Running For Weight Loss: What Works And What Doesn’t

One of the biggest money makers in the economy centers on health and wellness. Particularly, the largest segment has to do with losing weight. ABC News did a study in 2012. The results four years ago estimated that there were some 100 million dieters in the United States alone, and it contributed to a mind-boggling $20 billion to the economy. Within this rather large niche, running for weight loss is finding a foothold.

Image via Shutterstock/Subbotina Anna

However, every diet seems to come with a period of time when the body seems to plateau. At some point the body adjusts to what it is doing, and it seems to optimize the ways it uses nutrients as well as calories. Running for weight loss is no different. A U.S. News and World Reports attempted to make sense of this natural phenomenon.

According to sports dietitian Kendra Perkey, runners might have a tendency to over-fuel on carbohydrates. A good deal of energy and essential nutrients are burned running. Most runners try to compensate this by drinking sports drinks as well as eating foods that can help replace the nutrients lost. According to Perkey, it can sometimes result in more calories being consumed than burned.

“They drink a carb replacement and then take an energy gel in addition, essentially consuming double the carbohydrates and sugar they need.”

As if loading up on carbohydrates wasn’t enough. People who are running for weight loss also consume more calories in general during the day. Exercising can increase a runner’s appetite. This can lead to snacking too much during the day. It is suggested that if running for weight loss is your thing, it would be a good idea to track what you eat. There are a number of very good apps out there that have databases already built that can make it really easy to see just how many calories you are consuming.

Surprisingly enough, running every day can have an adverse effect on shedding those unwanted pounds. Conditioning specialist Janet Hamilton explained the science behind how this works. Stress hormones called cortisol exist in the body. It has been proven that overworking the body can increase the amount of cortisol it makes. This can in fact increase muscle degradation and fat storage.

“In fact, it’s not unusual to gain weight when running.”

Hamilton suggests that it is a good idea to give the body at least a day of rest per week from running. It may also help to incorporate recovery workouts to help with the process. It is also a good idea to get plenty of sleep. Sleep is the time when the body helps to heal itself.

The body is an amazing machine. It learns what the trainer is doing and adjusts accordingly. That is why the idea of confusing it can go a long way with helping it to continue to lose weight. Instead of running distances at a constant pace, try interval training. It is also helpful to work in strength training or swimming.

Image via Redrock Apps

Finally, it is important to note that running for weight loss only takes up 30 to 60 minutes in a day. If this is the only activity the body enjoys, it is possible that it is still not getting enough stimulation to get the desired results. Walking more or taking stairs can also help give the body the activity needed, according to Perkey.

This writer is a true believer in the concept. Just nine weeks ago, I weighed 260 pounds. Simply by recording the meals I have eaten during the day and using interval training when running for weight loss, I have managed to lose 21 pounds. Considering the predominant sedentary lifestyle of writers, it has gone a long way to prove their point.

[Image via Shutterstock/Daxiao Productions]