How to Use Running for Weight Loss
Quiet cardio on an empty stomach is not the most effective strategy.
Does running help you lose weight?
It helps, and this is a proven fact. In a year of quiet half-hour runs four times a week, you can lose about 3.3 kg without dieting.
But despite its proven effectiveness, even regular exercise can leave you without results if some essential factors are not considered. Below we discuss how you should run to lose weight for sure.
If you have cardiovascular ‑ or musculoskeletal problems‑or are very overweight or obese, consult your doctor before you start exercising.
How to do jogging for weight loss
If the last time you ran was several years ago, you should not rush into action. Your main tasks are gradually accustoming your body to physical activity and keeping it healthy and willing to run.
For your first workouts, alternate between light running and brisk walking. For example, run for three minutes, then walk for the next two minutes and switch back to running.
Repeat this five-minute series six times, and you have an excellent half-hour workout that will tire out any beginner. As you get used to it, decrease the walking time until you run nonstop for 30 minutes.
After that, congratulate yourself on your minor victory, but don't relax.
Increase the intensity
No matter how hard it may seem at first, running does not consume as many calories as one would like. For example, 30 minutes of running at 8 km/h burn only about 290 kcal for a person weighing 70 kg.
As the speed increases, so does the energy expenditure. The same person in half an hour of running at a speed of 10 km/h already spends 360 kcal, and if you speed up to 12 km/h - about 450 kcal.
A Cochrane review of scientific studies mentioned that intense workouts increase weight loss results by 1.5 kilograms per year compared to quieter exercise. So it makes sense to put a little more effort into your activities.
Set yourself a goal of closing one kilometer of your run a little faster and see how that makes you feel. If it went well, next time, try to run a little longer at your chosen speed.
You can also gradually increase the time you run - this, too, will have a good effect on your energy expenditure.
Alternate between a relaxed run and VITs and sprints
There are several methods of running workouts that are effective for weight loss:
- Long, quiet runs at the same pace. As a rule, the last 30-60 minutes, and all that time, you work at a low heart rate of about 130-140 beats per minute.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT). This is a method in which short intervals of high-paced running alternate with quieter recovery periods. For example, when you run one minute at 90% of your maximum heart rate (about 170 beats per minute), then 30 seconds at 60% of your maximum (114 beats/minute), and repeat this for 15-20 minutes.
- Interval sprints (IS). This is when you do your best for a short time and then rest. For example, you run as hard as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 4 minutes, and repeat this several times.
There is some evidence that interval exercise is more suitable for weight loss than long, quiet cardio. In one study, 20 men and women ran quietly for 30-60 minutes three times a week or made 4-6 sprints of 30 seconds each.
After six weeks, the group that did sprints had lost 12.6 percent of their fat, while those who did slow cardio lost only 5.8 percent.
The same was observed in other experiments involving 23 and 49 young, healthy women: in 6 and 15 weeks of exercise, intense interval training helped lose significantly more fat than long quiet cardio.
But a meta-analysis of 31 scientific papers did not confirm the advantages of VITI and sprints over quiet cardio. The scientists concluded that both options are good, but the difference between them is insignificant.
Another review of 13 studies found that quiet running and vigorous interval training help obese people lose about 0.8 kg of extra fat. However, they noted that interval training takes 40 percent less time.
So, it's not a good idea to do absolutely all runs in the interval training format all the more so because they are pretty energy-consuming for the body and require a lot of time to recover.
But, given the promising prospects for weight loss, there is no need to give them up either. All the more so because VITs are great for endurance. And the longer you can run, the more calories you can burn.
Do 1-2 interval running workouts a week, combining them with quiet long cardio.
Example of a 60-minute interval sprint:
- Warm-up: 20 minutes of running at a relaxed pace.
- Sprints: 1 minute of running at maximum effort, 2 minutes of brisk walking for recovery. Repeat eight times.
- Warm-up: 15 minutes of quiet running.
An example of a VIT for 20 minutes:
- Warm-up: 5 minutes of running at a quiet pace
- Intervals: run for an effort of 9 out of 10, then an easy run for 90 seconds. Repeat 4-6 times.
- Warm-up: an easy run for 5 minutes.
Adjust the time and intensity according to your physical abilities and feelings. Monitor your condition - if you feel unwell, end the workout.
Add strength training exercises
For all its benefits, running will not increase muscle mass. And if you reduce the number of calories in your diet in addition to training, it is unlikely to help maintain muscle mass.
The best strategy for protecting against muscle loss is recognized as strength training. An experiment involving 60 women found that diet combined with strength training can maintain and even slightly increase muscle mass. Quiet cardio, on the other hand, significantly reduces muscle mass.
In another experiment, women who did strength training and interval cardio lost an average of 1.3 kg of fat and increased muscle mass. In contrast, those who did long, quiet cardio without strength training did not lose fat or gain muscle.
Preserving muscle is essential not only for appearance but also for maintaining your metabolism. The amount of muscle mass is directly related to energy expenditure at rest. Losing muscle will naturally lower your energy expenditure and slow down your weight loss.
Do strength training twice a week on days of rest or quiet jogging.
You don't have to go to the gym - exercising with your body weight will be enough. To pump up your legs, do squats, stepping on an elevated position, lunges, and jumps. To strengthen the upper body - push-ups from the floor and pull-ups on the bar, plank, and twists for the body's muscles.
Compose a full-body strength workout of 5-6 exercises and perform them in 2-3 sets of 8-12 times on the upper body, 20 reps on the lower body, and 20-25 reps on the abs.
How to eat for those who run to lose weight
Nutrition is the main factor that can help you lose weight or, on the contrary, it can destroy all your efforts.
The Cochrane Review noted that if you combine exercise with diet, you can lose between 3.4 and 17.7 kg, while without attention to diet, the figure drops to 0.5-4 kg at the same time.
So, if you set yourself up for a significant weight loss, be sure to pay attention to this aspect.
1. Create a calorie deficit in your diet, but not too much. To lose weight without harming your health, it is recommended to lose 0.5-1 kg per week. Calculate the required calorie intake with a calculator and subtract 300-500 kcal from the resulting value to lose about that much.
If you do not want to keep track, give up calorie-dense and not particularly healthy foods: sugar and sugary drinks, fast food, processed flour products, alcoholic beverages.
2. Don't reward yourself for your efforts. In one small study, 16 men and women spent 200-300 kcal on a treadmill. At the same time, they estimated that they burned 3-4 times that amount (about 800 kcal). They ended up eating about 500 kcal after their run.
It is elementary to exceed the norm if you are used to rewarding yourself with sweets or fast food. One muffin contains about 370 kcal, a slice of pizza about 400 kcal.
Indulge yourself after your run, and you'll cross out the entire half-hour effort in five minutes.
3. Only run on an empty stomach if it suits you. You often hear that running on an empty stomach helps you burn more fat. A meta-analysis of scientific papers has shown that exercise on an empty stomach does increase fat oxidation, but only at light to moderate intensity. When the heart rate accelerates to 150-160 beats per minute, the difference disappears.
But even if you exercise at a low intensity, increased fat oxidation won't necessarily speed up weight loss. A study involving 20 young women tested whether exercising on an empty stomach would help you lose more fat. After a month of exercise, all of the women lost significant weight, and there was no difference between those who ran on an empty stomach and those who ate breakfast beforehand.
Run-on an empty stomach if you feel comfortable doing it. If not, don't torture yourself into believing that it will help you burn more fat.
Remember that the intensity and regularity of exercise and the total number of calories consumed per day mean much more than what time you eat.