Health and Fitness Blog

Is Running Good for Weight Loss: Essential Guide to Running for Weight Loss

Many have attempted to lose weight by running – some have had great success with it while others have seen little to no positive results.

This observation can be confusing, and that is why we have decided to answer the question; is running good for weight loss?

Running can be good for weight loss if done the right way. If done the wrong way, running can be an ineffective weight loss exercise. It all depends on how you do it.

For you to lose weight from running workouts, your body needs to burn more calories than you consume. This is, therefore, the essential requirement for weight loss.

If you take in more calories than you burn through running, then your running will not be effective in weight loss.

In this article, we will examine whether running is good for weight loss. We will discuss situations where running can be an effective exercise for weight loss, and also situations where running may not be suitable for weight loss.

How Running Can be Good for Weight Loss

So, how can you make running good for weight loss?

Develop a Running Plan

If you are a beginner or an experienced runner, it is advisable to develop a plan on how you will run to accomplish your weight loss goal.

The important thing is not the intensity of your running, but your consistency. If you have a good running plan and stick to it long enough, you are likely to run faster, burn more calories and lose weight.

Running without a plan may be the beginning of failure in your weight loss agenda. When you run without a plan, you are more likely to feel demotivated and quit.

Without a plan to dedicate yourself to, you may not stick around long enough to see any noticeable weight loss.

Develop a weekly running plan for yourself. For instance, you could run 2-3 miles every five days in a week, with the other two days being resting days.

It is crucial that you start slowly. If you are a beginner try to start with short running durations and then build up from there by adding about five minutes to your runs every week.

Even if you only manage to start by running a few minutes, that is still okay. The important thing is to get started and improve with time.

With time, you may be able to run 30 minutes every five days of the week. You can then increase your run times from there until you reach your goal.

Avoid the temptation of trying to be too good too fast, as this will likely lead to failure and frustration. Also, manage your expectations – be kind to yourself.

Your body can only handle so much exercise at any time, and it takes time to be better at any activity.

So, if you feel that you are not improving fast enough, remember that the goal is to make small improvements consistently.

Try to mix shorter running distances and time with longer ones. You may also increase the intensity of your runs by increasing your running speeds or running in hilly routes.

Run in places that make you feel comfortable. Running on comfortable surfaces has psychological benefits and can encourage you to push harder. This is a positive factor for weight loss.

Running in places that make you uncomfortable will only discourage you from running effectively hence negatively affecting your weight loss endeavors

Warm up Before you Run

The benefits of a good warm up before runs cannot be stated enough. If you start your runs before warming up, you are more likely to injure yourself or attain a speed that is too high for you to sustain for long.

With a gentle warm up, you can avoid injuries and help you run longer – these two factors are important for weight loss.

You obviously won’t be able to run if you end up injured. Also, in order for you to burn enough calories, you have to sustain your running long enough so that the body can break down fat into energy.

Running for very short periods may not be effective for weight loss because the body may not perform anaerobic respiration.

You can warm up by walking for 5 minutes. This loosens the muscles and joints. After that, do easy jogs for about five minutes and then run at your usual pace.

Go the Distance

Sticking to your running plan is very important for weight loss. Once you have a specific time or distance cut out, push yourself as hard as you can to achieve the goal. You may reduce your pace so that you remain running long enough.

If necessary, you may also take walk breaks. When starting out, you may feel too tired after running for a while, which is perfectly normal.

Taking walk breaks in between your run can help you run the full distance or time.

Cultivate a positive mentality. A great mindset will help you achieve your running goals. Breaking the distance down to shorter distances can be a helpful mindset.

Why is all this important? For you to effectively burn calories, you need to push your body with your runs. Without pushing your body, there will be little to no weight loss.

Maintain a Steady Pace

You burn fat more effectively if you run slowly at a steady pace. You may increase the intensity of your runs as you get better, but maintaining a steady pace is crucial for weight loss over time.

Try to figure out what your optimal pace is during your runs. Remember that for you to run longer, you need to do it at lower speeds.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to hold a conversation comfortably while running at a good pace. By doing this, your body will get into the fat burning zone more easily.

Being unable to maintain a steady pace will not be effective in fat burning and weight loss.

Stay Hydrated

When running for weight loss, ensure that you stay well-hydrated to improve your ability to run better. Carrying some water while running can help go the distance.

Running without proper hydration is not only unhealthy but also an ineffective way of running.

