Weight management for runners

So you have become a runner - congratulations! One of the many benefits accompanying this may be the welcome morph to a runner's body...and how is yours coming along? Fewer wobbly bits? A washboard 6-pack? Down 5kg down on the scales already? Or are you not quite there yet? Well why not?! Surely with all this running the changes you expected ought to have materialised by now?

Whether it was five kg or twenty-five kgs, weight loss may have been one of the benefits you were hoping to achieve out of becoming a runner. For many runners weight loss does happen naturally; for others it eludes them DESPITE regularly pounding the pavement... 

Why is this? 

It is important to note that while running does help you shift a few kilos, it is not enough. You need to ensure you are looking after your nutrition too. So ask yourself the following questions and see if you have come up against these common speed-bumps that may be slowing your fat losses...

  1. Are you taking in too many liquid calories such as sports drinks?

    Unless you are a professional athlete or doing elite level training it is unlikely that you will need sports drinks, energy drinks or protein powders. Optimal hydration and recovery will come from drinking fluids with your meals and snacks that are LOW in calories (such as water, tea, coffee or mineral water). Formulated sports drinks often add unnecessary calories to a meal plan. Other drinks you might want to skip are juices, nutrient waters milkshakes/smoothies, and flavour shots or 'frappachino's'.

  2. What VOLUME of food are you eating?

    Just because a food is good for you doesn't mean you can eat unusually large portions of it. If someone looks at your lunchtime salad & exclaims "how big is that?!" you are probably overdoing it! We all know that salad vegetables are NOT fattening but if you are stretching your stomach by eating large volumes of ANY food you are setting yourself up to eat larger portions of other foods that will be higher in calories. Be REASONABLE with all the food portions you have. Beware of portion distortion!

  3. Are you being super-restrictive?

    It is a fact that not allowing yourself a little of your favourite food can set you up to eat too much of it in an unplanned setting.
    Consider this scenario: you have been doing extremely well with your food all week and then on Friday night your partner walks in the door with a family bag of M&M's exclaiming "this is because you have been so good with your running this week!!" You rationalise that you HAVE been good with both your running and your food, and promptly share the bag and a bottle of wine for good measure.

    Again the AMOUNT you have here is key - if you could have stopped at just a few M&M's and one glass of wine there is no damage done but if that is not possible, be VERY careful when you decide that you will indulge "just this once". This situation can undo a LOT of your hard work. YOU are the best person to decide what & when you will indulge. Eating at your favourite restaurant with a group of friends is a great reward - the portion size is limited, you have a variety of delectable items to choose from, and not only is the food your reward rather it is the entire experience! Schedule this into your week so you have something to look forward to and 'stay on track' for.

Written by Sally Garrard Dietician

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