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Running To Lose Weight: Does it Work?

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By: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, NMD - Men's Health Doctor & Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project,

running to lose weight

If you’re thinking about losing weight, you may be thinking about running to lose weight. But does that actually work?

Running can burn calories and help you to eliminate excess fat.

As an added bonus, research shows that runners generally have a reduced likelihood of cardiovascular disease!

But, as we’re about to discover together, you can start running to lose weight, but it’s not a complete plan.

You’ll need to make running part of your new lifestyle.

Before you groan remember your goal, to lose weight.

Running is a positive way to achieve this, you’ll feel great and it will cost you next to nothing to get started.

The Benefits Of Running

If you’re interested in running to lose weight, then you’ll be pleased to know that it can be part of your plans.

Even if you’re not a fan of running, you’ll be able to find a way to incorporate it into your schedule without having to jog for 30 minutes every day.

That’s the beauty of running, whether you love it or tolerate it, you can use running to lose weight. 

Lets’ take a look at the benefits of running:

Accessibility

Running is simple. Regardless of your current fitness level, you can start running today.

All you need is a pair of trainers, comfortable shorts, and a T-shirt.

You can choose where to run, whether it’s down your street, at the local park, or even on the treadmill at the local gym.

The range of options is virtually limitless, allowing anyone to start running and find the option that suits them best.

Cost

There are plenty of exercises that cost money to get started.

For example, starting cycling requires a bike, using the gym requires a membership, or joining a fitness club will require a subscription.

But, to start running you already have everything you need.

Of course, you may want to splash out on some running shoes in the future, but when you’re just starting running to lose weight, even these are not essential.

There is very little else that you can start which is completely free, although you could give this workout a go!

Weight Loss

Running is not the only activity that helps with weight loss.

In fact, almost any activity will help you to burn calories.

When you run your body is forced to convert glucose into energy to power your muscles, this uses up your glucose stores and forces your body to convert fat into energy.

The further you run the more energy you’ll need and the greater your calorie burn.

Weight loss is simply a case of consuming fewer calories than your maintenance amount.

Exercise, such as running, increases the calories you burn which improves the likelihood of you ending up in a calorie deficit.

In short, you’ll lose weight!

Here’s a quick example to help ensure you understand this point:

  • The average man needs 2,500 calories a day.
  • To lose weight you should aim to eat 2,000 calories, this will help you lose 1-2 pounds a week.
  • Running for 30 minutes burns approximately 350 calories
  • You can, therefore, eat up to 2,350 calories on a running day and still lose weight.

Of course, this is a generalization. Maintenance calorie requirements and calories burned will depend on your individual lifestyle habits.

Strengthens Muscles and Bones

Running for weight loss, or any other reason means you’re using your leg muscles.

Using any muscle in your body will place it under strain, the more strain it is under the more likely it is that the muscle will develop tiny tears.

As these tears heal they will grow stronger, making your muscles bigger and stronger.

As a bonus, additional muscle burns more calories, increasing your daily calorie burn and magnifying your weight loss efforts.

But it’s not just the muscles that will become stronger.

Research shows that the impact of running actually increases bone mass, helping you to run better in the future.

Of course, increased bone mass reduces the likelihood of osteoporosis as you age and can improve your balance, reducing the chance of falling and injuring yourself.

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Boosts Cardiovascular Fitness

Another great benefit of running is an improvement in your cardiovascular fitness.

Running is considered to be an aerobic exercise, this means your heart rate is elevated but you should still be able to talk.

Your body will pump blood and oxygen faster, ensuring that all your organs have the nutrients they need.

This can help to reduce the buildup of plaque and other materials inside your blood vessels, improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your likelihood of age-related diseases.

Running To Lose Weight: It’s Not A complete Plan

As a dedicated runner, I have to say running is great.

Whether you’re slogging up the hills or flying down them, there is little that makes you feel as good as when you come to the end of the run and your endorphins are pumping.

However, while running to lose weight is a viable option, it is important to remember that running by itself is not enough.

Put it this way, if you run for an hour and burn 700 calories but then eat a donut (452 calories) and a can of soda (150 calories), then you’ve just replaced 600 of the calories you burned running.

In other words, you may as well have run for 10 minutes and not had the donut or soda.

Exercise in any form can only be part of your plan to lose weight.

You need to check out the free 1-day meal plan from the Fit Father Project and start changing the way you approach your food.

It’s only by ensuring you eat a balanced diet, alongside your running, that you’ll be able to lose the weight.

However, don’t forget that if you’re exercising you need to make sure you get enough of all the essential minerals, calcium is particularly important when strengthening your bones.

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Incorporating Running Into Your Weight Loss Plan

You know running to lose weight can work, but you also know that you need to make it part of your overall plan.

