How to Lose Weight Running

Posted: April 21, 2011 in For Beginners, Training, Weight Loss
Tags: , , , ,

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget the latest diet craze or the 10-minute miracle workout – running is your key to unlock weight loss success. Running burns more calories than any other cardio activity, making it one of the best-kept secrets to lose weight fast and healthily.

Weight Loss 101

The formula for weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is equal to about  3,500 calories, so if you burn an extra 500 calories a day, you will lose one pound in a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend losing one to two pounds per week for a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, you’ll be more likely to gain it back.

You can run your way to weight loss.

Running for Beginners

Beginning runners can get started with a few quick tips for beginners. To lose weight, work up to running for 150 minutes a week total, which is equivalent to five 30-minute running sessions a week. If you are just starting out, do workouts that alternate running and walking. You may start out walking for five minutes, jogging for three minutes, walking for five, etc., until you reach 30 minutes of exercise. Add a minute of running to each segment of your workout at least every week until you reach 30 minutes of continuous running.

Intensity and Duration

If you want faster weight loss results or if you have hit a plateau, increasing the intensity or duration of your runs can help you burn more calories and fat. Try doing a speed workout or long run to boost your calorie-burning power.


See your doctor before beginning a running program to lose weight. Before getting started, make sure you pick out the right shoes to decrease your chances of injury and help you run comfortably.


Running can help you lose weight and stay fit for a number of reasons. Running not only helps you burn calories but also boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories even while resting. Following a regular running program also increases your lean muscle mass, which makes your body more efficient at burning calories.

Besides all the weight loss and health benefits of running, it is absolutely free and you can do it almost anywhere. So what are you waiting for – grab your sneakers and hit the ground running toward weight loss success.

  1. Sarah says:

    Not to devil’s advocate too much, but I have actually found it harder to keep up with weight loss as I have developed into a better, stronger, and more frequent runner. I was losing weight the best when I was doing a combination of running, elliptical, and weight training–the months that I spent exclusively running (with a teeny bit of weight training), weren’t excellent weight loss months, perhaps because my body craved (slash needed) extra fuel from all of the calories i was burning on runs.

    Cardio is important for weight loss, but what are your thoughts on the importance of weight training for weight loss? Muscles use calories (and burn fat) both while you’re working them out, and for the few days afterwards while they’re repairing themselves to become stronger. Running is powered by muscles (obviously), but doesn’t really use or build muscle in the same way that squats, etc, do. So the combination of cardio, to burn the day-of-calories, and strength training, to burn calories and fat as your muscles repair themselves, it probably the key, yes?

    It was wild–around the weeks where I ran the most miles (getting up to 40 sometimes), the scale was dead-set on staying where it was. Maybe because I was burning so many cals, by body was holding on to the fuel that I was giving it? The best weight-loss weeks and phases have always been when I am mixing up exercise more.

    Our bodies are awesome & running is awesome. But other forms of exercise help with weight loss, too.
    Okay i’m done 🙂

    • Marnie says:

      Hi Sarah~
      Hi Sarah~
      You bring up great points, and I am working on a post on strength training now. I agree that resistance training is an important part of losing weight, and a fitness plan should include both cardio and strength training elements. I think people often rely too heavily on one or the other when both are needed for a well-rounded, effective weight loss plan. My post was to inspire people to make the cardio part of their routine running because it is such an effective exercise for burning calories and controlling or losing weight.

      Strength training also boosts metabolism, as you state, and builds lean muscle mass, which burns calories faster than fat tissue does. I included the Cross Training category here to offer suggestions for other forms of exercise to compliment a running plan.

      Another consideration you brought up is hitting a plateau or period of not losing weight with running. This is definitely not uncommon and stepping up your workouts to do some speed work and long runs can help. I’m working on a post on circuit training as well, as mixing up your cardio with strength training can really boost your fat- and calorie-burning power. Running can also inspire people to eat more to replenish the calories lost, which is healthy, but sometimes we get too excited and devour something like a McDonald’s extra value meal after a run, which will not replenish a lot of the nutrients we used up working out. It can be hard to stay disciplined, but runners have to continue to aim for a nutritious diet even if they are sweating out thousands of calories each week. But I suspect you know this, from your healthy living blog. Stay tuned for our nutrition section;).

  2. Marnie says:

    Thanks Sarah, you are my #1 reader!;)

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