10 Ways Runners Get Weight Loss Wrong

Fitzgerald points to Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, who has trained and raced at weights ranging from 120 to 130 pounds throughout his extensive career, but found the middle of that range to be his ideal wheelhouse for top-level performance.

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"When you match your weights against the elements of your fitness, that is how you best determine your ideal weight. If you eat right and train right, you will ultimately reach your ideal race weight. Problems tend to arise for those who focus on the number first." Fitzgerald does, however, provide a formula for determining fat and lean muscle mass as well as goal weight (see below).

Step 1: Calculate current body fat mass. Body fat mass = current weight x current body fat percentage expressed in decimal form. In this example: 140 lbs x 0.22 = 30.8 lbs.

Step 2: Calculate current lean body mass. Lean body mass = current weight - fat mass. In this example: 140 lbs - 30.8 lbs = 109.2 lbs.

Step 3: Calculate goal weight. Goal weight = current lean body mass ? goal lean body mass percentage. Note: goal lean body mass percentage is 1.0 - your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form. In this example: 109.2 lbs ? 0.83 = 131.5 lbs.

More: How to Lose Weight to Train

Weight Loss Myth Busting

1. Food is Not an Enemy. "Energy is your friend," says Benardot. "Just eat good, whole, fresh foods, but simply not too much at once." Translation: Eat throughout the day.

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2. The Paradox of Too Little, Too Much Food: If you have very low blood sugar you will have an insulinemic response and create more fat because of increased cortisol levels. If you have very high blood sugar, you will have a similar response, as the cells will store more fat. "If you eat too much, your body will make fat," says Benardot, "and if you eat too little, your body will make fat."

More: How to Avoid Underfueling Without Overeating

3. Snacking is a Good Thing: even at night! Your caloric intake should both meet your body's needs and, as discussed, be spread out as evenly as possible throughout the day, including at night, as sleeping hours are undoubtedly the most extended period each day without calories.

More: 10 Healthy High-Protein Snacks

4. What is the goal? Benardot is quick to angle this question away from simply weight loss. "What is the goal," asks Benardot. "Is it simply to lose weight or to lose fat?"

5. Diets Don't Work: Both Fitzgerald and Benardot agree wholeheartedly on this key factor. "Not a single diet works," says Benardot. "It is that simple. In virtually every study looking at every diet created there is almost a 100 percent recidivism back to original weight or heavier if you look at the research."

An athlete's nutritional intake is an important part of his or her training regimen. Food is our body's fuel; it enables us to prepare for and recover from exercise intelligently. When considering your goals for this year, plan intelligently in every realm, from your day-to-day mental approach to how you'll complete your training to the food you put into your body.

More: How Runners Can Lose Fat and Improve Body Composition

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