Episode #219: Why Women Gain Weight When Training For Endurance, And What You Can Do About It.

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In this Episode #219: Why Women Gain Weight When Training For Endurance Sports. Also: what to eat before a Crossfit workout, which meat is the most toxic, how to maintain power as you age and how to intermittent fast.

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Listener Q&A:A donate button that reads - keep the podcasts coming

As compiled, edited and sometimes read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.

Erin Asks:

Normally I like to run in the late mornings, at least after I have had breakfast on board for a while. Doing so I trained for two marathons and my weight stayed where it had been for the past 5 years. Right now, my job requires me to do my training runs at 5:30 in the morning and I am on my feet all day at work. I'm not able to get in good workouts at 7pm when I'm done working. I try to eat a little bit of carbs (50-100 calories of easily digestible food) before/during my morning run. In the past 10 weeks, I have gained 10 pounds since I started running before work. I am eating about 2000 calories per day and running about 40-45 miles per week. I eat all organic foods, dairy free, rarely eat wheat/grains, and occasionally have two glasses of wine about 3 nights per week. After my run I have a green smoothie with kale/spinach/banana/almond butter/ almond milk and rice protein powder. Why am I gaining weight? What can I do to lose the weight? I am doing the things you have mentioned in previous podcasts to reduce cortisol but still the numbers on the scale still climb. I'd rather not run 26.2 miles at a heavier weight. Should I be taking in more calories? Less?


Lisa asks:

I have a question about weight gain during marathon training. I'm a 28 year-old female training for my fourth marathon in June. I run anywhere from 50-70 miles/wk at the height of my training and I eat very clean (Paleo with an occasional cheat). I also lift weights 2-3 times per week. I'm 5'6″ and around 130 lbs. Whenever I train more intensely for marathons I end up gaining about 10 lbs (i.e., I used to be around 120 lbs). I don't think this is all muscle and I don't think it is due to overeating since I track my food quite assiduously and usually end up about 700 calories in the hole every day. (I eat between 1300-1500 calories, but am burning around 800 calories/day with my average of 9 mile runs each day.) I've become concerned about this weight gain and was tested for hypothyroidism (which was negative). When I mention my weight to physicians, they seem dismissive since I'm not overweight. Is there any way to explain this weight gain despite these steep calorie deficits? Should I be more insistent on getting this checked out? I ate a low-carb and high-fat diet for about a month in December when work prevented me from training at all, and I ended up losing 10 lbs in a month, then regaining it almost immediately once I resumed my training. I've been able to make massive time improvements despite this weight gain, but it leaves me feeling bloated and large in my “normal” clothes. I've heard of several others (mostly women) gaining weight during marathon training and I'm wondering what the explanation for this could be, especially when the person is OCD about calorie intake (as I have been).

In my response to Lisa and Erin, I mention the following for estrogen dominance:

-Consider progesterone cream WITH testing

-Detox liver with CapraCleanse

-Also for liver, take these according to recommended dosage: calcium d-glucuratemethioninefolic acidtaurineN-acetyl-cysteine

-400-600mg magnesium per day

Vitamin B complex

Finally, listen to: What Makes Women Gain Weight As They Get Older And What To Do About It.


Ana asks:

I do quite well in Crossfit competitions. I like beating people :D Mind you it’s the scale division at local affiliates so I’m no pro. It’s just for fun. I like to keep it mostly paleo  (except for whey).  So sweet potatoes, apples and raw honey all smashed and cooked together with some whey is what I reach for before and during a competition. I also use creatine and b-alanine. But I don’t think whole foods will be absorbed fast enough for the WOD. Especially if you are required to so several WOD’s back to back. These workouts are short and intense, 10-12 min tops, you go “balls out”. I tried the GU gel during the crossfit open and I did not see any significant differences in my performance.  I was wondering if you could put your kick butt brains together and give me some suggestions. In particular would you say the new generation Ucan resistant starch would be a good idea during competition ( or even during  training). Here is the link for the different workouts if that helps. You have 12min to perform each, 3 minute rest and then you do the next one. There are 2 workouts. They have not released the 4th. http://beastmodebattle.com/?page_id=250 I really appreciate you wise words guys! I know your strong point is endurance training. But you have tackled non-endurance topics quite beautifully before so I trust your opinions.

