Why is weight loss and nutritious fueling so hard for runners?

About 18 months ago, I interviewed Nancy Clark, one of the world’s most famous Dietitians. She’s a best-selling author and she’s even been on a Wheaties box!

Nancy Clark Nutrition for Runners

Her expertise has been used by many professional sports organizations to gain a competitive advantage, including the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, and the Bruins. She’s also consulted with many elite and Olympic athletes across a variety of sports.

I was joined on this interview by Anne Mauney, MPH RD (also a marathoner!). We were discussing how runners should eat – and more specifically, how to:

  • Balance eating enough to fuel running while maintaining (or losing) weight
  • Control cravings for sweets and over-snacking at night
  • Tame the post-long run cookie binges
  • Fueling for early morning runs vs. runs late at night

This single conversation helped me gain a much better understanding of the benefits (and drawbacks) of the Paleo Diet for runners, how to time meals and snacks around workouts, and what foods are best for runners.

As Anne and I listened to Nancy talk about fueling for races and workouts and the role of carbohydrate in endurance running, she said something that I’ll never forget:

You don’t need to count calories. The body is the best calorie-counter.

Incredibly simple. And incredibly profound.

This one insight was incredibly valuable. As we spoke with more RD’s, they confirmed that calorie-counting is shortsighted.

Now, I’m exited to bring you more of this wisdom this week.

Because it’s Nutrition Week here on SR! The goals are simple. At the end of this week, you’ll know:

  • Affordable, quick snacks and meals that you can make ahead to enhance your running and recovery
  • What to buy at the grocery store (just use our Dietitian-approved Shopping List!)
  • The training (and diet principles) to help you easily lose those last five pounds – and keep it off
  • Flexible meal plans that show you how to structure your eating – no matter what time of day you run

It’s going to be exciting!

And it’s also not just here on the blog. Most of this week’s lessons will be emailed so sign up here to get started.

We’ll send you inspiring case studies of runners who have successfully lost weight (and how they did it), diet “myths” that hold you back, and a lot more.

Let’s face it: we’re our own worst enemies

As I look around the nutrition landscape in the running world, it’s clear that eating has become too confusing.

Just browse Amazon and there are over 200,000 diet books! And it seems that you need a different diet for every ailment or goal you have:

  • The Anti-Inflammatory Diet (But some inflammation is good!)
  • The Bone Broth Diet (meat-flavored water, all day every day?)
  • The Negative Calorie Diet (I’m hungry just thinking about it…)

These diets make it seem like we have to eat differently to lose weight, “get healthier” or reduce inflammation.

It’s no wonder that many of us attempt to count calories. Or calculate ratios of carbs to fat to protein. Or assign every piece of food we eat a “score” that we then have to add up at the end of the day.

But Nancy was adament: counting calories or calculating food percentages is unnecessary.

But too many books and self-help psuedo-celebrities make nutrition and fueling overly complex. It’s become so confusing that it’s easier to simply do nothing and keep eating sugar and processed foods.

After all, nobody wants to count calories. Nobody wants to score their food on an arbitrary scale. And nobody wants to weigh their food or calculate complex macronutrient ratios.

So, what to do?

First, we must recognize that eating healthy does not have to be a science. You don’t need to know algebra to fuel for your marathon.

Getting back to the fundamentals – and simplifying your nutrition – can have profound effects. (Anne I talked about these ideas in this free audio seminar)

Imagine how easier your life would be if you didn’t have to measure your food? These runners are already seeing the benefits:

“I love the simplicity of your approach to nutrition. This confirms that my nutrition is on point, without having to track servings of every food group. It’s so much more sustainable. I can naturally adjust portions based on training volume, and follow the same patterns while traveling too. Thanks!” – Nicole

“I’ve successfully lost and kept weight off in the past, but every time I felt miserable – hungry, irritable, tired. I thought I was doing “the right things,” but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So, I called Anne for help.

I began to enjoy food again. I felt energized after eating rather than sick and tired. I stopped obsessing over counting and measuring, and started to learn to listen to my body. 

Anne provided strategies that helped me survive and enjoy vacation travel, times of heavy work stress and a finicky husband to cook for. Anne’s helped me make healthy living a part of my life!” – Diane

And it goes beyond how to eat for proper fueling. What about exercising for weight loss?

It’s true: you have to structure your running differently if you want to lose weight. There are types of workouts and overall training strategies that can boost your metabolism and help you shed fat.

Just ask Barbara:

Barbara - RunningThe last time I ran mileage like I’m running now I had pain and discomfort and never really felt recovered. I’m older now but I still feel much better than I did in my younger years. The training is better for my recovery now and I don’t have any pain.

Jason’s training has helped me lose weight, and because I’m able to recover so much better I can get a lot more out of each workout. I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time, even though I’m older. – Barbara

But too many runners train “hard” rather than training “smart,” leading to burnout and injuries. Instead of running consistently – and losing a lot of weight! – they’re forced to sit on the sidelines because they went overboard.

I don’t want that to happen to you. This week, you’ll learn both the eating and training strategies to help you lose weight, increase your speed, and fuel for every type of run.

If you’re ready to finally take control of your nutrition – and become the runner you know you can be – I invite you to join us today.

It’s Nutrition Week on Strength Running!

This week we’re focusing exclusively on how runners should eat for maximum recovery, speed, and results.

Not sure what to eat before your long run or hill workout?

Confused about marathon fueling or losing weight while training?

We’ve got you covered!

The next frontier in performance is smarter nutrition. Faster racing demands better fuel. Click to share!

We won’t be telling you how to lose 10 pounds in 2 days. Or the latest miracle fruit found in the rainforests of Borneo that will reduce all traces of inflammation (typing this made me cringe… and giggle).

Instead, you can expect actionable lessons on how to fuel properly for every race, workout, and type of run imaginable. Plus, inspiring case studies of runners just like you who’ve successfully lost weight (and kept it off) through smart training.

We’ll also be discovering what not to do: the myths we believe that hold us back from accomplishing our nutrition goals.

With affordable, quickly made meals and snacks that are runner friendly (and affordable), you’ll have the energy needed to run your workouts, recover like a pro, and finally reach your potential.

I’m excited to share this with you this week – and I think this is going to be a huge turning point in your running career.

Get started with our first lesson here. Talk to you soon!

Was this post helpful?

Then you'll love the free email lessons I've never released here on the blog. Enter your email and you'll get:

  • The exact strength exercises that prevent injuries
  • Workouts that boost your speed (even for beginners)
  • Pacing strategies, coaching Q&A, and more


  1. Hi There, I am a regular runner who is coming back after a 1 year break. I found your website and cannot wait to dig into all the info here. I will have my hands full reading. Thank you for your time and research. I am not particularly interested in losing weight as that hasn’t been and issue with me but I love all articles on nutrition and injury prevention.



  1. […] those who have tried our program. I’ll be sharing the posts all week, but here is the first one: Why is Weight Loss and Nutritious Fueling So Hard For Runners? Sign up for our Nutrition for Runners email list for more free tips and […]