People think because they are training for a Marathon (half or full) or Ironman (half or full) that they will lose all kinds of weight. Don't get me wrong some people do lose weight, but many do not. There are a number of reasons for this and it can be very frustrating for the athlete that wants or needs to lose weight. If you are training for a longer distance event then you can expect a few things to happen to your body and mind. Many people have the mentality that after their longest workout of the week they need to reward themselves for their hard work and this typically comes with a lot of food. You may have just completed a 4-8 hour workout you deserve it…..right? Not really why negate the great gains from your workout by eating a bunch of unhealthy food. Focus on eating healthy and nutritious food to replenish and help repair the damage from your hard workout. Many times people think because they are training so much they don't have to focus on their diet and they may not even realize their appetite has increased. They may not even realize they are eating more food than normal and if they are not eating the right food this could add up and be very bad.
Some important things to remember when you are training for an endurance event:
- Don't forget the calories you are consuming DURING your workout. If you are training for an Ironman this could be a considerable amount of calories during your long bricks. You need this food and its OK but count it into your total daily calories. Don't gorge yourself after your workout especially if you were fueling properly during during your training. After the workout have a nice balanced meal.
- Typically you don't need to consume calories during a workout less than 90 minutes.
- Make sure you time your food intake around your workouts. This can be especially tricky if you have multiple workouts in a day. After training it is important to have both carbohydrates and protein. Make sure your carbohydrates are coming from a good source which is not processed. Pay attention to your serving size and don't overdo it because too much is too much even if its a good carb or protein.
- Prior to workouts have a very light snack. You don't need a huge meal before a workout so keep it light.
- Use a food tracker if you are having trouble losing weight. You may only need to use it for a few weeks to get an idea of how much you are eating. Calories can add up fast and if you are not keeping track of them it can get out of hand. The processed food can add up fast so try and avoid this.
- Don't use food as a reward for exercise. After exercise you need to focus on foods that will help you recover from your hard training. Find other ways to reward yourself such as getting a massage, or a new workout outfit.
- If your appetite has increased then make sure you are getting enough fat and fiber in your diet those foods will make you feel satisfied. Processed carbohydrates will actually increase your appetite and make you feel hungry.
- Make modifications to otherwise high calorie foods that you desire. If you are craving pizza then look for low calorie options. You can use a whole wheat tortilla and pesto sauce using vegetables as a topping and if you want shrimp or chicken. You can control the amount of cheese just using a very light amount. This is close to 1/4 of the calories as a traditional pizza and it is very tasty.
- Make sure you drink enough water because being dehydrated can increase you appetite and limit fat loss.
- If you are getting hungry in the evening or even during the night (which may happen during large amounts of training) try a protein shake late in the evening. If you do this try casein protein because it is slower released and will sustain you through the night. It is also great for recovery to drink this in the evening since its timed released. You body uses sleep time to recover and the protein will help with that. Be sure not to make a high calorie shake with lots of stuff added just drink he protein.
Remember that you are not on a diet that you have made lifestyle changes. Eating healthy is a way of life and should be something you always do. This is not to say you shouldn't have something you enjoy once in a while but you should get back on track immediately after not in a few weeks or months.