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Weight loss while training for first full marathon

rb3551rb3551 Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member
Hello all - I'm looking forward to your support, and supporting you.
I would like to lose about 30 pounds, and I am training for my first full marathon. I have completed 25 half marathons, so I'm not stranger to running, but I'm having a lot of trouble with nutrition this time around. I'm starving and craving carbs and fat! I'm a vegetarian, so my protein tends to lag. I know Google has a myriad options and opinions on how to fuel the body in this situation, but I'm looking for tried and true from real people. Any advice is appreciated!
Stay well.
R

Replies

  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Member Posts: 39,023 Member Member Posts: 39,023 Member
    Not a runner, but I got into endurance cycling for quite awhile. My N=1...I found it extraordinarily difficult to train for centuries and half centuries while also cutting calories to cut weight. I was miserably hungry trying to diet and train and there wasn't any magical combination of macros that worked for me where that was concerned. I ultimately had to reduce training and focus on diet and once I cut down to where I wanted to be I picked up the harder training protocols again.
  • rb3551rb3551 Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member
    I think I may need to ignore weight until after my full (May 9). I'll be slow, but my goal is to take this overweight body across the virtual finish line. Then worry about weight. But I will still need to figure out how to not eat a loaf of bread (hyperbole) at lunch with cookies :smile:
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Member, Premium Posts: 2,717 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,717 Member
    The hunger may abate with time. But, it's hard to lose when you are training hard! You can always shoot for only a slight loss, such a 0.5lbs a week.

    Best of luck!
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member
    @AnnPT77

    Can you give some insight? And can you conjure up Vegijoy? I must have her user name a bit off.
  • sijomialsijomial Member, Premium Posts: 18,266 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,266 Member
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but you definitely can lose weight while training for endurance events.
    I nearly always drop a few pounds before planned century rides - but I do it carefully.

    But.....
    Don't have a big deficit. (Worrying that you are "starving" and "craving" - how fast a rate of loss did you choose?)
    Even a modest deficit for an extended duration can hurt your exercise performance and recovery.
    Do monitor your energy levels and exercise performance and react accordingly.
    An irregular deficit may be helpful for recovery. Diets breaks also worth considering.
    What you do on the day before multi-hour exercise stints matters as well as on the day.
    Do eat back exercise calories.
    Don't be carb depleted before big training sessions or events, carbs are an endurance athlete's friend.
    Do set a sensible protein goal that matches your needs as someone exercising long and also dieting. (I prefer 1g protein per lb of estimated lean mass as a minimum goal.)
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member
    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/comment/45642267#Comment_45642267

    There’s a really great thread here about protein sources but I can’t find it. Anyone?
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,263 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,263 Member
    I am a vegan marathoner. As mentioned above, I too find it really hard to seriously train while in a deficit. Anything more than 200-250 calories a day doesn't work for me.

    For protein, I've found that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all good ways to get protein for a reasonable number of calories. You say you're craving fat -- I don't know if you're doing low fat, but I find that a low fat diet makes me feel hungrier and gives me additional cravings so when I'm training I'll try to make sure I'm having some higher fat foods every day. I find that getting a lot of vegetables helps me have the higher volume meals that I crave when running a lot. Your body doesn't care if the carbohydrates you're using for energy are coming from bread or broccoli and I've personally found that getting a lot of them from lower calorie sources tends to help curb my cravings for starchier, more calorie-dense foods like bread (not that I avoid bread).

    My experience: when I go into long runs well nourished and fuel decently during the run (I use GU and Tailwind, but lots of things will work) and make sure to put reasonable thought into my meal planning, cravings aren't usually an issue for me.
  • rb3551rb3551 Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member
    @AnnPT77

    Can you give some insight? And can you conjure up Vegijoy? I must have her user name a bit off.

    I'm a little confused by this
  • rb3551rb3551 Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member
    I am a vegan marathoner. As mentioned above, I too find it really hard to seriously train while in a deficit. Anything more than 200-250 calories a day doesn't work for me.

