Last January, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. Tackling 26.2 miles was a major life goal for me, and I hoped that all the training would help me maintain my Feel Great Weight or even help me lose a few pounds. Instead, I gained nearly 10 pounds over the course of four months of training!
A lot of people go into marathon training thinking that they’ll lose weight and are surprised when their weight stays the same or even increases. There are many reasons why this might happen, but, for me, it was simply overestimating the amount of calories that I needed to consume during training. I ate above and beyond what I burned, which led to my weight gain.
Now that I am training for my second marathon, one of my main goals (besides crossing the finish line!) is not gaining weight, so, a few weeks ago, I asked Lauren Antonucci, RD, questions about properly fueling for marathon training without putting on the pounds. One question, in particular, addressed the protein needs for women. Here's Lauren's reply:
"If your question is, do women need more total protein per day during high volume training blocks vs. times of lower training, then yes! Depending on other factors (vegetarianism, weight loss goals) and factors such as total training volume, cross training, strength training needs, the average range should generally be between 1.2 to 1.8 g of protein per kg body weight per day."
When I trained for my first marathon, I felt like I was hungry all of the time, which meant that I ate all of the time. I found myself eating a lot of simple carbs—potato chips, cupcakes, beer—which didn't do my body any favors and left me hungry a little while later. This time, I want to keep my body energized without overeating, so I'm trying to increase my intake of protein, which will help me feel full longer. Getting enough protein in my diet is also essential for my body to build and repair muscle tissues throughout my training.
Here are some of my favorite protein-packed recipes:
Makes 2 pancakes
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 ripe banana
1/3 cup liquid egg whites
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1. In a bowl, mix ingredients together. Preheat a skillet (medium-low heat), spray with nonstick spray, and pour in half the batter while shaping it into a pancake with a spoon. Heat until partially cooked and flip pancake.
2. Once cooked through, top with syrup, nut butter, fresh fruit, or anything else your heart desires.
Mini Tomato-Feta Frittatas
Makes 4 frittatas
4 large eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup premade bruschetta (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk well. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are puffed and lightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.
Oatmeal Raisin Protein Muffins
Makes 6 mini muffins
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. of baking powder
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups (make sure to include all liquids).
3. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy before or after a workout!
Banana Bread Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 scoop of vanilla-flavored protein powder
1 tbsp. of ground flax seed meal
1 tbsp. of honey
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.