Weight Watchers for Athletes

Contrary to the rumors I stirred up when I first mentioned writing about this topic, there is not an official Weight Watchers for Athletes plan (that I”m aware of, at least). My intention was more to discuss how I approach Weight Watchers when training for an endurance event, and this seemed like the perfect Weight Watchers topic to discuss this week with my quickly approaching half marathon (on Saturday!!).

Before I get too deep into it, I will say this:

It is hard.

It is hard to balance the goal of weight loss or maintenance in conjunction with the goal of running an endurance event.

It is hard to control the inevitable rise in hunger levels that result from long runs.

It is hard to not feel like you can justify eating everything in sight after running double digits.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to dive into how I tackle WW coupled with training.

My Approach

I think the big difference for me when I am training is that I really have to tune into my hunger signals, which is something that I still struggle with a lot. Pre-run, I always have a variation of the same thing – an english muffin or bagel thin or sandwich thin, with peanut butter and a banana. Depending on how much PB I have, this can be anywhere from 5-8 Pts+.

During my run, I always fuel with my GU of choice – Vanilla Bean. It is 3 pts+ per packet, and I earn 3 pts+ for 15 minutes of running. I usually only take a GU every 30-45 minutes, so I am almost always earning more Activity Points than I am taking in during my long runs.

Post-run is when I struggle the most.

As mentioned above, I have a hard time not justifying wanting to eat everything I can get my hands on, so my normal approach is to plan some good high protein options for after a run and to space them out a little bit so I can try to pay attention to my hunger signals. Some of the best ones I have found are:

    • Smoothies – Skim Milk, Banana, Strawberries, Spinach, Vanilla Extract, and peanut flour or protein powder for an extra protein kick. This can be anywhere from 2-4 pts+. One of my favorite things to do is to make a smoothie pre-run, and put it in the freezer while I’m out. This way, when I come back, it’s basically like a delicious slushie that I can eat with a spoon.
    • Eggs – I love eggs (one of the main reasons I could never go Vegan). A lot of times I’ll have an egg + cheese on an english muffin with some fruit post run. This is usually 5-6 pts+.
    • Deli Meat – I also like to have a super quick option, so I always have turkey, ham, and/or roast beef deli meat on hand. A quick sandwich with turkey, cheese, and veggies is a great option, usually in the 5-6 pt+ range.

Since these are all relatively low-point options, I can have one, two, or all three of them and not go over my points. I usually try to have something almost immediately when getting back inside after a run, and then try to wait an hour before having something else. This gives me time to make sure I am really hungry and not just eating to eat or because I feel like I “earned it”.

I do feel like it’s important to note that I cannot stick with just my daily points – I have to dip into my weeklies, activities, or both when I’m training to truly feel satisfied. My approach is to always have at least the number of activity points that I earn, but usually I go into my weeklies as well after runs depending on how I feel (and how far I went).

One technique that could work really well for athletes following Weight Watchers is the Simply Filling Technique. I don’t quite trust myself enough to follow it completely and not track, but the basic premise behind it is that you eat healthy foods until you feel satisfied, so for someone who is good at listening to their bodies and their hunger signals, this could be the perfect solution.

The last thing I will say is this… while training for an endurance even does NOT justify eating everything in sight, it clearly DOES justify eating more.

You earn a lot of Activity Points (burn a lot of calories) through running, and almost always burn more than you’re taking in while running. I think it’s important to realize that training does give you extra flexibility, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t part of why I do it! If there’s something that I really want (like french fries and/or nachos!!), I’m going to have it! Otherwise, I will inevitably eat everything else, and THEN what I originally wanted, and basically undo the good I did for my body.

So my question to you is this… how do you balance trying to stay healthy with the inevitable rise in hunger levels that comes from training for an endurance event or just working out in general? Do you back burner weight loss/weight maintenance while training? Whether or not you are a Weight Watcher, I’m very curious about your approach and your thought process!

