You’ve heard it time and time again. Running is one of the best ways to burn calories, get in shape, and lose weight. But sometimes even frequent runners find themselves hitting a plateau when it comes to shedding pounds, discovering that their workout routines aren’t helping them to trim down as much as they’d like, despite increasing their mileage and running more often. But running more isn’t necessarily the key to losing weight and here’s why.
Many runners believe that by simply adding extra miles and time to their routine they’ll be able to cut more weight. But what they don’t realize is that if they run their current distances at a faster pace, they’ll actually burn more calories, allowing those stubborn pounds to drop away more quickly. That’s because the intensity of the workout has a bigger impact on weight loss than just time and distance. While obviously working out longer will help you burn extra calories, increasing your speed is often a better option than adding miles.
Your Body Needs Variety
There is no doubt that running can provide an intense workout, but over time your body will eventually get use to the demands that you put on it, making even longer runs seem somewhat routine. Adding extra miles won’t necessarily have the impact that you’re looking for, but changing up the workout certainly can. Once again, increasing intensity can help jump-start the metabolic rate, causing more calories to be burned. But adding some variety to your workouts can make a huge difference too. For instance, try a new route that adds more hills to your run, forcing you to work harder over the same distances. And for a change of pace, go to a track and run speed drills, focusing on sprinting rather than distance. Studies have shown that sprinters actually burn an incredible amount of calories with their shorter, more intense workouts.
Don’t Forget Your Diet
Runners burn a lot of calories, but many see that as an excuse to eat more too. It is important to not just think about how much exercise you are doing, but what kind of foods you are putting back into your body afterwards. Adding a few extra miles to your workouts can obviously be of benefit, but not if you think it gives you free reign to eat whatever you want afterwards. Be mindful of your diet, even as you increase your intensity and distances. Weight loss isn’t just about the calories burned, but also limiting the number you intake as well.
But Be Sure To Eat Enough Too
On the other hand, adopting a low calorie diet can actually prevent you from losing weight as well. That may seem counterintuitive, but as your body reacts to burning more calories than it is taking it, it will try to hold on to the fat stores it already has. This can result in less than satisfactory weight loss results. Be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to hydrate, and limit your intake of refined sugars. A diet that includes plenty of carbs and protein, as well as low fat foods will provide the best results.
You’re Simply Running Too Much
Believe it or not, it is possible to simply run too much. Intense exercise puts a lot of stress on your body, which can result in hormonal imbalances that will have an impact on your ability to lose weight. Specifically, an increase in the production of cortisol can cause your body to take longer to recover, cause muscle tissue to break down, and lead to increased levels of fat. By actually scaling back the amount of running you’re doing, and take your rest days seriously, you’ll give your body more time to recover, and possibly end up burning calories more efficiently.
As hard as it may be to believe, running more isn’t always the answer when it comes to weight loss. But by watching your caloric intake, changing up the intensity of your workouts, and giving your body time to recover, you’ll find that it is still one of the best ways to shed those unwanted pounds.