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Here’s How You Can Lose Weight While Running

A white woman with a dark blonde ponytail goes running for weight loss. She is caught mid-stride in front of a concrete wall.
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Lisa studied journalism and is a certified fitness and health trainer, as well as a meditation coach! She spent many years working for different lifestyle and fitness magazines, and she writes articles for us on the topics of working out, fitness, lifestyle and mind.

About an eighth of the population of England goes running regularly and it’s not just for the fresh air. Losing weight is one of the main reasons people lace up their running shoes. Want to start running for weight loss? Find out how to get closer to your feel-good weight with cardio, plus which mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

Besides exercise, what you feed your body is the be-all and end-all for weight loss. A mix of balanced nutrition and our Shape Shake 2.0 paired with enough exercise can support you on the way to your feel-good weight.

Can You Lose Weight By Running?

The quick answer is: Yes. And the reason is simple: with any kind of exercise running, biking, or climbing stairs your body uses energy. You get the power you need in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Once the body’s reserves of ATP are used up, body fat and carb stores are burned. Jogging is an effective sport for weight loss, especially if you keep yourself in the aerobic zone. This means that the body uses oxygen to help produce the energy you need – you can tell when you’re in the right zone because you still have enough breath to keep going and your heart is pumping at a moderate intensity.

However, the increased fat burning you get by jogging doesn’t mean that you can lose weight with endurance training alone. An overall calorie deficit is still crucial for your weight loss journey. That means you have to take in fewer calories than you burn. Click here for our calorie charts!

A woman of color stretches after going running for weight loss. She holds the toes of her right leg behind her back with her knee bent to stretch her quads. She is standing on a suspension bridge (outdoors).
©Martin Novak

How Many Calories Does Jogging Burn?

How many calories are burned on a run depends on many factors, including your running pace and body weight. Use the following values as a guide to calories burned – they’ve been compiled by Harvard University and are based on 30 minutes of jogging:

Running pace around 55 kilos body weight around 70 kilos body weight around 80 kilos body weight 
approx. 8 km/h 240 cal 288 cal 336 cal
approx. 9,5 km/h 360 cal 420 cal 495 cal
approx. 12 km/h 375 cal 450 cal 525 cal
approx. 16 km/h 453 cal 562 cal 671 cal

Tips for a Running Program to Lose Weight

Newcomers to running for weight loss can easily be successful at the beginning if they pay attention to a few key points. For advanced runners and professionals, it’s a bit more difficult to lose weight by jogging, because your body gets used to the strain over the long term. The following tips will help you approach your running workouts in the most effective way:

#1 Jog at the right heart rate

To make sure your body primarily draws on its fat reserves for energy, you should train in the aerobic range, so at a heart rate of 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate (HRmax). For beginners, 30-minute endurance runs at a moderate pace are ideal for the first few weeks. Wearing a heart rate monitor is a good way to monitor your heart rate.

If you’re already at a good level of basic cardio fitness, add more variety! Advanced runners can make good progress with aerobic exercise intervals: Run at an easy pace for 10 to 15 minutes at 70-80 percent of your HRmax. Then run short intervals at around 80-90 percent of your HRmax, for example 4 times 4 minutes or 10 times 1 minute. Walk for one minute between each interval. At the end, take a few minutes to cool down.

#2 Increase intensity and duration

For beginner runners, it’s a good idea to stick with your moderate run over 30 minutes for the first four weeks. To prevent a plateau afterwards, keep challenging your body. For example, increase your training intensity from week to week. Run the same distance in less time, do short sprint sessions, incorporate resistance training sessions with bodyweight exercises, or run longer. Don’t give your body a chance to get used to the workout!

#3 Jog regularly

Continuity is the key to weight loss success. Run three times a week in the beginning and four to five times a week once you’re fitter. At the same time, make sure to avoid overtraining. Always listen to your body – a rest day is sometimes more effective than another running session.

Running for Weight Loss: Common Mistakes

Losing weight by jogging – not so complicated, right? Maybe, at first glance. But to make sustainable progress and maintain your feel-good weight, be sure to avoid the following mistakes:

#1 Not paying attention to your diet

If you want to run to lose weight, it’s important to put your focus on a healthy mix of exercise and nutrition. If you focus solely on endurance sports and don’t maintain a solid nutrition plan, you won’t lose weight in the long run or risk the yo-yo effect where you gain weight again. Focus on eating a balanced, natural, and varied diet and click here for our free nutrition plan for weight loss!

Tip: After you’re done with your run, your stomach is rumbling and your glycogen stores are empty. Fill them back up with long-chain carbohydrates like oatmeal! Avoid sugary drinks or desserts and go for our Shape Shake, which combines macros, minerals, and vitamins in one drink.

A white man in a tank top and shorts swings his arms as he goes running for weight loss, making his way up a set of stairs with a beach behind him.
©jacoblund

#2 Leaving out strength training

Running to lose weight can be effective, but in the long run it’s muscles that will maintain your success – in combination with the right diet, of course. Muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate so you burn more calories even at rest. That’s why you should do weight training at least once a week, in addition to jogging.

Bonus: strength training reduces the risk of typical runner’s injuries like those to the ankle, knee, or along the back. Core training and exercises for the legs are great for runners because they give you more stability and increase your performance.

Important tip: If you combine strength and cardio training in one workout, always do your muscle-building exercises first and then go running.

#3 Not taking enough breaks

Strength athletes know how important recovery is. The time between training sessions is when the actual muscle building takes place, and your body needs a break for that. The same applies to runners: your body needs time to process the training stimuli. At least one day per week should be dedicated to recovery. But it may be more, especially for intensive running units with intervals, sprints, or strength exercises always pay attention to the signals your body gives you.

A good night’s sleep also contributes to recovery and should be one of your priorities. Find out more about how sleep quality affects your athletic performance and how you burn fat here.

Conclusion

  • It’s possible to lose weight running: when you run in the aerobic zone, your body taps into fat reserves for energy production.
  • A calorie deficit is key for weight loss, so you need to burn more calories than you eat.
  • A good plan for beginners is three 30-minute running sessions per week at a pulse rate of 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate (HRmax).
  • Advanced runners who want to lose weight with jogging should diversify their running training and always give the body new training stimuli like additional sprints or bodyweight exercises.
  • In addition to jogging, a balanced diet, strength training at least once a week, and enough regeneration time are important building blocks for losing weight.

More healthy living tips from foodspring:

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