51 Comments on Weight Watchers for Athletes

  1. Lauren
    March 14, 2012 at 8:52 am (9 years ago)

    I am not training for an endurance race…but I run 2-3 times a week 2-3 miles, and do 3 strength training circuts per week with one day of cardio of choice…so I earn 30-35 APs a week…I eat my APs each day and some WPs. I try to clue into my hunger signals too…so if I think I am hungry…I don’t allow myself to fill up on “junk” but I grab an apple..or something nutritious…and if I don’t want that…the I am probably not hungry… 🙂

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm (9 years ago)

      That’s what they say… if you’re not hungry for an apple, you’re not hungry. I love apples though so I’m always down for one! 🙂

  2. Andrea
    March 14, 2012 at 9:02 am (9 years ago)

    I am both a Weight Watcher and a runner. I’m currently training for my second half marathon. One thing that really helps me is the timing of my runs. I find that when I run in the afternoon after school/work it’s easier for me to control those hunger pangs since I eat dinner after I run. I always make sure I have enough points left to have a good, balanced dinner. I’ll usually make some kind of protein and have it with brown rice and lots of veggies. I also make sure I drink a BIG glass of milk after I finish a run.

    Even though I’m not currently following it, I have tried the Simply Filling plan in the past and LOVED it. It was really great when I was training for my first half but you do have to be very in tune to your hunger signals. I also really liked it for another reason – it can be so easy! I’m a law student and don’t have a lot of free time or money to really cook and experiment with new recipes. I found that if I put in a little extra time at the grocery store and only bought filling foods that was all I would eat (since it was all I had on hand). As a runner, the clean eating that comes along with simply filling made me feel so energized and really helped me on those long, long runs.

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm (9 years ago)

      That’s a great idea to think about timing. That works for me with shorter runs, but for longer runs on the weekends, I just cannot do them at night or I won’t do them! I haven’t yet taken the plunge and tried Simply Filling, but I’d really like to give it a shot!

  3. Michel@Babyweightmyfatass
    March 14, 2012 at 9:21 am (9 years ago)

    THIS is the hardest thing. For me at least.

    I wish there was an easier way to figure out activity points. Like I want to be able to put in that I burned let’s say 1,200 calories at Zumba (and I have!) I want the exact amount of activity points I earned so I can figure out how much or how little to eat. I don’t like the intensity meter low, moderate, heavy. Because what was heavy to one could actually be low to another, kwim? On the forums if you search there was the calculations that 80calories was an activity point.

    Like I said THIS is the hardest thing.

    I do have a saying that I try to remember and it’s from Jillian Michaels. Don’t sabotage what you just worked for! (paraphrase but that’s close!)

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm (9 years ago)

      I think they say you want to eat roughly half the calories you burn back, but I could just be making that up. Love that phrase from JM!

  4. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am (9 years ago)

    I can relate SO much to your post- and want to thank you for writing it!
    When I did WW, activity points were the thing that confused me the most. On days where I was teaching spin and bodypump, I would earn around 15 activity points. And if I actually ate the food that equaled 15 points, I would end up gaining. But then I was also afraid that I would not eat enough if I didn’t compensate… there just seemed to be no perfect balance.
    Right now, I’m trying to stay right around 1500 calories a day, whether it’s a rest day or a day when I am working out extra long. I am NOT one of those people that can exercise more in order to eat more- it just doesn’t work. It really is 90% diet, 10% exercise for me. That being said, I can justify eating 100-200 extra calories (of quality food) on days when I exercise harder- but I’m certainly not going to go much beyond that, because I know that it will (for me) lead to a gain.
    I know a lot of people that can eat an extra 1,000 calories and then go for a long run, and not gain any weight. I am super envious of those people. 🙂
    I’m trying to focus on making choices that I won’t regret, and PLAN everything out ahead of time. When I am tempted to make a “bad” choice, I try to make myself stop and think “will I regret eating this afterward?”
    I think I’m actually CLOSE to figuring out the whole equation of calories in vs. calories out and how it works for me, but there’s still some work to be done! 🙂

