Running is a popular activity for people who want to lose weight. It is a vigorous form of exercise that makes you burn calories, raises your heart rate, and sweat buckets. Those who declare “to lose weight” as their New Year’s resolution, will most likely choose running as the primary exercise. However, not everyone who takes to running achieves weight loss.
In fact, there are people who actually gain more weight while on a running program. It is because of these instances that running has gotten a bad rap as an effective exercise for weight loss. How did this happen? Since running burns calories, doesn’t it mean weight loss should follow?
3 Reasons Why Running Does Not Lead To Weight Loss
The truth is weight loss can only be achieved if there you have a calorie deficit. Therefore, running by itself will not lead to weight loss if you continue to function on a calorie surplus.
Any form of physical activity can lead to weight loss because it causes you to expend calories. Even activity as mild as walking 30 minutes, three times per week can produce results.
Running, which is more intense than walking, can definitely burn a large amount of calories. A running program for weight loss will work. However, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight.
Common sense will tell us that eating more calories than we’re burning is the primary reason why people who run do not lose weight. That is correct but there is more to it than just being undisciplined.
Here are 3 reasons why people who run do not achieve weight loss.
- Unhealthy Eating Habits
The calorie is the body’s primary source of energy. You need calories to perform at your best. Calories can be derived from three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Of these, the carbohydrate is the easiest to convert to glycogen which is stored muscle energy. Runners need carbohydrates as fuel for the run and to help them recover after exercise.
However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Choosing carbohydrates from nutritious sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give you energy and help you keep the weight off.
Getting them from processed, fatty, and refined sources like white bread, donuts, cookies, and candy will put you back on track for dramatic weight gain.
- Physical Fitness Issues
There is no question that a running program for weight loss can be effective in producing the desired results. But it may not be the ideal choice for everyone especially those who are overweight and morbidly obese.
People who have been dealing with weight issues throughout most of their life probably have pre-existing health conditions. Carrying all the extra weight likewise could have weakened their bones, joints, and connective tissue. Running may be too intense an activity for people with health issues.
A person with pre-existing conditions could suffer serious injury while running. This could require him/her to layoff for several months. In addition to the physical injury, the experience could affect the person’s mental state and emotional well-being which may trigger poor eating habits.
The saying, “Too much of a good thing can be bad for you” applies even to running. If you run too much and too often, you could actually create conditions in your body that stifle weight loss and potentially lead to weight gain.
Avid runners, or those who run 30 kilometers every week, are dangerously pushing themselves to an overtrained state. When your body is overtrained, you metabolism drops. Lower metabolism means your body burns less calories from fat.
Running can lower your levels of leptin; a hormone that naturally manages your body fat levels. This happens when your body is constantly at a calorie deficit. When your leptin levels are down, the body starts to store more body fat as an act of self-preservation.
Eating too little calories can be as bad as eating too much calories especially if you are an avid runner.
How To Run For Weight Loss
Regardless of the evidence, a running program for weight loss is a good choice. Like any physical activity, you must approach it with thought, purpose, and strategy. In short, you must have a plan.
Step 1 – Get a Complete Physical and Medical Exam
Getting a complete physical and medical exam is an absolute must before embarking on any exercise program. You must be 100% sure that your body and overall health can support the demands of exercise. This is especially true for those who have never exercised before.
Only your doctor can give you clearance for exercise. He/she may give you a blood test, monitor your blood pressure, an x-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to check if you have conditions you were not aware of. The results of the medical exam will guide the fitness professional who will design your running program.
Step 2 – Hire a Fitness Professional or Running Coach
Sure there are thousands of running tutorials on YouTube. You can even access countless websites that are dedicated to running. Most of these are owned and managed by well-experienced and expert runners.
However, nothing beats having a coach or fitness professional on your side when you are focused on accomplishing a health and fitness goal.
They can study your present running form and introduce adjustments based on your size, shape, and current physical condition. A good coach and Personal Trainer can also be a good source of motivation. He/she can push you during the hard runs and provide much-needed assistance when you are struggling.
