Weight loss through running

One of the primary reasons for people to get off their couches and into their training shoes is the prospect of achieving weight loss through running.


There are countless inspirational stories of people who were living miserable lives because they were so overweight, but through following a running programme, they have been able to turn their lives around.

It doesn’t matter how slowly you run, or how far, by adding a regular exercise slot into your weekly routine you will achieve your goal of weight loss through running. Thousands of people have embarked programs like the C25K and lost pounds in weight as a result.

Weight loss through running

CC Image courtesy of Warren Long on Flickr

Looking in the mirror and suddenly realising that you are overweight is a sobering moment in people’s lives. Being told by a doctor that unless you lose weight you will suffer severe or life-threatening illnesses can come as a shock and suddenly discovering that you are not able to play with your children because you are so overweight can be a heart-breaking experience. But it is never too late to turn the situation around.

The easiest remedy is weight loss through running. By combining healthy eating with an activity program, you will begin to see the results within a few sessions and you will feel the benefits very quickly.

However, a common complaint among runners is that instead of losing weight, they actually gain weight. There are a number of reasons for this. The main one is over-compensating for the calories burnt while running. Generally, someone running one mile will burn about 100 calories. This amount will increase if that mile is run very quickly or you run on an incline, but 100 calories is a good basis to work on. If you do your 5K training run, you will burn about 300 calories; you will feel great and about 30 minutes after you finished your session you will feel very hungry.

At this point, it is important you exercise discipline and eat something healthy and low in calories, rather than a sugary snack. You will only achieve weight loss through running if your energy output is higher than your calorific intake.

Another reason you might gain weight, despite regular running, is that your body composition is changing. This will probably happen as you progress from the 5K program to running 10K. For the first few weeks and months you will be burning fat and losing weight. Then you will notice that instead of continuing to lose weight, you hit a plateau or even gain weight. However, if you look carefully at your body shape, you will notice that there are some subtle changes – your legs will be toned, your calves, hamstrings and quads will have definition. Your buttocks will be taut and your thighs more svelte. Your stomach will be flatter and your hips leaner. This is muscular development, and muscle weighs heavier than fat. There is a common myth that exercise turns fat to muscle – this is untrue – you cannot change butter into lean meat. Instead you lost the fat, hence the weight loss, and now you are developing muscle, hence the gain in weight.

If you do hit a plateau there are a number of things you can do to kick start your weight loss through running:

  • Keep a food diary – by counting all you consume during the day, you will be able to identify areas where you might be slipping into bad habits. You might be taking an extra biscuit with your cup of coffee, or your portion size might have crept up.
  • Re-assess your calorie requirements – if you have lost a lot of weight you might need to re-adjust your calorie intake.
  • Increase the intensity of your work-out – if your goal is a four mile run, try to run it faster than normal. This will increase your energy expenditure and cause your metabolism to rise, burning more calories.
  • Increase the distance you run. By adding a mile to each workout, you are increasing your calorie burn. This goes back to the simple weight loss through running principle – weight loss = calories eaten – calories burnt.

Weight loss through running is really effective but it is difficult to always maintain motivation. There are some things you can do to ensure you stay on track:

  • Treat yourself for targets reached – if you lose a set amount of weight, treat yourself to a spa day, or a new piece of running gear as a reward.
  • Work with a buddy – if there are two or more of you following a weight loss through running programme, you are more likely to keep going. If one of you is lacking motivation, the other person can be the inspiration for that session.
  • Go to the online forums and share your thoughts – these sites are great for peer support. You might have lost weight and want to shout about it, or you might have hit a wall and want to wail about it, either way you will find like-minded people who will share tips or applaud your success.