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Exercise + Maintenance = frustration

durhammfpdurhammfp Member Posts: 447 Member Member Posts: 447 Member
I started using MFP in earnest on Oct 1 2018, when I weighed in at ~202 lbs. It took me about 6 months to lose 35 lbs, about 4-6 months to lose the next ten pounds and since Sept/Oct 2019 I have settled into a range of 156-160, which I have been maintaining for the past year pretty easily. (Stats: 5'9" middle-aged guy). I *may* want to get down to 145 (and my doc is OK with that) but really I am pretty happy at my current weight right now.

I knew when I started losing weight that I wanted to run but I did not want my actual weight loss to depend on running so I lost almost all of my weight using tracking/CICO/portion control. I have always been a big walker but walking never lead to weight loss before I started weighing my food and tracking my calories, so I'm a big believer in weighing and tracking.

In Sept 2019, after having lost 42-45 lbs through tracking, and having gotten down to what I thought of as a healthier weight, I started C25K. Loved it. I kept running until the pandemic hit and then took a break for about 5 weeks and got started back this summer. Taking a break was great as it helped me get over a nascent case of plantar fasciitis, which has not come back. I've been adding miles, conservatively, and spreading my miles across a couple more days per week and am really seeing good improvements in endurance, all injury free (knock on wood.)

The problem now with my miles per week increasing is the RUNGER. It is real. I still track my food, pretty tightly, but I feel like I need more food--even though I am tracking my exercise calories very well and eating them back. Like tonight, my given calories per mfp (set on sedentary) come to 1920, but I exercised an additional 450 calories worth, ate all that back as well, and still could not help but eat a Clif Builder bar. My excuse was that I weighed in at 156 today so I am at the low end of my range, ARGH.

Here's the funny thing. Today was not a run day, it was a regular walking day. I have noticed on my walking days I am actually hungrier than on my run days. Tomorrow I might have a better chance of creating a deficit that cancels out this evening's indiscretion; I'm going to run 5 miles in the morning. Why I think that is odd is because according to my pedometer I burn about the same amount of calories on my walk days as my run days. But I do not understand why I am hungrier on my walk days.

Can anyone give me some advice on how to fight these urges to eat on my walk days? I thought I had this tracking thing down and maintenance had not been that difficult, like I said, before I started increasing my weekly mileage. Why I should be more hungry on my walk days than my run days--that totally baffles me.


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Replies

  • durhammfpdurhammfp Member Posts: 447 Member Member Posts: 447 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    Are you sure it's the walking that's making you hungry? I find I am hungrier the day after my runs, which in your case probably coincides with walking days?
    Your body's still recovering. I had the same issue when I was a marathon runner. Appetite suppression like crazy on the days that I trained hard and i tend to overeat (in my opinion) on my rest days. Just as long as the extra meals that you are eating are protein and complex carb driven I don't see the issue

    You know, that may be it. When I was doing just C25K, recovery may not have been as big an issue, but now I'm running 4-5 miles 4-5 days per week.

    edited August 25
  • durhammfpdurhammfp Member Posts: 447 Member Member Posts: 447 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Is your weight trending downwards?

    It's near the bottom of my range this week.
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    sijomial wrote: »
    A weekly view of your calorie allowance is another way to make it less restrictive and more in tune with lifestyle and hunger cues.

    Besides my running (which I've been doing a little less than a year now) I really do sit a lot, so 1920 calories seems right to me as a sedentary person. So far, for the past 2 years, using the formula "sedentary calories + pedometer calories" has worked out OK for determining what to eat on a day-to-day basis.

    I think I'll start looking at the weekly numbers as you suggest. For most of the time I have been doing this, I've felt good about zeroing out the books, so to speak, every day. But since my stronger hunger cues now seem to be offset from the days when I'm exercising more, the weekly view is probably the more sane thing to check.




  • ahoy_m8ahoy_m8 Member Posts: 2,155 Member Member Posts: 2,155 Member
    Lietchi wrote: »
    Are you sure it's the walking that's making you hungry? I find I am hungrier the day after my runs, which in your case probably coincides with walking days?

    I used to eat back my calories on the day I earned them, but since starting to run, I've switched strategies a bit. I've started eating back my running calories (mostly) the day after.

    You could experiment with eating a bit less on running days and a bit more on days after you run/walking days?

    FWIW, OP, this is what I also experience. Day after hunger.
    My calorie burn difference running (9 min miles) vs. walking (12 minute miles) isn't much. Is it for you?
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 18,175 Member Member Posts: 18,175 Member
    If I don't leave the bulk of carb calories for after the run the same day, I indeed end up hungrier the next day unless I do normal IF meal the following day.

    If I do eat earlier it's like the carbs eaten are just shot off to the muscle glycogen stores and my blood sugar drops too much, leaving me hungry. And very tired. I confirm I'm sitting comfy in the chair I know I'll fall asleep in after dinner.

    Ditto's to be willing to adjust those calories to wherever you need them, 2-3 day balance is fine.
  • kgirlhartkgirlhart Member Posts: 3,919 Member Member Posts: 3,919 Member
    I switched to the TDEE method after I started running. The mfp NEAT method worked really well for me while I was losing. But I did like you and waited to lose the majority of the weight before I started running. I don't always have "runger" the way some people describe. But I am usually pretty hungry the day after my long run and it is hard to eat at a lower calorie level that day. Since my exercise routine is very consistent I find that TDEE works better for me now.
  • J72FITJ72FIT Member Posts: 5,665 Member Member Posts: 5,665 Member
    durhammfp wrote: »
    Can anyone give me some advice on how to fight these urges to eat on my walk days? I thought I had this tracking thing down and maintenance had not been that difficult, like I said, before I started increasing my weekly mileage. Why I should be more hungry on my walk days than my run days--that totally baffles me.

