Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Tips for Running to Lose Weight

Over and over research shows that adding exercise to a weight-loss program helps increase the amount of weight lost as well as increase the chances of keeping the weight off over time. On the flip side, if all you're doing is running and not modifying your diet, you probably won't see the weight loss you'd hoped for. To see the desired outcome of a slimmer you, you have to modify your diet and add the exercise. Check out the 10 tips below on running to lose weight.

1. Keep in mind that a longer run at a moderate speed burns a good amount of calories. Maureen McKinney (Medill News Service/Chicago Daily Herald) wrote in an article, "Statistics from the Weight Loss Control Registry, a research group that studies people who have successfully lost weight and maintained their weight loss, point to the need to consistently burn 2,800 calories through exercise each week in order to successfully lose weight. Rather than fast, exhausting runs, weight loss at this level requires longer, slower runs—about 25 to 30 minutes—spaced three or four times throughout the week. This doesn't mean a good speed workout or hill work doesn't burn a lot of calories, they do! But don't feel like your slower more moderate runs aren't benefiting you. They are! Also, if you're new to running, you'll need to work your way up to more intense workouts in order to avoid injury. So take it slow at first and work your way up and feel good about any and all the running you do.
2. Know your caloric needs. Use Active.com's Caloric Needs Calculator to help you. Then use their Nutritional Needs Calculator to help you break those calories down into carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Keep in mind that it's best to cut no more than 200 to 300 calories per day.
3. Try running in the morning before breakfast. This will force your body to use fat stores for energy instead of all the day's fuel intake.
4. Josh Clark from CoolRunning.com says, "By running, you step up your calorie use significantly, since the average forty-minute run burns about 500 calories. By eating moderate meals and grazing on healthy snacks throughout the day, you can keep your calories below the break-even point (about 2500 calories per day for the average runner) without ever feeling hungry.
5. Remember that running doesn't give you license to eat more. That will defeat the purpose. Don't get in the mentality of banking calorie credits... "I can eat that slice of chocolate cake, because I'm going to run 5 miles this afternoon." Allow yourself a treat from time to time, but don't connect it to your running.
6. If the scales are showing no weight loss or even a gain, whip out the tape measure. Your weight can fluctuate greatly when running, due to hydration levels. Taking regular measurements of your hips, waist, and thighs will give you a better idea of the progress you're making.
7. Add some resistance training to your routine. Not only does this help with improving bone density, it can help you burn more calories.
8. In addition to keeping a running log, keep a food log. Writing down what you eat tends to make you more accountable for what you eat. Also, just as your running log can help you track trends in your training, your food log will help you see negative as well as positive trends in your eating habits that you may not be aware of.
9. No matter what the TV ads say, there's no quick fix. It will take some time to see results. Don't get discouraged. At some point you may even experience a plateau in your weight loss. If this happens try changing your running schedule. Mix it up. Add a speed workout or a hill workout once a week. Throw in some cross training (cycling, elliptical machine, walking, swimming), anything that will throw your body a curve so it says, "Hey, wait a minute, this is different. What' going on here?!" Mixing up your routine will often help get you over that plateau.
10. Find a running coach and/or personal trainer. Being accountable to someone else other than yourself can often keep you on the straight and narrow or in this case, the slim and trim.

37 comments:

Gina Harris said...

Great post! Thanks.

Regina said...

oh yeah, #5...that is my problem. Just say no to the chocolate cake!

DNLeeper said...

VERY good post. When I lost my 70 lbs, I used the Weight Watcher program - which is basically the counting of calories, fat, and fiber. It makes you keep the food log - plus the running causes you to earn extra points back. Good stuff.

NY Wolve said...

Two very important things are consistency and persistence. Consistent exercise, diet and dedication will produce results. Persistence, because Rome was not built in a day. That is good and bad. Significant weight will not drop off in a week. But it also did not accumulate over a week either. So one good day or bad day doesn't define your weight.
And for people dieting, daily fluctuations are not that important because, as you say water, sodium, etc. Keep eye on big picture and know that a consistent good plan will yield positive results.

Jo Lynn said...

#5 - blah, blah, blah! ;)

Jen said...

Ooh, Number 3...great advice!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Gina! Thanks! Hope you're having a great summer!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Regina! You can have some cake now an then. Especially if it's chocolate. I won't tell.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Mr. Leeper! Looking buff there on the beach man!

RunnerDude said...

Hey NY Wolve! Well said!!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jo Lynn. You need a 5-minute time out. Go ahead, now. I'm counting.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jen! #3 is a good one. Hard to do at first, but does seem to work.

Justus said...

Good Points in running for weight loss except for number 1. This could not be further from what study after study proves. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/fashion/03Fitness.html Always running at a medium speed does not lead to weight loss like running hard or specifically intervals can. Using myself as an experiment: I used to run all my workouts at medium speed, I would run up to 70 miles a week while preparing for an ultra and loss very little weight (while watching calories). Since then I have changed up my training and now never run medium speed. I always run hard, hard intervals, or easy and have seen significant improvements not only in speed/endurance, but also weight loss. I agree that running easy or medium for half an hour a few times a week will definitely help one lose weight, but it is not even close to the best way to do it. Why not do a post on this topic?

