Q. - Will running help me to lose weight?
A. – Yes, but running to lose weight will only work if you team it up with a Calorie Controlled Diet
Often runners struggle to keep their weight down because they overcompensate by eating too much. We know one runner who believes he can eat like a horse because he runs 40 miles a week – scratching his head saying,
“why am I gaining weight?!”
And we always give him the same answer…
Measure how many calories you eat, verses how many calories burned (expending more calories than you consume) then you can control your weight. Sounds simple, but frequently overlooked by us runners ;-)
The good news is that running burns a shed load of calories and can play a major part in your weight loss plan. The key to success comes from being organised and working with the numbers…
In other words, you need a scientific approach,
Here we will talk about how to:
But don’t worry! All the tools you will need to do these calculations are right here
So, let’s start the number crunching...
Use the calculator below to find your Daily Calorie Allowance:
This works out the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - the number of calories your body needs to live if you laid in bed all day. It then adds your activity level to calculate a total Daily Calorie Allowance (the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight)
Now think about how much weight you want to lose each week
What is a healthy amount?
The calculator suggests a daily calorie allowance for losing 1lb a week - between ½lb and 2lb per week is considered a healthy rate of weight loss -½lb is ideal
- To lose ½lb a week you need a deficit of 250 calories a day, 500 calories for 1lb a week and so on…
This daily deficit is the key to your weight loss success. Recalculate calorie allowance/deficit every so often, say after every 6lb lost. As you lose weight you need and burn less calories. Also bear in mind these are average numbers and you may need to tweak them to get the correct rate of weight loss (especially at the start)
Keeping a food diary helps to keep track of calorie intake. You can do this writing down the number of calories from packets and workig out the totals at the end of each day. Quite easy to do but often you come accross foods without this information
- To make your life a bit easier you might want to consider a calorie counter…
- a calorie counter monitors your daily calories, exercise calories, fat percentages, protein and carbs... the lot. You just type in the foods you eat, exercise for that day and everything else is done for you.
You won’t have to worry about recalculating your BMR because, as you lose weight, it will adjust your allowance. Good eh?
A calorie counter is a very effective tool and a great time-saver - we've used different ones over the years but like everything else you get some good ones and not so good
“What about weight targets..?”
Focus on short term targets when running to lose weight
For example, if you weigh 13 stone now, aim to be 12 stone in 7 months (losing 2lb a month) - then aim towards 11 and a half stone and so on...
If you aim to be 10 stone one day, great! But set incremental goals along the way and take these gradual steps
- Remember, losing weight slowly will increase your chances of success
Losing weight too quickly will cause more food cravings. Bear in mind that to lose 2lb a week you need a deficit of 1000 calories a day. If you compare that to losing ½lb. a week, you would only need a deficit of 250 calories a day. Something your body is much less likely to miss and therefore less fridge-raiding incidents! (oopse!)
Healthy Food Choices
“Running to lose weight is not only about how much you eat but also what you eat.”
Junk foods, sweets and cakes tend to be high calorie and low nutrient foods. Often they taste great but leave you feeling hungry. Instead try snacking on fibrous fruit and filling up on lean meats and vegetables at meal times – save the naughty foods for special treats (after your long run, maybe)
Eating healthy food alternatives means more fuel for your running performance and, because your body is receiving a higher level of nutrients, you will become stronger and therefore less likely to get injured
As we said at the beginning running burns plenty of calories (more than any other exercise), but you still need to account for these calories when working out your daily numbers. If using a calorie counter this is done automatically as you enter your daily exercise - if not, add the calories burned while running on to your daily allowance and include calories burned during other exercise, such as cycling and walking
For example, if your daily allowance is 1500 and you burn 600 through running, you will be able to eat a total of 2100 calories for that day. Easy-peasy!
Use the Running Calculator below to work out the calories burned during a run:
For other exercises use this table (according to your weight in Lbs)
Now you have all the practical tools to go ahead and start running to losing weight!
And think back:
A deficit of 250 calories a day = ½lb a week in weight loss
Meet your daily calorie deficit consistently = Weight loss SUCCESS
“What about when I have lost the weight?
- How do I keep it off?”
Research shows that about 20% of dieters are successful at maintaining weight loss for the long term. The key to their success came from maintaining a high level of exercise and following a healthy diet
When you reach a target weight, your mind-set needs to change from losing weight to maintaining weight. You still need to control calorie intake but at a higher rate
So, instead of running to lose weight, run to maintain weight!
- recalculate the daily allowance to find your maintaining number. Then, rather than moving to this number immediately, add 100 calories every week untill you get to the right total, allowing for the body to adapt
Many dieters (80% according to research) put the weight back on, especially over a number of years – so just keep your eye on the ball! Still count the calories going in and out, keep up the running to lose weight (or maintain weight) and remain with the healthy diet
OK… now don't laugh, this is a picture of me (Julie) before and after I started running to lose weight:
I was 13st 8lb when I started dieting in 2011. It took 18 months to drop to 10st and I have maintained that weight loss since. It may vary by a couple of pounds up or down but overall stays stable
Now, of course, I have to think about maintaining this for the years ahead (the hard bit)
I’ll keep you posted!
Now you know how to lose weight, nothing should stand in your way. Start today!
Running to lose weight and calorie control are long term lifestyle choices with very worthwhile results
– So do it! Be a healthy, mean-lean running machine!
And... good luck :-)