Why Runners Shouldn't Diet

Many people start running to lose weight because regular running is one of the best ways to lose weight.

But runners often combine their running schedules with diet programs that include counting calories or assigning "points" or percentages to macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat and protein) consumption.

More: Running to Lose Weight

Soon after many runners start these diets, their running takes a nosedive: plummeting energy levels, decreased performance and a constant feeling of sluggishness. Dieting almost always goes hand in hand with a reduction in calories and, very often, carbohydrates—the body's preferred fuel source for running. This leaves runners struggling to feel and perform at their best.

Cutting too many calories while training can cause you to recover more slowly from long runs or faster workouts. You also may not be able to finish your most challenging workouts, and your ability to handle a higher workload will be cut dramatically.

So if you want to lose weight while running, traditional dieting simply won't work. But there are several rules to follow that will help you lose weight while still getting the fuel you need to train well.

More: How to Lose Weight While Training for a Marathon

The Runner's Weight-Loss Playbook

Instead of focusing on calories or specific macronutrients (who has time for that?), just follow these simple rules to help you shed pounds and feel great on your runs.

Avoid extra sugar. Even though carbohydrates are your preferred fuel source, most runners consume way too much simple sugar and processed carbs every day. If you're struggling with weight issues, excess carbohydrates in your diet could be the culprit.

More: 10 Ways to Find Hidden Sugar in Your Diet

Try limiting dessert foods, sports drinks (except immediately after a long run or hard workout) or soda, and carb-heavy foods that offer limited nutrition like crackers, white bread, white pasta (go with whole wheat) and plain bagels.

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