. . . to weight loss?
Yes. No. Maybe.
Some runners have won the genetic lottery: all they have to do is run (or start running) and the weight just melts off. It’s usually not quite that simple for the rest of us.
Abs are made in the kitchen
No doubt you’ve heard that abs are made in the kitchen. I am not a medical professional, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer, but through my own journey and my observations of others’ journeys, I believe it to be true.
You can’t out exercise a bad diet. Sooner or later, it will catch up with you. There’s no reason to punish yourself for eating “badly” by trying to exercise it off. It doesn’t work, anyway, and most likely will do far more damage than good in the long run.
Can you lose weight without exercising? It will probably come off slower, but if you eat healthy, most likely you will lose weight. Exercise has so many benefits, so far beyond losing weight — I’m not advocating not exercising. I’m just saying do it because it makes you feel good, not because you think you need it to erase too many indulgences.
Forget about calories in, calories out
Many people believe that weight loss is a simple equation. Burn off more than you take in and you’ll lose weight. Running happens to burn more calories than many types of exercise. Which is why so many people (myself included) turn to running when they think they need that little something extra.
If it were truly that simple, far fewer people would have weight problems. Not all calories are created equal. You can eat 200 calories of donuts or 200 calories of a nice sirloin. A steady diet of donuts is not going to help your waistline, no matter how carefully you calculate calories in vs calories out.
#thestruggleisreal with runger
It is very easy to overestimate the amount of calories you “burned” and innocently overeat to “refuel”. Which is exactly how I ended up gaining weight training for my first half marathon.
How ironic is is that I started running to help bust through a weight loss plateau, only to end up gaining even more weight? It’s not an unusual story, either.
Yes, fueling properly for runs and refueling after long runs is very important. In fact, doing it properly can even (sometimes) knock out that runger (hunger from running). But . . . and you knew there would be a but, right? But it often takes a lot of experimenting to find out what will slay your runger but not pack on the pounds.
It may not be the golden tick to weight loss, but running can help
I personally believe that long distance running is not the secret to weight loss. Strength training, HIIT, Tabata — these are the sort of workouts that really torch fat. Basically, anything where you’re getting your heart rate up and increasing your muscle mass. Again, I am not a medical professional.
If you do decide to take up running and you’d like to lose some weight, here are my tips:
- Don’t worry about “refueling” for short runs (anything under an hour). It’s not necessarily wrong, especially if you haven’t eaten in a few hours, but it’s also not necessary.
- Don’t just run easy all the time. Your body adapts to exercise very easily, and then it can take more and more effort for the same results. Do some speedwork. Run some hills. Vary the distance.
- Don’t forget the strength training. Not only will it make you a better runner (maybe even a faster runner), it can also help prevent injury. A side benefit is that it will make you look as if you’ve lost weight even if you haven’t. Check out my post “5 Reasons to Be a Killer B” here for where you can get some great workouts geared towards runners.
- Don’t forget the protein. Protein will help you feel fuller longer and it helps you repair and rebuild those hard-worked muscles.
- Don’t forget to visit on Friday when I’ll be sharing some tips on how to prevent those rungries from happening in the first place.
- Running for weight loss? Prepare to be patient
- Nutrition for Runners
- Racing Weight (Amazon Affiliate link)
- Run Off 5 Pounds
- Beginner’s Guide to Running for Weight Loss
- Diet vs Exercise: The Truth About Weight Loss
Talk to me:
Was weight loss a factor for you in starting to run?
Did you continue to struggle with weight loss once you started to run?
Do you feel that you “have” to exercise when you’ve eaten something “naughty”?