You are less likely to go the distance if you are dehydrated. If you can’t run for long enough, you won’t be able to lose weight by running.

Cool Down

A cool down is just as important as a warm-up session or a quality run. A cool down helps streamline your blood flow and helps with muscle recovery.

Toward the end of your run, slow down your pace and eventually switch to a gentle walk as you finish. Elements such as cold showers and yoga can also help with cooling down.

A nice cool down helps your body recover and therefore keep you fit for doing your next run. Without a proper cool down, you are likely not to run the distance the next day, which is bad for your weight loss.

Stick to Your Plan While Listening to your Body

Sticking to your running plan is very important to your weight loss because it helps with pushing your body hard enough for fat burning.

However, if you feel sickly or completely worn out, you may make adjustments to your running plan accordingly.

Consider running a shorter distance or time. You can also consider taking a rest day. If you feel that your body is stressed, toning down on the running is the healthy thing to do.

Once your body has recovered, you can then resume to your running plan and continue burning fat.

Not paying attention to your body will be detrimental to your weight loss goals. If you are experiencing pain, you may end up getting injured if you don’t listen to your body.

With an injury, you won’t be able to train for weight loss. Also, taking resting days will make you more effective in your running in the following days.

You may consider engaging in cross-training on the days you feel weak. You can decide to go for a swim or cycling instead of running, until you feel much better.

Be Patient

Healthy weight loss takes time. Also, becoming good at running takes a lot of time and effort. Before you become any better at this exercise, understand that it will be a struggle, and embrace the pain.

To avoid feeling discouraged, we recommend that you stick to your plan and be patient even when you feel that the weight loss process is not working fast enough.

Weight loss is a slow but progressive process. You won’t lose weight overnight – the plan is to make baby steps while doing your best every day.

If you lack patience and determination, you are likely to quit running before achieving any noticeable weight loss. Having the right mindset is crucial for success.

Alternative Components for Effective Weight Loss through Running

Add Intervals

We recommend that you add a few high-intensity intervals in your weekly running plan to boost weight loss.

High-intensity intervals can make you run faster with time, which is good for weight loss. You may do one high-intensity workout every week.

When you complete your day’s run, you may do some intervals, three days every week.

Run at your regular pace and then increase the pace for about 30 seconds. Shuffle runs can also be helpful for your weight loss goals.

Hit the Hills

Running in hilly routes can boost your calorie burning and weight loss rates. Running hills also helps you to build endurance.

With more endurance, you are able to run for longer even in non-hilly environments, which is a good thing for weight loss. Having two hill runs every week will boost your weight loss rate.

At the end of the hill workouts, consider doing hill intervals for enhanced results.

You may need to try multiple hill workouts so that you can figure out which best suits you.

If you are running at the gym, incline the treadmill for similar results.

Step Up your Run

Running stairs can be beneficial for your weight loss endeavor. Actually, running stairs is considered one of the most effective exercises for calories burning and therefore weight loss.

You can either run physical stairs, or you can use a stair machine if you are enrolled at a gym.

You may vary the intensity of your stair runs accordingly. Be cautious when doing stair runs to avoid falling.

Tackle an Obstacle Course

Running alone can become tedious. If you find yourself in such a situation, consider incorporating some obstacle in your running routine.

Obstacles courses involve short but intense exercises such as jumping. You may find natural obstacles such as creeks and logs when running outside.

You can also check whether your local area has obstacle courses such as running through concrete tunnels or rope climbing on vertical walls. You can also build obstacle courses at home

Such obstacle courses are fun and can help with burning calories. Also, they can be the break you need from running, by taking breaks you are likely to be more effective when you resume running.

Run on an Empty Stomach

Running on an empty stomach can improve the body’s fat burning rate. Go for a slow run before breakfast If you feel that you can manage to do so.

Ensure that you carry a banana or any other snack in case you feel that you need to eat something.

With time, your body will get accustomed to exercise on an empty stomach, because it gets energy from the body’s fat stores, as opposed to getting it from carbs.

Make sure that you take a decent quantity of healthy breakfast, and water, 15 to 30 minutes after you finish running. Doing this stabilizes your blood sugar levels and also helps with body recovery.

Strength Training

Adding strength training exercises in your weekly running routine may be beneficial for your weight loss.

With more body strength, you will manage to engage in more intense fat burning exercises.

It will also help to boost your running speed. Having more muscle will make your body more effective in burning fat. You can consider doing exercises such as squats, pull ups, push ups and chest press.