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm (9 years ago)

      I think that’s the big thing – – everyone’s bodies are completely different and we all have to work to find out what works for US. I’m still trying to figure that out over 3 years later! I think the 90-10 rule with diet and exercise is true of almost everyone, even if we don’t want to/like to admit it. 🙂

  5. Amanda K-N
    March 14, 2012 at 9:51 am (9 years ago)

    Thanks for this great post! I struggle with how many points I’ve earned through exercise all the time, and whether or not I should consume all of them or not. I find it interesting that you count 3 points per 15 minutes of running. Perhaps I’ve been underestimating the RPE when I run?

    I haven’t found the right balance of points back in versus points out. This is probably my only real issue with Points Plus, or any program for that matter.

    I’m currently gearing up for triathlon season, which leads to even more confusion about activity points. I find any amout of time spent swimming causes my hunger to quadruple – so strange effect of working out with the resistance in the water! Any more advice would be greatly appreciated…

    • Kelli D
      March 14, 2012 at 10:22 am (9 years ago)

      I just started gearing up for Tri season too! I am pushing myself to complete an Olympic distance tri in August, so am working on building my base now. Swimming kills me too. I get out of the pool and am literally dizzy within minutes of my workout. I always throw a snack in my back for after my swim (1/2 of a bar, a package of fruit snacks, something small) and try to back my swims up to a meal so I don’t over indulge right after the swim!

      I find myself struggling in the same way as the rest of the posters. It is hard to maintain my weight when I am training…I always thought when I trained I would lose tons of weight, too bad that isn’t true! The only thing I try to remind myself of is that while I am training, my body is a machine 🙂 The more work I do, the better I am prepared for a race! Even if I am up a few pounds, I don’t feel heavier, and I certainly don’t race heavier (that positive self talk doesn’t always work though 😉

      • Beth
        March 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm (9 years ago)

        I love that… “While I am training, my body is a machine!”

    • Stina
      March 14, 2012 at 11:30 am (9 years ago)

      I don’t know what it is about swimming, but it is definitely ramps up hunger like nothing else I’ve ever done. I was a swimmer through most of grade school and high school, and I would just eat and eat and eat. Marathon training has defintiely ramped up my hunger, but still not as much as swimming did.

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm (9 years ago)

      I completely agree about swimming too! Maybe it’s the fact that it’s cardio as well as total body resistance from the water that just sends my hunger level to a different level? That said, I just plug the amount of time I run/swim etc into the calculator and it gives me 1 AP for every 5 minutes for most intense cardio.

      The balance is tricky when you work out a lot! I am still majorly struggling with it, but I think the bottom line is we need to learn how to tune into our bodies hunger signals, not our minds hunger signals, which can be easier to listen to at times. 🙂

  6. Lauren
    March 14, 2012 at 9:55 am (9 years ago)

    I think what saves me is I don’t eat before I run, or if I eat something its an apple. I always get cramps if I try to eat before a longer run, so I just don’t do it. That being said, I almost always run first thing in the morning, so I still feel content from the night before. I like the Gu or Gel blocks while running, and I really focus on a large protein packed meal after. A protein shake (or protein smoothie), omelette, english muffin, and fruit. I really struggle with the “I just had a big work out, I deserve to eat whatever I want” menality.

  7. Theresa @ActiveEggplant
    March 14, 2012 at 10:07 am (9 years ago)

    Great post Beth! I have had a lot of trouble balancing weight loss with endurance training as well. So much trouble in 2011 that despite running 3 half marathons and completing multiple triathlons I gained 11 pounds!

    I thought I was eating intuitively but it turns out I was always eating much more post workout than I needed.

    I caved and started measuring foods again and tracking calories…and have lost almost 7 pounds in 2012 so far!

