Running for Weight Loss
Running is one of the most popular exercises in the world, and it’s not hard to see why – all you need is a pair of sneakers and less than an hour of your day. Still, when you’re running for weight loss, things get a little bit more complicated than just going out and running. Read on to find out how to efficiently use running to lose weight.
Can I Lose Weight By Running?
The basics of weight loss are that you should burn more calories than you consume. To get more specific, you should aim for a weekly calorie deficit of 3500 to 7000 calories. This will allow for a steady and healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds (0.5-1kg) each week.
The best way to achieve this deficit is through a healthy diet and exercising, and since running is such a simple and effective exercise, it’s a great way to start. In fact, a 2012 study has shown that people who run weigh less and have much more lean muscle than people who spent equal amounts of time on other exercises.
We’ve made this table to better illustrate the number of calories burned from running in comparison to other popular exercises.
|Exercise||130 lbs (58kg) person||180 lbs (81kg) person||205 lbs (92kg) person|
|Running||590 kcal/h||817 kcal/h||930 kcal/h|
|Cycling||472 kcal/h||654 kcal/h||745 kcal/h|
|Light weightlifting||177 kcal/h||245 kcal/h||279 kcal/h|
Note that these numbers are for an hour of ongoing activity, and may vary depending on your age, general activity level, and body composition.
Additionally, running creates the “afterburn” effect, which means your body will continue burning more calories even when you’re not running.
Besides helping you lose weight, running offers many other health benefits, which ultimately help you lead a better life and maintain your weight. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Benefits of Running
Running for weight loss not only helps you achieve a calorie deficit, but it also improves your overall health and wellbeing. A study conducted on more than 50 thousand people over the course of 15 years showed that people who run regularly have a 45% lower risk of dying from heart disease. In addition, they also had a higher life expectancy by 3 years and a 30% lower risk of death by any cause.
But even with all these amazing benefits, will running be enough for you to reach your desired weight?
Drawbacks of Running for Weight Loss
When you first start running, especially if you’ve never done it before and started with the couch to 5k weight loss program, your body responds to a lower level of stress, meaning that you’ll see results even when not running very long and fast.
But once you go through that stage, which usually lasts a couple of weeks or even months for some people, your body adapts to your running program and starts burning fewer calories. This means that you need to adapt your running program for weight loss accordingly and always push for more, whether that’s more distance, more speed, or more time spent running.
Another thing, which is not necessarily a drawback, is that if you don’t have enough muscle in your body, all the pressure from running falls on your joints. That’s why, if you’re running for weight loss, it’s best to complement that with weight training. It doesn’t need to be anything extra heavy, but just enough so that you’re muscles get bigger and leaner. Ultimately, more lean muscle will lead to burning more calories, even when you’re not running!
Diet Plan for Running
By this point, we know that running is a great exercise for weight loss, but just like any other type of exercise, it must be complemented by the proper diet regimen.
A Danish study has shown that people who ran more 3 miles (5km) per week (for a year) lost an average of 8.4lbs (3.8kg), without changing their diet. On the other hand, runners who ran the same amount but changed their diet lost an average of 12.3lbs (5.5kg).
Even though runners need to follow a special regimen, the basics of a healthy diet should still be followed:
- Portion control – make sure to spread your daily calorie intake over 6 smaller meals. This will ensure your metabolism is always working and help you battle the hunger.
- Cut the carbs – try to limit your carbohydrates intake to 130 grams per day, maximum.
- Avoid liquid calories – sports drinks are not necessary for a good run if you follow a healthy diet. They are packed with calories, sugar, and artificial sweeteners which only hurt your body. Instead, you can keep yourself well hydrated with just water.
Still, the most common mistake many runners do is rewarding themselves with a high-calorie meal after a hard run, essentially throwing all their hard work in the trash. We know that it’s hard to resist grabbing an iced coffee and some pastry on your way home, especially after you gave it your all, but you have to do it.
As an alternative, try to grab a snack that has a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. We know that macro counting is tiresome, so here are some ideas:
- Small peanut butter bagel
- Fruit and Greek yogurt
- A handful of nuts
- A cup of chocolate milk
- Fruit smoothie with almond milk
Running is a very effective exercise for weight loss, due to the high amount of calories burned and numerous health benefits. However, in order to maximize your results, you need to maintain a good balance of running and diet for weight loss, in addition to the occasional weight and strength training.