The Top 10 Factors that help runners lose weight

Running is a great way to get rid of a few extra kilos.

But running alone wont make the difference.  You can't ignore your diet!

In fact, you could find yourself gaining weight if you over-fuel your body.

Nutritionist and endurance athlete, Tamara Madden, has treated hundreds of athletes looking to improve their performance while shedding a few unwanted kilos.

In her experience, there are a 10 key areas you need to consider.

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Tamara Madden - Nutritionist

Regardless of which dietary protocol you follow (low fat, keto, paleo, plant based, vegetarian) a calorie deficit is the only way you will lose weight, and eating more calories than you are expending is the only way to gain weight. This is also referred to as Energy Balance.

The basic model of energy in vs energy out is calculated by measuring food (calorie) intake and energy expenditure. There are a number of factors that influence this equation that are often overlooked or not accounted for, that are especially relevant for resistance to weight loss.

If you are struggling to lose weight, these are the top 10 factors that influence your energy balance and impact weight loss

1.Adequate Sleep – this helps to regulate hunger hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin), as well as improve recovery from exercise, and increase metabolic output. This is number one on the list for a reason – sleep is vital for good health, longevity and weight management.

2. Reduce Stress – adopting strategies such as breathing exercises and meditation techniques to help lower your stress levels. If you spend much of your day in a heightened state you will be over producing a hormone called cortisol - this is a much researched hormone with regard to weight gain, as it disrupts metabolism and thyroid function.

3. Swap out some High Intensity sessions for Lower intensity exercise – this helps to reduce stress response (cortisol) and also encourages faster recovery enabling you to be more consistent with exercise and remain injury free.

4. Include Strength Training – maintaining muscle mass is key to your basal metabolic rate (the energy your body burns each day), this is essential for older athletes.

5. Learn correct portion sizes – Eating “clean” is not enough to shift weight, you still need to have a calorie deficit. Understanding how much your eating is critical to weight loss, you may need to temporarily weight foods so you can gauge correct portion sizes. Using online calculators can be helpful, but be mindful that estimation of the calories in food can vary in different calculators, and often input into calculators requires human judgement on portion sizes and memory.

6. Improve the quality of your meals -focus on increasing nutrient dense low calorie vegetables and fruits, instead of calorie dense low nutrient processed foods

7. Alter your macros and timing of your meals – you may need to increase protein and carbohydrates and reduce fat for example. Timing your carbohydrates around your training can improve ulitilisation of the glucose (hence less fat storage) , and help to stabilising blood sugars so that you aren’t left hungry later in the day and have a blow out - it’s still about calorie deficit.

8. GUT health - Your unique gut bacteria plays a vital role in how you absorb calories, and how you metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats which can impact your overall health. Eating a wide variety of high fibre foods like vegetables and whole grains along with some probiotic ( or fermented) foods can help to maintain good gut bacteria.

9. Consistency – maintaining energy balance 7 days a week can be a hurdle for weight loss. Often people are great 5 days a week, then blow out on the weekend, causing the total Energy Balance for the week to be in surplus not deficit. Consistency is key to weight loss.

10. Endocrine disruption – some hormones can disrupt your metabolism. This can be frustrating as you may not have changed your diet or exercise, yet are gaining weight …. the disruption means that your “energy out” has declined - but it is still the energy balance that is the issue. Consulting with a health care professional is recommended to determine the issue. Some examples of endocrine disruptors are Environmental toxins such as heavy metals, plastics, chemicals and Biotoxins from viruses, moulds, and parasites.

If you are looking to lose some weight, we recommend you check out our meal plans:

Weight Loss for Runners

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These plans are suited to all runners looking to lose some weight whilst running.