Hello runners! We will be doing mini-series here on the blog -answering one question per day sent in by subscribers to the MTA email newsletter. The questions will be about weight loss, fueling, and nutrition for runners.
When we invited readers to send in questions we received nearly 100 responses -way more than we can get to on the podcast. Our friend Angelo Poli from MetPro will be helping us answer some of the complex weight loss questions (like today’s) and sharing tips.
Today’s question is about losing fat while still adequately fueling.
Balancing Weight Loss and Performance
As a long-distance runner, what’s the best approach to losing fat while fueling my runs? How did you approach your fat loss/cut phase and fuel your workouts and runs so you don’t feel hungry, crabby, or have low energy (or is there simply no avoiding this when you’re going through a reduction/cut phase)? -Pam
From Angelo . . .
Great question Pam!
Balancing weight loss and performance is challenging. Understanding where you’re at as an athlete helps. Advanced (high mileage) athletes will feel the impact of duel specialty quicker than beginners. We usually opt to schedule their weight loss periods in advance. However, lots of runners are capable of both. Here are three big factors we consider at MetPro when dieting athletes:
1) How much do you eat now?
It’s odd, but people at similar training volumes don’t all need the same intake to recover. However, there’s a bigger margin for a person who eats more to cut from before their performance declines.
2) How long are your runs?
The biological demand for running over 90 minutes is increased. Conditioning aside, most people start tapping reserves more aggressively near this threshold. That makes four 6-mile runs easier to diet through than two 5-mile runs plus a 14-mile on the weekend. It’s 24 miles either way, but the shorter run favors the dieter, while the long run favors distance progression.
3) Where to cut from first?
“Calories you haven’t eaten yet can’t help you.” Calories you consume at night are too late to help your mid-day run. Some people train at night, but most athletes tolerate restriction better when the bulk of their calories are earlier. If appetite is an issue, include a lot of low-calorie bulking foods like veggies. When combined with a balanced meal, overeating becomes far less likely.