Sometimes weight can become an issue during marathon training. Learn the correct way to lose weight while still training at a high level.

Each mile you travel by foot burns, on average, 75-125 calories. So it is not surprising that an increasing amount of beginner and amateur runners and walkers are signing up for marathon training programs as a means to aid weight loss and improve overall health and fitness.

Obstacles do exist, however, and hastily restricting calorie intake or specific nutrients, like carbohydrates, can increase your risk for injury and illness as well as cause energy levels to plummet. On the other end of the spectrum, many runners find themselves justifying a larger meal or specific food indulgences after working out, only to find themselves gaining weight. Here are five tips that encourage healthy weight loss during marathon training.

Use Calories Burned To Aid Weight Loss

Rather than waging war with your food intake during training, tip that calorie balance towards the negative for weight loss through your daily run expenditure. The following equation can be used to estimate the calories burned during running:

0.63 calories x ___miles run x ____pounds

For example, a 150-pound runner will burn approximately 95 calories per mile, or 378 calories over a four-mile run.

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Weight Loss Should Be Slow And Steady

While in the midst of marathon training, runners should aim at a more moderately paced weight loss of a half pound to one pound per week, which entails a 250-500 daily calorie restriction. While this doesn’t sound like much, over 16 weeks you will lose the equivalent of two to three shoeboxes of fat, which, according to researcher Paul Vanderburgh of the University of Dayton, will lead to a 10- to 15-minute faster marathon time and a lot less stress on the joints!

Have A Pre-Workout Snack

Research has proven time and time again that restoring blood sugars after a fasting state with a carbohydrate-rich snack before the run will not only extend endurance but will also lower perceived effort — meaning you can go longer and harder, burning more calories for weight loss. To help rebuild blood sugars for enhanced endurance, aim at consuming 400-600 carbohydrate calories in the two hours leading up to the event start. For example, a plain English muffin topped with one tablespoon of peanut butter and a sliced banana would be an ideal snack, with water or a sports drink to wash it down.

RELATED: The Art Of Snacking For Endurance Athletes

Don’t Restrict On Long Run Days

Recovery after a long run is not a passive process. Your body requires adequate amounts of carbohydrate and protein energy, as well as micronutrient support (vitamins and minerals) to replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores and facilitate repair and reproduction of tissue and bone. Extreme calorie and macronutrient restriction (more than 500 calories/day) during marathon training can present a negative impact on bone-mineral density and increase the risk for stress fractures as well as delay recovery.

To ensure adequate energy intake on long run days and to prevent overindulgence post-run, supplement with 30-60 grams of carbohydrates each hour of running (one energy gel plus a sports drink) and consume 50-75 grams of carbohydrates with 10-15 grams of protein (a cup of low fat chocolate milk) immediately after finishing a run.

Pinpoint Indulgence Calories

Let’s face the facts: most runners have at least one less-than-desirable nutritional habit that could be forgone, saving empty calories (and oftentimes money). Liquid calories are perhaps the most common culprit, providing a surprising calorie punch without helping to curb hunger much. At Starbucks, for example, a venti Café Mocha with two percent milk and whipped cream packs in 410 calories — or the equivalent of a five-mile run for a 130-pound runner.

Save 180 calories by just switching to a tall Café Mocha with skim milk. A daily habit of two 12-ounce cans of regular soda also costs approximately 400 calories; meaning eliminating just one of these sodas can help you lose nearly half a pound a week! Other liquid calorie culprits include a 12-ounce beer at 150 calories, a glass of wine at 100-140 calories, a shot of hard liquor at 100-120 calories, and a can of energy drink, like Red Bull, at 110 calories. Instead of drinking calories, runners should feed essential hydration needs with water — or if something flavored is preferred, add a splash of 100 percent juice.

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About The Author:

Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition, is a competitive runner who provides customized meal planning, nutrition coaching and race-nutrition guidance to active individuals worldwide. More information on Kim’s services can be found at Kim can be reached at