Can You Lose Weight by Running?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on January 29, 2020
woman jogging near wire fence

To attain weight loss, you may need to combine nutrition, lifestyle, better sleep, diet, and persistence with regular exercise. And one of the ways to exercise is running. According to statistics, around 64 million people in the US have run at least once in the past few years (1)

This article explains how you can lose weight by running, how to begin, and some tips on how to lose weight by running. 

How Running Can Help You Lose Weight


  • It burns calories compared to other exercises


You are already aware that exercise can help you burn calories. And yes, if you want to lose weight, then the calories you burn should be greater than the calories you consume. Although running is very easy to perform, it is found out that running is the best option compared to other kinds of exercises because it compels different muscles in your body to work hand and hand (2)

There are various forms of running, each with different benefits and purposes. It was found out that high-intensity interval training, which involves running is the most effective form of running because it burns many calories a minute as it uses different muscles at their utmost power. 

And yes, the calories you burn in the running are way higher compared to other exercises and it is supported by pieces of evidence. For instance, a study has shown that the calories burned in the running are greater than the calories burned when walking the same distance (3)

The study manifested that if you run 1 mile on the treadmill, you will burn around 33 more calories as compared to walking. On the other hand, if you run 1 mile on the track, you will burn around 35 more calories as compared to walking. Although it seems like the difference of 33 to 35 calories is not that huge, this will result in burning 330 to 350 more calories when you run over a distance of 10 miles as compared to walking. 

Another study published in Harvard Health compared the calories burned by three people with different weights after 30 minutes of running, and the results are similar. Specifically, the calories burned in running 6 miles per hour after 30 minutes of running is 372 calories by a person with a weight of 155 pounds. This only shows that the calories burned in martial arts, vigorous swimming, and even basketball are lower compared to the calories burned in running (4)


  • It continuously burns calories even after exercise


Indeed, if you exercise regularly, you will most likely lose weight. But it is worth noting that there are only a few kinds of exercises which can burn calories even after you work out. For instance, interval runs and hill repeats are types of high-intensity exercises which can burn more calories within 48 hours after performing them (5)

High-intensity exercises utilize various muscles requiring more energy to recover afterward. The “afterburn effect,” as known in the fitness community, can help you burn more calories over time. In one study, it was shown that men who cycled for around 45 minutes at an intense pace burned about 519 calories during the exercise and additional 190 calories within 14 hours after the workout (6)


  • It can suppress your appetite


Some people try to eat less to reduce their calorie intake. But this kind of strategy always ends up to eating more because of increased hunger. The good news is that high-intensity running can help reduce your appetite after your workout. In this way, you will not be tempted to eat more food, which can add up to your calorie intake (7).

Although this response could not be exactly explained, scientists found out that one of the reasons why high-intensity running reduces appetite is because of its control in the hormones. It can decrease the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin while increasing the production of satiety hormones such as peptide YY. 

A study has shown that there is a decrease in the production of ghrelin among men who run for 60 minutes or engage in strength training for 90 minutes. Furthermore, the production of the peptide YY is increased by running.


  • It targets harmful belly fats


Belly fats are not good for your health. Several studies show that belly fats can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and many other diseases (8). It was shown that running allows you to get rid of your belly fats even if you don’t change your diet. 

Although aerobic exercises can help get rid of your belly fats, the most effective way to have the same effect is to engage in moderate-to-high intensity training (9). Furthermore, high-intensity running is better compared to low-intensity walking. 

There are many more benefits of running aside from weight loss. It can help you shield against heart disease, blood sugar, cataracts, falls, knee damage, knee pain, and many more. 

How to Begin

Before you start running, you should first consider the things that you need, such as a comfortable top and shorts or pants, a good pair of running shoes, and a water bottle. If you are a woman, it is suggested that you wear a sports bra to avoid pain. Furthermore, you may need to armor yourself with reflective gear, especially if you plan to run in the early hours or late at night to prevent accidents.

Here are the basics that you should know before starting to run (10):


  • Frequency


If you are about to start your running workout, you should target to run around 3 to 4 times a week. This will enable you to recover between workouts. Remember to take it slow. Don’t be in a rush to engage in a vigorous running immediately. 


  • Warm-up


Just like any other exercise, you may need to warm-up and stretch before you run. You can first stretch your arms, legs, and body for 5 minutes, followed by a walk at a slow pace, then power walk, and lastly run. 


