Always Hungry While Half Marathon Training?
As much as we love to run, we also love to eat. And since we run a lot, we often get to enjoy a little bit more on our plates or that extra snack without guilt. But we have all been there where our bellies become bottomless pits. And we aren’t just talking after a long run while training or after the race itself. This is more of an all day everyday kind of appetite. We are runners and are always rungry.
The non-stop hunger usually hits when we increase our mileage. And this makes sense. The more calories we burn, the more our bodies need to replenish. But there is a difference between being hungry after a long run then always being hungry when half marathon training.
What we really need is some diet changes. And there are a few diet changes to be made when training for a half marathon to make sure the body is properly fueled and fed.
Half Marathon Training: Why Am I Always Hungry?
While some people start running to lose weight and get fit, many don’t sign up for a half or full marathon for the same reason. While this is merely a fitness and mental goal specific to running, we don’t expect to gain weight while training. Sure, some of that weight can be because of an increase of muscle, but it’s easy to consume more calories than really needed when training for a long distance race.
Of course, the demands of long runs means we are allotted more calories for that day, but this isn’t an excuse to go off the wagon and eat everything in sight.
Yet, training sometimes makes us want too. So why are we always hungry?
Interestingly enough, an increase in exercise can be the culprit. Increasing the workout load too much and too fast when it comes to intensity of the workouts can result in an increase in cortisol. Better known as the stress hormone, cortisol higher insulin levels. As a result, blood sugar drops and we crave food—especially those are full of sugar and fat.
Another main reason is the runner isn’t enough of the right foods. Think wholesome and nutritious, not donuts and pizza and beer. “Bad foods” leave us wanting more sugar and not satisfied.
Other reasons why we are always hungry include simply needing more calories. Try not to restrict calories too much when half marathon training. The body needs the fuel to be able to perform and repair itself after an intense workout.
Stress, poor sleep, and medications can also mess with hunger.
Try These Diet Changes To Feel Full Longer
It should go unsaid that if a person is experiencing hunger all day, then listen to the body and eat. But it’s the types of foods we consume that really is the trick here.
If the runner knows they consume relatively enough calories, then it’s time to switch up the strategy towards nutrition while half marathon training to feel better and feel full. After all, it’s more than just race day nutrition when training for that big day.
Eat More Protein
Many runners cling to the notion that they need carbohydrates when training. Yes, this is true and carb loading should begin two weeks before the race. However, try to instead shift the focus on protein. Pairing carbs with lean protein and healthy fat lead to feeling full longer.
Use a nutrition app to determine how much protein is consumed. The USDA recommends consuming .36 grams per pound of body weight. But athletes, like runners, need .45 to .72 grams of protein per pound. This translates to about 75 to 120 grams of protein daily (if the runners weighs 165 lbs.)
Chicken breast alone as 32 grams of protein, but other sources include beans, nuts, seeds, and quinoa. Just keep in mind that fat gets into the way of protein absorption so limit or pair with healthy fats like avocado.
A good tip is to spread out protein intake throughout the entire day. Protein shakes before and post runs are great ways to achieve this.
Eat More Fiber
Eating foods that are high in fiber help us also to stay fuller longer. This is because one, these are typically high volume foods, and two, fiber takes more time to digest. It actually slows digestions so that the food stays in the stomach longer.
There are lots of foods that are also low in calories and high in fiber. These are ideal for those who don’t want to gain weight when increasing their mileage.
Change Your Eating Habits
Eating a protein and fiber-rich diet is ideal for avoiding being hungry all the time, but there are other eating habits worth changing. This includes absolutely eating breakfast every morning. We know this is the most important meal of the day, so don’t skip it.
Eating a healthy and filling breakfast is a great way to start the day. Try peanut butter and a banana protein shake, berry green yogurt parfait or a bean and cheese omelet.
Another change to try is not to just focus on eating three meals per day, with a snack here or there throughout the day. Instead, try eating five smaller sized meals. This helps the runner not feel hungry throughout the day or deprived when watching weight. Just make sure to plan meals. These shouldn’t be snacks, but nutritiously dense small meals. This could be oatmeal with almond milk and berries with some egg whites on the side or grilled chicken or tofu over quinoa with some veggies. Just think smaller portions.
Sometimes we think we are hungry when we really are just are thirsty. Make sure to drink lots of water. Staying hydrated before, during and after a run is so important. Drink a glass of water and then see if it was true hunger or not.
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