If you're worried about gaining weight while training, the main thing is to avoid thinking about long runs as excuses to overeat or snack on unhealthy foods. There are two components to that: portion control and making healthy food choices.
"Portion control is key," Kristin told POPSUGAR. If you've just finished a run, you've likely depleted your glycogen (stored glucose) stores and may have low blood sugar, Kristin explained, so it's normal to feel famished. Instead of sitting down to an enormous meal right then, she recommended starting with a small snack, like a banana, to get your blood sugar back up. Once you've curbed your initial hunger, you'll be able to make better choices at mealtime.
Of course, portion control is just part of the puzzle; you also need to look at what you eat during training. "I tell my runners to look at food as fuel," Kristin said. "That means utilizing the right whole grains, lean sources of proteins, and healthy fats." Your diet should be nutrient-dense, full of color, and low on processed foods, she added.
Healthy Pre-Run Snacks For Weight Loss
Avoid fats (like eggs, bacon, avocados), high-fiber foods (beans), and simple sugars (bagels, white bread, sugary cereals) right before a run: "anything that will cause digestive distress or a sugar drop," Kristin said. Instead, try snacks like:
- Steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and hemp seed
- A banana with nut butter
Healthy Post-Run Snacks For Weight Loss
After a run, you can replenish and refuel your body (without overeating) by choosing whole, satisfying foods. Here are some healthy snacks Kristin recommended:
- Sprouted-grain bread with turkey breast and cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs with whole grain crackers
- Lean meats such as chicken breast or wild salmon
The only time simple sugars might be necessary are during longer runs and the race itself, Kristin said. (If your run is under an hour, mid-run snacks likely won't be crucial.) She also recommended reaching for a sports drink with sodium and potassium to replenish your electrolytes. Try to avoid one with sugar alcohols, which can upset your stomach.
As you can see, training for a half marathon to lose or at least maintain your weight requires two focus points: you want to eat and train to perform during the race and to keep your weight stable or on a slight decline. Luckily, those two goals coincide. The satisfying fuel that will power you through long training runs is also good for your body and your weight. The runs that will help you get faster and stronger can also help you lose weight and control your hunger. If you put it all together, you've got a good shot at nailing your half-marathon and avoiding the infamous race-training weight gain along the way.