So you’ve decided, you’re going to get rid of those extra pounds by pounding the ground. But now, you’re stumped. You might be the an-again-off-again runner or you might not have run since gym class at school. You could be one of those with a svelte body, athleticism built right into you, darting along effortlessly, or you could be one who just religiously plods along, mentally calculating the miles and wondering why you haven’t shown any signs of shedding those kilos. But going over the top with your training isn’t the best way to fire up those fat burners. In fact, running to lose weight less often, and less hard, might be the secret key to attaining your body goals.
For some, running to lose weight is a primary objective, while it’s a great secondary benefit for others. Running is a great activity, and it can benefit you in many ways.
You need to know why you do it, for yourself. No sweat! Either way, we’ve got you covered.
Benefits of Running to Lose Weight
Whether it’s getting healthy, looking better, stealing second in the company softball game, or completing your first race, your goal is important. But, when it comes to losing weight, running comes out miles ahead of anything else. There’s no other form of exercise though that could keep up with the likes of running.
Let us run you through some of the benefits of choosing running to lose weight.
- Running leaves you with an “after-burn”. Simply put, the after burn is EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or simply. Not a new concept to the fitness world, studies suggest that there’s a strong correlation between the numbers of calories burned post running and the activity’s intensity. Which is why, when compared running and walking a particular distance, running emerges as the winner because you’re resting energy expenditure stays elevated after you run. Hence, the calories burned are more in the case of running.
- It is pretty factual that running is time efficient. It’s a given that most people can run two or even three times the distance that they could cover by walking. And this helps.
- How often working out becomes a task and the vigor diminishes because of the inconvenience it causes? But not in the case of running to lose weight. All you need is a pair of running shoes, and you’re good to go. There are fewer barriers to the upkeep of a routine and it’s easy to follow even when you’re traveling.
- The runner’s high. The increase in anecdotal level can you an actual high. That happy sensation isn’t just the endorphins causing the flood of euphoria but also morphine-like brain chemicals called endocannabinoids.
Rules to Start a Running Program
Starting a running program is trickier than starting almost any other type of exercise program. That’s because running to lose weight is a repetitive high-impact activity. Consequently, it has strong potential to cause overuse injuries, especially in beginners and those running to lose weight, whose bones, joints, and muscles have not yet adapted to the stress of repeated impact.
Therefore, it is important to ease gently into running and proceed cautiously. Otherwise, you will surely get injured and will have to take a break and start over. Anyone who starts running needs some basic guidelines to help keep them injury free and to increase their odds of enjoying it.
Start with Walking
Start with walking or run with intermittent walk breaks. Keep the pace slow in all of your initial runs, as impact forces increase geometrically with increasing speed. Run and walk slowly enough that you can carry on a conversation—even at the end. If you’re huffing and puffing, you went too fast.
Progress your Distance
Keep track of your distance; no more than 5-10% per week. While your mind will possibly be able to cope with adding bigger distances to your stride, and even if your lungs and heart manage to keep up, your legs will definitely give up sooner than you believe. It takes a bit for your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints to get into gear and adjust to the stress of running, and if you progress too rapidly, you’ll get injured. Increase but very gradually
Incorporate Rest Days
Never run on two consecutive days. Also, listen to your body and replace planned runs with days off or non-impact workouts whenever pain warns of a developing injury.
Regular running for beginners means getting out at least twice a week. Your running to lose weight will improve as your body adapts to the consistent training stimulus.
Tips to Stay Motivated
Chances are, if you took up running as one of your New Year’s resolutions, then weight loss goals are more often than not part of your motivation. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But it really is tough to keep the spirit going and the motor running all the time without having a few pitfalls along the way. There are some easy ways to keep your focus on track though:
Set yourself a goal: Whatever your level, setting challenges is useful to stay motivated. Training for a marathon or successive short races is a good way to keep short term goals going.
Run with a friend: It’s encouraging to have someone about the same level of ability as you to run along with. You’ll boost each other when you’re not so up for the task. You’ll feel you don’t want to let your running partner down, and this will help jog the laziness out of you.