    It really is a balancing act and this post definitely contains some great tips for managing it!

  8. Racheal @ Running with Racheal
    March 14, 2012 at 10:25 am (9 years ago)

    What a great topic Beth!

    Like you, I eat about 5 points before my long runs. During my runs I don’t eat…it just doesn’t work for me. Then, after my run I eat another 6 points breakfast.

    I always eat all of my activity points the day I earn them and I always count running as high intensity.

    I am not losing weight at record speeds, but it is working for me and I am staying healthy.

    In the past, I have gained weight while increasing my distance because I get in the “I just ran 10 miles, now I can eat whatever I want” rut.

  9. Diandra
    March 14, 2012 at 10:32 am (9 years ago)

    My longest run so far was a teeny bit more than an hour, and I do not get that hungry after a run (I am slow, too). BUt I still have to eat a little something because otherwise my blood sugar will drop until I am nauseous. Happened only yesterday, and I had to call the BF to get me some yogurt from the bottom shelf of the fridge because I could not bend over. 🙁

  10. Katie
    March 14, 2012 at 10:35 am (9 years ago)

    This is a huge issue for me as well! In the span of 6 weeks I will run 2 half-marathons and a 10-miler (the cherry blossom, are you doing it?). So far, I have gained around 2lbs, after steadily losing around 1 lb/week. Part of this is water, and part of it is that I’m traveling a bunch, and really stressed out in life also, but it’s also the “I just ran forever and I want and deserve to eat everything!”. But my main struggle is that I really don’t get that hungry the day of a long run/race – but I’m usually ravenous the next day. Sometimes I have to force myself to replenish and fuel my body. I feel like I’ve developed a good pre-run fueling strategy but now I need to figure out the post-run fueling. Clearly I’m still working to find the balance between endurance and weight-loss, but right now I’m looking forward to April and focusing on shorter, speedier workouts for a while, although I still would like to maintain a base of 15-20 miles/week. Part of me totally runs to eat but I’m trying to change my focus towards eating to run. Great topic!

  11. Sara
    March 14, 2012 at 11:12 am (9 years ago)

    I have recently started eliminating processed foods or foods that are clearly in the junk food family from my diet at home and that has made a huge difference after I work out because I am not eating empty calories and wasting my points on foods that don’t even remotely fill me up and instead have to take time to find Power Foods and healthier options that are typically more filling to satisfy me after I work out. Greek Yogurt and Cottage cheese tend to be really good when I’m hungry after a workout along with high fiber fruit like an apple. Sometimes even throwing in a portion of carbs helps – like whole wheat pasta/bread – because it has the sugar in it and makes me feel like my body has to work to digest it a bit.

    I don’t really run much any more but instead use high intensity workouts when I burn a lot of calories. When I used to run longer distances, I have to admit, it made me hungrier than any other sport I’ve ever done. Even when I work out really hard now, I get hungry but not post run hungry. Maybe try flavoring your water since water not only fills me up but because more than likely I’m dehydrated and not actually hungry. And flavored water – even just adding something like lemon – makes it a little more appealing to drink when I know it’s what I should do and would rather have more pasta 😉

  12. NancyO
    March 14, 2012 at 11:22 am (9 years ago)

    I actually called WW looking for a leader or program that is led by an athlete. Someone called to follow-up but I never heard back about it.

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm (9 years ago)

      I know of a few in the DC area… are you here or somewhere else??

      • NancyO
        March 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm (9 years ago)

        Hi, Beth — I’m in Denver, CO. You would think there would be athletes here. This is one of the most fit states. But, all of the WW meetings I’ve been too – the leaders talk about activities in terms of gardening, walking the dog, etc. I would love a leader that has a similar activity level. Actually, I would love bio’s of the leader.. kind of like gym’s do with their personal trainer. I know diversity in thought is beneficial, but I definitely think there could be better communication / description about the leader.

