Should You Use Running For Weight Loss?

Running for weight loss | Macros Inc

Running for weight loss is a very common reason that someone might start running.  Running is a great way to burn calories in a short amount of time!  Here are some things you will want to keep in mind if you’re thinking of taking up running to help your weight loss efforts.    

How Running Helps You Lose Weight

Running can help with weight loss when it increases our activity above what we were doing before and calorie intake is managed.  Weight loss does not happen without a calorie deficit, no matter the type of diet.  

Something to watch out for when starting to run is unintentionally eating more food. Studies have found that running can increase hunger, which can make up or exceed the calories burned through your efforts.  But we can intentionally manage our food intake to offset this.  Calories in must be less than calories out for the body to use stored body fat.  We manage food to control our calorie intake.  Running and other activities help increase calories burned.  

If your goal is to use running to help you lose weight, here are some key areas to focus on: 

  • Focus your meals on whole food like protein and high fiber foods like fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Stay hydrated, especially before and after a run. 
  • Set up a system for your food like tracking macros, tracking portions or using the plate method.
  • Look for ways to increase general movement outside of your planned runs.
  • Follow a structured plan with your running that includes recovery time.  

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How Many Calories Does Running Burn? 

If your goal is to lose weight through running, you’ll probably want to know how many calories you’ll actually burn for your time spent running. The average number of calories burned per mile (1.6km) falls between 70 and 150 but depends on several factors.

These include:

  • Your weight – a person that weighs more will burn more calories moving their body
  • Gender – men burn more calories than women all other things being the same
  • Fitness – the fitter you get, the more efficient you are while running which means you wil burn less calories
  • Environmental Conditions – the running surface, hills, wind, temperature, etc. have a small effect on calories burned  

The exact number of calories you burn is hard to calculate.  The calorie burn your fitness watch gives you is more of an estimate than accurate.  It is largely based on heart rate, which can vary quite a bit based on air temperature, caffeine or stress levels. 

There is a rule of thumb you may have heard that running burns 100 calories per mile.  This is roughly true as an average for humans, but not necessarily for you as an individual.  

Running is a great activity to burn calories in a short amount of time.  And combined with the right focus on nutrition, is a great addition to your weight loss plan.