*Long Read*

Running and weight loss is a topic I generally shy away from; regardless of this I feel it’s important to explain it was one of the key reasons I started running. Coupled with the fact I was so desperate to be part of this community of people, the ones who called themselves “Runners”.

It’s important for me to share before I dive in, the fact is if you choose to lace up and run, then you’ve got a stamp of love from me. There’s no wrong or right in my mind, who am I to judge you?

On the other hand, I’ve recently started to try to educate myself on the more scientific side of our bodies, functions, fluctuations and weight loss. I’m absolutely fascinated by the subject, the more I learn the more in awe of our bodies I become. It would be easy to underestimate the complexity of weight loss and weight gain, because there are so many different factors that come together for the end result.

A good starting point is…

It’s important to understand that we all have a set-point for our weight, we eat thousands and thousands of calories each year (quick reminder calorie is a term used to measure energy, it’s not as simple as good or bad). We need the energy to function, even if you just laid in bed for a week not eating or doing a thing, you’d still be burning energy.

So, now we’ve established the absolute basics it feels right to move onto the fact that many of us completely over estimate our energy burn and under estimate our energy intake. Just a quick reminder, that includes me – Hey, I’m human too!

With sports watches and heart rate monitors, they can only give an indication of the energy used during the physical activity. Alongside this, if you lose weight your “TDEE” (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) reduces. Because in extremely simple terms, there’s less of you and less energy used. Which means, I could completely simplify things and say something along the lines of – “unless the energy you burn during the day, continues to increase and your energy intake decreased you won’t lose weight”.

But hang on, it’s not really that simple is it?

No, because this is often how a disordered relationship with eating starts, soon it becomes almost impossible to keep up these defects. Alongside that, your body has evolved to protect you from starvation and then the more you exercise and burn energy.  The more your body will naturally try to compensate this by altering your metabolism, your body is trying to look after you, and it doesn’t want you to starve.

Running all the miles and not losing weight?

Is this why I’m so hungry all the time?

Well, as we’ve already addressed, I’m absolutely not an expert and there can be so many reasons why you feel this way. But vigorous exercise can lead to dehydration, which is so easily confused with hunger. Also, in some cases exercise could stimulate the part of our brain which craves a reward, if you’re anything like me that reward is likely to be food.

It’s okay, we’re only human, and although professionals might say we shouldn’t view food as a “reward” or a “treat” who cares if we do? Most people with a formal university degree in Nutrition or Diet will recommend a diet that includes everything in moderation.  

Let’s touch on our body mechanisms/hormones/our behaviour…

Our bodies are incredible and so much more complex than most of us could ever understand, to think that we stand in front of the mirror and point fault with something so incredible, blows my mind.

We’ll start with Leptin…

“Leptin is a hormone predominantly made by adipose cells and enterocytes in the small intestine that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger, which in turn diminishes fat storage in adipocytes.” – Source

However, when you’re obese, chances are that you’ll have a decreased sensitivity to Leptin which means in simple terms it’s so much harder for you to detect “fullness” despite reaching a point of satisfaction.

But it’s so important that we understand Leptin because this hormone has a huge impact on hunger, food energy use, physical exercise and energy balance. 

What about Cortisol…?

It’s important to understand that Cortisol is linked to “Stress” and this hormone can have an impact on your blood sugar regulation and metabolic system.

“Sustained stress can lead to high levels of circulating cortisol (regarded as one of the more important “stress hormones”[36]). Such levels may result in an allostatic load,[37] which can lead to various physical modifications in the body’s regulatory networks” – Source

Trying to lose weight can be a hugely stressful experience, the whole concept of inputting data, fitting workouts in around your life, and monitoring the highs and lows? – It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s easy for me to say be kind to yourself. But sometimes it’s that’s not always the answer.

It’s been reported that there is now scientific studies to show that when HIIT Training can leave your metabolic rate high for a longer period of time after working out. There’s actually not set data yet, as these theories take years of testing.

This is why, it’s worth taking a different approach too, and ask yourself “How active am I after my run?” because if you’re anything like me, you’ll run first thing because you’ll spend the rest of the day seated.It’s no crime to stay still, but it might be worth pro-actively focusing on more movement during the day, where and if at all possible. I lap the living room, which is hardly noteworthy but it keeps me mildly entertained and moving.

Running all the miles and not losing weight?

If you need help…

Please, think really carefully about what you consider a “valued source” of information because there’s so much data on the internet without any tests to back up these claims. I’ve spent years following the advice of people with absolutely no medical background and I think it’s so easy to fall into that trap. A good starting point might be your Doctor if you feel that there might be underlining physical or mental issues. Or, if you’re really serious about your diet, please think very seriously before taking advice from a PT, unless they have full credentials and are fully regulated.

Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. – Source

Not everyone can afford access to advice from a Dietitian, so if you do look to seek advice online try to find plans which are approved by professional’s.

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I hope you’ve found this interesting, again this is only based on my own personal research and not expert advice.

Katie x