Lots and lots of people use exercise to either lose or control their body weight. You all can click off this isn’t for you. However, if you continue to train for the love of the sport over the long term all that training potentially leads to a lower weight than you’d like then this is for you. I’m in that category too and despite the fact that isn’t not a really common problem it can still suck. Losing too much weight too fast could even lead you to pulling out of a race and that would really stink. I’ll probably default to running but this applies to all workouts equally. I love the challenge of training for and completing an endurance event every year. I enjoy the process and the results on race day and in my body but sometimes my weight does drop by a few pounds. In the past I’ve trained for a few half marathons and an olympic triathlon and in those cases I really only have to worry about it for a few weeks when training gets intense. But I am still sorta, kinda thinking about a marathon this year which means I’d have to watch my weight in training earlier and for longer. If this is something you struggle with you’re not alone even if you’re not popular!
Drink your calories
I’m really not an advocate for calorie containing drinks. I’d rather eat for nourishment than drink empty calories. Outside of heavy training season I pretty much never guzzle calorie laden or even calorie containing drinks. So no juice, no cola, no sugar in the coffee just the odd low calorie gatorade since we usually have a case on hand at work. One of the reasons I don’t is because it’s just so easy for those calories to add up and often provide you with no nourishment. I find them filling for no nutritional reward and I find all that sugar just doesn’t quench my thirst! Often people don’t even feel full after drinking a can of full sugar pop. But if you’re trying to up you caloric intake this is a great place to start. Just remember that after your sugary drink you should go brush your teeth!
Harness the ‘runger’
Runner or runchies is a running term for the phenomenon where after a run or workout YOU ARE RAVENOUS. For some this happens after every single workout and they have to ignore it but it also might not kick in until a certain point. For me I don’t get really, really hungry until about 14 km of long running or at least 10k of speed work but when I do look out! It can also be fleeting so if I don’t indulge in the first hour or so it sort of passes. In that hour though I can eat anything that’s not nailed down! Spend some time noticing your patterns and embrace them! This has lead me to cooking dinner while eating a raw bagel and ordering dessert pizza all at the same time and eating veggie burgers on the side of the tub after long runs. Prepare to have food ready for when you’re hungry and as much as you’ll be able to eat!
Find a high calorie healthy snack
My diet could be better, or cleaner or more nutritional overall in training and while not training. What does that mean? I could eat a whole lot less candy. Sometime I wonder if my training would improve if I ate less candy and fast food lunches. Lots of athletes watch their diets closely in training and that’s okay too. I’m a vegetarian with a partial dairy intolerance so I get it. Find a high calorie snack that fits into your diet that you can eat a lot of (maybe even mindlessly) and keep that on hand in training. Even though I love to snack on fresh fruit and veggies in the evenings during training I’ll swap it out for frozen yogurt (it’s low fat so I can eat it but never ice cream!) You could try dried fruit, nuts, trail mix or energy balls. Nothing says it can’t be candy, chips, ice cream or cookies if that works for you too!
Recruit a feeder
I’m lucky to have someone at home who cares a lot about me and keeps me on track when in training. That is my husband who’s always asking me if I want some this or that and offers to get it for me. I really appreciate that and I often find myself snacking on something when I otherwise wouldn’t when he offers. He worries about me getting too thin so I know that’s part of his motivation in training. As if we don’t already ask out partners to do enough maybe you could ask them to offer or bring you treats while you’re training too. It’s amazing just how much more you want to eat something when someone offers it to you.
Fuel your workouts even if you don’t need it
Conventional wisdom says if your workout is going to last much more than an hour you should start taking in fuel about 45 minuets in. Depending on what I’ve eaten that day I usually don’t bother until runs reach about 14 k. That means I don’t have to eat on the go for many of my long runs and even all but two of my speed workouts in half training. But if I haven’t eaten a whole, whole lot and I’m doing 10k I’ll bring some rosins with me. If I eat three handfuls while I’m out there that’s 150 calories I wouldn’t have otherwise. Not a whole lot but it takes about 3k off my calorie deficit for the day. Consider fueling workouts you wouldn’t otherwise to return some energy to you body. Just call it extra GI training!
Post workout ritual
This is probably my favorite go to for replacing energy after a long run, I build it into my post run ritual. I like a good post run bath with bubbles. At 16k or greater I add epsom salts and a fancy bath bomb. I also make sure to have a chilled bottle of fake Champagne (AKA grape juice) and a favorite outfit ready. Notice that I snuck 550 calories (or 10k worth of running) into my post long run ritual. Even if we have to dash out on my return I can take it with me in a travel mug. Build a favorite meal (pizza anyone), snack, beverage or treat into at least some of your long run routine.
Sneak in calories
Some of us are creatures of habit and are just full when we eat what we regularly do regardless of training. Then you can consider sneaking in some extra calories into the food you regularly eat. Here are just some of my ideas to get you thinking but there are so many more:
- Full fat milk in cereal instead of skim
- Add an avocado to your salad
- Pick full fat ground beef over lean
- Liberally sauté your food in olive oil
- Go for cream in coffee instead of milk
- Add butter or margarine to a sandwich
- Add nuts or seeds to a smoothie
- Grab a spoonful of peanut butter and don’t judge me!
- Go for full fat versions of what you regularly buy
- Cheese on everything
- Add a sauce or dip to your meals and snacks
Meal replacement drinks
From time to time I get here but it’s not my favorite. Grab a boost or ensure from the drug store and drink up between meals. I don’t think that they taste really great but if you like one well that’s all you really needed from me isn’t it? Drink them with your meals and at extra times and you’re done.
I know that this is a concern for the minority but it is a concern none the less. Back when I did my first half I was already struggling to keep weight on and I did consider dropping the race when I started losing more. Now I know what to do but back then I would have loved to stumble across a post like this. Are you someone who has to actively keep your weight up in training? How do you find training affects your appetite? Any other tips and tricks you would like to pass along? Leave it in the comments!