Whenever someone wants to shed some pounds via exercise, he or she resorts to running to lose weight. Unfortunately, what people fail to realize is that running is not the most optimum exercise for weight loss.The same goes for walking or jogging. These are all steady state cardio exercises that are not high on the hierarchy of effective exercises for fat loss.
Table of Contents for Article
- 1 Running for health or running for weight loss
- 2 You must increase exercise intensity
- 3 Why do some people lose weight from running
- 4 Extreme running and marathons
- 5 The casual runner gets into a routine
- 6 Video Transcript of Running to Lose Weight
- 7 Cardiovascular exercises offer active fat burn
- 8 Running for health or running for weight loss
- 9 The body adapts to running
- 10 Interval training as a better form of cardio
- 11 If you are not exercising, any exercise will help
Running for health or running for weight loss
When it comes to running, you really have to ask your self what you are trying to achieve. Are you running for health or running for weight loss. There is a world of difference between the two. Running can have a tremendous effect on your health. You will find that it can normalize blood pressure and even insulin levels. Latest research has also shown that running is very beneficial for your brain. It helps release endorphins and other useful hormones that enhance your overall health.
You must increase exercise intensity
But that is as far as running goes. It is not the most effective exercise as far as weight loss or fat loss is concerned. When it comes to losing fat, there is a hierarchy of exercise effectiveness. The best exercises for losing fat are exercises where intensity can be varied. Steady state cardio exercises such as running do not fall under this category simply because these exercises are carried out at constant intensity. People who jog or run, seldom change their intensity levels. They run the same constant speed and distance every time. This is where the problem with running to lose weight lies. In order to increase exercise intensity for running, you must either run faster or run further. This is just not practical beyond a certain point.
When you want to shed fat, you need to be consistently increasing exercise intensity. Strength training is one exercise that allows you to achieve this. You can increase the weights as you get stronger. This prevents your body from adapting. When you stop increasing intensity, you are giving the body a chance to adapt to the exercise. When the adaptation occurs, your body gets into a balance that minimizes fat burn.
Why do some people lose weight from running
People who lose weight from running are almost always those who have never exercised before. For someone who has never exercised or is just coming back after a long break, any movement will cause weight loss. This can easily go on for 6 to 12 months. After 12 months, your body will become well adapted to your running routine and your weight loss will plateau. Unless you are doing some other form of exercise that allows intensity variation, you are not going to see anymore weight loss.
Extreme running and marathons
People who do lose weight from running are those who do “extreme running” such as participating in marathons or triathlons. These are extremely demanding exercises on the body. These exercises create such severe energy deficits on the body that are difficult to satisfy. Furthermore, marathoners run under time pressure. They are constantly trying to improve their running time which actually allows them to vary exercise intensity.
The casual runner gets into a routine
The same cannot be said about the casual runner. The casual runner runs the same distance in the same amount of time. He or she rarely pushes beyond the comfort level. The causal runner gets a good workout and reaps all the health benefits associated with running. But there is no benefit as far as weight loss is concerned. This applies to the casual runner who runs a mile or someone who runs 15 miles.
How to make running work for weight loss
As I had mentioned earlier, constant running intensity is the reason that it is not as effective for losing weight. This is where interval training comes into play. It is a form of intense exercise done in cycles. Each cycle has a work phase and a rest phase. The work phase is where you run as fast as you possibly can and the work phase is where you walk at a slow pace to recover from the earlier exertion. You could repeat this for 6 to 8 cycles. This is an extremely effective exercise for losing weight. Read more about how to make running work for weight loss.
Further reading on running and weight loss;
In the video above, Suresh and Paramjit discuss about some of the finer points about running to lose weight. People who are using running or any cardiovascular exercise as their primary means to lose weight will benefit tremendously from this video.
Hi this is Suresh and I am Paramjit and we are from the Correct Weight Loss team.
[Suresh] Today we are going to talk about an interesting topic which is rather popular. What we are going to talk about is running for weight loss. I believe a lot of people are looking at running as an option to lose weight. Running is off course the most common means besides cutting calories to opt for when people try to lose weight.
Cardiovascular exercises offer active fat burn
[Paramjit] When it comes to exercise, it is the first thing that comes to people’s minds. The thing that people got to remember is that an exercise like running comes under the group of cardiovascular exercises. It only gives you active burn. You only burn calories when you are doing the exercise. So if you exercise for half an hour, it’s going to give you fat burn for half an hour. If you exercise for one hour, you will burn fat for one hour.
[Suresh] The moment you stop exercising, the fat burning slows and stops. Is that normal for all kinds of exercises?
[Paramjit] For most cardio exercises it is. If you look at weight training, it is not the same. Weight training has continuous after-burn. Fat burning continues even after the exercise stops.
[Suresh] So you burn while you exercise and you also burn after the exercise.
