People who run usually believe that running will help them fulfil their desire of losing weight, and gain a healthier and fitter body. However, the important question here is does running help reduce fat?
According to Arizona State University’s professor of exercise, Glenn Gaesser, the answer is a straightforward “yes”. In fact, Glenn opines that running is a good form of exercise and is probably way better than other forms of exercise.
Simply stated, running is all about calories consumed vs. calories burned. Depending on the size of your body as well as the terrain, you can run at a faster pace to cover more distance and in turn, burn up more calories in your body.
The Practical Difference
However, the entire equation gets more complicated when practically applied. In theory, if you want to lose 1 pound, it means that your body should experience a deficit of 3500 calories. It makes complete sense theoretically, but it is common for individuals not to experience the exact body fat loss as stated in theory.
According to Gaesser, there are many who run as many as 35 miles to lose 1 pound, but their results are not as expected. The reason behind comes in many folds. Generally, people have the tendency to overestimate all the effort that they put in, and consequently consume more food (calories) than what they actually burned.
Surprisingly, people do this not only when they themselves workout, but they also do this when they observe others working out. This observation has been proved by Paul Williams, who is a PhD at Berkeley National Laboratory, through a study focused on walkers and runners. Paul revealed that individuals who did nothing but watch promotional workout videos consumed additional calories after viewing such vigorous activities on screen.
The Compensation Problem
Another issue with the theory is that after you have worked out, your body compensates for the exercise automatically. According to Gaesser, such automatic reaction of the human body has been observed even inside a metabolic chamber, a closed chamber which serves as a tool for scientific research for measuring energy and calories expenditure; individuals have shown compensatory changes in their metabolism post workout. These studies show that despite being in a place which is not affected by external influences, an individual’s resting metabolic rate lowers during an exercise. So, primarily the human body finds some way to conserve the energy within.
There are also other studies that have used motion sensors to come to the conclusion that post exercise, mostly tough workouts, individuals generally become way less active during the remaining part of the day. Also, it is suspected that hormonal changes occur after exercise, which affects the way your body burns calories, opines Gaesser.
This is the partial reason why individuals, after running slow, long miles for some time, stop experiencing any progress. It would be a great idea at this point to try out some other form of exercise like interval training. This is because if you continue to maintain your mileage rather than increasing your intensity or volume will probably cause you to gain weight again due to the metabolic changes that occur with aging.
Studies Prove That Running Burns Extra Calories
There are several studies that prove running burns way more calories in comparison to walking the same distance. The breaking point that lies between running and walking is approximately 4-5 miles per hour. Similarly, high-intensity workouts such as bootcamp-style circuit or running fast intervals have also proved to offer several health benefits. Some of the studies also conclude that as the intensity of the workout grows higher, you end up burning more calories, specifically because extremely high intensity workouts come with after-burn effect that burns additional 10-15% of the body’s calories some hours post workout.
However, Gaesser warns that such results occur only when you perform high intensity workout for one hour at least, which uses up most of the oxygen that you use- something that is very difficult for most individuals to go through.
Moreover, if you try to push yourself too hard too soon, the results might be physically harmful for you; that doesn’t mean that you will burn any calories by resting comfortably on your couch. In case you have biomechanical or arthritic issues, you can try rowing, swimming or cycling to get some productive results.
Running Is A Time-Saving Option
In order to burn a lot of calories, you must use several large muscle groups, except swimming because in swimming the temperature difference between the body regulation and water, hence it cannot be trusted for losing weight effectively, opines Gaesser. Although, you lose body heat tremendously, you end up consuming more calories that what you burned.
Since most individuals are limited by time, says Paul Williams, running becomes way more effective option in comparison to swimming, walking or cycling. Additionally, you are also spared of investing in any costly equipment or hunting for a pool. You have the choice of running wherever you want, and with the availability of more running clubs and running races, it becomes a fun activity for many.
Only about a third of the total population sticks to their prescriptive and medication instructions, and because the best workout is the one that individuals prefer to perform, it is better that individuals know exactly what they are getting into rather than doing what they don’t know. And the easier the exercise is, the more you would want to do it.
Running And Fat Loss
Only creating a deficit of calories will cause you to lose body fat. You can begin by counting the daily calorie expenditure, according to which you can adjust the daily diet so that you consume at least 500 calories less than what you burn daily. If you can manage to execute this plan effectively, you can lose as much as 1 pound every week, which equals to 3500 calories. Opting for running can lead to a deficit of calories in your body, which will spare you from making dramatic changes in your diet drastically, allowing you to lose weight in an easier manner. To get lasting results however, you will need to change your lifestyle altogether, like drinking water rather than soda, or consuming fresh vegetables and fruits instead of chips.
How Running Affects Calories
As mentioned before, running happens to be one of the most effective ways to burn calories, so that makes it a top choice for losing body fat. Jogging at 5 miles/hour will burn as many as 300 calories in just 30 minutes from someone who weighs as much as 155 pounds. Running moderately at 6.7 miles/hour helps you lose over 400 calories in half hour at the same body weight, while speed running at 8.6 miles/hour can burn as many as 539 calories. There are very few exercises help you lose as much calories as running.