    For protein, I've found that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all good ways to get protein for a reasonable number of calories. You say you're craving fat -- I don't know if you're doing low fat, but I find that a low fat diet makes me feel hungrier and gives me additional cravings so when I'm training I'll try to make sure I'm having some higher fat foods every day. I find that getting a lot of vegetables helps me have the higher volume meals that I crave when running a lot. Your body doesn't care if the carbohydrates you're using for energy are coming from bread or broccoli and I've personally found that getting a lot of them from lower calorie sources tends to help curb my cravings for starchier, more calorie-dense foods like bread (not that I avoid bread).

    My experience: when I go into long runs well nourished and fuel decently during the run (I use GU and Tailwind, but lots of things will work) and make sure to put reasonable thought into my meal planning, cravings aren't usually an issue for me.

    Ok - I really think I need to focus on training, and not the weight. Numbers have always screwed me up, so maybe a better attitude about myself will help the process. What's the saying, take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves? But I'm torn between not eating my extra earned calories and fueling adequately. Such a difficult balance. Thanks for the input. i can't imagine getting enough protein from veganism when I find the vegetarian component hard to balance. Thank you!
  • rb3551rb3551 Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but you definitely can lose weight while training for endurance events.
    I nearly always drop a few pounds before planned century rides - but I do it carefully.

    But.....
    Don't have a big deficit. (Worrying that you are "starving" and "craving" - how fast a rate of loss did you choose?)
    Even a modest deficit for an extended duration can hurt your exercise performance and recovery.
    Do monitor your energy levels and exercise performance and react accordingly.
    An irregular deficit may be helpful for recovery. Diets breaks also worth considering.
    What you do on the day before multi-hour exercise stints matters as well as on the day.
    Do eat back exercise calories.
    Don't be carb depleted before big training sessions or events, carbs are an endurance athlete's friend.
    Do set a sensible protein goal that matches your needs as someone exercising long and also dieting. (I prefer 1g protein per lb of estimated lean mass as a minimum goal.)

    How did you come to the 1 g protein per pound LM? Trial and error, or a source? I like the idea of tracking in detail, but the detail of the tracking gets me lost (not sure what to track for those macros - how much of each to at least maintain. Maybe I do forget the weight loss component, find some macro guidance and commit to the necessary training. So confused. I want to have my cake and eat it too (bad phrase, but you get what I mean). Thanks for the pointers and insight
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,671 Member Member Posts: 18,671 Member
    I found training with a fat loss diet was only possible with good meal timing - in the day and after a workout.
    And enough protein in the evening to aid recovery overnight.

    I would plan on that 4:1 carb:protein ratio within an hour shown in studies to improve glucose uptake if you need it for something the next day.
    I found even if I didn't have something the next day it helped with over hunger later.

    So yeah, I'd eat after training even though I didn't always feel that hungry right then - took care of the bad effects later if I didn't.

    I'd make sure that before a long cardio day (bike or run), I appeared to have built up glycogen stores from prior workout and being in a diet anyway.
    My schedule usually caused there to be 2 rest days between last workout and the long day, that was enough time for reasonable deficit to still allow enough carbs in.

    If there was only 1 day between, I'd reduce or skip deficit on between day.
    I observed that if I went into a long day already being carb low, the hunger afterwards was much worse.

    So I usually tried to confirm getting enough carbs after the workout to refill muscle stores, which don't go anywhere until the next workout.
    Liver stores can be topped off in normal diet prior to long day easy enough.

    My only issue with diet while training was 1 year having underestimated calorie burns, deficit was bigger than thought, and lost muscle mass.
    VO2max test after the event showed up that fact, but I still lost winter weight before the event. Just a tad more than desired.
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    @AnnPT77

    Can you give some insight? And can you conjure up Vegijoy? I must have her user name a bit off.

    I'm a little confused by this

    Lol. Using @ before another user’s name directs them to this post. I was asking Ann to check in.

    For example if I use @rb3551 in this post in this format, if you look at the top of the forums page it will show you’ve been mentioned in a post and give you a link to click directly the the post.

    I wanted to get @vegijoy to check in, too, but I don’t have her user name quite right, so couldn’t “@“ her, too. That’s why her user is doesn’t turn blue, because I don’t have it quite right.
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,735 Member
    Or, well it does, but it’s not the right ID so she won’t get the flag to look.
  • LoveyCharLoveyChar Member Posts: 2,885 Member Member Posts: 2,885 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    I am a vegan marathoner. As mentioned above, I too find it really hard to seriously train while in a deficit. Anything more than 200-250 calories a day doesn't work for me.

