Running and weight loss: What you need to know

People run for all different kinds of reasons. For some, it’s to relieve stress; for others, it’s to build up their endurance to compete in long-haul races like marathons. Some get off on the challenge that running presents, some are addicted to the mental or meditative benefits, and some use running as part of a broader strength and conditioning routine. Another big motivator for a lot of runners is weight loss. Our blog today looks at running and weight loss, how long it can take, what you need to keep in mind, and tips for success.

Why people run

· Fitness goals
· Stress relief
· The challenge
· Competition
· Weight loss

Running and weight loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, running is one of the best ways to go about it. You can eat more and get all the other health benefits that running provides. But be warned: Just because you’re pounding the pavement doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you like and still expect to lose weight.

How long does it take to lose weight? Weight loss or weight gain is a numbers game. The average woman needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her current weight, while taking in only 1,500 calories per day will help her lose about a pound of weight per week. For a man, 2,500 calories per day generally maintains weight while cutting back to 2,000 daily calories will result in a loss of around a pound a week. Likewise, if calories consumed go over the maintenance number, then the individual can expect to put on weight. Seems pretty simple, right? However, it can be hard to stick to a specific calorie count, and depending on your current weight, you may feel unsatisfied with a 1,500- or 2,000-calorie diet, which can lead you to make poor food decisions.

Running weight loss tips

You’ve been running now for weeks and you’re not seeing the shift in your weight that you had hoped. You’ve been burning calories racing around your local park, but when you hop on the scale, the numbers are pretty much par. What is happening? Let’s see how you can adjust for better results.

· Consider your diet – While you need calories to fuel your runs and workouts, it’s important to know what you’re putting into your body. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can eat whatever you want when you’re running throughout the week. “Ah, don’t worry, I’ll burn this off tomorrow morning,” is a common perception in response to a poor food choice. Instead, plan pre- and post-workout meals ahead of time. That way you are less likely to grab the nearest (and fastest) food available.

· Go fast; slow, up, down – For a lot of runners, doing the same routine week after week can result in a plateau – in both running progress and weight loss. Our bodies are super adaptable, and a few weeks running the same route at the same pace won’t continue to yield the same results. The trick is to change up your routine from time to time, and add in different types of runs. Include hill running, speed intervals, long runs and short, fast runs. That way you keep your body guessing and you will be less likely to ‘phone in’ your running, meaning you’ll likely burn more calories. A win–win.

· Regular running – If you’re struggling to see results, you may not be running enough throughout the week. Remember, to lose a pound of weight per week, you need to cut 500 calories from your maintenance number every single day. If possible, you should pledge to run at least three to four times per week. As well as regular running, you should aim to be as active as possible every day, even on the days you don’t run. Walk more, take the stairs, and be conscious about what you eat.

Running for weight loss: beginners

If you have recently begun to run and your goal is drop a few pounds, tone up or even torch fat, you need a plan.

Put in place a training schedule – Running regularly is important for all kinds of goals. It’s particularly beneficial motivation-wise to get to the point where you actually enjoy running and want to do it more often. The problem for a lot of us is that when we’re just starting out, our bodies are not conditioned, and so running can feel less than enjoyable. But by sticking with it, our bodies soon adapt and running begins to feel much more natural. In fact, after a few weeks of regular training, you might discover that you feel you were born to run.

Don’t run every day – Even runners who aren’t beginners need to give their body time to adapt and recover from their workouts. As a beginner, choose to run every second day. Giving your body a day’s rest between runs helps you to become better conditioned, which enables more intense workouts in the future.

Start slowly and build up – If you are just starting out, you may want to consider walking at first. This is a good way to prepare your joints and muscles to avoid over-taxing them. After a couple of weeks, you can introduce a mixture of walking and light running, depending on your progress and how ready you feel. This will progress further into more running and less walking, until you are running the entire time.

Focus on the love

No matter what your current abilities or ultimate goals are, by focusing on your love of running, instead of simply losing weight, you will be much more likely to stick with your routine and enjoy the results.