        • Emily
          March 16, 2012 at 9:54 am (9 years ago)

          Just wanted to pop in and say that I totally agree! I think of myself as an athlete too and it’s hard to sit in meetings where people talk about walking 10 minutes a day for exercise or gardening, like you said. I’m busting my bootie in the gym and I want someone who can relate to me!

      • Christine
        March 19, 2013 at 11:11 am (8 years ago)

        My leader (in the Buffalo area) is a runner, he runs a few miles in the morning every day and does races, so it’s nice to hear about his running. I agree, I actually started at a different meeting but I didn’t relate because the leader didn’t really even mention or encourage activity points too much.

    • Ashley
      November 20, 2016 at 10:57 pm (4 years ago)

      I know this is several years later- but I’d love to be connected with an athlete that does/leads WW!!

  13. Julie
    March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am (9 years ago)

    I just recently stumbled across your site and it’s great! I am currently doing Weight Watchers online, but I have been struggling with it for various reasons, especially since they started points +. I think I had more success with the previous program but I am determined to get points + to work for me.

    One area of the new program that I have been having issues with is the activity points. They seem over-inflated to me, and it makes me reluctant to use them. I suppose that I am still comparing them to the previous points program. But I could definitely see how difficult it would be not to use them when endurance training.

    Good luck with your run this weekend!

  14. Stina
    March 14, 2012 at 11:37 am (9 years ago)

    This is an incredibly timely post as I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since my weigh in last night. I’m in the height of marathon training right now, and I am hungry all the freakin time. I’ve actually mroe or less resigned myself to being okay with not losing until the marathon is over, but I’m not giving up completely.

    My strategy is to track, make sure I’m eating all my activity points, and focus on quality foods. I’ve been slacking on the first and last a little bit lately though so I need to focus on that!!

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm (9 years ago)

      Yeah I think back burnering weight loss during the height of training is probably the best solution. It has to be one or the other I think, and while training weight maintenance can be the only goal. And sometimes that is even far fetched!

  15. S
    March 14, 2012 at 11:48 am (9 years ago)

    Um… honestly, I think most people’s issue is that they vastly OVERfuel for runs. You don’t need to take in anything–not even water!–until you’re running for more than 2 hours.

    Of course, I also think beginning runners shouldn’t leap into long distance. It’s usually just an excuse to ‘burn a lot of calories’ so you can eat more, and that’s what I call ‘training to eat, not eating to train.’ BAD. IDEA. In addition, people get sucked into the mystique of the marathon/half-marathon. What’s so special about 13.1 or 26.2 miles?

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 11:55 am (9 years ago)

      Hey Sam! I think fueling/hydrating for long runs is a very personal thing and depends from runner to runner. I have been to several seminars/sessions about fueling, and most suggest you should be drinking water every 20 mins during long runs, and that your body only stores enough glucose for 60-75 minutes of activity, so anything more than that you should be taking in fuel as well. My personal rule is anything over 70 mins (~7 miles) I fuel for or else I run out of steam at the end.

      And I think there is definitely a mystique to half/full marathons because you get so much energy from the crowd when you’re running races. So much adrenaline, so much fun, and having races on my calendar personally helps me to stay on track with training! That said, I also do like the benefit of being able to eat more from running, but that’s certainly not the only reason I do it. Having come from being an obese chain smoking individual to crossing the finish line of a half marathon just solidifies how much I’ve changed my life. Perhaps some people don’t need that validation, but I really like the feeling and emotions that come with racing.

