Running to lose weight? Here’s why it works

Running to lose weight

When thinking about how to lose weight, you might think about eating little food, whilst exercising like crazy. Even though this could be seen as correct, and will make you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time, it is very hard to sustain and can actually be harmful to our bodies.

So what makes us lose weight? It’s actually a pretty simple formula: if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

However, a lot of people unknowingly consume substantially more calories than they need (thanks to today’s modern diet), and underestimate how many calories each exercise burns.

Why run to lose weight?

Simply put, running is the easiest way to burn calories at low intensities. For example, a runner could run slowly for an hour and burn circa 750 calories (depending on the individual). After this run, this individual will still feel pretty fresh, and the next day they’ll be ready to run for another 60 minutes the next day.

Let’s compare this to a weights session in the gym. Even though you can still be sweaty and tired after 60 minutes, you would have done well to burn 400 calories. Furthermore, after a big weights session, you could be sore for a couple of days, which could hinder your exercise in the coming days.

If you’re running to lose weight, you can burn more calories, with less effort and less physical repercussions. Burning mass amount of calories helps you lose weight rapidly, even if you’re not cutting your calories to reduce your overall intake. Learn about training slow in order to run faster here.

Want to improve your running in 2020 and lower those personal bests? Click here to get your personalised training plan, designed for optimal fitness whilst reducing your chances of injury.

Sprinters and Marathon Runners

Running is definitely a fantastic way to lose weight, however, if done correctly it is also a great way to increase muscle and power. Look at sprinters for example, they are light on their feet whilst having muscles upon muscles. How do they do this? Sprinting. Becoming a great sprinter requires developing your strength and your speed.

When you are sprinting often enough, you are pummelling the ground and pushing off it at great force, which will help develop massive amounts of strength in your legs. At the same time, you will be pumping your arms in order to help propel your body forward. Whilst training to run as fast as possible, you build and develop your fast twitch muscle fibres, which help increase your base level of speed.

Sprinter next to distance runner
Look at the difference between a Kenyan distance runner (left) and Usain Bolt (right). Both of them are runners, so why do they look so differently?

Another reason why top-level sprinters also look very lean compared to most distance runners, is because of their muscles. When you run slowly, you lose weight because of the sheer amount of calories you are burning. When you sprint, you lose weight because you’re developing your muscles.

Having more muscle means having an increased metabolic rate. Put simply, a higher metabolic rate means you burn more calories whilst doing nothing, which definitely helps you lose weight. Click here to learn why all runners need speed training.

The best way to lose weight

So far we’ve looked at why running helps you lose weight, but what’s the best way for the everyday person to lose weight? If you look at the formula we looked at before (if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight) then it can seem pretty simple.

To lose weight, whilst maintaining optimal health, I suggest the following: firstly find out what your maintenance calories are. Next, devise a healthy, balanced diet which keeps you at least 200 calories under your maintenance calories. After that, devise an exercise program which includes cardiovascular activity (e.g. running), and some strength work (e.g. weight lifting).

If you do all this, you will be getting the right amount of nutrients, whilst losing weight and developing your strength. Weight loss can certainly help you maintain optimal health, however it is important to make sure you do not end up underweight.

Read more of our running and fitness articles to help expand your own knowledge of running.

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