Running for weight loss can bring excellent results, but as when undertaking any weight loss regimen, time and patience are required, and consistency is key.
According to fitness authorities and specialists in the fields of nutrition and physiology, it is common for people to expect immediate results when exercising. When this doesn’t happen, many of us give up.
This scenario can play out regardless of the activity, and especially when undertaking exercise that requires a certain degree of fitness before goals can be realized, as is the case with running.
For example, if you are new to running, it might take you 10 minutes to cover one mile in distance. This is an excellent start, but you won’t experience substantial health benefits and weight loss until you run for at least 20 to 30 minutes or longer, each session.
It will take time and regular training to get to this level, especially if you are out of shape when you start.
In this article on running for weight loss, we will look at running and weight loss, the best way to start a running program for weight loss and more.
Calories Burned When Running for Weight Loss
Research carried out by the Weight Loss Control Registry showed that one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off is to consistently burn around 2,800 calories through exercise on a weekly basis.
We’ve long believed that longer and faster running sessions are more effective for weight loss. Recent studies, however, have shown that when running for weight loss, better results can be achieved by doing longer sessions, at a slower pace. Running at top speed for a shorter time was found to be nowhere near as effective. (An exception is sprint interval training.)
The research concluded that running at a slower pace for 25 to 30 minutes, three or four times a week, brings optimal results. Beginners, in particular, are less likely to suffer injuries training this way, too.
Your starting weight will play a significant role in the number of calories you burn when you run. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn.
A man of average weight will burn approximately 100 calories for every mile he runs. A woman of average weight will burn about 91 calories when covering the same distance.
NB: Be sure always to commence your running session with a Warm-Up and end it with a Cool-Down.
Running For Weight Loss Tips
Following is a running program for weight loss, along with some tips to help you get started.
Running Program for Weight Loss
- Fat-Burning Runs
The human body burns fat most efficiently when we run at a speed that is around 65% of our maximum heart rate. The latter will vary, depending on the age of the runner and their resting pulse rate.
The traditional way of determining maximum heart rate is known as HRmax. To calculate your maximum heart rate, first, subtract your age from 220.
Multiply that figure by the percentage of your maximum heart rate you want to work at. The number you come up with is the heart rate to aim for.
This method was widely used for over forty years, but a 1992 study of over 6,000 women concluded that while accurate for adult males, it overestimates the HRmax for adult females.
A newer formula that works well for women is to subtract 88% of the female exerciser’s age from 206, then multiply that figure by .65.
While the difference between the male and female maximum heart rate recommendation may not seem significant, going over your recommended maximum heart rate can stress the cardiovascular system.
Exercising at a level that is too intense can also be discouraging if you are always struggling to get there.
If you’re not good at math, an easier way to determine your maximum heart rate is to use an online calculator. If you don’t have one available, run at an effort level of approximately 5 out of 10, with 10 being 100% effort. This will be about 65% of your maximum heart rate.
The longer you run at this pace, the more body fat you will burn. For the best result, increase the length of time you run, rather than your pace.
Tip: To burn the most fat, steer clear of sports drinks and energy gels. These are high in sugars and carbs and so reduce the muscles’ reliance on body fat for fuel.
- Sprint Intervals
Sprint intervals are another excellent means of losing weight.
When sprinting, we burn a lot of fat, and we continue to burn calories afterward. Sprinting uphill is even better, as it elevates the runner’s heart rate to a very high level, almost immediately.
While undeniably challenging, sprinting uphill puts a lot less stress on the joints and muscles than sprinting on the flat or downhill.
So definitely introduce some 30 second uphill sprints into your regular running program for weight loss. Go at a hard pace, but not that hard you are unable to do all of the sprints.
After sprinting up the hill, walk back down, then continue your run. Add an extra sprint or two each week, until you are doing 20 per workout.
Start by working at about 75% of your maximum heart rate. Increase the intensity as your fitness improves until you are sprinting at full effort (85%).
NB: Don’t include sprints until you can run for 20 minutes at a time, and start with just two.
Tip: Aim for at least 2 or 3 sprint interval sessions per week.
- Strength Training
When running for weight loss, it’s important to watch your calorie intake. If you take in more calories than you burn exercising, you will not lose weight.
Running typically burns around 300 to 500 calories per session. The problem with this is that along with burning fat stores; we can also lose muscle mass.
Strength training workouts can preserve your current muscle mass and increase it.
By including strength training in your running for weight loss program, you will also be burning additional calories. Two full-body strength training sessions a week will bring good results.
Tip: Focus on bodyweight as well as weight-lifting exercises, such as Lunges, Squats, Dead Lifts, Push-Ups, Shoulder Presses, and Planks.
Running for Weight Loss Summary
When running for weight loss, you will reach your goal weight faster if you also reduce your calorie intake. Trying to lose weight through exercise alone would take too long, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.
After you’ve been dieting and exercising for a while, you will lose weight at a slower rate. This is normal, so be patient. Combine your running program for weight loss with a healthy diet, and you will achieve your goal.