Why Can't you Lose Weight by Running?

Running can help you lose weight, as long as you have in mind the following factors that shouldn't be overlooked.
Why Can't you Lose Weight by Running?

Last update: 12 May, 2020

Perhaps you’ve dived into the world of running for health reasons? Maybe you’re looking for a new personal challenge, or to achieve a new result? We’re not just talking about training for a competition, but about the issues facing you whenever you step on a scale. Which factors should you consider to lose weight by running?

Many times, people give up running since no matter how many miles they run, it’s impossible to lose any more pounds. This probably happens because they haven’t taken into account essential aspects to lose weight by running. We’ll talk about them in the following paragraphs.

Don’t trust the scale!

Normally, when someone steps on the scale and looks at their weight, they usually draw the following conclusions:

  • When the weight is higher than it was before, they think they’ve gotten fatter and failed.
  • If the weight is lower than their last weigh-in, they think it’s due to fat loss and accept it positively.
  • If the weight remains the same, they think that nothing has changed, and so the effort has been in vain.

However, the truth is that a conventional scale doesn’t reflect the actual physical changes that occur in our bodies. For example, it doesn’t take into account if the pounds you gained or lost are the result of an increase or loss of muscle mass or fat mass. And in the event that your weight remains the same, it doesn’t reflect if there’s been any physical change.

A woman stepping on a scale and celebrating that she was able to lose weight by running

In turn, bioimpedance machines or anthropometry are precise and reliable tools (José Rodríguez, 2016). Useful if you want to have a reference to the physical changes that are happening in your body.

Running can’t be an excuse to eat more

If you run because you want to lose weight or reduce accumulated fat, the aerobic and anaerobic activity that you’re performing doesn’t justify the intake of unhealthy or hypercaloric food.

This is because if the sum of calories we burn during the day -while resting, during our daily activities and running- is less than the sum of calories we ingest during the day, there will be no calorie deficit.

Also, keep in mind that it’s not just about counting calories. You have to know what macronutrients they come from, and what vitamins and minerals you’re providing for your body. Therefore, when talking about losing weight, it’s a good idea to visit a nutritionist.

Add strength training

If you’re looking to lose fat, running can be a great ally, as it helps to burn more calories during the day. Also, when it comes to aerobic exercise, fats are your main source of energy.

However, there are other alternatives that can provide great benefits in relation to fat loss, such as weight lifting. This work, in addition to favoring the increase of muscle mass, also accelerates the metabolism. The more muscle mass you gain, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.

The body adapts to the circumstances

Our bodies are smarter than we normally think. When we perform an activity frequently, our body ends up adapting to it, and thus, it minimizes the physical effort involved.

A woman running and smiling

Therefore, it won’t be necessary to make any physical changes to face the same activity, and you’ll fall into stagnation. In the particular case of runners, it’d be interesting to introduce a new stimulus, such as interval training.

This means alternating high running intensities with active recoveries. There’s proof that this type of training favors fat loss (Boutcher, 2008).

Half an hour is not enough to lose weight by running

If you only run for 30 minutes and spend the rest of the day on the couch or sitting in front of the computer, the calorie burn will be very low. For this reason, you need to stay active throughout the day to burn more calories than you consume at the end of the day.

Running helps to lose weight, but it’s not everything!

In conclusion, although running can be a great ally in the fight against being overweight, it’s not a fundamental basis. Diet, along with an active lifestyle, plays an essential role in this regard.

Finally, there are other physical activities that you can combine with running, such as bodybuilding or interval training. They’ll be of great help in reducing your body fat percentage.

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  • Boutcher, S. H. (2018). Ejercicio Intermitente de Alta Intensidad y Pérdida de Grasa. Darío Cappa Capacitaciones. Revista de Educación Física.
  • de José Rodríguez, I. (2016). Valoración de la composición corporal por antropometría y bioimpedancia eléctrica. Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria.

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.