One of the simplest ways to get fit is through cardio activities. They require little to no equipment, small amounts of time, and can be performed outdoors. Running is a form of cardio that burns plenty of calories and is ideal for conditioning. In this blog, we’ll look at running for weight loss and how to burn fat while running.
Walking, jogging, cycling, elliptical machines, Zumba classes, and dancing are all cardio options (i.e., aerobic exercises) that increase your body’s endurance so you can build up your fitness routine and burn more fat. Yet, there is a certain nuance to running (where, how, pace and distance) that broadens the possibilities for weight loss.
Can you really lose weight while running?
You need a lot of energy to sustain a significant run. The fuel for that is calories, and the more of them you burn while exercising, the more fat you stand to lose. Running is an excellent fat-burner. However, it’s not just any run that will do the trick; plus, you’ll need to keep your metabolic rate consistent. The factors at play are intensity and variety.
The body can grow accustomed to a particular routine and stop burning as much fat because that level of exertion becomes standard. Switching up your routine and increasing its difficulty level will ensure that you keep burning fat. That said, if you combine the two factors—intensity and variety—in the wrong way, you risk injury and muscle loss. It’s best to start with fixed limits regarding duration, speed, and inclination.
Running for Weight Loss: How to begin?
If you are not used to running—or doing any sort of cardio exercise at all—it may seem daunting to get into it quickly. Our advice? Baby steps. Our bodies always need time to get used to performing a new activity, so you need to grant yourself a transitional period.
Start small: Begin with jogging or power walks if you aren’t there yet. Stick to flat surfaces and a light pace at first, then increase inclination and speed. Your smartwatch or step counting app can probably track your patterns and indicate your progress. When you’ve developed enough resistance, you can move up to running.
Once you can comfortably take on running, remember to approach it progressively. Keep the speed and elevation low, then gradually push yourself harder and go faster. You become a runner through endurance. After you reach a sufficient stamina level, you can take up intervals or combine ultimate fat-loss techniques through running.
Running Workouts for Weight Loss
There’s a two-way route: slow and steady, or fast and short. Slower runs are lengthy affairs, where you keep the same pace from beginning to end. Quick runs are often done in intervals to make the most of a small window of time and alternate between high-speed running and recovery.
Your success at losing weight through running depends on your effort. When you run, your body first makes use of fat for fuel. However, the longer you run, the more the fuel source shifts to calories (many of which come from carbs). With high-intensity running, you burn more calories, even if your sessions are shorter.
This is the reason why HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts are so popular! They allow you to pause and recover instead of sending you off into a continuous super-intense routine. Just don’t do them every day. High-impact exercise requires time for the body to recover between workouts. Combine this type of activity with core work and weight training to boost metabolism.
Common Questions and Mistakes
Our mothers’ “patience is a virtue” reminder extends to the world of fitness. The first, most common, and worst mistake newbie runners make is to go all-in right off the bat. We know the excitement and satisfaction of finding you’ve reached a new level as you jump straight into high performance can ultimately hurt you. Prevent injuries by not pushing your limits too far, too soon.
So, how do you tell whether running really is helping you lose weight? This is where knowing your body fat percentage comes in handy because fat-loss can’t be measured on scales alone. If you know your body composition, you will be able to track the fat burn derived from your running sessions.
You may wonder if it’s a good idea to eat after running. Well, if you want to drop some pounds, it’s best to understand that your body continues to burn calories in the immediate 2–3 hours post-run; during which time, it’s best to drink liquids. You want to replace all the fluids lost. If you need to eat something after running, try a little protein or something with a small number of carbohydrates. Examples include greek yogurt with berries or a protein shake.
That said, depending on the length of time you plan to run, it may be or may not be necessary for you to eat something before running. If you’re planning to do under 60 minutes, your body stores something called glycogen, which will give you the energy you need to complete a workout of this length.
For runs lasting longer than 60 minutes, you’ll want to snack on something that has all of the essential macronutrients. It doesn’t have to be a lot, perhaps some turkey and cheese on a slice of whole-grain bread or whole-grain toast with a ¼ avocado or a tablespoon of nut butter. A cheese stick and carrots also make for a good option.
Are you opting for a high-intensity session? The energy to sustain exercise will come from what you have consumed earlier. Having enough fuel for your run is important, so consider some foods with carbs and some protein. Things like dried fruit, bananas, or even a granola bar (that is not high in sugar) can provide solid sustenance.
More Tips for Weight Loss
If you enjoy running for weight loss but want some variety, try other forms of cardio. Jogging gives you more control over performance and breath. If you enjoy cycling and use it as your main form of transportation, this activity will feel like a natural fit—and an efficient one at that!
Whichever program you end up following, always remember that, beyond working harder, weight loss is about working smarter.