Many people looking to get into running don’t do it because they like to run, it’s simply to lose weight since running is one of the best ways to burn off excess calories.
This is a simple topic but one that many people get wrong, confused by the rubbish information out there written by people that don’t have a full grasp on the subject. When it comes to losing weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit, there is no escaping this fact. That means you are providing your body with less energy (food) than it needs, this forces it to make up the deficit through the use of stored body fat.
Where people may go wrong is that even though they understand the need to have to eat less they overdo it. Weight loss is a marathon not a sprint. By cutting their food intake too dramatically their running performance may take a hit due to falling energy levels.
Cutting too many calories in the form of carbohydrates while training will not only hinder your performance but also your recovery. Your ability to challenge yourself on a workout and to cope with a higher workload will diminish.
What You Should Be Doing
There are some so called professionals, like the writer of this article, who claim you shouldn’t pay attention to calories. This is complete nonsense for the simple reason that you have to control your calories in order to lose weight. Eating “healthily” doesn’t mean you will lose weight just as eating junk food doesn’t mean you will gain weight, it’s all down to creating a calorie deficit.
We want to create about a 10% calorie deficit which is enough to lose weight at a nice steady pace that isn’t too high. We also want to keep our carbohydrate intake as high as possible. These two things will limit any negative impact a diet will have on our running performance.
Since we are eating less we should try to stick with nutrient dense foods. This is because we have less calories to play with in order to provide our body with the micronutrients it needs. If we were to fill up our daily calorie intake with junk food we may not be able to provide our body with sufficient vitamins and minerals.
You may have to experiment with the macronutrient breakdown of your diet. That means, how much of your daily calories come from protein, how much comes from carbohydrates and how much comes from fats. If you feel lethargic during your workouts you will have to increase your carbohydrate intake and in order to do so you will need to decrease your intake from protein and fat.
It really is that simple, but for some reason when it comes to nutrition people misunderstand or misapply the basic concepts.