Best of all, a professional coach can design running workouts to lose weight that best fits your current level of physical fitness. If you are overweight, you may be asked to limit activity to brisk-walking at the gym treadmill until such time that your fitness level has improved.
Before hiring any coach or Personal Trainer, make sure he/she is certified or licensed to give instruction.
Step 3 – See a Nutritionist
Running is just one key component of a weight loss program. Diet is the other key to losing weight. Again, don’t just rely on YouTube videos or fitness trackers for your dietary and nutritional guidelines. The better option is to still see a licensed professional such as a nutritionist.
The nutritionist will use your medical report and health records as the bases for designing a diet that will support your running program and weight loss goals. He/she may likewise run additional tests to make sure the diet and nutrition program will deliver the expected results.
Step 4 – Buy the Right Pair of Running Shoes
Your feet will take a beating while running. Every stride you make will send shock forces from your feet to your knees, hips, and lower back. You need shoes that can help absorb shock and keep your feet healthy.
There are specific running shoes for each type of feet. If you have an arch, you need to buy shoes with an arch support. Flat-footed runners should buy shoes that offer more stability. Buying the wrong shoe for your feet will result in problems during and after the run.
A flat-footed runner who uses shoes with arch support will experience pain in his/her soles, heels, and ankles. Many retailers of running shoes provide treadmill tests to check your running style and type of foot. Go through the test and take your time choosing the right shoe for your feet.
Step 5 – Start Out Slow and Set Realistic Targets
If you weigh 250 pounds, don’t expect to lose 100 pounds within one month of running. A more realistic target would be 20% in six months or roughly eight pounds per month.
Therefore, you shouldn’t target a marathon when you have yet to complete a mile. Start out slow; learn proper running technique, and build up your strength, conditioning, and endurance.
Here are some tips on how to start a running program:
- Like we mentioned earlier, start out your program by walking. This is a low-intensity activity that will be easy on your joints and slowly build up stamina.
- Once you feel more confident with your strength and conditioning, alternate walks with short, easy runs.
- Exercise on a treadmill most of the time. When you have your technique and form on point, you can try doing walk/run intervals outdoors.
- Don’t run on consecutive days! Make sure your joints and muscles are properly recovered.
- Cross-train. Don’t limit yourself to just running. If your joints are a bit painful, shift to stationary cycling or swimming. Weight-training is another great way to strengthen your muscles, joints, and connective tissue. Combining running with a weight training schedule is an effective way to lose weight.
Here’s a one-month running routine to lose weight that you may want to try:
|1||Walk – 20 minutes||Rest||Walk – 25 minutes||Rest||Walk – 30 minutes||Bike, Swim or Weight Train||Rest|
|3||Intervals: Walk – 2 minutes Run – 1 minute; 4 intervals + 8 minutes walk||Rest||Intervals: Walk – 2 minutes Run- 1 minute; 5 intervals + 5 minutes walk||Rest||Intervals: Walk – 2 minutes Run- 1 minute; 6 intervals + 7 minutes walk||Bike, Swim or Weight Train||Rest|
Walk- 2 minutes Run- 2 minutes; 4 intervals + 9 minutes walk
|Rest||Intervals: Walk- 2 minutes Run- 2 minutes; 5 intervals + 5 minutes walk||Rest||Intervals: Walk 2 minutes Run- 2 minutes; 6 intervals + 6 minutes walk||Bike, Swim or Weight Train||Rest|
|4||Intervals: Walk- 2 minutes Run- 3 minutes; 4 intervals + 10 minutes walk||Rest||Intervals: Walk- 2 minutes Run- 3 minutes; 5 intervals + 10 minutes walk||Rest||Intervals: Walk- 2 minutes Run- 3 minutes; 6 intervals + 10 minutes walk||Bike, Swim or Weight Train||Rest|
If you want to run for weight loss, go for it! Running is a great activity not just for weight loss. It will make you fit, healthy, and strong. Approach it with a good plan, strategy, and purpose. Most of all, be confident and patient! Weight loss through running is possible.
Weight loss isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Running workouts to lose weight will produce results. Take it one step at a time and you will surely hit your weight loss goal.