Running is often thought of as a miracle exercise that will drop those extra pounds in a snap. But the big question is, is running good for weight loss really?
Your results start to taper off
If weight loss is your goal, solely doing steady-state running (low or moderate intensity runs at an easy going pace) isn’t the best means of seeing results on the scales. It initially seems like the ideal solution since at first weight loss is rapid.
However results slow down once your body gets used to running. Think of your body like a machine – it wants to be as effective and efficient as possible. You’ve found the perfect 3 mile loop around your house, great news. You run it a fair few times and it becomes a habit. Your body will adapt to this course, and eventually you start burning fewer calories on your go-to route than you did before.
Vary your work out regimen to combat this. Try speed intervals, longer routes, hill runs, different running surfaces in different places to keep your body alert and working hard.
It’s important to not use running as your only form of exercise if you’re aiming for weight loss. Mix up your work outs by cross training. Strength training is great for speeding up your metabolism, but other forms of cardio such as spinning are a fantastic calorie burner.
You’re burning less than you think
Speaking of which, your runs are probably burning fewer calories than you expect. Most runners hugely overestimate how many they are burning and underestimate how much they are actually eating, so their all important calorie deficit isn’t as great as they think. While you may feel really hungry post run, you need to choose your meals carefully.
Picking junk food as your recovery snack isn’t wise as it’s high in calories and not nourishing enough to last you for the rest of the day. It’s vital to eat something post run, but try to eat something high in protein and not exceeding 150 calories.
Be sensible with your portions for main meals. The idea of ‘treating yourself’ for working out is wonderful (and well deserved!), but it’s easy to go overboard. The quality of your food makes just as much difference as the calorific intake. Stock up on non-starchy vegetables, and save a quarter of your plate for whole grains and another for protein. You’re aiming for a controlled intake of carbohydrates and protein, and more high nutrient veggies.
If you still are absolutely ravenous post run, think about eating something more substantial before you work out. Your body needs fuel to work well, so feed it well!
So, is running good for weight loss?
Running is a great way to tone up your lower body. It helps to build muscle while reducing fat, however this fat loss doesn’t always translate to the scale. Fat tissue is less dense than muscle tissue, and so once your body adapts to your new regime seemingly your progress will plateau.
Your weight may not change but your body certainly will. Remember that the number on the scale isn’t necessarily the only way to track your progress. With every run you become stronger and stronger, with greater endurance and stamina.
Amongst other things, running is good for weight loss and overall health. However exercise is about so much more than losing weight.
If you’re looking to shed some pounds, mix up your work outs and eat sensibly. By building yourself a manageable health routine you enjoy, you will set yourself on the right path to achieving your goals long term.