Does running help lose weight? No, it didn’t for me. Why? I will tell you but let me give you a brief history.
When I started running marathons two years back, I thought I should be losing weight but I didn’t. I was surprised like hell as I was running a lot.
Then next year when I prepared for a half marathon, I was conscious about losing weight. But the inset shows otherwise.
It got me into thinking as to what I was doing wrong. Running, it is said to help lose weight right? I googled ‘running to lose weight’ and I was bombarded with tons of articles on how running actually helps to increase weight. I was like really!
Since 1st January this year, I developed this problem of fissures and I lost 5 kgs in a month(I have now lost 7 kgs in one and half month) just by eating clean and green and not exercising much(read no running but walking everyday for 30-45 minutes).
Why running should help you lose weight?
Running is both an aerobic as well as an anaerobic sport. Long distance running is aerobic and sprints or interval running is anaerobic. Have you seen the physique of elite marathon runners and sprinters?
Sprinters have muscular body with very low fat percentage and distance runners have less muscle tone and slightly built.
Sprinters burn sugar during the intense interval sessions and burn fat up to 16-48 hours after the workout.
Whereas long distance runners don’t have an after workout burn effect. They derive energy mostly from muscles hence, less muscle tone.
Sprinters lose fat fast and increase muscle mass. While it is the opposite for long distance runners.
Also, sprinters have a higher metabolism rate and put on weight slowly. Whereas long distance runners have low metabolism rate and put on weight quickly during off season.
So, all in all running does help losing weight but then why do I get responses on the google and same with me that whenever I am increasing the mileage I am putting on weight. Why do elite long distance runners stay skinny? I guess now after a lot of research I have come to realise my mistakes.
Mistake No 1 : Hogging after running
I used to pig out after my runs. I used to eat anything I could lay my hands on. According to calculators available online, for a guy like me of 80 kgs running for a hour at 6 minute pace, would burn approximately 700-800 calories. That’s it! I was eating cookies, tons of almonds(excess of this good stuff can lead to increase in weight) and many other calorie loaded junk food and gaining more than what I was burning on my runs.
Mistake No 2 : No change in routine
Humans are creatures of habit. I realised that I was running all my workouts at a constant pace. I was hardly doing any interval session or fartleks. I guess that’s why a training partner is required to kick your butt. I did very few weight training sessions. My training program sucked. Mixing up aerobic running with anaerobic running kicks up the metabolism, increases running efficiency and prevents injuries.
Mistake No 3 : No cross training
I want a bicycle badly. I want it so that I can do some cross training. Swimming, skiing and other sports are not an option at the place I stay. Bicycle would have been perfect but due to some personal reasons I couldn’t get one. Cross training helps prevent injuries by not taxing the muscles used for running and strengthening the supporting muscles.
Mistake No 4 : Not sleeping enough
I was sleeping less than I should have been when I was preparing for 2012 marathon. I was getting up tired most of the mornings. According to Mike Bracko, sleep deprivation decreases levels of satiety promoting hormone and increases levels of appetite promoting hormone. For an athlete to perform optimally and reduce weight, a continuous sleep of 7-9 hours, maybe more is required.
Mistake No 5 : Not eating like elites
Portion control was not part of my habits. Each meal was becoming a feast as I was being constantly hungry because of running. Also I was not eating a healthy diet like what athletes should eat. There was hardly any fibre. I was pigging out a lot at Mc Donalds and KFC. There was very less veggies on my plate. In between meals, I was eating rubbish.
After this introspection while writing the post, I have come to realise what a fool I was. Now that I am down with fissures the realisation has come about healthy eating.
Running does help lose weight provided you don’t make the mistakes like I made. Though even if you don’t lose weight by running long distances, it still helps your body like –
- It free your mind from clutter and allows you to focus on the task at hand. It is like meditating on the run.
- It strengthens the cardiovascular system. I had my resting heart rate hovering at around 40.
- It increases endurance and body’s ability to withstand stress.
At the end, I will say all those people who say that running doesn’t help lose weight are all buffons. It is just that they are doing it wrong, like me. Do it right and enjoy a leaner and stronger body.
Tell me your experiences with weight loss by running in the comments box.
Till then stay fit and keep running.