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Here’s Why Running Can Make You Gain Weight And Tips To Prevent It

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Runners often gain weight because of eating too much Here’s Why Running Can Make You Gain Weight And Tips To Prevent It www.runnerclick.com

One of the reasons we started to run was for weight loss and keeping the unwanted weight away. But it seems like sometimes no matter how often and far we run, we can’t chase those extra pounds from catching up with us. We often hear many runner’s love the activity because they can eat whatever they want and keep a trim figure thanks to burning off those extra calories. But then there are those who are mindful about what they eat and can’t seem to lose weight with running. Or worse—runners start to gain weight. Yes, running can make you gain weight, but there are ways to prevent it.

Running And Weight Gain: Eating Habits

Eat healthy, nutritious foods and exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Weight loss occurs when more calories are burned than consumed. It sounds like a piece of cake, but many people struggle with weight loss. (Which is why there is an entire market made for weight loss products.) But those with an average weight can burn about 100 calories per mile running (variables like age, sex, weight and running efficiency does play a role). This is why many might be left scratching their heads when they are careful about what they put in their stomachs and are consistent runners and still seeing weight gain.

But keep in mind running one mile won’t be enough to undo a whole day of poor eating habits. There is the perception that just because the person is running they will lose weight. But if the person is still eating large portions or high caloric foods, expect to not see the scale drop. It’s also common that people go for a 30-minute run and then spend the rest of the day sedentary, thus not burning more calories than they eat.

Photo by Evieanna Santiago on Unsplash.

Weight gain and food go hand in hand, so there is a good chance that a poor diet is a culprit. Being hungry is real (that feeling post run or even on days we don’t run when nothing satisfies our appetites). Being ravenous means the person isn’t eating enough or not enough of the right foods like protein, fat, and carbs to fuel the body. Running does boost metabolism even post-run so calories continue to burn after the runner stops moving. Make sure to eat, but overdo it. Learn to listen to hunger cues and focus on wholesome and filling foods. Try drinking more water since sometimes hunger pains is a disguise for being thirsty.

Gaining Muscle

Despite eating healthy, running, and strength training some people do see a slight increase on the scale. This is not a gain in fat, but rather in muscle. Muscle mass is denser than fat. Which means that one pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat. As a result, the body might look slimmer, but the number on the scale goes up. While many think they are gaining weight, they are really becoming stronger and promoting muscle growth. Stop obsessing over the number on the scale. It is just a number, and we should not define ourselves by that number or pant size.

Instead, reflect on how you feel in your body. Chances are running and healthy eating resulted in an increase in energy and less sluggishness. The person might not feel bloated and light—not to mention fit and strong.

Gaining muscle might also lead a runner to also gaining more self-confidence and better self-esteem.

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash.

Running Nutrition

Another reason why some runner’s gain weight is because of their running nutrition. Runners need carbs which converts into glucose (sugar) to fuel their body during the long run. It is recommended runners consume calories for runs longer than an hour. This includes energy gels, sports beans and “real” food like salted potatoes. However, those you consume or experiment with their running nutrition during short runs can be racking up the calories without knowing it. Sugary sports drinks can also be a culprit.

Running nutrition also refers to what we eat before and most importantly after the run. The longer we wait to replenish our stores, the harder it is to resist sweets and other less than healthy foods. Chocolate milk or a banana post run are great snack options.

Water Weight

It’s important to hydrate as a runner—especially those who run long distance. This includes drinking plenty of water before, during and after a run. And while this is healthy, our bodies start to have increased water weight when paired with eating carbs.

A runner needs both carbs and water. But for every gram of carbohydrates (glycogen) stored to later be converted to energy, the body also stores three grams of water.

Water weight also increases when the runner consumers foods high in salt. The same is true for sugar since there is more insulin in the blood which then results in the retention of sodium.

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The good news is that the runner can shed water weight quickly. This is the first to eliminated from the body when restricting diet for weight loss. It is fat that is harder to burn off.

Don’t not drink water. The body needs water to function, especially for runners. It is crucial to be properly hydrated. And drinking more water actually helps promote weight loss, so don’t think of water weight as such a bad thing. Drink more to flush out the system and reduce that belly bloat.


  1. Emily Brown, Why You Might Gain Weight While Training for the Marathon, Running Website
  2. Jenny Hadfield, Why Am I Hungry All The Time?, Running Website
  3. Krissy Brady, What Is Water Weight, Anyway?, Health Website
  4. Kelly O'Mara, How Many Calories Does Running Burn?, Running Website

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