check off.  The training is intense and demanding, so many also believe that a nice bonus to running will be leaning out and getting that coveted runner's body. However, many times that is not the case and runners actually gain weight during their training.

Why? Well for starters, many runners overestimate what they need to eat to make sure they are keeping their energy levels up and getting enough calories. In an article from runnersconnect.com by Emily Brown, a nutritionist and Olympic Trials qualifier, it discusses this phenomena and how on average, runners burn only 80-100 calories per mile. Therefore,after a run, people tend to counteract what they burned by having the "I can eat whatever I want because I just ran 15 miles" mentality. 

I'm sure anyone who runs or even works out for that matter, has experienced that feeling. I know I have. You justify that extra piece of chocolate or that last handful of potato chips because, "I ran today." So imagine that feeling when you are running upwards of 5, 10, 15 or 20 miles multiple times a week. The cravings and desire to fuel up can get pretty intense.

However, food isn't the only reason marathon runners gain weight while training. While running is a cardiovascular exercise pounding the pavement that often causes you to gain muscle mass.  In an article from running.about.com, it stated that the scale will go up because muscle is denser than fat but you can still get the tone you are looking for since your body fat percentage will go down.

Needless to say, running until your blue in the face will not make you necessarily lose weight. Just like anything, there are many different factors that come to play. 

4 Comments

The amount of calories that athletes (professional and non-professional) have to eat is immense. Some are not subject to choice, but necessity. I had an ex who was swimmer and she ate upwards of 3,000 calories a day to retain her what weight she had while practically not gaining any. Certain exercises are more intensive. From past experience (observations), I would recommend any who wants to lose weight to take up swimming. If you want to have a good swim suit body, put on a swim suit is what I'm saying. However, an experimental study with a sample greater than 1 would have to be organized to state my claim with any degree of surety.
In that same vein (concerning swimming), I've added a link to nutrition concerning the sport: http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1&itemid=3593&mid=8712
It's a good alternative to jogging, it would seem.

EDIT
The amount of calories that athletes (professional and non-professional) have to eat is immense. Some diets are not subject to choice, but necessity. I had an ex who was a swimmer and she ate upwards of 3,000 calories a day to retain what weight she had while practically not gaining a single pound. Certain exercises are more intensive. From past experience (observations), I would recommend anybody who wants to lose weight to take up swimming. If you want to have a good swim suit body, put on a swim suit is essentially what I'm saying. However, an experimental study with a sample greater than 1 would have to be organized to state my claim with any degree of surety.
In that same vein (concerning swimming), I've added a link to nutrition concerning the sport: http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1&itemid=3593&mid=8712
It's a good alternative to jogging, it would seem.

As a runner I can totally relate to the mindset of "I worked hard today and deserve to eat whatever I want." Coming home from cross country practice during two-a-days I would stuff my face to replenish and prepare for the calories I thought I was losing in the morning and during our second practice at night. I slowly started to realize, however, that when I am done running and actually think about how I'm feeling, I'm not hungry at all. There have been studies done showing this and how aerobic exercise actually suppresses your appetite and the findings are described in this article here: http://www.today.com/health/exercise-may-actually-suppress-your-appetite-two-new-studies-suggest-1C6971256. The director of the Energy Metabolism Lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst stated exactly the problem I was having that, "just because you may not feel as hungry as normal, it doesn’t prevent you from eating too much after a workout anyway." It's important to listen to what your body is telling you and making your workout count.

I have recently taken up running as a hobby, and this is good to know. Instead of giving your body what it is craving after a long run, give it something that it needs. one of my friends would literally eat a whole bunch of spinach after running because that's what he thought his body needed to refresh itself. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/04/30/what-to-eat-to-see-better-results-from-your-workout/ confirms the spinach theory. Be good to your body.

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