Keeping track of your runs. Note down each run, including your route, distance, time, weather conditions and how you felt. That way, whenever the gray clouds come looming in the distance, you have your own ray of sunshine.
Improve your running: Try and equip yourself with coaching to develop your running technique, speed, stamina, structured runs with running music etc. Know about which Running Music You Should Listen To.
Mix it up: Maintain your level of interest by adding variety. Create a variation in your distances, pace or even routes, otherwise running the same route over and over again can become boring.
Join a running club: This is the perfect method of remaining committed. Most clubs have running groups based on your level, including beginners.
Creating and Maintaining the appropriate Diet
Running to lose weight as a method is a great start, but you also need to eat right and work on your nutrition. Sounds too practical, but doesn’t really convert to reality. Most runners believe that “if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything” which ultimately results in eating habits that negate the action of weight loss.
By nature, runners are obsessive when they want to lose weight, making major cuts in their caloric intake pushing through the fatigue – naively thinking they’re making progress. However, if you want to maintain your training levels and make progress towards your weight loss goals, it’s important that you cut down appropriately.
1. To lose Fat – Either eat fewer calories or burn more energy
Any weight loss program will only succeed if it delivers one or both of these. Running, by contrast of dieting, will burn calories, increase your lean muscle and body tone, and raise your metabolic rate. Maintaining a calorie deficit is important. If you increase you activity, you can continue to eat enough to make you feel satisfied and get a wide range of vitamins and minerals, without putting on weight. It will improve your appearance, reduce stress, and improve your health.
However, beginning a diet and starting to run, may find you with less energy or other nutrients to run, and you will expose yourself to the risk of illness or injury.
2. Try Rebalancing Whatever you Eat
Out of your daily calorie intake try to eat about 55% as carbohydrates, 15% as fat and 30% as protein. It also goes without saying that you will need to drink plenty of water. The weight loss from dehydration will be purely temporary, and the dehydration will make it more difficult for you to run as hard or as long, so you will end up burning fewer calories. Dehydration can make you very ill, and in extreme cases may be fatal.
It might be that when you begin with your exercise program, your weight might go up, or does not fall. This is because running will increase your lean muscle, which is more dense than fat. The extra muscle more than makes up for the reduced fat. Although, this does mean that you will have less fat and a better-toned body.
3. The Compensation Effect
The issue with running to lose weight is that, like other forms of exercise, it makes it difficult to eat less due to increasing appetite—something known as the compensation effect. This a major factor of why exercise often fails to meet people’s expectations for weight loss. While working out for some has a little effect on some people’s appetite, on others, it might just create a ravenous one. Individual appetite responses to exercise are varied. While there isn’t much that can be done to address this situation, what you could do is to ensure that the compensation effect doesn’t stop you from reaching your goals by increasing the quality of the foods you eat.
The reason why high-quality foods are more satiating or satisfying is that they boost you up with fewer calories as compared to lower quality foods which of course, have an opposite function. You can increase the quality of your diet, such that you satisfy your heightened appetite all the while keeping a strong hold on the reigns of your weight loss plan.
4. Vegetarian runner’s diets
Vegetarian runner’s diets may lack adequate amounts of specific nutrients, including calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B-12. Although you, as a runner, get plenty of weight-bearing exercise which is helpful to healthy bones, you still need calcium from milk, if you choose dairy, or fortified soy milk and juices, dark leafy greens and enriched cereals. Iron-deficiency can lead to diminished energy and nonmeat sources of iron are not as well absorbed. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends vegetarians consume 1.8 times the amount of iron as non-vegetarians.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends vegetarians consume 1.8 times the amount of iron as non-vegetarians. Vegetarian runners may get zinc and B-12 through fortified cereals and grains, especially whole grains, which also provide the essential energy-producing carbohydrates. Many vegetarian and vegan runner’s diet include large amounts of juicing and blending, primarily due to the nutritional density and ease of digestion of a blended slurry of vegetables, fruits or nuts.
Since these foods are easily digested and absorbed, they consume less energy to produce more energy, and this may allow for a healthier gastrointestinal state in the exercising athlete. Indeed, many athletes who switch to a plant-based diet feel an immediate surge of energy.