[Paramjit] Yes. It makes a lot of sense. If you are going to put some effort into an exercise, you are going to want to have continuous fat burn. But we will also talk about a different type of cardio exercise that can give you continuous fat burn and we will come to that later
Running for health or running for weight loss
[Suresh] There is a fundamental difference that you have to understand. Running gives you good health. No doubt about it. Moderate running that is and not marathon running because then you go beyond the point of health enhancement. But it is not the most effective way to lose weight.
[Paramjit] I guess what people got to ask is whether they are running for health or running for weight loss. It is a question that needs to be asked.
[Suresh] Running is good for health but not optimal for fat loss or weight loss. It makes you feel good. It de-stresses. It’s like a reset button in your brain . You get the runners high with the endorphin release. From a health perspective and a feel good perspective, running is good. But it’s not optimum for fat burning.
[Paramjit] I think it is important to stress that the moment you approach a topic as controversial as this, you get all the runners up in arms. They do not like to hear that running does not help weight loss.
[Suresh] Let me give you an example. I know a friend of mine who has been running for years. He runs 11 km daily and 6 days a week. He still carried a spare tyre in the mid-section. I told him that his body has adapted.
[Paramjit] A lot of people will probably be up in arms when you tell them running does not help weight loss. For somebody who has not exercised, any form of exercise that he does will help him lose weight because it is movement. But what happens is that after a while, he may find that his body adapts.
The body adapts to running
[Suresh] It helps in the beginning but what happens is that your body adapts. The muscles in your legs become more efficient. They in fact even shrink to become more efficient and consume less energy so that you can run faster and further without becoming too tired. If you need to keep on continuously losing weight and losing fat, you have to actually keep on increasing your distance so that you get the same effect that you got when you started. This is not practical in terms of time use as well as wear and tear on the body. Like I said, it may help in the beginning but after a while the body adapts. The effects of weight loss or fat burning are minimum after a certain point.
[Paramjit] So I guess there is a key difference here. What you really need is an exercise where you can continuously increase intensity. As an example, take the exercise of weight training. When you do weight training for your legs, you are not going to be carrying the same weight for the rest of your life. You are going to be increasing the weight as you go on. As you get stronger, you increase the weight. That helps increase fat burn, muscle size and metabolism. When it comes to running, the only way you can increase intensity is either by running faster or running further. Now how fast can you run and how far can you run. So there is really a physical limit. We have to be clear here. It is good for health but does it really make sense for weight loss
[Suresh] Yes when there are actually better means of exercising which induce weight loss such as strength training and interval training.
[Paramjit] It is better return for your time investment.
Interval training as a better form of cardio
[Suresh] So basically the other option besides running is interval training. Interval training is what we call high intensity interval training., This is where you do short spurts of sprints followed by rest periods and then followed by another cycle of sprints and rest periods. You can do anywhere from 2 to 8 cycles depending on your fitness levels. As you get fitter, you can do more cycles. What happens there is while you may not burn too many calories while doing the exercise, it stimulates a lot of good hormones that cause a large amount of fat burning.
[Paramjit] This is where you can actually use cardio exercises for fat burning.
[Suresh] And these are efficient.
[Paramjit] And these are efficient. A typical interval training will not take more than 15 minutes as compared to a long 1 hour jog.
[Suresh] So what we suggest is to start with steady state cardio like jogging and running and build your fitness levels. Once you have reached a certain level of fitness, consider high intensity interval training. It is another form of cardio but more effective to burn fat and lose weight.
[Paramjit] So it is a nice progression because when you start exercising, you will probably get weight loss from any exercise. As you run for 6 months, you will see weight loss. It will eventually start to plateau. You then have to switch to a different type of exercise that helps you keep increasing intensity. Interval training is such an exercise where you have work cycles and you have rest cycles. You sprint for a minute and you walk for a minute or two. You then sprint again for a minute and walk for a minute. This allows you to exert. It allows you to increase intensity.
[Suresh] And the hormonal changes from high intensity interval training is a lot better to lose fat and keep muscles as compared to the hormonal changes induced by steady state cardio. This is what you see consistently in men and women. Sprinters have the better physiques compared to marathon runners.
[Paramjit] Yes because the marathoner looks a little haggard. They do not have a well-defined body.
[Suresh] Their bodies have adapted to a point where they are trained to run. You may be cardiovascularly very fit but you may be sacrificing health because you overdo the running.
If you are not exercising, any exercise will help
[Paramjit] So the message here is clear. If you are not doing any exercise then any exercise will help. If you are not doing any exercise, get up and move. Start walking. Start running. But what you have to bear in mind is that this is not going to take you all the way. What you will find is that you will need something extra after a certain point of time. Then you are going to start looking for other cardiovascular exercises that can carry you the rest of the way.
[Suresh] I would strongly suggest to consider resistance training too as it is a fantastic exercise for weight loss.
[Paramjit] Yes. It works together with high intensity interval training. The key is to have resistance training, cardiovascular exercises in the form of interval training. That would allow you to have continuous weight loss and fat loss.
[Suresh] I guess that’s all for now. From the Correct Weight Loss team, this time do it right.