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Marathon runner trying to lose body fat and maintain muscle


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Excerpt: Hi everyone: I'm a 25 yr old female who has been running marathons for the past three years. I am athletic and have tried almost every thing to lose weight. However, no matter what I do. I can't lose weight. I have been gaining weight and now am at a high of 125lbs (I've gained over 10 llbs in the last year due to stress in a bad relationship). I'm 5'2 and would like to lose about 10-15 llbs of body fat. I also lift, Alternating each day with either chest/tris, back/ shoulders. Another

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  1. #1

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    Question Marathon runner trying to lose body fat and maintain muscle

    Hi everyone:
    I'm a 25 yr old female who has been running marathons for the past three years. I am athletic and have tried almost every thing to lose weight.
    However, no matter what I do. I can't lose weight. I have been gaining weight and now am at a high of 125lbs (I've gained over 10 llbs in the last year due to stress in a bad relationship). I'm 5'2 and would like to lose about 10-15 llbs of body fat.
    I also lift, Alternating each day with either chest/tris, back/ shoulders.
    Another problem I have is that I have huge legs that don't seem to wither in size the more I run. I know it is in my genetics but what I can I do to make them smaller? Plus, I'm having so much trouble losing the body fat on my thighs!!! I can't even fit into boots because my calves are too muscular!!!!

    I am currently adding nitro tech and hydroxycut to my diet. I make sure I have a shake in the morning w/ a banana and take hydroxycut only three times a day (only one pill per serving).

    Please help me! I need advice.

  2. #2
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    Well this is a tough one. Running marathons is not condusive to building muscle. Look at the typical physique of a marathoner; low muscularity and higher body fat. Look at the typical physiques of sprinters; high muscularity-low body fat. The problem with doing so much CV activity is that you are going to slow down your metabolism to a crawl. Let me guess, you probably eat less than 2000 calories a day right? and you still can't lose the weight.

    I would recommend weight training 3X per week 1 hour sessions, and limiting your CV activity to short (15-20 min) high intensity sessions (like HIIT training) sprints or lap swimming etc. Slowly bring your calories up as you put on muscle. Of course you can't do this if you are bent on training for a marathon.

    Unfortunately if you get your body fat too low and muscle mass too high it will probably hurt your performance in the marathon. Like I said, elite marathoners need to have there upper body as light as possible (less muscle) and need some body fat for energy.

    So it looks like your goals are at odds with your activities.

  3. #3
    Pro Bodybuilder fhg43's Avatar
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    Do you take any Seritonin Reuptake Inhibitors (anti depressants) like Zoloft? Do you take an oral contraceptive?

    What kind of time do you run in a marathon?

    Training for extended endurance events is very good for buring fat so I suspect something else is going on. Most good marathoners are sub 10% for men and sub 18% for women. If you are eating tons of protein shakes to hold onto muscle this could be part of the problem. Endurance athletes need to be as lean possible. However fat is still important as an energy source and it is needed for cell building.

    You should be running 20-45 miles a week depending on when you are going to compete in your next event. You probably burn ~2000cals a day just by being alive. And running for an hour depending on your pace (12 minutemile to 6 minute/mile) can burn 480-990 calories. If you great a slight defeceit in your calories like 100 cals a day, you'll begin to lose weight. If you can stand it you can cut 500 cals a day and you'll lose a pound of fat in a week (1 pound fat=3500 cals). You can use a thermogenic aid like Hydroycut, but careful using it before a run. Running and ECA's are a bad mix. Doing the weights is good as it is more calories burned. Increase your calories as needed to refuel after weights.

    Basically weight loss is calories in vs. calories out. Create that 500 cal/day deficeit and you'll have good luck. Cut down on fat and don't eat useless carbs. However as an endurance athlete you need to be on a 50-60%carb dietand 20-30% protein. Eat 4-5 small meals. In the morning before your run eat a good meal with good carbs and lots of protein. After running have a nice carb drink (EnduroxR4 is good) and a proteinn shake. Then eat another small meal a few hours later.

