Posted April 21, 2012 - 11:39am by Kate Kinne
Managing weight while training for an event
A couple of times this past week, the topic of weight control came up in the context of training for an endurance event. It's easy to assume that while someone is training for an endurance event, such as a triathlon, half marathon, etc., he/she would lose some weight due to the calorie burn during training. However, that is oftentimes not the case, and in fact, some find they actually gain weight, leaving them wondering "with all this physical activity, how could that possibly be?"
You have to keep in mind the calorie balance equation...if you eat as many calories as you burn in a day, your weight will stay the same. If you eat more calories than you burn in a day, you'll gain weight, and if you eat less calories than you burn, obviously, you'll lose weight. When training for an event, it's common that your weekly activity level/time will increase, and therefore so will your calories burned. However, it's also common that your calorie intake will increase also, and it's easy to overcompensate
for the calorie burn and actually eat more calories than you need, without even realizing it. A fellow bootcamper
of mine was telling me how when she was training for a race, she would come home from a run and get SO hungry that she would just stand in the kitchen and power down whatever food she could find. Fast forward to now, where she is no longer training, and she will still sometimes catch herself standing in the kitchen doing the same thing. She doesn't actually have a weight problem or food issues, but it's easy to see how detrimental that could be for some people. It's important to remember some basic mindful eating techniques to not let yourself adopt some bad habits just because "you earned it" by doing a long workout that day.
If you are embarking on a training program, and weight loss is a goal of yours, one of the best things you can do for yourself is track your workouts and food intake, by writing them down or using an online or mobile phone application. (Try http://www.myfitnesspal.com
, or http://www.livestrong.com
, just to name a few). This can help you to see your calorie balance, and help identify how your eating patterns are changing as your training increases. Also, plan out some healthy snacks or meals to eat after your workouts. Don't let yourself get sooo
hungry that you don't care what you eat and you inhale it 17.3 seconds. Eat a carbohydrate/protein balanced meal or snack before that happens, and eat slowly. Sip some water while you eat to help yourself slow down.
Conversely, if you are adding workouts while training for an event, and you don't want to lose weight, find some ways to add in healthy calories during the day so that your weight remains stable. Thanks to my Polar heart rate monitor, I know that when I do a training run, it's common for me to burn 10 calories per minute of running, so in my 40 minute run this morning, I burned about 400 calories. With a 200 calorie snack after my run (a whole grain Eggo with peanut butter) and a little bit more food at lunch or dinner, I'll make up for those calories easily. I can see how easy it would be to overcompensate...if I congratulated myself for a good run with going out to eat tonight and getting dessert after a big meal, I would easily be over the calories I needed to make up for what I burned on that run! Your calories may add up faster than you think, if you aren't careful.
My colleague and friend, fellow Registered Dietitian Jenny Maloney, who also happens to be a certified personal trainer, is presenting Nutrition For An Active Lifestyle
this Thursday night, 4/26, at Galter LifeCenter at 7:00pm. Join her to learn more about how to best fuel your body to meet your goals (including weight loss, if applicable to you) and perform at your best. Jenny will discuss how to eat when your event has come and gone and exercise has been reduced, as well as provide tips about pre and post activity fueling and information about sports drinks, bars, etc. Should be a good one!
Good luck on your event!