Many people start running to lose weight – it is one of the most efficient ways of burning body fat and a great tool for controlling your weight for the long term.
Running for weight loss has its pitfalls though, and often runners struggle to keep their weight down because they overcompensate by eating too much. Some runners I know believe they can eat like a horse because they run 50 miles a week – but they end up carrying that extra weight with them!
If you want to lose weight by running you need the right method and approach.
Here is a list of running tips which have helped me in the past…
As a beginner interested in running to lose weight a healthy diet should be your first priority. Avoid processed foods, high calorie portions and saturated fats. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat cuts, whole grains, nuts, dairy, and drink plenty of water. Vegetarians and vegans may have to plan their food with a bit more thought to increase the supply of vital nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium and protein, but it is perfectly doable.
Burn More Calories Than You Consume
Losing weight is not a complicated thing: Calories measure the energy content of food and if you exceed the daily calories your body needs your body stores them as fat. To reduce body fat and lose weight you need to eat less calories or burn off the excess calories with exercise. Running to lose weight is very effective at this.
Beginners Avoid Dieting
Diets are not for beginners. To sustain energy for running your body will need a balance of wholesome foods rich in vitamins and minerals. By dieting you reduce the energy available for running which can often be the cause of illness or injury. So, as a beginner, focus on eating the right foods for fuelling. When you routinely eat well with regular mileage then consider a running program to slowly lose weight.
Keep A Journal
Everyday record how many calories you eat together with how many you have burned. This may seem like a hassle at first but it soon becomes second nature. If you are running to lose weight you require a deficit of 250 calories a day to lose half a pound a week. By writing everything down you learn how to manage your weight, it just takes a bit of practice.
When your muscle mass increases, the amount of calories you burn also increases. Research shows that 3 lb of lean muscle burns between 120-150 calories a day. This lean muscle improves your resting metabolic rate – meaning you burn more calories while at rest. Aim to strength train 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
How Many Calories?
Multiply your weight in Kg by 33 and this will give you the calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. It is an estimate which is based on a person with a moderately active lifestyle who doesn’t exercise and can be used as a baseline. If you weigh 76Kg you would need 2508 calories a day (76×33).
Research shows that by eating food slowly you are more likely to lose weight. The reason for this is that it takes 10-20 minutes for the brain to receive the signal from the stomach that it is full. We tend to eat past this point and overeat. Try taking smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly before you swallow (chew about 20 times). After all, why rush something you enjoy doing?
Low Calorie Diets?
If you are running to lose weight you will want to stay away from low-calorie diets.
By eating a low amount of calories your body thinks there’s a shortage of food and tells your metabolic rate to slow down, causing your body to burn less calories . This is a good survival instinct for when you are starving to death but not so good when trying to lose weight! As soon as you start eating normally again your body will store more fat than before in case there’s another food shortage! Low-calorie diets also reduce the amount of vital nutrients the body needs for running so avoid them… no matter what.
Eat smaller portions and you will eat fewer calories. An obvious fact I know, but a fact all the same. If you have small portions on your plate it follows you will likely eat less. If you have large portions in front of you the chances are that you will eat what’s in front of you even if you are already full. If you go to restaurants often ask for extra salad or vegetables and smaller portions of meat, fish etc. You’ll soon get the hang of it. Admittedly, if you have smaller portions you may still be tempted to eat something else after, but if your food has settled there is a good chance you will feel full. You can always snack on dried fruit, salad or vegetables if you’re not. So, if you are running to lose weight remember to always eat smaller portions. And try to spread out your calorie intake for the day over several meals. This helps to sustain your energy and you will also feel less hungry.
Running to lose weight safely involves following a running program, this will help you no end. Writing down what you eat and what you burn is one thing, if you follow a training schedule as well you will improve the chances of succeeding. By running to a schedule you are also less likely to over-train and injure yourself. A running program allows you to make progress gradually, at the same time as running to lose weight.