    Do you have good energy levels during your runs or are you lethargic? You shouldn't starve yourself. That will kill your metabolism. If you go on an all protein diet and no carbs your body will slow its metabolism why down to burn more fat and protein. Carbs are quick energy sources and your body likes those for runs.

    You have a curious situation. Hope this will point you in the right direction. Post more if you want more info.

    FHG

  4. #4

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    Thanks!

    Hi:

    To answer both of your questions. I actually came from a not so healthly back ground. I was being treated for bulimia (after 10 yrs I finally got help). With that, the people I was working with put me on an anti depressant (prozac). I however did slow down my bad habits and eventually am better than I have been in years. I did gain weight from the experience, but I attributed it to the mere fact that I wasn't flushing all of my nutrients down the toilet and instead actually letting them digest. But it just frustrates me b/c I am still very active when it comes to excercise.
    I also saw a nutritionist who helped be with making better food choices. I did eat a ton of food when I first started training for marathons (over 3800 calories or more a day). But now that my body has gotten used to long distance running that appetite has passed.
    I've learned that my body does need fat as well as carbs since I am doing an endurance sport. So instead of chocolate and cheeses, and vegtable oil. I stick to low fat cheeses, cottage cheese, and nuts and of course if need be, olive oil. And I hardly ever use butter/margerine.
    I am also on an oral contraceptive. But I don't know how that could be a problem.

    I run between 25-35 miles a week with track workouts on wednesdays and long distance runs on sundays. During the other days, I make sure I do at least 3-5 miles depending on my energy level. During my long runs, I have been very lethargic this time around. Unlike my old self who used to feel strong.
    Also, my track workout has been not up to par.
    I am looking to do a 4-4:15 marathon. My 10K pace is around 8:45 - 9/mile. So I would say I'm not a true competitor, rather just an enthusiast.
    Also, I try to weight train at least 3 times a week ranging from 30minutes to an hour. Also I take a Pilates class once a week (hoping to give me a leaner longer look, especially in my legs).
    The body fat is just not budging. I may lose weight but I still have fat around my stomach and thighs. I will wear a size 2 however, my body isn't tight, especially in the trouble spots.
    Am I just genetically predisposed to have this curse? I'm afraid to go on a low fat diet for fear that I would only be hurting my performance.

    I have heard of the HIIT method and will look into it.

    Anymore advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  5. #5
    Pro Bodybuilder cozmokramer's Avatar
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    Susan... I was glad to see your topic as I've been doing quite a bit of research on marathon running and diet/nutrition for some clients of mine...

    CARBS CARBS CARBS... yes its the most important thing for a marathon runner... however what types of carbs are you consuming...? Can you please post some example daily meal plans or PM them to me...

    Also your past marathon times along with your weight at that marathon date...

    thanks
    Cozmo

  6. #6

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    Re: Thanks!

    Originally posted by susanl975
    Hi:

    To answer both of your questions. I actually came from a not so healthly back ground. I was being treated for bulimia (after 10 yrs I finally got help). With that, the people I was working with put me on an anti depressant (prozac). I however did slow down my bad habits and eventually am better than I have been in years. I did gain weight from the experience, but I attributed it to the mere fact that I wasn't flushing all of my nutrients down the toilet and instead actually letting them digest. But it just frustrates me b/c I am still very active when it comes to excercise.
    I also saw a nutritionist who helped be with making better food choices. I did eat a ton of food when I first started training for marathons (over 3800 calories or more a day). But now that my body has gotten used to long distance running that appetite has passed.
    I've learned that my body does need fat as well as carbs since I am doing an endurance sport. So instead of chocolate and cheeses, and vegtable oil. I stick to low fat cheeses, cottage cheese, and nuts and of course if need be, olive oil. And I hardly ever use butter/margerine.
    I am also on an oral contraceptive. But I don't know how that could be a problem.

