Whether we will admit it or not, part of the reason why we all run is to help us lose weight as well as to stay healthy and lead a longer life.
Running isn’t always the most enjoyable form of activity, but it is certainly EFFECTIVE.
However, If your primary goal is to lose weight you may find you’re not losing weight as fast as you thought you would.
Or maybe you are GAINING weight instead of losing it.
There is no doubt that running is hard. We want to make running easier and make that hard run worth it. You might be wondering, how to burn more calories when running with the right amount of effort.
Why Does Running Burn So Few Calories?
So you are running but not losing weight, or belly fat? How is it possible?
Why do some runners NOT lose weight?
Here are a few things to look for:
1. Storing Fat For Energy
When you start running seriously your body is adapting to the increased demands of exercise.
As a result, your body starts storing energy in fat cells to fuel workouts, and it also starts converting muscle tissue into fat.
While this is normal, if you’re trying to lose weight, you should focus on eating fewer calories alongside exercising more.
2. Water Retention
When you train for a specific event, your body will begin to adapt to that particular environment.
Your body will start to STORE energy and repair muscle fiber damage.
You may also be drinking more water to keep yourself hydrated during your workouts.
The extra water will not affect the results of your workout but your body may be STORING it leading to increased weight.
3. Weight Of Muscle V Fat
You aren’t going to become an athlete overnight, but you will see improvements in your endurance, speed, and strength.
Over time, your body will start to build muscle while burning fat.
But you may also find your body will also gain a small amount of weight, but you will still lose inches around your waistline.
This is because muscle weighs more than fat.
4. Longer vs. Faster
If you walk at a pace of 3 mph, you’re doing about 2.5 miles per hour. That’s not very fast. So let’s say you walked for 30 minutes every day.
You’d be out there for 90 minutes total. That’s a lot of time! If you were to run at the same speed, you’d be running for 45 minutes each day.
That’s still a lot of time. So what does all of this tell us?
It tells us that when you’re trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t just randomly choose a number of minutes to exercise.
Instead, you should focus on increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Pushing yourself harder during your workout could lead to greater fat loss than doing longer workouts at lower intensity levels.
Researchers have compared short but intense exercises to long, less-intensive cardio.
According to one study, those who performed four to six 30-second “sprints“ were found to burn more than twice the amount of body fat than those who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes at a lower intensity (fat mass decreased 12.4% with sprint interval training and 5.8% with endurance training).
So sprinting in intervals seems to be the best type of running to lose weight and burn more calories.
But for long-term success, it’s essential to vary your workout routine.
Combine steady-state and sprinting workouts to avoid plateaus and reduce your risk of injury. Exercise regularly and consistently is the best method for a healthy life.
5. Forget The Calories
Calorie tracking apps are great for keeping an eye on your progress, but they aren’t always helpful.
Many of them don’t ACCURATELY measure calories burned during exercise. They don’t account for the fact that we burn different amounts of energy depending on our activity level.
That means if you’re running at a fast pace, you might burn fewer calories than someone who runs at a slow pace.
If you’re trying to lose weight, then knowing exactly how many calories you’ve burned may not be important. What matters is whether you’re losing fat or gaining muscle mass.
If you’re sitting around all day, watching TV, playing video games, or doing nothing productive, then you’re burning almost no calories.
However, if you’re active throughout the day, moving around, walking, jogging, riding your bike, etc., then you’ll likely burn more calories.
For example, an hour of moderate-intensity cardio burns about 200 calories.
So, if you spend two hours per week working out, you’ll burn approximately 400 extra calories each week.
That means you’ll lose weight!
Muscle tissue requires energy to maintain itself. When you build muscle mass, you increase the amount of energy your body uses at rest.
When you run, lift weights, or engage in other forms of physical activity, you create new muscle cells.
These new muscle cells require energy to grow and mature. As a result, you will burn more calories while exercising than you did before.
6. Don’t Overdo It
It might seem like a crazy idea, but if the number on the scale doesn’t change it may be because you’re exercising too much.
For most people trying to lose weight, exercise is essential for health and well-being.
However, when we exercise too much our bodies release too much cortisol, which impacts our hormones and causes us to retain water.
We then become dehydrated, causing our metabolism to slow down. As a result, we gain weight.
If you’re looking to shed those last stubborn pounds, try reducing your exercise volume.
High levels of cortisol also cause your muscles to break down faster, causing them to waste away. This leads to an increased risk of injury and illness.
The Bottom Line
If you are running but not losing weight, it can be frustrating. It can seem like running isn’t contributing to your weight loss goals.
But sprinting is a super healthy practice. Rest assured building muscle is a great thing to do for your body.
Remember muscle weighs more than fat. Don’t rely on the scales for a true reflection of what’s changing in your body.
With the right mindset, running can become an essential element in your life for gaining optimal health.