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How Much Weight Can You Lose During Marathon Training?

By Jeremy Hoefs

Covering the 26.2 miles of a marathon is a major accomplishment, but the weeks of training leading up to the event is another accomplishment that required time, dedication and commitment. With the physical demands of marathon training, beginner and amateur runners and walkers are signing up for marathons to help them reach their weight loss goals. While training for a marathon can burn a significant number of calories and excess body fat, there are a number of other factors that can affect your overall weight loss.

Performance

A major consideration to weight loss and marathon training is your overall health and performance. If you lose too much bodyweight or lose the weight too quickly, your performance and training can suffer. Focus on following a specific training program to prevent overtraining and consume adequate proportions of calories and nutrients to promote recovery and energy levels.

Calories

The most important component to weight loss during marathon training is burning more calories than you consume. As a general rule, the number of calories burned during your training runs is determined with a simple formula -- 0.63 calories multiplied by the number of miles and multiplied by your bodyweight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 155 pounds, you burn about 154 calories per mile, resulting in 391 calories burned during a four mile run. Increasing your running pace also increases the number of calories burned. If you weigh 155 pounds and run for one hour at 8.6 mph, you burn about 1078 calories; but that calorie total increases to 1,288 per hour if you weigh 185 pounds.

Nutrition

To lose one pound of bodyweight, you must burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. With your increased activity level in the marathon training program, your nutrition plan must provide the proper nutrients and calories to support recovery and energy while maximizing your weight loss. Focus on reducing the serving sizes, avoiding indulgence calories such as candy and switch the high-calorie foods with low calorie options. A major consideration is post-workout nutrition. Consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein that are quickly absorbed and digested by the body to promote healthy recovery.

Time Frame

Your weight loss is related to the duration of the marathon training program. For example, you have the ability to lose more weight during a 16-week training schedule than an eight-week training schedule. Regardless of the duration of the training program, focus on losing bodyweight at a moderate pace of 0.5 to 1.0 pound per week. This results in a deficit of about 500 calories per day, depending on your activity level and nutrition.

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