    I run between 25-35 miles a week with track workouts on wednesdays and long distance runs on sundays. During the other days, I make sure I do at least 3-5 miles depending on my energy level. During my long runs, I have been very lethargic this time around. Unlike my old self who used to feel strong.
    Also, my track workout has been not up to par.
    I am looking to do a 4-4:15 marathon. My 10K pace is around 8:45 - 9/mile. So I would say I'm not a true competitor, rather just an enthusiast.
    Also, I try to weight train at least 3 times a week ranging from 30minutes to an hour. Also I take a Pilates class once a week (hoping to give me a leaner longer look, especially in my legs).
    The body fat is just not budging. I may lose weight but I still have fat around my stomach and thighs. I will wear a size 2 however, my body isn't tight, especially in the trouble spots.
    Am I just genetically predisposed to have this curse? I'm afraid to go on a low fat diet for fear that I would only be hurting my performance.

    I have heard of the HIIT method and will look into it.
    I do believe the 500 calorie deficit suggestion will make a difference. Its been about a year since I kept a food log (my nutritionist thought it was counterproductive at the time since I was obssessed with counting every fat gram and calorie). But now, with a deeper understanding of nutrition. I think I will scrutinize my food intake more dilligently than in the past year.

    Anymore advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  7. #7

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    Cosmo:

    In response to your interest in marathon running.

    My first marathon. I ran a 5:08 which was average but nothing to brag about.
    My second marathon I ran a 4:30. Better but still wasn't good enough.

    This third marathon I'm training for, I'm aiming for a 4:00-4:15. This means my pace will
    have to be around 9:30/mile.

    I had maintained my weight (which was 113-115llb) for both marathons. Never really lost
    any considerable amount of weight nor did I gain anything.
    However, I have gained over 10 llbs just this last year.

    Carbs? I will eat anything, rice, oatmeal, bread, potatoes. But I stay clear from pasta since
    I find it to have the most hidden excess calories.

    My diet?

    Well a typical day will consist of the following:

    8am Nitrotech shake and banana

    9:30am LARGE bowl of Cereal and Fruit Salad

    10:30am Apple

    12:30pm Grilled Chicken Salad, Baked Potato
    Fruit Salad

    2:30pm Pretzels and apple sauce

    5:00pm Banana or yogurt

    8:30pm Chicken, Rice, Brocolli
    Large garden salad w/ fat free croutons and dressing

    10:30pm Fruit juice bar or low fat popsicle or if I'm bad I
    will start munching on pretzels or snack well crackers and can't seem to stop.


    I am constantly eating since most people who train for things like this will be hungry all of
    the time.


    However, today, this is what I had so far:

    8:00am Peach

    9:30 Bagel w/ cream cheese and tomato
    Fruit Salad

    1:30pm Sushi

    2:30pm Piece of cake (too tempting, someone's b-day at the office)

    4:00pm Peach and Raisins

    .....

    I plan on having tuna fish, rice, and brocolli tonight, plus a protein shake with a banana before
    I go to bed since i missed it this morning


    Hope this is thorough enough.

    Oh. Always have a water bottle by my side. If not water I drink crystal light or ice tea
    with sweetner.



  8. #8
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    It strikes me that you're not eating very much. Do you plan out your meals in advance? A little saturated fat (as in butter) helps keep your hormone (test. esp) levels up.

    Most guys on my husband's cycling team (some of whom are pro) eat 50% carb, 30 protein, 20 fat. The fructose in fruit goes right to your liver, not your muscles. You might want to swap out the fruit for high-gylcemic veggies.

    Fructose also stops fat-burning cold, for me at least. As much as you're lifting, are you getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound of current weight?

    Pretzels and crackers add nothing to your diet--you're better off having more protein. If you're really craving them, it might be the salt you want.

    125 at your height isn't exactly hulking--do you know your BF% It's the proportion of muscle to fat that's important, not the number on the scale.