    Sometimes it's like hitting a moving target. Energy in and energy out is rarely, if ever a linear process. As long as you can to the best of your ability rule out eating for psychological reasons... eat. Just keep daily weighing to track the fluctuations and if you see a steady increase in weight then you can pull back a bit. Until then I would not give it too much thought.


  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,510 Member Member Posts: 7,510 Member
    +1 all of @sijomial 's post.

    To me it sounds like you're over-controlling and over-correcting and are probably pushing yourself to the low end of your maintenance with the potential effect of having a slower recovery and slower repair of injuries potentially thrown in.
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Member Posts: 2,122 Member Member Posts: 2,122 Member
    I used to be ravenous around either running or rowing. I ran for five years and then couldn't any more and switched to indoor rowing.

    I've found that I have to eat nearly all of the calories that I've burned around that workout. I like to eat them right after I get done. I find I don't find myself ravenous in the evenings if I do that. If I try to get away with a large deficit around that workout, I fail every time.

    I workout at lunch and burn around 600 to 900 calories regularly. This means a pretty significant lunch for me. I eat nearly all those exercise calories back and still have a large dinner and a small snack at night. Most of the time, I don't eat anything in the AM, just black coffee. If I'm doing a harder interval workout (which I do 2 times a week), I'll have a bowl of granola or granola bar 2 or so hours prior to the workout.

    To me, it's timing. I've heard, as a rule of thumb, you should eat back 2/3 of the calories burned on your workouts within an hour, minimum. Even if you eat them all back, you're at net zero for the day if your HRM is relatively accurate for calories burned (I take out around 65 calories or so just for bodily functions, separate from the exercise calories for every hour).
    edited August 25
  • sarahkatzenelson452sarahkatzenelson452 Member, Premium Posts: 37 Member Member, Premium Posts: 37 Member
    I usually have "runger "about 12 hours after my long run (or when I skated long distance) if it is early am or day after if I run in the evening. Also I have found that taking in more salty food with the hydration helps me to quell the ranger so some of the hunger could be electrolyte imbalance.
    I am also going for maintening weight and exercise now and plan to just keep logging a day here and there and watch the weight!
  • nxd10nxd10 Member, Premium Posts: 4,529 Member Member, Premium Posts: 4,529 Member
    I get really hungry if I eat too many carbs but not if I eat things like nuts or protein or high fat like ice cream. I have to watch my portions but if I log my exercise and only look at my net, it seems to work fine.

    If I'm really honestly hungry, I eat more. Carefully. So I'll be starting and have a quarter cup of Ben & Jerry's with a spoonful of yogurt on it and cashews. It's around 160 calories, but I'm not hungry any more.
  • durhammfpdurhammfp Member Posts: 447 Member Member Posts: 447 Member
    Wow such great insights from all of you. Thanks so much. Here are my takeaways...

    1) As far as TDEE, I have never used that to calculate my calories, so I may try it out and see how things go.
    2) I run in the southern US and it is freaking humid and hot when I run and I sweat buckets so it may be that dehydration and/or an electrolyte imbalance is impacting my hunger cues.
    3) Also I did control CICO pretty tightly on a day-to-day basis before I started running a lot; I guess now I have to figure out how running 5 days a week is affecting my hunger cues and calorie burn. For example, the pedometer I use tracks the same calories per step count whether I'm running or taking a slow walk. And I know basically that is right but I would have thought it would correct for an after burn with the running. Is that not a thing? Anyway, I will just keep logging and trying to learn how to fuel my body as I go along.
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 1,420 Member Member Posts: 1,420 Member
    I would look at some calculators for your calorie burn when running. Same number of calories per step count for walking and running doesn't sound right.
  • spiriteagle99spiriteagle99 Member Posts: 2,895 Member Member Posts: 2,895 Member
    I use MFPs numbers for walking and running, entering time and approximate pace (i.e. 60 minutes at 2.5 mph vs. 60 minutes at 6 mph). Normally I run 35-40 mpw, ramping up to 50-55 when marathon training. I've learned to listen to my body, more or less. I log what I eat and aim for a certain calorie goal. If I'm starving at bed time, I eat something extra. If I'm not, I don't. On long run days, I only hit my goal if I go out to a restaurant to eat, but the next day I'll make up the deficit. My weekly digest usually shows me over my calorie goal, but my weight has been stable for about 6 years, because I seem to burn more than predicted thanks to hills where I live.
  • durhammfpdurhammfp Member Posts: 447 Member Member Posts: 447 Member
    My weekly digest usually shows me over my calorie goal, but my weight has been stable for about 6 years, because I seem to burn more than predicted thanks to hills where I live.

    I have only a few months data but my weight has been drifting down a little lately since I have been running more, and the additional running I've been doing is on hills. Lately I have been doing about what you described--that is, trying to hit my exercise calories with enough food but if I'm hungry at night I eat a little more. So on MFP it looks like I'm over eating but I'm actually down about a pound.

  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 17,274 Member Member Posts: 17,274 Member
    durhammfp wrote: »
    For example, the pedometer I use tracks the same calories per step count whether I'm running or taking a slow walk. And I know basically that is right but I would have thought it would correct for an after burn with the running. Is that not a thing? Anyway, I will just keep logging and trying to learn how to fuel my body as I go along.

    As running is twice as inefficient as walking (twice the calorie burn per mile running compared to walking) that sounds very odd.
    Different stride lengths too, a long inefficient bounding step versus a short and efficient step with one foot on the ground at all times can't be the same.
    I doubt your afterburn (which is a low percentage for cardio) would or could be captured.

    Biggest inaccuracy factor for walking is whether it's a gross or net calorie estimate. For me an hour of walking at 4mph would be c. 203 cals net or roughly 303 gross.
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