I think we all assume that when you run more, you’ll burn a ton of calories and the weight will just fall off! Sometimes, that’s true.
But what if you actually GAIN weight when training for a race or running more?
You may even follow some Instagram influencers who say that if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t run AT ALL?
On the flip side, I’ve had people tell me “You can stay so lean at eat a lot because you run so much.” (I mean I DO love food and I have a big appetite).
So what’s the deal here? What’s the key to weight loss as a runner?
I have successfully lost weight AND continued to make progress toward my running goals. I’ve made some mistakes along the way and I’ve learned a lot!
This video explains how to prioritize weight loss and running goals when setting up your run calendar.
Here are the 3 main principles I live by and teach when runners come to me wanting to lose weight:
1) Know your priority: weight loss or running faster?
Is it currently MORE important to lose weight or improve your run times? While these two things CAN go hand in hand, sometimes they don’t!
If weight loss is the priority, we can create a larger calorie deficit. If running is more important, we can create a small calorie deficit, but when in doubt, we want to make sure we’re fueling with more carbs. A good time to focus on weight loss as a runner is when you’re at least 3-4 months out from your goal race (that’s why I’m focusing on it NOW since my next goal race is in November). If you run but don’t race, then you don’t have to worry about this!
Amy is a runner joined my nutrition focused group last month to focus on weight loss. In 4 weeks of sticking with her nutrition she had these results: “I lost 12 pounds and 8 total inches. I felt so good by the end of the four weeks.”
2) NEVER skip pre & post run fueling to save calories.
This BACKFIRES. When we skip pre and post run food, we not only prolong our recovery, but we can also create intense cravings and hunger later in the day that can cause us to raid the pantry or go through the drive through.
Eat a small carb rich snack before ANY run and be sure to fuel properly after a run. I always have Recover (protein/BCAAs) following long runs and any hard workout.
We can create a calorie deficit using OTHER meals during the day. This rule also applies to fueling for runs over 90 minutes. Your mid-long run gel STAYS even if you’re trying to lose weight.
3) Food QUALITY matters more than QUANTITY.
Eating whole foods, minimizing liquid calories/alcohol, minimizing added sugar and processed, fried foods is going to help you lose weight and stay lean. It doesn’t mean NEVER eating these things – it just means being conscious of them. During training cycles that I’ve gained weight, I am justifying treats every day, over eating on long run days and eating more processed carbs to ‘carb o load.”
Plus: eating anti-inflammatory whole foods is going to get you more micronutrients that are going to help your body recover faster and even sleep better! The program 4 Week Gut Protocol really helped me eat more whole foods ands understand how certain foods impact my body AND I lost 8 pounds in 4 weeks.
One runner from Best Run Year Ever (who chose to stay anonymous) , shared: “I’ve come to realize the bigger role diet/nutrition plays in overall health and fitness. Without really changing my workout patterns (aside from increasing running distance for training), I was finally able to get rid of the last few stubborn pounds and visibly lean out.”
One last note: The scale is JUST ONE indicator of health and fitness. Do not get caught up in it being some arbitrary number that you feel will mean you’re “in shape.” It’s much healthier to measure your fitness and health based on how you feel, how you run and how happy you are!
Weight Loss Plan and Accountability for Runners
If you need help with losing weight or getting higher quality nutrition into your everyday diet, I’d love for you to join one of my accountability groups!
Fill out this form and share your goals with me and I can help you choose the right plan for you and support you.