Many runners take up running as a way to lose weight; after all, this activity is the most efficient calorie burner. The best weight loss tips for runners are described below.
Avoid the Scale
While it may seem counter intuitive, it is best to avoid the scale and stick to taking measurements instead. Running is an efficient calorie burner, but will also lead to muscle gain. In the first few weeks of starting a new training program you may gain “weight” in the form of inflammation from sore muscles. Take your measurements once per week, and step on a scale every 2 – 4 weeks.
When you are trying to lose weight, you should never skip breakfast. However, if you are a morning runner you can jumpstart fat-burning by avoiding the pre-run snack. In the morning your glycogen stores are depleted and your body will be forced to burn fat for fuel instead. Follow your workout with a healthy breakfast that contains wholesome carbohydrates, a lean protein, and a healthy fat. Only attempt a “fasted” run first thing in the morning.
One common mistake that runners make when they are trying to lose weight is to only participate in easy runs. Once you can comfortably run for 25 – 30 minutes without walking, incorporate high-intensity intervals into your training. Once or twice per week complete hill repeats or strides. For hill repeats, find a 100 – 200 m hill and run to the top as hard as you can, walking or jogging back to the bottom. Repeat 6 – 8 times and be sure to run a warm up and cool down both before and after. For strides, wait until the last kilometer of your run and alternate running hard for 30 seconds and easy for 30 seconds. These workouts will stress your metabolism differently than easy running, and will leave your body burning calories long after the workout has ended.
Know your Numbers
Many people sabotage their weight loss because they overestimate how many calories were burned during a workout. Know this: for every 1.6 km, you will burn 100 – 120 calories. In general, a deficit of 3,500 calories equals 0.5 kg. However, to ensure the body does not go into survival mode, this deficit should be reached over a period of weeks, not days.
Set Sustainable Goals
When losing weight, it can be tempting to set unsustainable goals, such as running every single day or eliminating all indulgences completely. Set small goals instead, such as cutting out one can of soda per day or running 3 days per week. Over time, build upon these goals.
Finally, if you eat healthy and exercise, you still might not reach your weight loss goals. Why? If you do not recover properly, your body will store fat as a response to stress. Be sure to drink plenty of water and receive 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night to reach your weight loss goals.