    Pilates is swell, but it won't change the length of your muscles. That's genetically determined. You can have your tendons surgically reattached, if you like. I found Pilates to be slightly catabolic (meaning it uses muscle).

    You thigh and ab fat is hormonally charged and your BC pills are probably helping to keep it there.

    You might want to ask this question on the Women's board, as we have a few people who've been runners.

  9. #9
    Elite Bodybuilder FitFossil's Avatar
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    Susan,

    I've had personal experience with running (not marathons though), excess lower body fat, bulimia (and anorexia), prozac, and oral contraceptives.

    I found prozac helpful in bringing my weight under control when I was in the throes of bulimia many years ago. Prozac helps to keep sufficient levels of serotonin in the brain. Low serotonin levels lead to intensive carb cravings. Some people say prozac makes them gain weight, but it helped me lose weight. I don't use it anymore. I think my serotonin stays high now from good diet and exercise.

    Oral contraceptives made me gain about 15 pounds -practically all of it in the butt/thigh area. I drastically increased my exercise and tightened my diet, but it didn't help. (Well it probably helped me not to gain more weight.) I lost all but about 5 pounds of that weight when I changed to non-hormonal BC.

    For training, I used to do a lot of running. I did weight train, but it was the high rep/low weight sort of thing, because I was "afraid I'd get big" if I lifted heavy. I had a skeletal upper body and a soft pear-shaped lower body.

    Once I started lifting heavy, that's when everything changed for the BETTER! I added some muscle to my upper body, and my lower body got lean and hard with good definition. I look at my legs now and still can't believe they're REALLY mine!! (A lot of squats, lunges, stiff-legged deadlifts, etc.) I still run, and the weight training has helped improve my performance a lot.

    I used to eat a lot of carbs and not much protein. Now my diet is about 40% protein, 40% carb and 30% fat. The fat part is mostly "good" fats, like olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc. Your body actually needs these good fats to burn the bad fat.

    In EACH meal, I try to have a balance of protein/carbs/fat. I noticed for a number of your meals, you'll have just a piece of fruit. Even though fruit is healthy, your body just sees it as a sugar. Eating carbs by themselves just makes you crave more carbs. You need to balance that at least with a little protein.

    As an example, adding in a teaspoon of natural peanut butter will give you some protein and good fat. This will keep your blood sugar more stable, you won't get as hungry, and you'll have more energy for training. You could also add a squirt of flaxseed oil to that AM Nitro-tech shake.

  10. #10
    Pro Bodybuilder fhg43's Avatar
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    Susan-
    The BC pills will help you keep weight on as will the Prozac. It is well documented that anti-depressants can lead to weight gain. Some are better than others, but it is one of those side affects they don't really tell you about. I guess Zoloft is best for not gaining lots of weight. You might see if that one would work for you. I happen to know this because I have a friend who is a marathon runner who is going thru almost exactly the same thing. However given your history you might not want to change the meds. In fact it might be good that they led to weight gain.

    High Intensity Training won't really target the fat. It might be something different to do, but to burn fat stores long training runs (1.5hr +) are best. Increasing your wieghts in the weight room will help some. Focusing on leg exercises will help cut the fat and add lean muscle to your legs.

    Try cutting empty calories. Your diet looks good, but be careful. Endurance athletes commonly feel they can eat whatever and as much as they want and they have trouble losing weight. I shoot for 60% carb, 30% protein, and 10% fat. If you are running you need carbs. High protein/low carb diets don't work long term. Carbs are the best energy source for endyrance athletes. 5-6 small meals is good. Try counting your cals and creating a 100-300 a day caloric deficiet. This will help you burn a little fat. A small deficiet like this won't be a shock to your system. If you starve yourself your bod goes into survival mode and then you'll begin to store more fat. You need to eat (carbs) to burn fat.

    Hope this helps. Looks like you've gotten lots of good advice from many sources. Good luck with the running. Feel free to email me with any questions.

    FHG

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