How Weight Loss Medications Can Impact Training for a 5k

How Weight Loss Medications Can Impact Training for a 5k

In this article we’re talking about weight loss medications, so – BIG DISCLAIMER, I’m not a medical professional.  The contents of this article are for reference and should not be used as medical advice. You should consult with your physician before starting any weight loss medication or exercise program. 


Medications and Milestones: Conquering a 5k with Weight Loss Support

Over the years, I have been approached by people who are overweight and want to train for a race, such as a 5k. I’m always happy to help. In most cases these people are interested in improving their health, losing some weight, staying injury free and simply finishing the race. I think that conquering a 5k is a fantastic fitness goal, but what if you’re also on a weight loss journey with medication?

Running towards improved health


These days, if you’ve been battling obesity, your Doctor may have prescribed weight loss medications like Wegovy or Mounjaro to help you lose weight. Weight loss drugs such as these have emerged over the past few years, shaking up the health and fitness scene by providing effective weight loss without the need for surgery or rigorous lifestyle regimens.

To also assist with weight loss and more important, keeping the weight off in the long term, exercise is a crucial element for shedding pounds. Signing up for a 5k race can be a great motivator. If your physician has given the “go-ahead” to train for a 5k, you’ll likely boost your fitness. However, medications that have been proven to be a powerful tool for losing weight can also impact your training in various ways.  Here’s what you need to know:

If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details. 


Consult your Doctor & Get Proper Gear 


Running Gear

Before starting on any exercise program, especially if you’re overweight or have health concerns, consult your doctor.  Be honest about your health issues, health history and medications.  Think of a full physical assessment by your doctor as a way to ensure your safety. 

Next, before you start walking, running or exercising, invest in proper running shoes that fit well.  Consider technical running clothes that are specifically designed for comfort and have moisture wicking properties.  You want to be comfortable while you exercise. Adidas offers the Solarcontrol running shoe for extra stability. 

Adidas Solarcontrol Running Shoe


To also assist with weight loss and more important keeping the weight off in the long term, exercise is a crucial element for shedding pounds.  Signing up for a 5k race can be a great motivator to get moving.. If your physician has given you the go-ahead to train for a 5k, as long as you remain injury free, you’ll likely boost your fitness. However, medications that have been proven to be a powerful tool for losing weight, can also impact your training in various ways. Here’s what you need to know:


How weight loss medications work

Weight loss medications come in different forms and act in various ways to aid in weight loss. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, are among the most popular types of weight loss drugs. These drugs mimic the natural gut hormone GLP-1, which boosts the amount of insulin produced by the body to regulate appetite, blood sugar, and satiety. Using GLP-1 for weight loss allows the GLP-1 hormone to last in your body for up to 14 hours, much longer than the typical two to three minutes without the drug. You experience fewer cravings and thoughts of hunger and feel fuller between meals. As such, you can lose weight by reducing the amount of food you eat and the calories you intake. 


How weight loss medications can impact your 5k training 


My training programs for beginners typically involve run/walking routines and basic strength and mobility training.  The goal for beginners is to get and keep them consistently working out so they can achieve their goals. We know that regular exercise can speed weight loss and losing weight before or during training for your 5k can help you complete the race a bit faster. Since weight loss medications can make shedding pounds more efficient, you might notice the changes sooner rather than later. Certain medications can also enhance insulin sensitivity, leading to steadier blood sugar levels. This translates to potentially more sustained energy during workouts, maybe allowing you to push further.

Training for a 5k while using weight loss drugs can be done, but there are some considerations to take to ensure you’re still getting the most out of your workouts and achieving your weight loss goals. While weight loss can help you run faster, taking weight loss medications may affect how you fuel for your run. Reduced appetite and a calorie deficit work against someone who’s exercising regularly.

When training, I advise proper fueling for upcoming workouts and recovery.  Think of it as putting fuel in your gas tank.  While it might aid weight loss, a lack of food can make it difficult to fuel your body adequately for training. This deficit can lead to fatigue and hinder your performance, making it harder to get through tough workout sessions. Also, weight loss drugs can have some temporary side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Battling with these issues can slow your training regimen. 


Consider proper wellness habits when training for a 5k with weight loss drugs 


Even with weight loss drugs, proper nutrition is key for 5k training and weight loss. Practicing daily wellness habits is also crucial when combining weight loss medication and training. Since these meds may suppress your appetite, you’ll need to be more mindful of how much you’re consuming and if it is sufficient to fuel your exercise. A few years ago I published this helpful article about what to eat during marathon training.  The information is pertinent to athletes training for any race.

Keep in mind that rapid weight loss can lead to decreased muscle mass. By incorporating strength training into your regimen, you can preserve and even enhance muscle mass. Strength training not only helps to prevent injuries, but it will also maintain a healthier body composition and help to ensure more sustainable weight loss in the long term.  Also, strength training not only maintains muscle but can also boost metabolism.


Adjust your training regime 


Because you’re consuming fewer calories while on weight loss medications, you may feel a difference in your energy compared to before you started using them. As such, you might need to adjust the intensity or duration of your workouts to accommodate any changes in your energy levels. My recommendation is that instead of focusing purely on far you run each week, also complete other activities like strength training, bike riding and walking to ensure you consistently move. This variety of activities can help to combat fatigue and prevent injuries. You can also plan the timing of your training sessions for when your energy is at its peak for optimal performance.  This also may allow more time to recover. 

In summary, it’s possible to train for a 5k race while using weight loss drugs. It’s essential to consult with your physician before starting any weight loss medication or exercise program. Practice a balanced approach that takes into account reduced caloric intake to ensure the best results.


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