Will I lose weight running? What’s the best way to get rid of fat? Will running make me skinny?
Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time someone has asked me one of those questions!
The short answer is…it depends.
Running burns more calories per minute than walking. And definitely more calories than sitting on the couch watching TV.
It also improves your endurance, strengthens your bones, and makes your heart and lungs stronger.
It can boost your confidence, make you feel happier and more calm, and teach you that you are, in fact, a certified badass.
Running is magical and much, much cheaper than therapy.
Unfortunately, that magic doesn’t really extend to weight loss, or fat loss (especially belly fat).
Getting your body to lose weight is actually a pretty complicated process. Your size and shape depends on many different factors including what you eat and drink, how often you move your body, not to mention your genetics, general health, age, and a million other things.
Oh – and here’s another thing: The way your body stores fat is almost totally determined by genetics. This means that if your family is predisposed to carrying extra weight around the middle, no amount of crunches will reduce fat in that area until you’ve lost it elsewhere first. Same for your butt. And your thighs. And your arms. Your body decides. Short of liposuction, you’re at the mercy of your DNA.
So does running have any impact on weight loss?
Absolutely! Running requires a lot of energy, and after you’ve used up what’s stored in your muscles, it will eventually turn to your body fat for fuel. If that fat isn’t replaced over time (which happens when we eat more than our bodies need for fuel) your body fat percentage will eventually drop. Which usually results in smaller jeans.
I’m totally paraphrasing the fat loss process, by the way – you won’t be able to measure a specific amount of fat loss after of a 2-hour run. It’s WAY more complicated than that, and also way too lengthy to explain here. Just trust me when I say that it’s not as simple as calories in, calories out, and it can actually take days and even weeks for the number on the scale to reflect your diligent work. If you get on the scale after a run and you’ve lost 2 pounds, that’s sweat, not fat.
So is there any good news?
YES! First of all, running is a fabulous way to supplement your weight loss program. But losing weight is a long-term commitment, not a quick fix. Running can help you get there by building stronger bones and muscles, increasing your endurance, and boosting your metabolism a bit. Eventually it will result in fat loss, assuming you don’t replace the fat you’ve burned off by overeating. But you don’t have much of a say on where that fat comes from – so you’ll need to be patient.
In my opinion, the true benefits of running are mental. Becoming a runner teaches you that you can do hard things. It gives you confidence and self-esteem, which helps you commit to making healthy changes elsewhere in your life.
Running will help you lose weight if you’re consistent everywhere – exercise, food, even getting enough sleep. It needs to be part of an overall program of change – not the only thing you do.
I know dozens of people who have changed their bodies and lives through running.The common thing among all of them is that the change started in their mind first. They committed heart and soul to becoming a different person, and running was a part of that journey.
The bottom line? Running will definitely change you. Your heart. Your mind. Your body. Will you lose weight? Maybe. Probably. But all of the other changes are what’s really important. The size of your jeans or the number on the scale are really just that – numbers. They don’t mean anything, and they don’t add up to all of the amazingness that makes you YOU.
What about you? Has running been a part of your weight loss journey? Share your story in the comments!