When it comes to losing weight, running just 1 or 2 miles a day is better than none. After all, the very first step to exercising for weight loss is getting out there, and committing to a healthier you. Each mile that you run will bring you closer to your goal weight, and your overall fitness goals.
However, when it comes to working out exactly how many miles a day you need to run to lose weight, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might first think, as there are many factors that influence how effective your running program will be.
Hard truths about food intake and losing weight
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the truth is, if you’re overweight, it means that you’re consuming too many calories (NOTE: this isn’t necessarily just via food but soda drinks and alcohol, too).
We need food to keep our bodies functioning. From breathing in, to pumping blood around our bodies, we need calories to survive.
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When we eat more food than we need, our bodies store it as fat. This is a survival mechanism, that stems from a time when food was scarce, so fat stores were essential to survival.
The body processes the extra food and transforms it into fat, which then is stored on our bodies, under our skin. The more extra food we consume, the more fat that gets stored in our bodies.
The good news about losing weight
It’s not all doom and gloom. While eating too much will mean we gain weight, the reverse is also true. If we lessen our calorie intake our body will begin to burn through its fat stores.
Eating healthy food will also help you to stay fuller for longer, and decrease the chances of weight gain, as it’s not full of empty calories.
Calories for weight loss
In order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we’re consuming. This can be achieved through a commitment to regular activity, such as running, walking, or cycling.
Once your body has run out of food to fuel its functioning, it will begin to burn the fat stores, meaning that over time, you will lose weight.
Understanding calorie intake and deficit
The difference between the calories you intake, and the calories you burn, is called a calorie deficit. Aim for a calorie of around 500 to 1,000 per day, which should put you on track to losing between 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Luckily, keeping track of calories is fairly simple. All calorie information for food is to be found on the packet, or online. This makes it easy to calculate how many calories we consume, and therefore plan our weight loss.
Can I lose weight by running 30 minutes a day?
As long as you are burning more than you’re consuming, you will lose weight, as your body will be forced to burn fat.
Therefore, it is possible to lose weight by running 30 minutes a day, if it means you are achieving a daily calorie deficit.
Calculating your basal metabolic rate
It’s important to consume enough calories for your body to perform the necessary functions. The number of calories that your body consumes in order to perform basic life-sustaining functions is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
It’s also referred to as the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), which would be the number of calories your body would if you stayed in bed all day.
The BMR for each individual varies depending on factors such as sex, height, weight, and amount of fat and muscle on the body.
Calculate your BMR using a calculator or the following formula:
- Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
- Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)
How many miles to run for weight loss?
To burn one pound of fat, you will need to burn 3,500 calories. On average, running one mile will burn 100 calories, meaning that you need to run 35 miles in order to burn one pound of fat. This works out at 5 miles a day, 7 days a week.
For most people, going from no exercise to running 5 miles a day, is nigh on impossible, and could cause injury. It’s better to slowly increase the number of miles run per week so that your body has time to adjust.
Find a training plan that suits your level of fitness. Sticking to a running plan will help you to stay focused on your goals, as you can track your progress across the weeks.
Running to increase a calorie deficit
As we mentioned above, the key to weight loss is aiming for at least a 500-calorie deficit per day. Running is a great way to achieve this.
When we run, we are constantly contracting and releasing muscles throughout our bodies. This makes our heart rate increase, as it pumps the blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
This process requires calories, which means that as we run, our body will burn more calories in order to support the activity.
If you aim to run 3 miles, 4 times a week, you will burn around 1,800 calories a week through running. Given that a pound of fat is 3,500, this means you will be burning half a pound of fat per week.
Mistakes to avoid when you’re looking to run to lose weight
When it comes to running to lose weight, there are a few rookie errors to avoid. Here are our tip tips to avoid them:
When you start to run, the chances are, it will feel difficult, especially if you’re carrying some extra weight. This is simply because you’re body isn’t used to it.
This means that you won’t be able to run very far or run for very long, meaning the number of calories you’ve burnt will be relatively low.
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After your run, you’ll feel the need to rehydrate. For some, this might lead to reaching for a Gatorade. However, a bottle of Gatorade contains 300 calories, which means that you’ve instantly undone over half of the hard work you’ve just put in.
Rehydrate by drinking still or sparkling water, which is calorie-free, and the most effective way to rehydrate.
Start off slow when running to decrease body weight
Running is one of the best exercise choices you can make for weight loss, as it burns a lot of calories in a relatively short amount of time. However, it’s important to build up the miles over a period of weeks.
There are plenty of “new runners” programs that combine walking and running patterns, helping you to build up your stamina safely and over time.
While in the beginning, running will feel difficult, it will become easier over time. Stick with it, and you will soon begin to notice improvements in your weight, endurance, and overall well-being.
Don’t take shortcuts
Running is an intense exercise. It can be tough on the knees, shins, and body in general. This means that increasing mileage and speed must be done slowly, to avoid the risk of injury. If you injure yourself, you won’t be able to run, which will put back your weight loss progress.
Help your body recover by leaving enough time in between runs, especially if you are a beginner. Running three to four times a week when you’re starting out is a good amount to aim for.
Watch your calorie intake
If you’re overweight and eating a bad diet full of calorific foods, you will need to decrease the number of calories you consume per day. However, taking it too far will be unhealthy for your body.
Burning 2-3 pounds per week is a safe amount, and easily achievable, without putting your health at risk. If you do underfeed your brain, your body will start to break down muscles instead of fat.
Concentrate on eating a healthy diet, which is varied and full of whole foods.
Get the right gear
It’s not just a case of chucking on a pair of old running shoes and heading out the door. Make sure you wear a pair of running shoes that fit well and support your feet properly. Failing to do this will decrease your running efficiency, and increases your risk of injury,
More tips for running, weight loss, and increasing the number of calories burned
The more miles you put in over the weeks, the more stamina you’ll have, and you’ll find your running condition improving. You can expect the following things to happen:
- The distance you’re able to run will increase
- You will find that your time per mile decreases, as you’re able to run faster
- Your muscle mass will increase (as long as you’re not burning more calories than is healthy)
One thing to bear in mind is that your BMR will be higher, the more muscular you are. This is because the more muscles you have, the more calories your body requires, as muscles need to be fed in order to be maintained. This is because compared to fat tissue, muscle tissue is metabolically more active.
Running will build muscles in your legs, which will burn calories, even when you’re not running!
The bottom line
Running and walking will help you lose weight, but only if you pay attention to your calorie intake, and make sure you’re burning more calories than you consume. If your diet is poor and you eat excessive amounts, walking and running won’t help you to lose weight.
Committing to a combination of exercise and a healthy diet is the best option for those who want to lose weight.
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