RunnerDude said...

Hey Justus! All good points. I think the point I was trying to put across, especially to those having a lot of weight to lose is that every workout doesn't have to be at breakneck speed to see benefits. Speed workouts definitely to burn a lot of calories. However, someone who has 60lbs to lose may get discouraged thinking they have to do repeats to see weight loss. What works for one may or may not work for another. Thanks for sharing your insight and experiences.

TC said...

Hey..you have a great blog. Excellent posts..keep up the good work.

Ms. V. said...

#5 is my downfall. Great post.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Justus! PS: I tried to check out the article you mentioned, but the link appears not to work. It takes me to NYC Times, but it says it doesn't exist.

RunnerDude said...

Hey TC! Thanks man! Just checked out your site too. Good stuff! (RunnerDude's Blog readers, if you haven't check out TC's site http://livesmartbook.blogspot.com/)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Ms. V! You don't seem to be alone! Myself included.

RunToFinish said...

loving the changes here and the comments!

what are your recommendations for finding a coach

RunnerDude said...

Hey LoveToFinish! I love the comments and banter too. I'm no expert by any means, so love to hear all points of view. To find a running coach in your area, I'd first check with your local independent running store or running club and see if they recommend someone. You can also go to http://www.rrca.org/coaches/ and search for a RRCA certified running coach in your area. I'm getting my certification on July 12th!!

KBroome said...

This is so darn helpful! I have been trying to figure out specifically how many carbs, prot., fiber, etc. that I need!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Kbroome! That's Great! Glad it helped!

Justus said...

RD, I was just trying to point out a different point of view than the article. I believe the high intensity training can be done by most people, regardless of physical condition, assuming they are cleared by there MD for exercise. High intensity to some may be running a 5 minute mile and for others may be walking a 20 minute mile. I have included some links to articles about HIIT's benefits.

NY Times Article

BioMed, very technical, Article

US News and World Report Article

RunnerDude said...

Hey Justus! No, I welcome your input. I by no means am an expert. Just sharing ideas. You've shared some great info. Glad the readers have your information and links to check out too. The more the better. I was not offendede by your comment. Hope I didn't come across as such. I welcomed it. I'm going to check out this newer view and do like you suggested...most likely do a post on it. Thanks for all the feed back and keep it coming!

Jessica Lane said...

Thank you so much for posting that. After training and running my first half marathon last year, I thought that I was going to lose weight but I ended up staying the same if not gaining weight. Diet and exercise go hand in hand!

Jay said...

For nutrition: Don't be afraid of carbohydrates, but try to limit them to un-processed whole grains, sprouted grains, etc. Even better, eat them mostly in the morning, when carbohydrates are less likely to be stored as fat.

Dena said...

#5 is just crazy talk! =)

I used to be amazed I hadn't lost more weight from running but you're right... weight training and diet are key. It's all tied together. I've been thinking of writing my foods down for awhile now as I'd like to shed 5-10 pounds. This was a good reminder. Thanks.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jessica! Glad it helped. Yep, they do go hand in hand. What's up next on your racing schedule?

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jay! Great tip! Carbs are your friend if you're a runner and unprocessed whole-grains are your best source of energy. Glad you reminded us of that.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Dena! Writing it down has helped me. Some days I'm amazed at what I've eaten. Real eye-opener. Definitely makes me more accountable.

Jessica Lane said...

Haha. Nothing yet. You should check out my blog to find out why :(

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jessica! I just left a comment on your blog.

jeffgoblue said...

Great post. One comment on #1. You burn the same number of calories per mile regardless of pace. In other words, if I run 4 miles in 40 minutes, I burn the same amount of calories as if I ran the same 4 miles in 24 minutes. Or 60 minutes.

Note that your burn rate per minute is much higher running faster. So you burn more calories running 40 minutes hard versus 40 minutes easy, for example.

Equal distance means equal calories burned regardless of pace.

Equal time means that the faster pace burns more calories.

Note that when comparing different runners and their calorie burn, a heavier runner burns more per mile than a light one -- it takes more energy to move a heavy mass a given distance.

One thing intensity does do is stoke your metabolism. You will have more post run calorie-burn after a hard workout than after an easy one.

So you should never feel bad about running slow to lose weight. But it will mean running for longer time. This feeds into Justus' point in that medium or slow running takes longer, and people don't often put in enough distance to burn enough calories. If you've only got 30 minutes to work out, you'll burn more doing it fast versus slow.

But don't be fooled. It's all physics -- the energy burned/expended is a function of how far you move a given mass a given distance. Run farther, burn more.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jeffgoblue! Welcome to the blog! Well said! Thanks for explaining that so much better than I did.

Coach Heather said...

#5 should also say, don't load up on unlimited pasta! I always thought running meant eating pasta! Umm, no luck in reducing weight!

Great post

RunnerDude said...

Hi Heather!LOL! Yep, you have to watch it. When I'm training for a marathon, I eat a ton of it, but mostily whole grain or multi-grain pasta. It's a great fuel sorce, but if you're eating more than your burning, it can spell trouble. LOL!