5 Ways to Run for Weight Loss

5 Ways to Run for Weight Loss

There are lots of reasons to go for a run. Weight loss might not always be one of them.

This idea can come as a surprise for some. But it’s a thought most recreational long-distance runners likely agree with.

Take blogger Tina Haupert of the popular healthy living blog CarrotsnCake.com. She has written on her blog that she gained 10 pounds or so with each marathon she trained for — and it wasn’t muscle. It wasn’t until marathon number three that she tamed the training-weight beast through a few careful strategies.

Studies back up this idea. One survey of recreational marathon runners, conducted by Mary Kennedy, an exercise physiologist at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, found that out of 64 runners, 11 percent lost weight during marathon training. But 11 percent gained weight (a figure that included 86 percent women). The remaining 78 percent reported no weight change, after three months of four runs per week, according to New York magazine.

With this in mind, there are a few strategies that can help you tip the scales (pun intended) in your favor, whether you’re training to run Boston, aiming to lose weight or just jogging for your mental, as well as physical, health.

Run for Weight Loss

1. Add Intensity 

There’s a saying with running that goes: run faster to run faster. (Get it?) If you want to up your fat and calorie burn, not to mention become a better runner, intensity is key. You can also add in incline — but don’t count on longer distances to increase intensity, Shape.com warns. Instead, add in sprints for fat loss, or take your usual jog with a speedy friend to push your overall pace a bit.

Consider one study Shape cited: “One group performed four to six 30-second ‘sprints’ while the other group did cardio for 30 to 60 minutes. The results were nothing short of amazing. Despite exercising for a fraction of the time, those in the sprint category burned more than twice as much body fat.” Wow.

2. Time Treats

Chances are, your town as a local meetup group devoted to running and beer. Or jogging and donuts. In some circles, running and not-so-healthy rewards go hand-in-hand.

workout reward two women run for weight loss

Celebrating your wins is great, but cheering every run with all the candy, chips and cookies you can manage is not the best-strategy for long-term health, something blogger Haupert said she had to learn. With marathon number three, she wrote that she learned to stick with “rewards,” such as peanut M&Ms, after long runs only, not as anytime foods.

3. Focus on Fuel

Treats aside, don’t forget to eat. Running more is going to make you hungry, whether it’s adding 1 or 2 miles to your routine, or 26.2. With this in mind, properly fuel your hard-working body with appropriate amounts of protein, fat and complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. You’ll feel good, and perform better, too. Before and after your runs might be the most important times for optimal nutrition, VeryWell.com notes.

4. Switch it Up

You know what they say: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. This message completely applies to running for weight loss.

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Your body is amazingly adaptable. With the same 3-mile route at the same pace, over time, your body will adapt to the stress of this particular run. As it adapts, it becomes more efficient, meaning it’s not burning calories at the same rate, Shape.com explains.

5. Rest!

When you’re running hard and often, rest and recovery can be the most important part of your training plan. Your body needs time to adequately bounce back from stress (such as a tough workout). Without rest, there’s no time for your muscles to repair and build up, rather than be torn down. Rest days can also help keep your stress hormones in check, another important element for weight loss.

“Every time you place physical stress on your body, you need to give it time to recover to be fitter, stronger and support your metabolism for the next time you work out. If you’re going to go at it every day, how is your body going to recover?” trainer Nicola Addison told The Daily Mail.

TELL US: Has running helped you lose weight? What have you learned along the way?

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