  16. ginny
    March 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm (9 years ago)

    I definitely back burner weight maintenance when training – I get so hungry! Beth – do you have any suggestions of routes for long runs around DC? I’m training for a half marathon and starting to put in more miles and finding I’m getting bored with my same routes all the time

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm (9 years ago)

      Hey Ginny! I typically run on Q street into Georgetown and then take Reservoir to Foxhall which leads back to M street. The loop from my apartment is about 6 miles, and then if I am going longer, I will take M street to Pennsylvania Avenue down to Constitution, and then run along Constitution around the Washington Monument to add more mileage before heading back to Dupont. I am not the best about running routes, but there are some great loops mapped out if you look on WalkJogRun.net or MapMyRun.com. I know a lot of people like to run the trails too – Mount Vernon Trail, Canal Trail, or Rock Creek. Hope that helps a little!

  17. Sarah
    March 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm (9 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this post. While I am not training for anything, I typically earn between 30 and 50 AP a week. On the days I weight train I don’t need extra food, but when I spin or ride my bike outside I cannot stop eating afterward! Thank you for sharing your tips on what you eat after, I desperately need to reform the way I refuel after a vigorous workout.

  18. Lauren
    March 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm (9 years ago)

    Interesting post. My friends and I talk about this all the time. I train for tris, half marathons and marathons.

    You calculate 3 AP for 15 minutes of running? Is that using the tracker where you input “running” specifically or the general intensity calculator? My friends and I always use the intensity one that is general and it gives less AP than the specific tracker. I think that thing gives way too many AP points.

    It’s interesting to talk about how many points people eat before training. I trained for a marathon over the summer and found I was fine if I ate a good and healthy meal the night before and then the morning of the run I’d have a banana and half a Luna bar (2 points). By the very end where the miles were really high, maybe I’d do a whole Luna bar for 5 points with the banana. During the run I take in Gatorade and gels.

    I’m Lifetime now and pratice maintainence, but I was losing last spring while swimming and training for a half marathon. I think people over estimate what they’re burning and underestimate what they are eating haha.

    Yesterday a friend said she found a post by WW about marathoning. We had never seen it before. http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=134911

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm (9 years ago)

      Hey Lauren! Thanks for sharing that article – I’ve never seen it before either!

      I do calculate APs where I just plug in the time to the tracker rather than do it by intensity, and it gives me 1 AP for every 5 minutes. That said, I don’t exchange them evenly – – I just use that a guage to see how many I am earning compared to previous weeks. And i totally agree – – I think people definitely tend to overestimate how much they burn, and underestimate how much they eat. Thank God for tracking! 🙂

  19. Lindsay
    March 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm (9 years ago)

    Holy cow girlfriend! First congrats on getting to your goal, but I just wanted to chime in as well I think you are really overestimating how many points you are earning during the workout. I think the big challenge with the PP system is that I don’t think the PP values for exercise has been fine tooled, and if you pick specific activities it tends to overestimate.

    Also, remember you’ve been running for a while now, and your body is probably used to the activity. You may want to do some cross training or other activities when you are done with your race training.

    My last is…everyone is different, but you really don’t need to take GU’s every 30-45 minutes. I only use them when I’m on long runs that hit the double digits…for example, I only had 2.5 gu’s on my 15 miler this past weekend. I don’t typically eat breakfast before I run, but sometimes during the height of marathon training I eat a bit of fruit before an 8 mile run during the week.

    So basically, I would just consider taking down the pre and during nutrition intake down a couple notches. I know what it’s like to get ravenous and NEED TO EATRIGHTNOW, but just try it for a few days and see how you feel.

    • Beth
      March 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm (9 years ago)

      Hey Lindsay! I burn about 100 calories (or more) per mile while running even now.. I wear my HRM anytime I run inside and sometimes when I run outside and that’s what I get. Truth be told, what I normally do to this day (and when I am most successful with weight loss) is have one day or night a week that is my splurge night. I normally try to pair it up with the day of my long run, and then I try to stick to just my dailies other than that. So for me, the AP amount is more just in comparison to what I earned in previous weeks, rather than an actual translation of how many points I earn and then eat. My post may have been misleading in that department.

