Saturday, September 5, 2009

Do you train hard and can't lose a pound?

It is so common to see overweight people who cycle, run, or swim on a regular basis. These people workout hard by swimming competitively, ride centuries, or run marathons. I cant tell you how many overweight people run marathons on a regular basis. So what are they doing wrong? There could be several things that they need to change. I remember years ago when I lived in Hawaii. I decided to train for my first marathon. This was before I had a lot of knowledge on endurance training. I did weight training and cardio on a regular basis at the gym and that was all. When I started training (blindly) for my first marathon I quickly decided to eliminate all strength training. This was my first mistake. The second mistake was eating whatever I wanted. I was more hungry because, I was training more. I really did not pay attention to my diet. I just ate when I was hungry. The good news is I did OK in the marathon completing it is 3:59. The bad news was my body fat was probably the highest it had ever been in my life at 25%. That may not seem high for the average person but for me it was. I typically stay between 12-15%. I was fatter than I had ever been, and I trained harder then ever!

My weight did not change much (maybe 5-10lbs) but I looked soft and flabby. I basically lost muscle and gained fat. Muscle is a fat burning furnace and eliminating strength training was turning off my furnace. Don't forget to strength train AT least two days a week when endurance training. When I am getting close to a race I cut back to once a week. In the off season I try and strength train three times a week. If you are training for an endurance event it is very likely you will be hungry a lot. Make sure you keep good choices of food in your house. I tell my clients if they wait to eat until they are hungry they waited too long. Plan your diet around your daily schedule. Keep two important things in mind:
  1. Don't eat until your full
  2. Don't wait to eat only when your hungry

If I know I am going to get home late, I make sure I have a quick snack around 5. That way when I get home I am not starving and eat too much. Don't just eat to get calories. Make sure everything you eat has nutritional value. Cut back or eliminate processed foods. When going on long rides and runs don't eat too much. I see people riding for 2-3 hours and they are eating bars, gels, sports drinks the whole time. These things are good in moderation. If your on a 2 hour ride it is likely water and one gel will work. There are people who sweat a lot that may need a sports drink. Make sure you don't get one loaded with sugar. I like Hammer Nutrition Heed. It has a light taste and is not loaded with calories.

In summary pay attention to the following tips

  • For longer runs and rides eat what you need to get by. Don't go crazy with bars, gels, sports drinks. Find bars with only a few ingredients listed and eat only a few bites or 1/2 not the entire thing. I like the Lara Bar and ProBar. The gels that I like are Hammer and Gu.
  • Keep fresh food in your house and plan your day. When you get home at night plan your following days meals. Use plastic containers and take more than enough healthy food with you. Eat small frequent meals. Make sure you have protein in each meal. The Real Results Program is great for people if you need more structure. They also have Real Meals that you can buy. These are fresh healthy meals that can be delivered to you. You can find out more information at Don't ever let your body get hungry and don't eat until your full.
  • Eliminate ANY and ALL alcohol. I have so many clients that would lose at least a pound a week if they only quit drinking a few glasses of wine every other day!
  • Strength train at least two times per week.
  • Drink lots of water. How many times do you have to hear this to know that it is important.
  • If all else fails get blood work done to check hormone, thyroid and cortisol levels. This is problem for some people but MOST people can see results if they change their diet!

Good Luck and Good Training and if you have any questions you can contact me through my website at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, I have been losing weight all season, but I look "soft" and now I know why. Sometimes its tough, you have an hour and have to decide on weights or run, somehow, it seems in triathletes minds, if we cut the discipline training time down, we are gonna suffer, we just have to rely on base and confidence that we can make the distance and work on going faster and stronger.