Running for weight loss is a common goal for many beginners and new runners. However, the famous saying that you can’t outrun a bad diet holds some truth. While running can help burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness, maintaining a healthy weight requires a balanced approach that includes both exercise and a nutritious diet. In this article, we explore the relationship between running and diet, providing insights and tips on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight while enjoying your running journey.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode/Timestamps
- [03:14] Part 1 – What does running a lot look like? The problem
- [05:42] Part 2 – What Does Eating a Lot Look Like? The Problem
- [09:07] Part 3 – Here’s what I did to solve the running too much problem
- [11:05] Part 4 – Here’s what I did to solve the eating too much problem
- [13:18] – What is a calorie?
- [15:09] Seasonal approach to eating
- [16:46] – So can you really out run a bad diet?
The story of why I get (kinda) fat when I run too much
Some people start running to lose body fat, right? All their running friends are skinny, so losing body fat is what happens, right? Scientists have been saying for a while now that you can’t outrun a bad diet, and I mostly agree. It’s like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But it’s pretty hard to do. Most people can’t actually do it.
But what if I were to tell you that there’s actually a way that you can maintain and or lose body fat so you feel light, spry, loose, and free? Well, I think I might have actually found that way. Listen on to find out how to lose and maintain your body fat and more on this episode of DLake Deliberates.
Major Disclaimer: While this was reviewed and approved by a certified dietician (Jordan Cain) since this is deals with food and nutrition – this is just for informational and entertainment purposes only – please feel free to disagree with me. I am not your dietitian/nutritionist, so please consult a certified one who understands your personal goals, history and habits to ensure you get the best outcome.
Before we dive headfirst into this calorie-burning carnival, let me introduce myself. I’m Daren DLake, a guy who’s been playing the endurance sport and distance running game for over a quarter-century. Yup, since 1997, I’ve been pounding the pavement on easy runs, sweating through races, and learning some quirky lessons along the way.
Calories, Carbs, and All That Jazz
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – calories. You’ve heard of them, right? Those little units of energy that somehow determine whether your waistband feels loose or you’re stuck doing the pants-unbuttoning dance.
Calories are like the currency of your body’s energy budget. You put them in when you eat, and you burn them off when you move. It’s a delicate balance, like trying to maintain a seesaw with your calorie intake and expenditure. Eat too much, and you’ll find yourself sporting extra baggage. Eat too little, and you might start feeling like a deflated balloon.
But here’s the kicker: not all calories are created equal. It’s not just about counting them; it’s about understanding where they come from. Are you fueling up with slow-burning carbs, healthy fats, and protein? Or are you diving headfirst into a junk food fiesta (which is usually defined as carb heavy and not so healthy fat heavy/seed oils)?
The Running Conundrum: How Much Is Too Much?
So, you want to run to lose body fat? Well, it’s not as simple as lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement like Forrest Gump. You see, there’s a sweet spot when it comes to running, and it varies from person to person.
Let me use myself as an example (sorry, not sorry). Once upon a time, I wanted to run a 15:59 5k (I still do but I’m taking a break). I read all the magazines and listened to the pros. They said, “If you want to run a fast 5K, you need to run 100 to 115 kilometers a week.” That’s 60 to 70 miles for you metrically sensitive folks. So, naturally, I thought, “What’s another 30 to 40 kilometers, right?”
I ran more, ate more, and got faster, but I also got fatter. It’s like thinking you can solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded – possible but not easy. It turns out, running a lot means you need to eat a lot, too. But not just anything – the right stuff. So what do you think the answer was?
The Diet Dilemma: Balancing Act on a Tightrope
When it comes to eating, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. One minute, I was under-eating and feeling like a hangry zombie. The next, I went all-in on carbs and ended up feeling like a jittery balloon animal.
Enter Jordan Kain of Gutful Nutrition and also my personal dietician and savior. She told me I needed to eat more simple carbs, ditch the slow-carb diet, and stop going fasting all the damn time. Now, I may not be a fan of carbs personally (sugar sensitivity, anyone?), but I knew I had to find a balance.
Seasonal Eating: The Key to Running and Body Fat Harmony
So, how do you juggle running, eating, and maintaining that sweet spot of body fat? Well, my friends, it’s all about adopting a seasonal approach.
In the off-season, you can go easy on the carbs, indulge in some intermittent fasting, and revel in the slow-carb diet’s glory. But when race-specific block time comes around, it’s time to embrace the calorie surplus. Don’t panic if you gain a little weight during this phase; it’s perfectly normal and necessary for recovery.
Why? Because running a lot means your metabolism is revved up, and your appetite is like a bottomless pit. You need those calories to repair, recharge, and keep that engine running smoothly.
So, Can You Out Run a Bad Diet?
So, can you truly outrun a bad diet? Well, the answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. It’s more like a “Yes, kinda but…” You see, running can work wonders for your health, but it’s not a free pass to devour donuts and burgers like there’s no tomorrow.
Remember, the key is finding the right balance. Whether you’re a carb enthusiast or a keto/low and slow-carb devotee, understanding your body, your training, and your goals is crucial. And if you ever find yourself on the verge of a dietary cliff, just remember – building a plane on the way down is never easy, but with the right tools and a dash of humor, you might just soar.
So, keep running, keep experimenting with yourself (within healthy, safe guidelines from a certified health professional), and most importantly, if it works, stay with it. Even if it works 1%. Because one perfect better each day for a year is a 37% gain.