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Long Distance Running vs. eating Back Calories

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  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Member Posts: 30,886 Member Member Posts: 30,886 Member
    I don't do well eating back huge run calories and then eating much lower calories on off days. (I would only ever do about half usually anyway, because otherwise I seemed to be eating just to eat.). This was a problem I had years ago training for the marathon, and now that I'm regularly doing 13 mile long runs and 2-3 hours of biking on the weekend I started to experience it again. I switched to TDEE method to average my calories through the week. I'm leaving room to still budget more on a big workout day--added 200 extra today because I was hungrier than usual--but this is working much better for me so far.
  • Samstan101Samstan101 Member Posts: 699 Member Member Posts: 699 Member
    I don't do well eating back huge run calories and then eating much lower calories on off days. (I would only ever do about half usually anyway, because otherwise I seemed to be eating just to eat.). This was a problem I had years ago training for the marathon, and now that I'm regularly doing 13 mile long runs and 2-3 hours of biking on the weekend I started to experience it again. I switched to TDEE method to average my calories through the week. I'm leaving room to still budget more on a big workout day--added 200 extra today because I was hungrier than usual--but this is working much better for me so far.

    The same for me. TDEE - % is much easier to manage and if I have an extra hard work out (like the HM I had yesterday) I may have a few extra cals if I'm hungry.
  • r_kraftr_kraft Member Posts: 27 Member Member Posts: 27 Member
    I just did a 1/2 marathon yesterday and boy did I eat after. I am not as careful as to what I eat, I just listen to my body and if I am hungry I eat. I still end the day with a net negative. After that I just go back to a more normal way of eating. That is the nice thing about your long runs you can use that as your cheat day. Just don't go too crazy.
  • mitch16mitch16 Member Posts: 2,114 Member Member Posts: 2,114 Member
    I'm having the same problem. My half marathon is in 3 weeks and I take my long run on Sunday. It totally kills my appetite--my deficit yesterday was more calories than I even take in on a normal day! I know I need to eat more to fuel my body, so I guess I'll just have to eat a bit more during the week (and I'm planning on taking a break from actively losing during my taper).
  • davert123davert123 Member, Premium Posts: 1,510 Member Member, Premium Posts: 1,510 Member
    I eat most of mine back. As people have said I need to or else I can't train and I feel starving. One bit of good advice is to eat a lot of them before you run so you burn off what you have eaten - should give you better training sessions. I would recommend you get a book on sports nutrition to work out when to eat :-) good luck
  • mseel2mseel2 Member Posts: 2 Member Member Posts: 2 Member
    mshawski wrote: »
    Thanks guys! My focus is cutting calories, so adding so many back just seems daunting. I feel like I'm cheating, but I'm not. You know? I needed a little reassurance, as I don't want to be that girl that curses because she didn't lose weight while she's eating 500 more than she should a day.

    I AM looking forward to pizza not being forbidden on 13 mile days :)

    Thanks again!

    The notion of needing to "earn" your calories and food is a very dangerous one...

    This is coming from someone who has completed 4 half marathons and was training for a full while not eating enough. I wound up with stress fractures that would haunt me for 1.5 YEARS...not to mention an eating disorder.

  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 19,182 Member Member Posts: 19,182 Member
    For that issue of huge eat-backs on big training days, and not always feeling like it, I would use a combo TDEE-MFP approach as mileage ramped up.

    I'd figure TDEE on only 1 hr of workouts on the 4 or 5 days normally done.

    Eating goal based on deficit to that.

    And then on days where the long run or ride occurred, I'd figure the extra calories for what happened over the hour, and totally be able to eat them back that day - because it usually wasn't that much extra.
    Not once you counted in the extra fuel eaten during the ride or run, usually about 100 per hour, so 3-4 hrs, and then an easy 100 afterwards of chocolate milk or such.
  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 3,192 Member Member Posts: 3,192 Member
    I know this is an old thread, but the question does come up often. I eat back all my exercise calories, especially when race training. Not necessarily on the day I burn them, but over a few days they get eaten. One thing I usually do is save my dinners out for long run days. It is very easy to eat 1500+ calories with a restaurant meal.
  • apullumapullum Member Posts: 4,896 Member Member Posts: 4,896 Member
    I ran 12 miles yesterday. I ate back all those calories plus some I had banked earlier in the week and hadn't already used. I want to be absolutely certain that I'm fueling both my run and my recovery properly. Remember that recovery is just as important as training, and your body needs proper nutrition to replenish glycogen and repair muscle.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Member Posts: 10,663 Member Member Posts: 10,663 Member
    Zombie thread.

    🧟‍♂️
  • mads_o86mads_o86 Member Posts: 45 Member Member Posts: 45 Member
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 19,182 Member Member Posts: 19,182 Member
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.

    But in reality you are eating back extra calories because of the workouts.
    You are merely using a TDEE method where the planned workouts for the week are averaged over the 7 days, and a deficit for weight loss is removed from that total, and you ended up at 2000.

