It doesn't matter whether you come to running to try to lose weight. Or if you're like me, you've been running for a long time and you seem to be gaining weight but you don't know why. Whatever the case, here on today's episode of Runner's High, we're going to deal with all the cases of why are you gaining weight while you're running.
If you haven't been here with me before, I'm Jesse Funk. As I said, this is Runner's High. Hit that subscribe button, stick around with me. I talk all about running on the channel, as well as interview experts in different fields related to athletics, nutrition, all these other things on my other show, the Smart Athlete Podcast. So, lots of great information on this channel to help you become the best person you can be.
Now, when we're talking about running in gaining weight, you may be coming at it from a place of saying, you know, I'm overweight or I weigh more than I like to. So, I'm gonna go run and try to lose that weight ‘cause we can go out, we can burn calories, we don't have to go to the gym, which is especially important right now when we're trying to stay away from people.
Plus, it's really low equipment, right? We just need some shoes, we can wear pretty much anything. Most of us have what we refer to as comfy clothes around here in this house, and we can go out and run. So, it's a very easy way to say hey, let's go out and lose some weight.
The problem is, you're now gaining weight. So what's going on? If you've come to this at a place from doing say, couch to 5K, or you continue past your couch to 5K program. And that's really a way of me saying you have no history in running. The most likely culprit is that you're now gaining muscle. The thing with using a scale as a measure of our fitness and how we're progressing is that it's deceptive.
Because it's not taking into account gaining muscle versus loss of fat. So, you may still be losing fat, which is good, because we're going to have a better overall body composition. But you're gaining muscle so that your weight is increasing.
This is why when it's your goal to lose weight, say you're heavier than you want to be, whatever that is, to also take measurements of yourself. If you can't do body fat measurements, and in my opinion, don't rely on those scales and their measurements, the electric impotence is that right? Something like that, that use electric current to try to determine what your body fat is. Don't rely on that as a body fat percentage, it's not super accurate.
So, if you can't use Calipers, use just plain old ruler or string, something to take your measurements; waist, leg, arms, all those usual spots. That will give you a better indicator that you're actually getting smaller, getting leaner, regardless of that muscle that you're going to be gaining. But muscle is going to be the big culprit here. If you're trying to lose weight, you've been losing weight, and then you've stalled out, or you're actually going the opposite direction.
Now, it could be that because you've lost weight, your caloric intake is now higher than it needs to be. This is going to be in my opinion, less common than if you're gaining that muscle. But it is possible too. And the other thing to consider is when you're gaining muscle, there's kind of this phenomenon or just a simple fact of life that happens that you do gain some fat when you're gaining muscle.
So, our body's trying to do all these things at the same time; gain muscle, we gain fat, we're trying to lose fat, and it is not a nice linear line. So, if you've weighed in a couple of times, you're up a little bit of weight, I wouldn't get too worried about it to begin with.
One of the other cases for you is that it could simply be a fluid issue. And that is a nice way of saying that you're carrying too much water or you're carrying more water than you were previously. This can be from taking in a lot more electrolytes than you're used to, so you're retaining more water. It can be from stress or lack of sleep, all these things contribute to the stuff that changes.
So, again, if it's a blip, if it's a couple days, even a week, I wouldn't worry too much about it. You just want to have that nice downward trend line over time, but it's gonna zigzag up and down, really unsatisfying, but that's kind of the case of it.
Now, if you're here and stuck with me, and you're like me, you've been running for a long time and now you're gaining weight, there's a few things to look at. Now for me in particular, I dealt with this recently, as I'm getting a little bit older. I'm now in my early 30s. I'm running just about as much as I used to in college. Actually, I'm working out more than I was. Then, in college, we were doing seven to eight hours a week. Now, I'm doing 10 to 12 hours.
But this is less than my previous load high, which is 15 to 18 hours doing multi-sport stuff, triathlon. With that, I've come down in hours, I'm getting a little bit older. So, metabolism is not keeping up quite as much as it was, and I hadn't really adjusted my eating habits. That's something that you mentally have to check. If you're not counting calories that's the first thing to check.
Hey, what am I eating? And not just am I eating too many calories, but am I eating too much junk. Because there's this effect of you take in too many sweets that is sugars with-- there's a whole source of those breads, which we are prone to eat as runners, any kind of sweets, which we allow ourselves to have because we think, hey, I went out and ran so I can have this treat. All these things build up, there's this insulin effect, and then we store fat. Instead of if all those calories were more quality foods, then you may not have the fat gain that you're going to experience with that.
So, those are the two kind of cases, right? You've come to running and you want to lose weight. Or like me, you've been running for a very long time and now you're gaining weight and you're not sure why. In our case, we've been running for a long time, we’re probably not gaining muscle, it is probably fat. So, we have to look at our habits that we've developed over time and whether we're getting out of control.
One of the big things that I always recommend that comes from Olympic triathlete Barb Lindquist, she says 90/10. If we eat well, 90% of the time, then 10% of the time when we have that treat, it's perfectly fine. So, you have to have a gut check with yourself. Are you being honest about how much you're eating? And are you keeping the quality of your food very, very good?
So, as I said in the beginning of the video, if you stick around with me, subscribe to the channel for more running videos in the future when we dig into the deep, the interesting, and the tough stuff to make you a better runner. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.