  • Cooldown


After you run, it is also crucial to cool down, such as 5 minutes of walking. You can decrease your running speed if you are about to finish your work out. 


  • Time of running


You should aim to exercise about 30 minutes every work out including 5 minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of running, and 5 minutes of cooldown. 

Tips to Lose Weight by Running

Losing weight could be achieved not only by engaging in regular exercise but also by considering other things such as diet, nutrition, lifestyle, better sleep, and persistence. Here are the tips for you to lose weight (11):


  • Make dietary changes


If you want to lose weight, you should consider having small changes in your diet. You can add more fruits and vegetables in your meal. You can cut off regular soda, coffee, fruit juices, or other sweetened beverages to avoid more calories from adding into your weight. It is sufficient to drink water. 

Running can help you lose weight. But if you don’t consider your diet, your aim of losing weight will be less likely to be achieved. That is the reason why you may need to make dietary changes when you want to make running as a way of losing weight. 


  • Avoid processed foods


Usually, packaged foods are loaded with added sugar, added salt, and trans fats, which can contribute to weight gain. That is the reason why it is crucial to avoid processed foods if you want to lose weight. You should control your diet as well as engage in a regular exercise such as running. 

Processed foods are not healthy. It will not only lead to weight gain, but it will also make you exposed to various diseases. It can even make you fat. If you eat more processed foods, then the calories you burn from running will be wasted because these foods can add up to your weight. 


  • Practice portion control


You should practice portion control, especially after you run. Sometimes, there are those people who are tempted to eat extra food because they believe that a huge number of calories are already burned after running. 

It is best to have ready to eat foods at home, such as snacks consisting of 100 calories, so you are no longer tempted to eat unhealthy foods. If you want to eat out, you can ask your friends to share meals with them, or maybe bring half of the food you ordered at home. 


  • Check nutritional labels


Low-fat foods do not necessarily mean they don’t make you get fat. Some low-fat foods are also rich in sugar and carbs. Sugar is oftentimes added to fill the flavor that is supposedly from fats. Mayonnaise, marinades, sauces, and salad dressings usually contain many calories, as well as hidden fats.  

Running will not be effective for weight loss if you don’t consider the foods you eat. If you are not sure about the label, then it is safe to avoid these foods. Otherwise, you will be at risk of consuming foods that can contribute to weight gain. 


  • Your goal should be satisfaction


Although you are though to eat until you are full, it is best to determine when you are feeling satisfied with your foods. In this way, you can reduce the number of calories you take. The fewer the calories you take, the more chances you will lose weight.

You already know that the way to lose weight is to burn more calories and reduce calorie intake. Running is a good kind of exercise that can help you burn calories, especially high-intensity running. If you combine running with controlled food intake, such as when you already stop eating from the moment you know you are already satisfied, then there is a higher chance that you will lose weight.  


  • Slow down


If you eat more slowly, you can enjoy what you are eating. You can focus on savoring the texture and flavor of the food and focus on the food itself. You should take smaller bites and chew them properly so you will become more satisfied quickly. 

If you slow down when eating your food, you will feel satiated. If that is the case, then you will less likely be tempted to eat more foods for hours to come. This can also help in reducing your calorie intake, which will eventually help you lose weight. 


  • Avoid distractions


If you are multitasking while eating, such as when you are watching tv or reading a book, you will most likely eat more. That is because you are not paying attention to your foods. But if you lose the distractions, you will be aware of how much you already consumed. 


There is no doubt that running is dubbed as one of the most effective means of losing weight. The number of calories you will burn will mainly depend on your body size, and your running pace and duration. Running is known to help you burn more calories compared to other exercises, especially high-intensity running. 

It can even help in suppressing your appetite, which is also essential in losing weight. Before you begin to make running as a means of losing weight, you should consider things that are essential for running such as a comfortable top and shorts or pants, a good pair of running shoes, and a water bottle. After this, you should determine when and how long will you be able to run. You should also learn the things to do before and after running, such as warm-up and cooldown, respectively. 

Running is not enough to lose weight. You should combine it with diet, nutrition, lifestyle, better sleep, and persistence. Take note of the tips on how to lose weight. It will make running an effective way for you to shed off those pounds. 


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