    And then with the longer runs you are eating even more.
    You just aren't using MFP's method totally, modified like I do though.

    And 2000 eaten now is unlikely to be what you'll be eating when done with your weight loss or you'd really never get there if you think about it.
    Because if 2000 was allowing any discernible loss now, it would still cause it at goal weight.
  • mads_o86mads_o86 Member Posts: 45 Member Member Posts: 45 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.

    But in reality you are eating back extra calories because of the workouts.
    You are merely using a TDEE method where the planned workouts for the week are averaged over the 7 days, and a deficit for weight loss is removed from that total, and you ended up at 2000.

    And then with the longer runs you are eating even more.
    You just aren't using MFP's method totally, modified like I do though.

    And 2000 eaten now is unlikely to be what you'll be eating when done with your weight loss or you'd really never get there if you think about it.
    Because if 2000 was allowing any discernible loss now, it would still cause it at goal weight.

    Well, obviously weight loss has slowed down as I've gotten closer to the goal. I'm 4 kg/10lbs out from my current goal (my first goal was 90 kg/200 lbs but I'd forgotten how big I was at that weight, so now it's 83 kg/183 lbs).

    But you're probably right. I might have to raise my calories a little bit, but that's not the main point of keeping my calories steady day by day.

    The main point is to create some good habits of eating steadily instead of it varying by 1500 calories from workout day to non-workout day. I'd never be able to do that for the rest of my life, but if I can create habits that get me to a steady 2000 calories a day, I can go on forever.

    The raise in calories around long run day is mainly carbs and I only started doing it after finding out I was really fatigued after long run days, causing me to be tired and eat uncontrolled (I live 20 seconds from a supermarket...)
    edited October 2019
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 19,182 Member Member Posts: 19,182 Member
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.

    But in reality you are eating back extra calories because of the workouts.
    You are merely using a TDEE method where the planned workouts for the week are averaged over the 7 days, and a deficit for weight loss is removed from that total, and you ended up at 2000.

    And then with the longer runs you are eating even more.
    You just aren't using MFP's method totally, modified like I do though.

    And 2000 eaten now is unlikely to be what you'll be eating when done with your weight loss or you'd really never get there if you think about it.
    Because if 2000 was allowing any discernible loss now, it would still cause it at goal weight.

    Well, obviously weight loss has slowed down as I've gotten closer to the goal. I'm 4 kg/10lbs out from my current goal (my first goal was 90 kg/200 lbs but I'd forgotten how big I was at that weight, so now it's 83 kg/183 lbs).

    But you're probably right. I might have to raise my calories a little bit, but that's not the main point of keeping my calories steady day by day.

    The main point is to create some good habits of eating steadily instead of it varying by 1500 calories from workout day to non-workout day. I'd never be able to do that for the rest of my life, but if I can create habits that get me to a steady 2000 calories a day, I can go on forever.

    The raise in calories around long run day is mainly carbs and I only started doing it after finding out I was really fatigued after long run days, causing me to be tired and eat uncontrolled (I live 20 seconds from a supermarket...)

    It is a good routine that many use.
    As long as the recollection you gotta lower it down when doing less - like winter, like a busy period, ect.
    Many forget to do that coming out of active college life, and sit down job comes, and family, and life - next thing you know 20 yrs later and 40 lbs more.

    Oh - is the 20 sec part of the speed work aspect of the workout?
  • mads_o86mads_o86 Member Posts: 45 Member Member Posts: 45 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.

    But in reality you are eating back extra calories because of the workouts.
    You are merely using a TDEE method where the planned workouts for the week are averaged over the 7 days, and a deficit for weight loss is removed from that total, and you ended up at 2000.

    And then with the longer runs you are eating even more.
    You just aren't using MFP's method totally, modified like I do though.

    And 2000 eaten now is unlikely to be what you'll be eating when done with your weight loss or you'd really never get there if you think about it.
    Because if 2000 was allowing any discernible loss now, it would still cause it at goal weight.

    Well, obviously weight loss has slowed down as I've gotten closer to the goal. I'm 4 kg/10lbs out from my current goal (my first goal was 90 kg/200 lbs but I'd forgotten how big I was at that weight, so now it's 83 kg/183 lbs).

    But you're probably right. I might have to raise my calories a little bit, but that's not the main point of keeping my calories steady day by day.

    The main point is to create some good habits of eating steadily instead of it varying by 1500 calories from workout day to non-workout day. I'd never be able to do that for the rest of my life, but if I can create habits that get me to a steady 2000 calories a day, I can go on forever.

    The raise in calories around long run day is mainly carbs and I only started doing it after finding out I was really fatigued after long run days, causing me to be tired and eat uncontrolled (I live 20 seconds from a supermarket...)

    It is a good routine that many use.
    As long as the recollection you gotta lower it down when doing less - like winter, like a busy period, ect.
    Many forget to do that coming out of active college life, and sit down job comes, and family, and life - next thing you know 20 yrs later and 40 lbs more.

