Q: Increased mileage and gaining weight?

Lauren,

Do you have any tips for losing weight? I’ve been running 50 miles a week for 3 months now, but I’m gaining weight. My goal is to lose 8 pounds in 3-4 months. If you have any solutions to my problem I would appreciate your help. Thanks.

-Amanda

 

A:

Hey Amanda,

Women’s bodies don’t respond to running the way men’s do.  Men have the “calories in = calories out” principal.  If they want to lose weight, they simply need to eat slightly less than they burn.  Even if its a 100 calorie deficit per day, it will add up to weight lost over time.  Add a couple more miles, eat one less snack, and guys are good to go.

Women on the other hand…oh my.  Women’s hormonal profiles make is such that we are very efficient at holding onto our body weight.  This means we outlive men historically in times of famine or war, but it means its really fricken hard to lose weight when we want to.

Women’s bodies are designed to hold onto fat stores so that our unborn children can survive to term in times of food scarcity.  Because of this, when we are in caloric debt, we have a stronger signal to the brain to chow down than men do.  Our hunger follows our expenditure with incredible precision (bummer).  Check out this article about the myth of exercise and weight loss.

Another sucky thing is that we can’t simply eat less than we burn if we want to lose weight.  My nutritionist told me that most women do not start losing weight until they have a caloric deficit of at least 250-350 calories.  So if you are eating 225 calories less than you burn every day, your body will simply change its thermoregulation so you can stay the same weight.  You will be hungry as hell, and not losing weight for weeks on end, and all that will happen is your reproductive system might go dormant to compensate for the reduced energy (a possible reason so many runners have amenorrhea).

My advice?

  1. Don’t follow guys’ advice on how to lose weight by running more; they live by a different set of rules. 
  2. Read this previous answer I wrote about what I do when I want to trim down. 
  3. Realize that exercise without caloric debt will not lead to weight loss. 
  4. When you are done stamping your feet in protest because its not fair, harness that motivation that has led you to consistently run 50 mile weeks and make a winning plan for yourself to reach your goal weight!

-Lauren