Running for Weight Loss – Your Essential Guide
Want to lose fat? The first thing to do is ditch the fad diets, empty claims, and bogus weight loss products. The breakdown is simple: to lose weight, you need to sustain a calorie deficit diet.
Running is a great way to help you sustain a calorie deficit to aid weight loss—and doing it regularly could even potentially allow you to eat more food, so you can lose pounds without feeling like you’re starving yourself. Now that’s an idea that should make your stomach smile.
Does when I run make a difference to weight loss?
You might have heard people swear by getting up early, rolling out of bed, sliding into their comfy cushioned trainers and heading out the door for a morning jog. If you value your sleep as much as most do, you might think these people are crazy.
There is a method to their madness, though.
Not only does greeting the day with active energy get your blood pumping and body moving, but it’s also the best time if you’re running for weight loss. Exercising early in the day boosts your metabolism and creates an “afterburn effect”. This means it increases your BMR, making your body burn more fat even while you’re sitting or sleeping.
The moral here: get up and move—the earlier the better. Instead of keeping to the road, find a park or a nice nature trail to run through and enjoy the scenery. The more you run, the more potential you’ll reveal in yourself, the better you’ll feel (and the thinner you’ll look!).
Can you lose belly fat by running?
In short, yes!
We all have our ‘problem areas’ and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying the belly is one of mine. How often have you said “I’m too out of shape to run, too tired, too (insert your own excuse here) … I’ll just target my abs instead”. Not wanting to burst your bubble but you won’t lose fat from your abdomen by just lying on the ground and doing crunches all day.
To tone your tummy, you need to reduce your overall BMI (or body mass index, a measurement of your body fat based on your height and weight) and running for weight loss is the best way to do so.
What do I need before I start running?
When it comes to running, it’s not like you need to learn some complicated new set of exercises; just walk, but faster. Anyone can do it, men, women, boys, girls and the best part about it is you don’t need to blow the budget on expensive exercise equipment or gym membership!
If you’re serious about running for weight loss, you will need to invest in a good and dependable pair of trainers/running shoes, preferably with a cushioned insole, to take you where you need to go and help you achieve the results you’re after – without burning out on stress or discomfort before you can get there.
Other useful things
You don’t need much else other than a good pair of shoes and a positive attitude when you’re running for weight loss, but there are a number of handy accessories that can help track and promote your progress, such as:
- A Pedometer—unless you’re pre-mapping your routes, a pedometer will measure the number of miles you log while you run
- Heart rate monitor—these are critical for running and weight loss because your elevated heart rate will let you know how many calories you’re burning. Keeping track of this is paramount for staying in a calorie deficit, so we recommend keeping an activity log to record your data.
- Running apps—instead of taking it upon yourself and measure your distance and tracking your calories, take advantage of a bevy of apps that can do it for you. After installing an app for running and weight loss, you’ll be asked to enter some data regarding your height, weight, and age.
You can usually find all of these features and more on the various ‘Smart’ watches that are available for both Apple and Android.
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Ok, so we’ve talked about running, but is it really that simple? Is running the answer to weight loss? The simple answer is yes, however, running a few miles on a road or cross-country, especially if you’re new to the running game, requires endurance, mental toughness, and a lot of sweat so it’s unlikely you’ll be running a marathon or anything long-distance straight away but never say never!
Even if you don’t have any pain or discomfort while running, it’s not uncommon to get out of breath easily—especially if you’re just getting started. If this happens to you, you might be wondering: How can I increase my pace without getting so out of breath?
Firstly, let’s talk about the reason why you might be getting out of breath. Breathlessness is a sign of physical stress. Experiencing shortness of breath while running is common but if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised it makes sense to be checked out by your doctor first, to make sure you have a clean bill of health before embarking on a running journey or increasing your usual training.
Like any form of exercise, it’s important to running in the right way;
- Warm up adequately.
You should always warm up for a minimum of 20 minutes by walking or jogging at a very easy pace. Warming up prepares your body for the workout ahead by gradually increasing your heart rate and breathing rate. Sweating is a good indication that your body is warm so use that as a guide, and then start gradually picking up the pace. (Our bodies don’t like going from zero to 60!)
- Start slow
Begin with 10 minutes total run time and gradually increase this time by two minutes every other week. When you reach 20 minutes, run at a faster pace for two minutes, jog easy or walk for one minute, fast for two minutes, easy one minute, and so on. Increase the run interval time gradually to three minutes, then four minutes, and then five minutes etc etc
- Don’t be put off easily
The beauty about running is it can be done in all weathers – A bit of rain? No problem, just chuck on a waterproof top and off you go!
- Get other people involved
Running can be a social activity too and something you can do with friends and family. It’s surprising how much you can gain from having a good support network around you of people with similar goals
The beauty of running is it’s low impact and completely aerobic, which means you will be burning fat as a preferred fuel source. Running can also help ramp up your metabolism, as you get stronger, lighter and faster.