    For protein, I've found that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all good ways to get protein for a reasonable number of calories. You say you're craving fat -- I don't know if you're doing low fat, but I find that a low fat diet makes me feel hungrier and gives me additional cravings so when I'm training I'll try to make sure I'm having some higher fat foods every day. I find that getting a lot of vegetables helps me have the higher volume meals that I crave when running a lot. Your body doesn't care if the carbohydrates you're using for energy are coming from bread or broccoli and I've personally found that getting a lot of them from lower calorie sources tends to help curb my cravings for starchier, more calorie-dense foods like bread (not that I avoid bread).

    My experience: when I go into long runs well nourished and fuel decently during the run (I use GU and Tailwind, but lots of things will work) and make sure to put reasonable thought into my meal planning, cravings aren't usually an issue for me.

    Ok - I really think I need to focus on training, and not the weight. Numbers have always screwed me up, so maybe a better attitude about myself will help the process. What's the saying, take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves? But I'm torn between not eating my extra earned calories and fueling adequately. Such a difficult balance. Thanks for the input. i can't imagine getting enough protein from veganism when I find the vegetarian component hard to balance. Thank you!

    I think you hit it!!! Focus on training!!! I'm running my second Marathon in 8 weeks and I'm very conscientious of my weight because who wants to carry anything extra?! Last Marathon training go around my weight dropped down below 100 pounds and it was almost shocking to me. I wasn't trying to lose weight and I certainly didn't need to. But those long 16, 18, 20 mile training runs will burn that fat like crazy.

    I'm not a vegetarian. But I rarely ever eat meat. I think I've had 8 chicken nuggets in the past week and a half, so very very little. I eat hardboiled eggs and drink milk (both whole cow's and soy). Almond milk has very little protein. I eat tons of beans. I bought protein spaghetti last training; it's got the carbs you need but it has extra protein to keep you feeling fuller longer. @janejellyroll had great advice and has been there, done that. Tofu is a great source of protein and I buy tofu dogs, high protein and they taste like hot dogs. Meatless (bean) burgers are delicious, protein packed. I, too, definitely appreciate fat! I do eat peanut butter, love it! Nuts and avocados are great. If I think of anything else I'll pop in.

    Also, I'm sure there are some vegetarian Marathon-ing bloggers out there who share their diets, running experience (what worked and what didn't for them) and have great advice to offer.

    I hope this helps and best of luck with your training and the race!!!

  • sijomialsijomial Member, Premium Posts: 18,266 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,266 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but you definitely can lose weight while training for endurance events.
    I nearly always drop a few pounds before planned century rides - but I do it carefully.

    But.....
    Don't have a big deficit. (Worrying that you are "starving" and "craving" - how fast a rate of loss did you choose?)
    Even a modest deficit for an extended duration can hurt your exercise performance and recovery.
    Do monitor your energy levels and exercise performance and react accordingly.
    An irregular deficit may be helpful for recovery. Diets breaks also worth considering.
    What you do on the day before multi-hour exercise stints matters as well as on the day.
    Do eat back exercise calories.
    Don't be carb depleted before big training sessions or events, carbs are an endurance athlete's friend.
    Do set a sensible protein goal that matches your needs as someone exercising long and also dieting. (I prefer 1g protein per lb of estimated lean mass as a minimum goal.)

    How did you come to the 1 g protein per pound LM? Trial and error, or a source? I like the idea of tracking in detail, but the detail of the tracking gets me lost (not sure what to track for those macros - how much of each to at least maintain. Maybe I do forget the weight loss component, find some macro guidance and commit to the necessary training. So confused. I want to have my cake and eat it too (bad phrase, but you get what I mean). Thanks for the pointers and insight

    Protein recommendation is quite a common one in the range 1g per lb of LBM and 1g per lb of total bodyweight for people exercising significantly and in a deficit.
    Here's a useful and flexible guide to macros and calories. Having fat and protein as minimums and using carbs as the main "filler" to get you up to your calorie goal works well for endurance sports. https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/819055/setting-your-calorie-and-macro-targets/p1

    Don't fall into the trap of binary thinking of either maintaining or a big deficit, there's all sorts of shades of grey between those two points. You don't have to be in a deficit every day for example, you can lose weight extremely slowly or irregularly. e.g. in a hard training block of a few weeks you might decide to maintain, but tolerate a small deficit in an easier training block.

