Running is a great way to lose weight, but works best with a sensible nutrition plan to complement your new-found exercise programme. In general, those who lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off are exercisers. Exercisers are much less likely to yo-yo, too. Your food is your fuel and if you’re burning off the right kind combined with a healthy amount of aerobic exercise, there’s little reason for you not to achieve your weight loss goals.
Research has shown than those with weight loss goals who ran more than 5 kilometres per week for 1 year but did not change their diets lost about [kilograms:3 – 4]. New runners who ran the same amount of kilometres (miles) per week for one year lost an average of [kilograms;5 – 6].
Slow progress is sustainable. If your weight loss goals are higher, it is best to work with a nutritionist and trainer to formulate the best plan for you. You can build up to 60 minutes per run session as a way to burn more calories. You must remember that the more exercise time you build, the more you will stimulate your appetite.
It may be a simple activity to participate in, but it is just as easy to make silly mistakes. Getting your exercise and eating habits right are crucial for effective weight loss. When you focus more on calorie restriction than exercise, you tend to lose muscle along with body fat. If you make the correct changes to your nutrition and exercise routine, you are more likely to preserve muscle and lose more fat.
Running (correctly) is among the most effective exercises for weight loss and can leave you looking leaner and feeling lighter than many other activities. Typically, you burn more calories per minute when running than you can when riding a bike or swimming.
- Rule 1: If you’re heavily overweight, walking is far less stressful on your bones, muscles and joints of the lower extremities. You don’t have to start your weight loss journey by running and potentially cause yourself unnecessary injury. Walking is ‘stressful’ enough to begin stimulating adaptations in the cardiovascular and muscular systems of the body to make you stronger and more resilient. Prep your body by walking first. When you’re ready, gradually ease into a running programme.
- Rule 2: Don’t run on consecutive days (initially). Recovery is just as important a part of the process as exercising and healthy nutrition. Bones, muscles and joints need time to recover from the stress of running. Your body’s tissues can only come back stronger if they can heal. For beginners, sometimes one day isn’t enough to recover. You can incorporate non-impact workouts in between run days if you wish to continue activity on your non-run days.
- Rule 3: Take care not to increase your run time by more than 10% each week. The 10% rule will ensure that you don’t increase your running volume too quickly and overdo it. It also promotes sensible and consistent running increases which your body can adapt to more easily and maintain. If you struggle in the beginning, start at the lower percentage end and work your way up to 10%.
- Rule 4: Create a healthy calorie deficit (i.e. burn more calories than you eat in a day). Running will help you maintain a calorie deficit by quickly increasing the amount you burn per run. You will find that your appetite increases as a result (either by just a little or you may find yourself feeling ravenous). For those with a weight loss goal this might be a frightening thought. The key is what you eat, when and keeping within the limits of the portion scale. Increase the quality of the foods you eat, more so than the quantity. High quality foods are less energy dense and are more satiating, allowing you to fill up without the added calories.