      And, regarding GUs, I only really take them if I’m going 7 miles or more. I normally take it in 45 minute increments, so for 7-9 miles I’m only usually taking 1 GU. For 10 – 12, I usually take about 2, but I feel like taking in 200 calories while burning 1000-1200 really isn’t that bad? I’m clearly no expert in the department. I only eat before runs for long runs, because I typically try to go right out when I wake up for hte shorter runs and don’t need fuel for anything 6 miles or less like I said.

      I’m sorry if this comes off as defensive at all – not what I was going for! I just wanted to address some of the points you brought up, and let you know I really do appreciate your insight!

  20. Betsy
    March 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm (9 years ago)

    Last year I trained for a 1/2 in order to lose some weight and gained 4 lbs. I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. I think it’s very hard to out-exercise a bad diet. Now, I’m training again and tracking both food and exercise. Even though I wish the running allowed me to eat even more, I still think it’s worth it to have a little wiggle room. Even if it is just a little. Plus, I’m convinced that running has almost as many mental health benefits as it does physical. I’m nicer to everyone on the days I run.

    Thanks again for your inspiration and insight. I’m interested to hear what you and others think also about strength training. I try to do it 2-3 times a week, but for me it’s hard to measure and so I’m sometimes less motivated.

  21. cindylu
    March 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm (9 years ago)

    I think another challenge is overestimating how many points+ you’re earning or how many calories you’ve burned in a workout. When I do long runs, I typically run them quite slow and can easily talk or even sing. If I go by the chart in the tracker, I earn very few points for a long run at an easy pace, but I’m still burning a lot of calories.

    I also notice that a lot of runners take the gross calories burned for a workout rather than the net. The net would be subtracting what you would have burned if you were just sitting around and breathing. I know there’s a calculator out there. Whereas I thought I was burning ~100 calories/mile, I was really burning more like 80-85.

    Last, I think a lot of people over fuel while out on a run or even pre-run. For a short run in the morning, I don’t need a banana with PB toast and am fine with just having breakfast after the run. My dinner from the night before is more than enough. For long runs, I think a low of newish runners get accustomed to thinking we need to take a gel or chews every hour. I’ve experimented with my fueling strategy both in races and in practice and find that I really don’t need gels every 45 minutes. I’m fine with one every 60 minutes. For half marathons, I can be okay with one gel and whatever sports drink is offered on the course (depending on the weather). Obviously, my strategy is different when I know I’ll be running 20+ miles or for a marathon.

  22. Kelly
    March 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm (9 years ago)

    This is agreat topic and well timed. I enjoy running long, my longest being almost 11 miles. I am try to run an hour 1-2 times per week and then 1 longer run each week. I struggle to keep to my DPT on those days but know that I really need to fuel on those days. I try not to refuel with more than 1/2 of the AP I earned. I am experiementing with refueling during the run. The chews make be choke cause I can’t chew and run, I end up inhaling little bits. I have not tried GU yet. Whats the best flavor?
    I relate to you so much. Being a relatively new WW leader as well as a relatively new runner (since about 2009), I get lots of inspiration from you. If you are every in Bangor ME on a Thursday evening, you should come to my meeting. That would be awesome.

  23. RunEatRepeat
    March 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm (9 years ago)

    When I was doing WW I just wouldn’t count points on Long Run days. I just listened to my body 🙂

  24. Samantha
    March 15, 2012 at 12:41 am (9 years ago)

    Hi Beth. I too struggle with my increased appetite from running. It really hits me the following day. I get 26 points a day but I probably eat 30 to 31 a day. I workout everyday, earning anywhere from 6 to 17 points (For a long run) I dont eat them all – probably about half. So normally I eat like 30 to 40 extra points a week. If I eat all my weekly allowance and activity points, I won’t lose. I try to eat filling items (grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, yams, whole wheat pasta, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese.)

    I find I am so hungry mid morning and lunch time and then it tapers off

    I am with you on fueling- I need it or I lose steam. I also like to drink coffee before I run- the caffeine helps. I gu half before I start and half about 40 minutes in. If I don’t eat, I start to tire at mile 4.

