Monday, August 10, 2009

Running Tip #4 - Running and weight loss

Running is a great way of staying fit and healthy. It also burns a lot of calories, so it can help in a weight loss program. Running burns more calories per mile than walking (about 0.75 calories/pound body weight running compared with 0.63 walking) [1]. Running also covers more miles in a given time than walking, so the rate of calorie burn for a given time is even higher. Great, eh?

Not so fast. The problem is that weight lost is about the balance of calories burned compared with calories consumed. Eat more than you burn to put on weight, Burn more than you eat to lose weight. That's the simple, if harsh, reality of weight loss. Everything else is about boosting the burn or limiting the intake. If you burn more calories, the body will tend to react with an increased appetite. I can run 100 miles a week and put on weight. I know this because it's happened.

As an aside, some people walk (lower intensity) rather than run (high intensity) because walking burns a higher percentage of the calories from fat. It sounds appealing, but there are two problems. Firstly, it is the total calories that count, not if they come from fat or carbohydrates [2]. Secondly, though walking burns a higher percentage of calories than running, in terms of the absolute number of calories from fat, running is higher [2].

If anyone is interested, I can post some tips on weight loss, which is sort of related to running. But the key take away is that diet is important to weight loss, even if you do more exercise.

[1]How many calories are you really burning?
http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-304-311-8402-0,00.html

[2]Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/busting-the-great-myths-of-fat-burning.html