4 Things to Try If Running Isn’t Helping You Lose WeightPosted: January 4, 2020 in Getting Active, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
It’s a common scenario: You start running because you hope to lose weight. But when you get on the scale, you see you’re actually gaining weight! Sometimes this happens because you’ve lost fat and put on muscle, which is heavier than fat tissue. For a good return on your investment in running, you need to tweak both your diet and your workout. If you choose to run to lose weight, you should make sure to try the following lifestyle changes:
1. Eat fewer Calories
When you start running, the exercise may increase your appetite. You’ll give yourself some slack because you worked out and believe you can burn off anything you eat. Regular exercise doesn’t make it okay to eat a calorie-rich diet. If you love the idea of a 500-700-calorie post-workout protein shake, there’s no way you’ll be able to lose weight. You’ll quickly eat back all the calories that you burn in the workout, and then some.
The rule of thumb: burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If you lose one pound a week, you need to either burn 500 calories every day for seven days or cut your calorie intake by that much. To do this it’s important to focus on a healthy diet full of lean protein, and non-starchy vegetables. If you eat a diet full of sugar and refined starches like white bread, rice, or pasta, you’ll never be able to work out enough to burn it all off.
2. Change Your Running Routine
Running at the park, local track, or around the block can be a great way to start. Unfortunately, the body can quickly get used to these runs and stop losing weight in response. Practice exercise diversity by varying your runs. A run down a forest trail with uneven terrain bends, rocks, and logs will get your body using different muscles. Running on trails that keep throwing different kinds of terrain at you is also a good way to avoid repetitive injury.
Best of all, chasing your running route will keep you from growing bored of running. You won’t even need to spend a whole hour on the treadmill. All you’ll need to do is to try a 20-minute high-intensity interval training run. You burn the most calories when you keep your body guessing at what kind of challenge comes up next.
3. Run More Frequently
When you first start to run, 10-20 minutes a day for 2 times a week it probably all you can manage. Since a slow, 20-minute run can only burn 180 calories at the most, you won’t lose that much weight. When you increase your workout frequency to 5 times a week and run up to 45 minutes each time, you will put on muscle and lose more fat.
In the beginning, if you can only run for 5 minutes before you need to walk and catch your breath, it’s fine. Just as long as you keep moving as well as you can for an entire 45-minute period, you’re giving your body what it needs. The rule is to run frequently and mix it up to keep your body alert.
4. Build Some Muscle
If you want to lose weight, it’s critical to pair strength-training with running or other forms of cardio. Not only does strength training help improve your body’s fat-to-muscle ratio, but it also helps you feel stronger and more confident about your ability to work out. You may find yourself skipping workouts far less often.
Strength training is also vital because it helps build muscle, the tissue that tends to burn more energy than fat tissue. The more muscle you have, the more energy you burn, and the more you may be protected from injury.
Running can be a great way to lose weight, but you need to run the right way. To achieve this, run multiple times each week, mix up your running routine, and build muscle. Altogether, it can help you lose weight.
Read our FREE e-book Chasing Diets and learn about the weight loss program that works.