Avoiding weight gain during training

Running is known as one of the most effective ways to lose weight, but many runners have faced the problem of weight gain during their training period. Fitness is a given once you start training, but adding those extra kilos takes many by surprise. Don’t let this demoralize you. Instead, here’s a guide to understanding why this happens, and correct it accordingly. If you have a marathon coming up, it is essential to stay positive and focused on your goals, and not get discouraged.

Why does this happen?

There are a few reasons about why this might happen, and the most common among them all is the fact that runners over-estimate how many calories they burn once they start training. This results in over indulgence and unnecessary treats, where you assume you’re allowed to eat anything, simply because you’ve been running. While we are the privileged lot in terms of helping ourselves to that extra scoop of ice cream without the guilt, we sometimes tend to go overboard.

Running and exercise increases the build-up of muscle tissue, which is denser than fat tissue, and therefore weighs more. However, though the reading on the scale might not be a great motivation, think of it like this- muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. So the more you workout, the quicker you will shed those unnecessary kilos.

Glycogen storage increases once we start running. This is the body’s way of preserving energy to provide to our muscles when we run. The result of this- an increase in weight. Though the scale only shows you your absolute weight, and not an accurate measurement of fat and muscle, here’s how we can train without that unimpressive number on the weighing machine.

The solution

First and foremost, be realistic about the number of calories you are burning. Running does not result in immediate weight loss. So get yourself a calorie counter that can tell you exactly how much you’ve burnt and how much you’re consuming. Even if not 100% accurate, you will get an approximate idea of how much you’ve burned and consumed.  

Hydrate. Thirst can be confused for hunger, and is one of the reasons behind overeating. Don’t allow your body to get dehydrated. Even stocking up on fruits and veggies that have a high water content will help you rehydrate efficiently.

Cook your post-run meals or arrange for them in a manner that you can eat as soon as you return from your run. Starving for hours after you finish your training can result in poor choices. If not for an entire meal, keep at least a fruit, salad or a shake handy for consumption soon after your training. Even proteins help in restoring your body after a run, and help control your appetite.

If your training plan doesn’t boast of variety, bring some cross-training into the picture. The human body tends to adapt itself to any schedule, and you stop seeing results. Shake things up a bit! If you run three to four times a week, bring in some yoga, Pilates, cycling, swimming and weight training into your time table on the other days. Challenge your body, and you will surely see the outcome.

Finally, don’t expect short term results. Remember that those can also be short-lived! Give your body time to adapt to your training and lifestyle. Don’t forget that weight is just a number, and you need to look beyond that. Take into consideration how you look and feel, and if you find that you are getting more toned and fit, you’re heading in the right direction!