Running Can Effectively Reduce Belly-Fat
Another significant of running is burning up the belly-fat around your abdomen. However, you will need to combine running with some other exercise in order to get dramatic results. Visceral, deep belly-fat itself works in the same way as an endocrine organ, so is the observations of the Harvard Medical School. Belly-fat is responsible for releasing inflammatory compounds within the body that increases your risk of different chronic ailments such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Although, getting rid of the subcutaneous fat helps boost your ego and figure, but if you can lose the visceral, deep belly-fat you will be able to improve health and keep your body protected from various long-term ailments.
How Running Helps You Get Rid Of Belly-Fat
When you are able to burn excessive calories in comparison to the amount of calories you consume, the body tries to reach out to its fat stores in order to keep your fuel running. Running, being an amazing calorie-burner, has the efficiency of burning as many as 355 calories in a 180-pound individual in half hour at a 5 miles/hour pace, and as many as 444 calories for a person weighing the same at a 6 miles/hour pace. Also, as told before, theoretically if you are able to burn 3500 excessive calories than what you consume, you will be able to lose as much as 1 pound of your entire fat storage.
However, your belly-fat will not just disappear; the concept of spot-training is nothing but a myth. However, it is the visceral belly-fat is one of those fat stores that go away. Running does not just cause your abdominal fat to disappear; it helps you lose overall body weight. Eventually, you will surely lose the subcutaneous layer of fat, but don’t expect any immediate results.
Evidence Suggesting That Running Helps You Lose Belly-Fat
It has been proven that vigorous and high intensity workouts, like running, induce deep belly-fat to disappear in obese women and men. The Journal of Applied Physiology (2005) published a study that revealed jogging for 20 miles every week can notably cause losing of visceral as well as some amount of subcutaneous fat in the belly.
This amount of 20 miles/week is actually higher than exercise recommended for each week (150 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts) by leading health organizations around the world. Alternatively, treadmill running provides the same results as outdoor running in terms of calorie-burning.
Eating Right Matters
There is no doubt that running or any other form of exercise is crucial to maintain a healthy body, not making any changes in diet will adversely affect your weight loss plan. This was proved in a 2005 study where participants did not change their diet despite engaging in exercise. The best way to lose belly-fat is by adding some healthy, nutritional changes in your daily diet such as those mentioned below:
Keeping alcohol limited to 1-2 drinks every day
Consuming less refined grains and sugar
Minimizing the intake of trans fats and saturated fat (available mostly in snacks and fast food items)
Not only will the above healthy options cut down your calories, but they also remove those food items from your diet that lead to calorie deposition in the abdomen as belly-fat.
Apart from eating healthy and running, you can also try going for machines, barbells and dumbbells at least 2-3 times every week to help all the important muscles groups in your body get to work. A flabbier body does not burn as many calories as a leaner body.
Advantages Of Running
Here are some important benefits of running:
Perfect For Beginners
Running is most appropriate for beginners who are about to start their fitness journey. Beginners can also try other light cardio workouts such as jogging or walking. Practically, you don’t have to hit the gym, or invest in equipment, but only need to own a pair of good running shoes. This is one of the biggest advantages of opting for a steady-state cardio. Don’t forget that the best workout regimen is the one that you actually spend your time and dedication into, so try to keep it as much as free from obstacles as you can. Running is a good example of low-barrier exercise form.
Increase in Capillarization
Any aerobic workout involves the use of a lot of oxygen. The more you engage in such exercises, the more efficient the body will be in transporting the oxygen into various muscle fibers. With the help of aerobic exercises like running, your blood vessels will increase in size and number because of increase in capillarization (which is the development of more capillaries in every unit of muscle). As a result, oxygen can be delivered to the muscle cells in a more improved way, and carbon dioxide as well as other waste products can be more easily removed. It also leads to effective transfer of the body’s heat away from your muscles.
Improvement In Aerobic Base
All types of activities that you engage in are highly dependent on your body’s aerobic energy system. High intensity workouts also need help from your body’s oxidative system. Running or some other form of endurance training can improve your body’s aerobic system. Consequently, you can improve your aerobic base, which will help you increase your capacity to perform all types of physical activities.
Relief From Stress
Stress is one of the biggest factors that can cause major health issues, if it not kept under control. Running can help offer a calming effect on your body. It has been discovered that runners have brains that can better handle stress because their brains release specific neurochemicals while engaging in aerobic exercise.
Running not only causes weight loss, but it also comes with some amazing effects. Running helps your blood pressure to stay normal and lowers your chances of stroke or heart attack. It also increases your stamina, and enhances cognitive function of your brain.
The Bottom Line
So, if you are still wondering if running is a good idea for weight loss, then it is merely your lethargy speaking. Stop pondering, and start running right away. You will be blown away by the incredible results of running- not only in terms of weight loss, but the overall improvement that it will bring in your health.