Increasing your diet quality will minimize the compensation effect. In case, you are already running as much as you can, with an improvement in your diet quality but still not losing weight as fast as you would like, another trick would be to decrease the size of your meals by about one-fifth.
All said and done, your best of best weight-loss intentions will inevitably come face-to-face with temptation. Burning tons of calories can cause you feeling famished afterward, but it’s important to know how to refuel wisely. Pigging out on junk food will not only pile on unnecessary calories but will also bring back the hunger pangs again an hour later. Although it’s important to have a post-run snack, it’s also wise to make sure it’s packed with protein and filling carbs which do not exceed 150 calories.
If you still find your stomach grumbling with hunger, it probably means you need to fuel up before you run. Learn to boost your willpower, and keep the pounds off.
Common Mistakes made by Runners
Running to losing weight is an easy solution, but like every workout, there are a few factors in running too that can prevent you from achieving your weight loss goals, no matter how dedicated a runner you are. Here’s how to avoid some of the most common “pit falls” as you work toward your health and fitness goals!
Running to lose weight causes your muscles to use a lot of the glycogen stored in your body for energy, hence, it is important to replenish and refuel with post-run pig-outs or snacks. It is important to have a mix of carbohydrates and protein –around 15-20 grams of protein, and 30 grams of carbs. You may not be hungry after a long run, so drinking a smoothie may be the easiest way to give your body what it needs to rebuild.
While running burns more calories than any other form of exercise, it’s very easy to overestimate your calorie burn and then over indulge in the kitchen after a 5k run. The longer you have been a runner, the more efficient your body will be at burning energy. It’s a wise choice to use a heart rate monitor to properly calculate your specific calories burned. Always choose a healthy post run snack or prepare your meal with proper portions before you go for a run. This way you will avoid ingesting more calories than you burned and therefore maintain a healthy weight.
Ditching Fat… Completely
Most runners try to avoid eating fat replacing it with unhealthy carbohydrates such as crackers, rich salad dressings, and skim lattes. Eating fat will not make you fat. Eating too many carbohydrates especially high glycemic can cause weight gain. The body needs fat to help regulate hunger and transport vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are digested more slowly than carbs and protein, helping you to feel full for longer.
Not Sticking to Water
It is best to drink water before, during and after you work out. Avoid drinking sweetened beverages or sports drinks as these sugar “bombs” can cause weight gain and prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals. Most of the liquid you drink should be calorie free: water, mineral water, or unsweetened tea.
Patience is a Virtue
With the over hyped buzz over media and other non-reliable sources, it’s easy to believe the numerous case studies and weight loss success stories. You may develop unrealistic ambitions to weight loss – especially weight loss that is sustainable. High expectations with a slower than expected success rate will most likely overwhelm you so much that it’s likely you could give up midway.
Other Dangers of Losing Weight Too Fast
If you are losing more than a pound or two a week, be warned. This could mean that along with shedding the fat you are also losing out on muscle. Muscles are metabolically active tissues and you need them to run faster. Your body burns calories to sustain muscle, which results in a higher metabolism.
To Sum it Up
It’s important to remember that ‘healthy’ comes in all shapes and sizes, and is not any one number on the bathroom scales! Sure you might go for a few runs and make some tweaks your diet, but most people measure success by how fast they run or how they look in the mirror. Why not start smaller? Start with habits. Instead of focusing on losing a specific number of pounds, focus on making running a habit. Become that person who runs three times per week – rain or shine. Make it a part of your identity. Or become the type of person who does not snack after dinner. It’s a subtle change in approach, but focusing on your habits instead of numbers, appearance and performance will get you where you want to be.
Running is an excellent way to facilitate weight loss. Whether you couple it with changes to your diet or not, running can help you lose weight and keep it off. If you’re suffering, you’re not winning. You win when your run becomes something you look forward to. Enjoy getting fit and healthy! Enjoy burning off your fat! Enjoy the sweat! Enjoy the relaxation of burning off stress!
Read these Running Strategies to Improve Your Run!
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