Fortunately, this is not difficult:

  • Start by scheduling your run. 30 minutes, 5 times a week is a good idea but you may want to do less if you’re just starting out.
  • Take a look at your eating habits. It’s time to ditch processed foods and look at both your maintenance calories as well as the calories you’re consuming.
  • Focus on a healthy approach to food, not a diet. If you’re not sure what approach works then take a look at the perfect plate eating method.
  • Give yourself a treat but don’t make it a food-based treat, this is likely to replace the calories you’ve burned running and damage your weight loss efforts.
  • Don’t forget to rest; work up to 5 runs a week and make sure your body gets at least 24 hours of rest between runs.
  • It is also essential to get enough sleep, this isn’t just beneficial for weight loss, it will benefit your overall health.

Bonus Tip: If possible run in the morning, you’re more likely to stick to your schedule and research suggests you’ll be more successful at losing weight.

How To Make Running More Effective

Running for weight loss is effective but you can improve your results with these simple techniques:

Variety

Variety means that you’re less likely to get bored.

You should be looking at different routes to take from your home and even mixing up your activities.

Just because you have started running for weight loss, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include some cycling, swimming, or some other activity.

If you do the same routine every day your body will adapt and it will lose its effectiveness.

Mixing up your routine will help!

Sprinting

Sprinting is a great option when you have limited time.

The idea is to sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then take a break for 60 seconds before repeating.

This creates sudden changes in your heart rate which will boost your metabolism and can give you the same effects in 10 minutes as a 30-minute jog!

As a bonus, you’ll burn more fat after your workout than by just running for 30 minutes!

Add Hills

Hills are harder work but they force your muscles to work harder.

This increases the resistance, helps you to build more muscles, and will boost your stamina, as well as improve the look of your glutes!

If you don’t have any hills near you then use the treadmill and set it at a 5-10% incline.

Stairs

Another great way to keep challenging your body and really push your calorie burning is to add in stairs!

Find a good flight of stairs and run up them as fast as you can. Then jog back down them.

If you’re up for it you can then repeat the process, but expect to feel the burn in your legs and glutes.

Strength Train First

If you really want to start running to lose weight then add in some strength training for approximately 20 minutes before you run.

Here’s a great strength training workout to get you started.

This will burn your glycogen stores, which means when you go for a run straight after you’ll be burning fat!

Top Tip: Do compound exercises slowly with free weights to boost strength and use as many muscles as possible.

A Few Health and Safety Suggestions

We live in a society obsessed with health and safety but, in this instance, it is worth taking a few precautions when running:

  • Never eat straight before you run, you’ll probably end up with cramps.
  • Try not to run during the hottest part of the day.
  • Music helps you run but don’t have it too loud, you need to be able to hear what is going on around you.
  • Always take a cell phone with you, in case you have an issue.
  • Let someone know when and roughly where you’re running, again this is in case you have an issue.
  • Don’t try to keep running with an injury, you’re likely to make it worse.

Thoughts To Run Away With

Running to lose weight can work, providing you pay attention to your diet as well.

But, as with any change to your lifestyle, it is important to change things slowly.

This will help you to create a habit that will last you for many years, as opposed to one that is simply a fad.

I love running, which makes the process much easier. But, even if you don’t love running you’ll find you can incorporate it into your schedule and start losing those excess pounds.

To make sure you’re successful at running to lose weight, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • If you’re over 40, book a check-up with your doctor, it will help you to understand the correct starting intensity.
  • It’s best to start with brisk walking, or slow walking if necessary. Build your stamina slowly, it will take approximately 6 weeks to start running regularly.
  • Also, warm-up and warm down. This will help to prepare your body and prevent injury.
  • Drink, but not whiskey. You need to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water before, during, and after a run.
  • Allow at least 2 rest days a week when you don’t exercise, especially when you’re first starting out.
  • When starting choose flat routes with an even surface.
  • If you’re running on or near a road avoid the peak hours, you don’t need to be inhaling those fumes!
  • As soon as you know your serious get yourself a pair of running shoes.

Now start running to lose weight today, you won't look back!

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Dr. Anthony Balduzzi NMD - Men's Health Doctor & Founder, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Dr. Anthony holds dual degrees in Nutrition & Neuroscience from the University Of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and is also a national champion bodybuilder.

After watching his own Dad lose his health and pass away at the young age of 42, Dr. Anthony founded The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project to help busy Moms and Dads get and stay permanently healthy for their families.

Brotherhood Nickname: Mr. Results
Bragging Rights: Has helped over 10,000 families lose over 100,000 lbs of fat and rebuild lean muscle

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on running to lose weight.

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