In my response to Ana, I recomend:

Waxy Maize Starch (like Vitargo Genr8)

TianChi – Chinese adaptogens

-Creatine – 0.3g/kg bodyweight for 5-7 days followed by 5g/day. No need to cycle. Recommend Kion Creatine.

-Carnitine – 750mg-2,000mg/day – in 2 doses. Recommend Nutrarev.

-Citrulline – 6-8g, 30-60 minutes before exercise. Recommend Citruvol

-Beta-Alanine – 2-5g, 30-60 minutes before exercise. Recommend NOW Foods.

-BCAA’s – 10-20g every 60-90 minutes during exercise. Recommend Recoverease.

-Amino acids – 10-20g every 60-90 minutes during exercise. Recommend MAP.


Gabriel asks:
I live in Puerto Rico, we have little access to quality animal based protein. Most of the beef and poultry is from industrial South American animals. What cuts of beef or chicken pieces are the least bad in terms of hormones etc? I eat frozen salmon, cod or tuna once or twice a week (I don't eat it frozen, I cook it before ;-) and I eat quinoa a couple of times a week too but man, there's something about a nice piece of meat, you know?

In my response I recommend activated charcoal for taking to mitigate effects of “dirty meat”.


Matt says:
Ben, I read that power is lost 1.7x faster than strength as we age. I thought power and strength were the same thing. What is the difference and should I be working more on power exercise than strength exercises? Can you give an example of the difference between the two? Btw I'm 39 years old.

In my response to Matt, I mention my list of performance recommendations, including:

-Triglyeride based fish oil for enhanced nerve function, 2-4g/day. Recommend SuperEssentials and TwinLab Cod Liver Oil.

-Choline – 250-500mg daily – Recommend TwinLabs.

-L-Tyrosine – 0.5-2g, 20-45 minutes prior – Recommend NOW Foods.

-Green Tea Extract – 400-500mg EGCG equivalent per day. Recommend delta-E.

-Vitamin B Complex. Recommend delta-E.


Alan asks:

“When you eat matters, not just what you eat” – any thoughts on this article?  trying to think about how you might incorporate this into an active work/family life and finding it difficult. i workout at 5am.  i would have to skip breakfast to make this work since dinner with my wife and kids is a priority. plan would have to be dinner at 5, lunch at 1, breakfast at 10.  does not sound too different from your routine, no?  little concerned about eating so long after workout, but if it is just a fat burning workout perhaps it would be fine.  i will try and let you know how it goes! Would love to hear your thoughts/concerns.

Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!

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23 thoughts on “Episode #219: Why Women Gain Weight When Training For Endurance, And What You Can Do About It.

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  6. Arthur says:

    Thanks for sharing this great article!

  7. Kathy says:

    Ben and Brock, loved the podcast! It was a fun change of pace – I almost felt like I was on vacation!
    I had a question about the comments about cabbage, and how it's a good phytoestrogen. Why is that the case with cabbage but not soy?

  8. Lisa says:

    You two answered my question — THANK YOU!!! I can't wait to try your suggestions. And I agree with the above posts — an awesome podcast even without the tech, and a particularly friendly dynamic when you're sharing the same space. Good luck to both of you at the upcoming triathlon.

  9. Simon says:

    Doesn’t matter where you go or how techy the podcast is or in this case isn’t ! It’s still awesome! Great job guys!

  10. Daniela says:

    Love it! You guys seemed so cheerful together in the same space. And thank you for the shout-out! You’ve made my day :D

    1. Must have been the squid.

      1. Brock says:

        If by “squid” you mean my “sunny disposition”!

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