Ten years ago, I was 35 lbs over weight and it took me 2-3 years of running to improve my performance and control my weight. The main reason it took me so long was because I did not eat enough before, during and after my runs, especially my longer runs.
When I learned about the amount of calories my body needed to run vs. being inactive, I realized that to control my weight and improve my performance, I actually needed to eat more, not less, around and during my runs. For example:
- Running for 1.5 hours = approx. 900 calories (100 calories/mile x 9 miles)
- Inactive for 1.5 hours = approx. 100 calories
For a 1.5 hour long run, you are burning a total of 900 calories which is the equivalent of fasting for about 9 hours – basically, a mini-starvation that forces the body to conserve NOT expend energy. The goal of performance, energy and weight maintenance is to increase metabolism and have carbohydrates readily available before, during and after the run.
Now I always ensure I eat enough before, during and after my runs. For instance, my pre-run meal 2 hours before a long run is coffee, oatmeal, and banana. During a long run I drink Gatorade and eat Gu Energy gels every 30 minutes. In my last marathon my pace was faster than my training long run so I was able to consume 12 gels (including 3 Gatorade equivalents) in a 162 minute marathon race equalling 1 gel (or equivalent) every 13.5 minutes. Yes, I did feel a little nauseous towards the end of the race, but I was able to maintain my pace. After a typical long run, I often refuel with a protein shake, eggs with spinach and tomatoes, Udos oil, and toast with peanut butter and jam.
Overall you need to experiment with different food combinations yourself, but if you are limiting calories to lose weight, near to and during a run is not the time to do so.