    Not eating your exercise calories while marathon training would be completely potty!
    They aren't special or extra calories - just one of the many energy needs of a body. I wouldn't use the database here for estimates though.

    You can have your cake and eat it. :smiley:
    I'm a cyclist - I had cake and ate it on the top of a hill today while enjoying a beautiful view after 90 minutes of a 2.5hr ride. No guilt, it's no different to putting more fuel in your car when you do long drives (but tastes much better).
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 19,518 Member Member, Premium Posts: 19,518 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    @AnnPT77

    Can you give some insight? And can you conjure up Vegijoy? I must have her user name a bit off.

    Perhaps you meant @VegjoyP? She and I tend to differ a bit along the edges about nutrition, but she's enthusiastically Vegan and considers nutrition important.

    A good way to find IDs to tag is to use the Community Search function, look for author, confirm via posts.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 19,518 Member Member, Premium Posts: 19,518 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    @AnnPT77

    Can you give some insight? And can you conjure up Vegijoy? I must have her user name a bit off.

    I'm a little confused by this

    Yeah, she's tagging me to come into the discussion. I'm vegetarian (46+ years now), and a short-endurance athlete who lost weight while continuing my sport. (I'm an on-water rower, somewhat lapsed in the *strict* athletic sense - still working out regularly, still rowing, but not competing anymore - I think? 😉 - and not training in a periodized, structured kind of way anymore.)

    I looked at the thread before, wasn't sure I had much to contribute - oh, well.

    The link @springlering62 gave to my comment on another thread (https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/comment/45642267#Comment_45642267) that's pretty much everything I'd have to say about protein goals, and I think it answers some of your other questions. Since people rarely follow links, I'll quote some of it here, with some selective editing to apply to current context:

    0.8g/kg bodyweight is indeed a mainstream recommendation (a little less than 0.4/lb).

    It's also lower than many of us here feel is optimal (me for one), based on more recent research suggesting that people who are losing weight can benefit from more protein than the base recommendation for an average weight-stable person, as can someone who's active with exercise (especially strength exercise), or aging (say, over 60 - perhaps double the 0.8g/kg level.

    This article, and its footnoted studies, will explain some of that thinking:

    https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/

    Counter to what some vegan *advocacy* sites recommend, many more mainstream sources feel that - if anything - those of us who get much of our protein from plant sources are better served by getting *more* protein grams than mainstream levels recommended for omnivores, as a bet-hedge for adequate, balanced proportions of the essential amino acids. A sound source of vegan nutrition advice ishttps://veganhealth.org/.

    It's hard to comment on a specific person's protein needs, minimum or optimal, without knowing their height, weight, weight goal, age or activity level. Generally, the Xg/Kg or Xg/Lb recommendations can be calculated based on your healthy goal weight, which may give you a materially different result than basing it on current weight, if you have a fair amount of weight to lose.

    Truth in advertising: I'm not vegan. I've been vegetarian for 46+ years, and a substantial fraction of my protein intake is from plant sources, but not all.

    ETA the link I meant to contribute when I first came to the thread (🙄 jeesh):

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10247171/carbs-and-fats-are-cheap-heres-a-guide-to-getting-your-proteins-worth-fiber-also

    Scroll past the mostly meaty/fishy foods near the top of the linked spreadsheet, and you'll start seeing plant sources. Many are not as EAA (essential amino acid) complete, but can still be helpful if varied/combined over time.

    A useful strategy IMO for increasing protein for us veg*ans is to try to get at least a bit of protein from most things we eat, as there are grains with more protein than others, veggies with more protein, even fruits with protein. The "one big protein per meal" idea that omnivores often use to organize meals is worth continuing, but adding bits of protein around the edges will add up over the course of a day.

