Gaining Weight During Marathon Training – All You Need To know

Most people who start a marathon training program notice an increase in weight and this worries a lot of people. What I can quickly point out right now is that gaining weight during marathon training does not mean an increase in fat. It could just very well be an increase in muscle and muscle tissue. So before you start panicking go through the brief guide below to find out how you can know whether your weight gain is a cause for concern or not. 

Weight Gain Is Necessary

It might actually surprise you but weight gain is necessary if you are following a marathon training program. Your leg muscles for one need to be strong to be able to cope with the endurance running. Your body adjusts by building up your body muscle, mostly in the legs. This will be translated as an increase in weight when you next step onto the bathroom scale.

Another reason you might be gaining weight during marathon training  is that for endurance running the body needs to store up lots of energy. This energy is stored in the form of carbohydrates and is then broken down to energy when the body needs it. Again this could also translate as weight gain. To be able to break down the stored carbohydrates the body also needs to store lots of water. Basically the body’s water retention levels increase during marathon training and this will be seen as increase in weight.

Most runners experience a weight increase of about 2-3lbs a month. In some cases the weight gain could be as much as 1.5lbs in a week. However this should not be at a consistent rate. There is a point where a continuous increase in weight becomes undesirable if you are marathon runner.

You Could Also Be Overdoing It

There is a certain misconception that just because one is training and burning up lots of calories they can eat as much as they want ( as long as they burn it up with exercise). It seems like logic especially considering your training sessions. The long endurance runs of about 17miles, the shorter runs also during the week. One would assume they are burning lots of calories and so it’s alright to eat.

The problem though with this notion is that some people tend to overdo it. They end up taking in more calories than they are burning and this does lead to an unnecessary gain in weight. If you are following a marathon training program it should clearly state what your daily intake of the different foods should be.

It will spell out how much carbs you should be eating, how much protein, how much fiber and water you require in a day. Whilst it’s hard to keep track of the number of calories you are taking in with everything single thing you eat I will give you the figures anyway. Generally it is said that you need to have about 400-500 calories for breakfast, and you need to consume about 250 calories for every hour of exercise.

Striking the Balance (How to Calculate your Required Calorie Intake)

You need to strike a balance between healthy body weight gain and undesirable weight gain during marathon training. Yes it is hard to keep track of the numbers in terms of calories but an increase in weight of more than 2lbs a week after should alert you that you are taking in more than you are burning up. Let us take a quick look at how you can calculate the amount of calories that you should be eating per day. This is basically a 3 step process.

  1. Take your current weight or preferred weight and multiply it by 11 if you are male and by 10 if you are female. Let’s say the answer you get is ‘x’
  2. Then choose an activity level from the following and multiply it by the weight from (1) above. Inactive =0.2, relatively active =0.3, active =0.4 and highly active= 0.5 and the answer you get is ‘y’
  3. Add the results from 1 & 2 above that is (x + y) and multiply by 0.10 to get z. Your daily dietary intake or requirement will then equal x+y + z = daily dietary requirement.

Keeping it in Check

So basically that his how you would be able to keep track of how much calories you take in per day. The mistake in judgment that most people make comes when taking in fluids. There are some energy drinks or just drinks that have high level sugar content. You will not include this in your daily dietary allowance and yet the sugar from these drinks will contribute to the calories. So do keep an eye on those fluids as well.

Conclusion

Remember that people’s metabolisms are different. If you are following a marathon training diet you also need to calculate how much food you need to take in based on the above formula. At the same time if you notice a continuous increase in weight of more than 2lbs a week then you should revise the diet or number of calories you are taking in a day. Or it could mean that you are not burning the calories fast enough. Hope that you know why you are gaining weight during marathon training and what you should and shouldn’t  do about it. 

In any case find a balance between your weight, the amount of food you are eating and the amount of calories you are burning.  Don’t be too alarmed you are not alone.

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