  25. Deanna
    March 15, 2012 at 10:32 am (9 years ago)

    I love this post. I will probably send this out to some weight watchers members that I have in my meetings. I also find it hard during an endurance training. Last year I trained for my first marathon. I was able to maintain my weight but there were many weeks it was very difficult because I was just so hungry and indulging way to much. This year as I prepare for the Chicago marathon (my 2nd) I am really focusing on many of the ideas you talked about in your blog.

  26. Mara
    March 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm (9 years ago)

    Thank you for this post. I have been involved with Weight Watchers now for 10 years and doing triathlons and running for the last 7 years. I always feel like I am “serving 2 masters” and have to set one on the back burner to achieve success in the other. Your post addresses matters I have struggled with and clears a lot up for me! Thank you Beth!

  27. Kate
    March 16, 2012 at 8:59 am (9 years ago)

    Thanks for this post, Beth! I have been on WW off and on for about 3 years and having been a runner for over 7 years (i’m running my 5th marathon in June!). During every marathon training cycle I would quit WW for a few months and inevitably gain weight. (Shocker, right?) This is the first time I’m in training that i’m also using WW and I am definitely finding it hard to balance the two. I find myself having to quiet that WW voice that’s asking “Do I really need that Gu during my 12 miler? its 3 points” when the answer is of course i do! But at the same time WW has helped me not go crazy on saturdays after longruns when I used to just have free reign on every food in sight.

    So its hard, but helpful. Which I guess is what WW and distance running is all about in the first place. “It supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” (From A League of their Own…yup). Good luck in the half tomorrow!

  28. Jen P
    April 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm (8 years ago)

    I’ve been doing WW online since last June. I started training for a sprint triathlon five weeks ago, having been walking and doing elliptical trainer before that. The training has really helped me get past a bit of a plateau in my weight loss (I’ve now lost 50 lbs, with just 8 more to go (woo-hoo!)). From other people’s comments, I get the feeling I use a lot fewer of my weekly and activity points than a lot of people do – I usually end the week with 70 or so in the bank. Given that, if I’m really hungry after a longer workout, I tend to eat 3-4 points above my standard 26 and don’t worry about it too much.

    This will be the first race I’ve ever done in my life, so I

  29. Sydney
    May 21, 2012 at 7:31 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks so much for posting about this! I realize it’s an old post, but I came across it in my search for WW for athletes. I’m a 21 year old grad student training for my first 10k. I’m not overweight, but I have 10 pounds I can afford to lose, and I want to be fast! I’m starting WW, and I was unsure if it’d work with training, but you’ve answered that for me, so thanks! One question, how do I calculate my Activity Points?

  30. Christa Murphy
    March 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm (8 years ago)

    Hi there, I’m in the same boat. I’m training for my first Ironman Triathlon(moving up from Half-irons) and can earn more points in a 5-6 hour workout than my whole week flex points. I can share that you should never restrict eating during or immediately after your workout. Mentally I don’t want to eat them! Fast forward to bottoming out the next day and eating too much. I never use up all my points, but I DO feel out of control as to how many of those extra points I should use!

  31. kathy b
    April 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm (5 years ago)

    Best tip from all the comments for us: Train before a regular meal. Use your post training points in a regular dinner. Timing is everything

  32. Tiffany Lee
    April 15, 2015 at 11:57 am (5 years ago)

    Hopefully this page is still active b/c I am currently struggling with the same issue. I am a powerlifter so weight lifting…heavy weight lifting is a part of my exercise routine. I never know how much I should or shouldn’t eat and the RPM meter has me confused when it comes to what I do. I guess like everybody said it’s following ur own body. I’m hungry allll the time..lol. And like you said trying to lose weight while fueling for a sport is extremely difficult. I would love to know how your journey is going now.


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