    It seems relatively straightforward to me to get adequate protein on a vegetarian diet, even with a rational deficit in the picture (I'm ovo-lacto, but am pretty confident I could do it fully plant-based.) It's a gradual process of reviewing food log, looking for calories that one can cut without undue nutritional, satisfaction or tastiness sacrifice, and using the freed-up calories to add in other foods one enjoys that have more protein. Since there are foods in nearly all categories with at least some protein, this wasn't difficult for me. Maybe it would be if a really picky eater, or something, I dunno: I like lots of stuff, personally; and other than the long habit of vegetarianism, I don't have many firm, absolutist abstract principles about "clean" "unprocessed" foods, low carbs, or anything of that nature.

    OP, in terms of your current scenario, I agree with either putting weight loss on hold while marathon training, or keeping to a very small deficit. Heybales & sijomial as usual said some very useful things on the subject, about fueling exercise, and about how timing foods may help you in a calorie deficit + training scenario (even though food timing isn't super important for most people for weight loss, except for pure satiation reasons IMO).

    I don't know whether you're (@Rb3551) male or female, or your size, so there's a good chance your calorie and protein needs are wildly different from mine, but my diary is open to MFP friends and you're welcome to send me a friend request if it would help you to see what/how I eat as an ovo-lacto veg (low ovo, BTW). I'm a truly terrible MFP friend, more of a Community forum gal, but I do answer PMs or questions put on my MFP personal page.

    ETA as background to that last: I'm 5'5", 125ish pounds, age 65, mostly in maintenance (year 5), eating 1850+ all exercise calories most of the time lately, which for me is an ultra-ultra-slow loss calorie level (losing a few vanity pounds), getting 100g protein minimum daily, and sometimes much more than that. I eat few eggs, but quite a lot of dairy, and a bunch of plant sources, including soy. I don't use protein powder, protein bars, or eat faux meats. (I don't think there's anything wrong with those, I just personally don't find them tasty/satisfying).
    edited April 8
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member, Premium Posts: 25,263 Member Member, Premium Posts: 25,263 Member
    LoveyChar wrote: »
    Tofu is a great source of protein and I buy tofu dogs, high protein and they taste like hot dogs.

    Oh yes, soy hot dogs are a great one. The ones I get have something like 60 calories and 8 grams of protein each. Super fast and easy.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Member Posts: 39,023 Member Member Posts: 39,023 Member
    rb3551 wrote: »
    I am a vegan marathoner. As mentioned above, I too find it really hard to seriously train while in a deficit. Anything more than 200-250 calories a day doesn't work for me.

    For protein, I've found that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all good ways to get protein for a reasonable number of calories. You say you're craving fat -- I don't know if you're doing low fat, but I find that a low fat diet makes me feel hungrier and gives me additional cravings so when I'm training I'll try to make sure I'm having some higher fat foods every day. I find that getting a lot of vegetables helps me have the higher volume meals that I crave when running a lot. Your body doesn't care if the carbohydrates you're using for energy are coming from bread or broccoli and I've personally found that getting a lot of them from lower calorie sources tends to help curb my cravings for starchier, more calorie-dense foods like bread (not that I avoid bread).

    My experience: when I go into long runs well nourished and fuel decently during the run (I use GU and Tailwind, but lots of things will work) and make sure to put reasonable thought into my meal planning, cravings aren't usually an issue for me.

    Ok - I really think I need to focus on training, and not the weight. Numbers have always screwed me up, so maybe a better attitude about myself will help the process. What's the saying, take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves? But I'm torn between not eating my extra earned calories and fueling adequately. Such a difficult balance. Thanks for the input. i can't imagine getting enough protein from veganism when I find the vegetarian component hard to balance. Thank you!

    I'm taking this as you aren't even eating your exercise calories back...you do understand that you are supposed to by MFP design right? Skipping those calories when you're doing normal, regular exercise isn't a particularly good idea...it is a horrendous idea if you're actually training for something like a marathon.

    Your calorie deficit is already built into your calorie target without any exercise whatsoever...by not accounting for additional exercise activity (not accounted for in activity level) you are compounding your calorie deficit...not really a great idea with any kind of regular exercise unless maybe you're talking about going for a walk or something...but an absolutely horrendous idea when you're actually training and you need that fuel for performance and RECOVERY.
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