Running for Weight Loss - The Things You Can Do to Battle the Bulge

Are you running for weight loss?
Well, you picked the perfect activity to engage in!

Frequently running?

Then you should have little difficulties with losing a few pounds!

Not yet reaping the benefits of jogging or not yet successful in losing weight?

Then this page will give you a few running tips on how to most effectively battle the bulge.

For a quick overview of this page, simply watch the video:

Running for Weight Loss Tip #1 : Combine with a Diet

running for weight loss

Your first running tip does not have anything to do with exercise. It's about what you eat and drink.

Weight loss is about 80% diet related. Because while running for weight loss, you need to consider that losing weight will only occur if you burn more calories than you consume.

So, that means stop taking in fast food, lower your alcohol intake to a maximum of one glass per day, eat your fruits and vegetables and avoid the four c's :

candy, cakes, cookies and other crap !

On the other hand, many of us try to lose weight through starvation. Eating so little it stops our bodies functioning properly. I have seen examples of people around me who built up a very warped relationship with food. In their efforts to lose weight they go too much to the other side and restrict their calorie intake to an absolute minimum. That does not work either.

The best diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein and relies on a number of smaller meals during the day, e.g. three main meals of 300-400 calories and a few snacks of 150-250 calories.

A good way to keep track of what you are eating is using a journal to record all you eat. Do this for a few weeks and check your calorie usage (Do a Google search for calorie counter and you should be able to find one, is a good one).

Doing this for a prolonged time will give you a lot of insight in what you consume and how many calories certain foods contain.

When you wish to lower your calorie intake, you can have a good look at your journal and cut out those foods which are high in calories.

After the first few weeks, you will find that you pretty much know how many calories each type of food contains.

I appreciate that achieving weight loss is a tricky business. If it were easy, it wouldn't be a billion dollar industry. I have put a page together on the runner's diet which hopefully helps some more.

It talks about healthy foods, the role of sugary foods in the diet of a runner and the impact that extreme calorie restriction can have on your health and your performance.
running for weight loss

Running for Weight Loss Tip #2 : It's (Almost) All About the Distance You Cover

running for weight lossThere is a tool on this website which helps you calculate the calories burned while running.

This calories burned while running calculator gives a good approximation of how many calories you burn, using only two ingredients:

  • your weight

  • the distance you ran

  • Nothing more.

    Intense running (as I will tell you below) can be helpful in burning fat and burning calories.

    You work harder and you cover a longer distance in the same time than when you run slow.

    However, you can only do intense, higher speed exercise for shorter amounts of time and the risk of injuries is much higher.

    So, cover distance, and don't be afraid to run slow!. This is where a run/walk program makes a lot of sense. Start slowly and gradually increase your distance and intensity. This will help you build up your endurance and strength gradually and should help you prevent injuries.

    running for weight loss infographic

    Running for Weight Loss Tip #3 : Run regularly

    When you want to lose weight, you are not going to get it off with only one session per week. Run regularly. At least three times per week. Some kind of daily exercise is ideal.

    Lots of us set a goal of hitting a number of steps per day, e.g. 10,000 steps per day. That's a really good goal to aim for and ensures you do some exercise every day. If you are only just starting to run, then running on a daily basis immediately is not the best idea. I have seen many people get injured that way. They run for three weeks, get a niggle and then stop doing exercise altogether.

    Want to run daily? That's fine, but stick to easy / slow running only or follow a run/walk approach.

    If you want to achieve weight loss, do some exercise pretty much every day, at least five days a week, and run three times per week at a minimum.
    Every time you run, you burn calories and you give a boost to your metabolism.

    This does not immediately stop when you stop running.

    Recent studies show that a 40 minute period of exercise will keep you burning calories at a higher rate for no less than nineteen hours after you have stopped running!

    Only imagine if you did that three times a week or more!

    Running for Weight Loss Tip #4 : Fat Burning Zone Myth

    Running at a low speed is associated with burning fat.

    Even a website of a major heart rate monitor brand talks about running in the fat burning zone.

    For once and for all, let's get the facts straight :

  • When running at low speed you burn relatively more fat than at higher speed (e.g. 70% of calories burned are fat instead of 40%).

  • When running at high speed you burn more calories.

  • Hmmm, so does that mean that you do not automatically burn more fat if you run slow ...?


    Several studies (from University of Texas and Laval University in Quebec for example) have in fact shown that intense exercise will generally help you burn more fat.

    The optimal speed would be somewhere between tempo speed and interval pace.

    running for weight lossSo, when running for weight loss you will want to include some more intense exercise as well into your fitness regime.

    However, keep it reasonable.

    One interval session per week is plenty.

    That way you minimize your risks of getting injured.

    And my general advice is to stay away from more intense running until you can, somewhat comfortably, cover 30 minutes of running non-stop.

    You will want to make sure you are a little fitter when you start adding intense running sessions to your regime.

    Why? Well, first of all, faster running is often a cause of injury. I'd like you to first get your body ready for running, then you can work on adding speed.

    Second, when you are not able yet to comfortably run thirty minutes non-stop at a slower pace, how much ground do you think you'll cover when you go fast? Not a lot, I can tell you that!

    Third, fast running sucks. It hurts. There is no need to put you through the pain, when you can achieve good results with going slower already!

    OK, let's summarize what we have learnt by putting together some sample schedules for somebody who is running for weight loss:

    The sample program for the beginning runner. We'll assume you run three times a week, you do some kind of cross-training (walking, swimming, exercise bike, strength training) and you are combining your exercise routine with a healthy diet:

    Day 1 4x2 minutes intense run with 2-3 minutes recovery in between
    Day 2 Cross Train
    Day 3  Run 30 mins or do a run/walk
    Day 4  Rest
    Day 5  Cross Train
    Day 6  Run 30 mins or do a run/walk
    Day 7  Cross-train or Rest

    The sample running program for the advanced runner who runs almost every day:

    Day 1  4-6 x5 minutes intense run with 2-3 minutes recovery in between
    Day 2  30-45 minutes easy
    Day 3  Long run / Steady state for 45 to 90 minutes or more
    Day 4  30-45 minutes easy
    Day 5  30-45 minutes easy
    Day 6  3x10 minutes tempo run (or alternative tempo workout)
    Day 7  Rest Day / Cross-train

    running for weight loss

    The sample running program for the advanced runner who combines running with cross-training (this looks a lot like the type of schedule I use!):

    Day 1  4-6 x 5 minutes intense run with 2-3 minutes recovery in between
    Day 2  Cross Train
    Day 3  Long run / Steady state for 60 to 120 minutes or more
    Day 4  Cross Train
    Day 5  Rest
    Day 6  3x10 minutes tempo run (or other tempo workout)
    Day 7  Cross-train or Rest

    Of course, adjust this sample schedule to your own needs, but I hope you get the basic ideas:

  • Regular exercise

  • Mostly longer slow runs

  • With some intense running once a week

  • Combine the above three with a healthy diet and you are doing everything you need to do to get the pounds flying off!

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