Ineffective Running for Weight Loss

If you have been running for a few months, but you are yet to achieve any weight loss, you may be doing your running wrong. Here are a few reasons your style of running is not effective for weight loss.

Post-run Eating

Running leads to burning of calories, which can, in turn, give you a famished feeling when you are done. It is important that you check how you eat after running.

Having junk food after your run is not advisable for weight loss. As we mentioned earlier, weight loss comes about from burning more calories than you take in.

Post-exercise food is essential for recovery, but you need to watch what you eat. A good post-run meal should have more protein and filling carbs, and its calorie content should be low.

Avoid going overboard with your post-workout meal – it should be a reasonable serving.

If you have an issue with sticking to a good meal post-workout, consider having a good pre-workout meal to fuel your exercise and recovery.

You Don’t do Enough Running

If you are not getting tangible results with your running, then you are probably not running enough. Take a close look at your running calendar.

Doing one or two 20-minute runs won’t be enough for burning calories to lose weight. Losing one pound per week will require you to lose 500 calories per day.

This is done through a combination of proper diet and exercise. If you want to see tangible results within reasonable time, endeavor to run five days each week.

Your Workout is Always the Same

Your body is designed for efficiency. It finds easier ways of dealing with workout stress. This happens with running workouts too.

If you do the same workout every day, your body’s metabolism adapts to the exercise and burns fewer calories with the same exercise output.

Well, that poses a problem. You are doing the same amount of work, but you are burning fewer calories.

This is why a steady state running routine is ineffective for long-term weight loss. At some point, your body gets used to that level of exercise.

It burns fewer calories, and therefore weight loss slows down, and can eventually cease. Steady-state weight loss exercises help with weight loss, but only initially.

For long-term weight loss, you need to do different workouts. You can increase the distance and speed of your runs as you get better, so that you can stay ahead of your body’s efficiency curve.

You go Longer, but Not Faster

Intensity is a very important factor in any exercise. For running exercises, it is helpful to attain and sustain a pace that you can maintain for a long duration.

You intend to use energy at a rate that is sustainable for the length of time you plan to exercise. This approach is definitely good for endurance, but it is not as good for weight loss.

For effective fat loss, you should focus on reaching a certain level of difficulty with your running, instead of simply trying to run for a specific amount of time.

If you are running outdoors, you have to push yourself to higher speeds or run in hilly areas. If you are using a treadmill, you can adjust the difficulty scale to make the exercise more intense.

You Focus Too Much on the Calories you Burn

Perhaps the most widely held false belief about weight loss is that most of the calories you consume are as a result of exercise. This is a misconception.

In fact, just staying alive uses up a lot of energy. Body functions such as sleeping, standing, eating, and thinking require energy.

The body uses more calories performing basic functions than the calories you burn running for a few minutes.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to exercise. Exercise is generally beneficial for your health.

Also, the kind of exercise you perform influences how much energy your body uses when you are not working out.

For instance, having more body muscle requires your body to use more energy just to function. Muscle is therefore important to your weight loss endeavor.

You Don’t Try Other Forms of Cardio

Research shows that endurance running inhibits muscle growth. But you need more muscle to be effective in faster running and other forms of cardio.

So, what is the solution here? Combining various forms of running with other forms of cardio can help you strike a balance between weight loss and muscle growth.

Exercises such as cycling are very effective for muscle gain and fat loss. Running can lead to weight loss, but some other exercises may be more effective for weight loss.

Running Too Much

This might sound strange, but yes, too much running can be counterproductive in weight loss. Overdoing running may not be a problem for many, but it is still a real thing.

While running can be an excellent exercise for a healthy life, it exerts stress on your body.

Such body stress has an effect on your hormones, including the hormones that control your ability to shed weight.

Exercise, including running, causes your body to release the hormone Cortisol. Normal cortisol levels are not bad at all.

However, chronic stress coupled with high Cortisol levels can cause insulin resistance.

The body reacts to insulin resistance by storing fat in the belly which, of course, is against your fat loss plans.

Also, too much physical stress from running can lower your metabolism rate, therefore making weight loss even more difficult.

Final Thoughts

 As we have discussed, a good running routine can help with weight loss, while an ineffective one may lead to disappointing results.

It is important to note that weight loss is a multi-factor issue that requires you to pay attention to the various factors that influence weight.

For the desired weight loss results ensure that you adopt a proper running routine.