Weight loss and running

A big question for many women is 'why have I put on weight despite running more?' with the sub-question of 'surely all that running is burning off more calories than before I took up running?' It is not a straightforward question to answer because of individual variability but here are my thoughts and what the science says.

Firstly, it is not as simple by any means as calories in versus calories out. For sure, running burns off calories but that is only part of the story. Even if you run for an hour and only eat salad for lunch it does not guarantee that you will lose weight. Our bodies are clever things. The combination of exercise and reducing food intake can actually encourage our bodies to hold on to what they have. A kind of inbuilt safety mechanism.

In order to burn calories, our bodies need muscle, not fat. By eating a balanced diet including plenty of quality, lean protein such as; eggs, fish, poultry, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds, in combination with both cardio and resistance exercise, you are more likely to increase muscle mass. Do keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so the scales tell only one part of the story not give the whole picture. The scales may have gone up but if the balance between muscle and fat has shifted positively you should be pleased.

Water is another factor, often weight gain is fluid gain. Or to put it the other way, weight loss after a run is dehydration. Not drinking sufficient water before, during and after a run can actually encourage the body to hold to all the water it can, for survival which in turn can put the number up on the scales.

Boosting your metabolism is a great way to encourage weight loss. Spices, such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric, green tea and coffee can be helpful. They are all great at boosting the fire within, turning up the heat and getting our metabolism fired up which in turn can help encourage weight loss. These foods combined with interval running and some strength training can have a great effect on weight loss.

I encourage any runner who struggles with numbers on the scales not to weigh themselves or at least only occasionally. The fit of clothes, and how well you can move, breath and live is far more important than a number on a machine.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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