    Oh - is the 20 sec part of the speed work aspect of the workout?

    As a 6'1 male in his 40s I won't need to go lower than 2000 calories a day. It's more a question of possibly raising it a bit if I stay as active as I am now. I've already done the 7 years later, 70 pounds more...

    The 2x20 sec to the supermarket is definitely HIIT
  • jhanleybrownjhanleybrown Member Posts: 236 Member Member Posts: 236 Member
    Just a heads up: a lot of calorie estimators over estimate running cals. The most accurate I've found is 0.63 x weight per mile. But Apple watch, dreadmills, MFP and many others will either give you gross cals or their algorithm is too generous (sometimes by as much as 50%). So if you eat back that # you can actually gain.
  • BrianSharpeBrianSharpe Member Posts: 9,097 Member Member Posts: 9,097 Member
    Assuming that your estimated expenditure is reasonably accurate (I use the .63 x weight x miles mentioned above to sanity check my Garmin and it's usually very close)
    eat back those calories....those long runs take fuel. In the later stages of a training plan I love sitting down to a 1,000 cal brunch after my Sunday LSD.
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Member Posts: 39,582 Member Member Posts: 39,582 Member
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    heybales wrote: »
    mads_o86 wrote: »
    I don't eat back my calories for anything but long runs. I set my calories at 2000 a day, as that's what I'll be eating when in done with my weight loss. I've been going for 32 months now, have lost 70 lbs (30 kg) and I'm running as much as my 40 year old body can take: three times a week plus 2-3 other shorter cardio sessions of 15-25 minutes. I've PR'd every single distance except 400 meters this year (for as long back as I have GPS-data, that's sinde 2009).

    Anyway, I set the calories of 2000 and for the first 20 months I didn't eat anything back. I think it's unhealthy to vary your diet like that, going up and down 1500 calories in different days, so I set it at 2000.

    Now I've added long runs and I need to fuel for them - and recover. If I don't I tend to get sick. On the day before a long run (90-100 minutes) I eat 2300 calories, on the day of the run I eat 2500 and the next day I eat 2300.

    It should be said I'm on an old-man's running schedule (I'm all of 43 years old), where my running week is four runs, which is 9-10 days. I go long, interval/speedwork, slow 50-60 min, slow 35 min. That way my body can recover.

    That works out so I eat extra calories 3 days out of 10, which works for me.

    But in reality you are eating back extra calories because of the workouts.
    You are merely using a TDEE method where the planned workouts for the week are averaged over the 7 days, and a deficit for weight loss is removed from that total, and you ended up at 2000.

    And then with the longer runs you are eating even more.
    You just aren't using MFP's method totally, modified like I do though.

    And 2000 eaten now is unlikely to be what you'll be eating when done with your weight loss or you'd really never get there if you think about it.
    Because if 2000 was allowing any discernible loss now, it would still cause it at goal weight.

    Well, obviously weight loss has slowed down as I've gotten closer to the goal. I'm 4 kg/10lbs out from my current goal (my first goal was 90 kg/200 lbs but I'd forgotten how big I was at that weight, so now it's 83 kg/183 lbs).

    But you're probably right. I might have to raise my calories a little bit, but that's not the main point of keeping my calories steady day by day.

    The main point is to create some good habits of eating steadily instead of it varying by 1500 calories from workout day to non-workout day. I'd never be able to do that for the rest of my life, but if I can create habits that get me to a steady 2000 calories a day, I can go on forever.

    The raise in calories around long run day is mainly carbs and I only started doing it after finding out I was really fatigued after long run days, causing me to be tired and eat uncontrolled (I live 20 seconds from a supermarket...)

    It is a good routine that many use.
    As long as the recollection you gotta lower it down when doing less - like winter, like a busy period, ect.
    Many forget to do that coming out of active college life, and sit down job comes, and family, and life - next thing you know 20 yrs later and 40 lbs more.

    Oh - is the 20 sec part of the speed work aspect of the workout?

    As a 6'1 male in his 40s I won't need to go lower than 2000 calories a day. It's more a question of possibly raising it a bit if I stay as active as I am now. I've already done the 7 years later, 70 pounds more...

    The 2x20 sec to the supermarket is definitely HIIT

    I would think you'd need to raise your calories significantly in maintenance. I'm 5'10" on a good day and 45 years old and maintain on roughly 2,800-3,000 calories per day with a desk job and moderate exercise throughout the week.
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Member, Premium Posts: 2,942 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,942 Member
    My 2cents:

    My big issue has been overeating due to training for a HM. I've had to really be careful about it to avoid gaining weight.

    - The good (gym quality) treadmills give good numbers for calorie burn. (I've eaten them back without gaining weight)
    - Most of the apps and watches give good numbers for outdoor running. (Garmin seems a little low sometimes.)
    - You don't do a long run every day, so you don't need to eat it all back on that day. I'm often very hungry the next day no matter what I eat, so it helps to bank up a few extra calories.
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