Running is great for your overall fitness. However, you’ll probably be disappointed if you’re trying to lose weight exclusively by running. Most beginning runners shed pounds in their first few weeks before hitting a plateau, unless they make additional lifestyle changes. That’s because your body adapts when you repeat any activity for long. In fact, some studies show that your metabolism becomes more efficient in just one week.
Before you hang up your sneakers, keep in mind that running can still be a valuable part of your workout program.
The Truth About Running and Weight Loss
Running for Weight Loss
It may take you a long time to lose weight if you’re jogging at low speeds for the same distance each day. These strategies will burn more calories and fat while you’re on the run:
- Use high intensity interval training (HIIT). This method is popular because it works. With high intensity interval training, you alternate between brief sessions of very strenuous activity and less intense recovery periods. For example, you could sprint for 2 minutes and then walk for 3 minutes for 3 rounds.
- Train for strength. It’s also important to build up your muscles, so you’ll burn more calories even at rest. Lift weights or take a boxing class.
- Avoid overeating. Many runners overestimate how many calories they’re really burning. You may wind up gaining weight if you have extra helpings of junk food, thinking that the running will counteract it.
- Pace yourself. On the other hand, set your own goals. Depending on your size and other factors, you burn about 100 calories per mile regardless of speed. If you like jogging slowly, it will take you longer to lose weight, but you’re more likely to stick with a program that you enjoy.
Other Weight Loss Strategies
Physical activity is essential for your overall wellbeing, but diet plays a bigger role in managing your weight. Try these proven tips for slimming down:
- Limit processed foods. Prepared foods like frozen dinners and cookies are a major source of excess sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Choose whole foods whenever possible.
- Focus on fiber. Increasing your fiber intake will help you to feel full while eating less. Delicious options include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Eat more protein. Protein also leaves you feeling satisfied and takes more energy for your body to digest. Include plant-based protein or dairy products, meat, and fish in your meals and snacks.
- Control portions. Diets that are too restrictive can make you want to binge. Enjoy your favorite treats in moderation. Prepare most of your meals at home, so you can keep an eye on the ingredients and serving sizes.
- Drink water. It’s easy to confuse hunger with thirst. Drink a glass of water first to see if your food cravings go away.
- Manage stress. Chronic tension can affect your hormones and make you store more fat. Find safe ways to relax, such as daily meditation or playing a musical instrument.
- Sleep well. High quality sleep is also essential for your overall health, including digestion and hormone levels. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Allow yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Seek support. Put together a team who will help you to reach your weight loss goals. Join a support group online. Let your family and friends know how they can assist you.
Running will enhance your heart health and boost your spirits. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s also important to eat a healthy diet and stick to a balanced workout program.
If you are unsure about how to begin a running and weight loss journey, a professional running coach can guide you on the path to better fitness.