Why Running to Lose Weight Won't Work

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Running to lose weight IS possible, but efforts in relying in running or any other form of exercise to lose weight can fail if you want noticeable results. Discover why running without changes to your diet may prove difficult for weight loss. You will also find practical tips to help you successfully lose weight with a running program.

I notice when I come to the gym, more often than not I see people spend more time on the treadmill than on weight training. Walking my way home I see more people jogging around alone or with some company.

Another observation is that volume of people running increase during:

  • Before and after holidays
  • Before and after vacation season

I wonder if they really love running or have hope in losing weight. A good guess is that they are either feeling guilty of eating more than they think they should or they want to burn off fat. While I admire people in such efforts, unfortunately relying on running to lose weight won’t help them.

Unless…

Diet Changes

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In order to lose weight, ideally you need to consume about 500-800 calories less than your total daily energy expenditure (how many calories you burn at rest). If you don’t make any change to your diet, you still need to burn 500-800 calories with exercise a day to lose weight. The amount of calories you should burn to lose depends on your diet, how many calories you consume day in and day out.

Depending on how far you run, you actually burn one calorie per kg of bodyweight per kilometer.

For example I am a 65kg man, and I run 5 kilometers. Using the formula:

1calorie x 65kg x 5 km = 325 calories

That means in order to create a calorie deficit of 650 calories per day I need to run 10km, without changing my diet. Approximately 10km is a 2 hour run/walk.

The catch to this is: what if you have a bad diet and consume at least 2000calories per day or more? If you want to lose weight consistently, relying on running to lose weight doesn’t seem to make sense.

One reason is spending 2 hours on running every single day (yes, even weekends) just to create a calorie deficit of 325 or 650 calories to lose weight consistently doesn’t make sense. If you have other things in life to take care of, or suddenly you need to stop running, you goals may seem a farfetched one.

Tips to be Successful with Running to Lose Weight

Here are some tips on how to lose weight and still have the benefits or running.

Create a Calorie Deficit in your Diet

Combine running with a balanced, calorie controlled diet and you will lose weight. You can calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), here and see how many calories you must eat to maintain your weight

In order to lose weight, eat 500-800 calories below your TDEE number a day.

If you are not the type who wants to rely on numbers, create a calorie deficit by eating less most days of the week. It can be through 2-3 small meals, fasting once or twice a week or any diet that overall has less calories consumed in the day. Do it for 5 times a week and you will enjoy a “relaxed” diet during weekends or social events.

Combine running with weight training

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Running is great to improve your cardiovascular fitness levels and to burn calories. But too much running may start to burn away your lean muscle mass. Combining weights and running to lose weight will give you best results. Weight training will help you to build lean muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism and calorie burn. Weight training also helps to reduce your appetite, which may be already increased by all your running.

Keep it Interesting

If you do the same workout repeatedly, you may experience a weight loss plateau, where you don’t lose any more weight. In order to prevent this plateau, mix your running workouts in its intensity up to keep your body guessing. Add a few interval training run sessions to your week or skip one day of running and go for a hike instead. This makes running to lose weight or any form of cardio not boring.

While you can’t rely on running to lose weight, you can combine it with a calorie deficit diet and/or weight training. Find an eating style that allows you to eat less most days of the week and enjoy the food you eat. Doing so makes weight loss simpler and flexible.


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