Thinking of running for weight loss? What you really need to know…
Go ahead, just try to scroll through Instagram right now and not come across a running post. No luck? That’s because it seems like everyone and their mother is lacing up their new running shoes, hitting the pavement, and losing major pounds in the process. Clearly, the classic endurance-building, heart-pounding, leaves-you-dripping-in-sweat activity is the key to weight-loss success, right?
Honestly, it’s a hard…maybe. The only real way to know if running will help you lose weight is to try it, says Charlie Seltzer, MD, a weight loss physician and exercise physiologist based in Philadelphia, PA. “Some people can do mini-sprints for 10 minutes three times a week and get some weight loss. But you also see people who train for Ironman triathlons who don’t lose any weight, even though they’re running 50 miles a week.”
Plus, there’s the whole thing about how weight loss in general is totally specific to each individual, based on their body type, how much they need to eat, how much weight they’d like to lose, and so on. But how do you know if running is worth a try to lose weight? Here are the basics, so you can decide whether to lace up your sneaks—or choose another workout instead.
Wait, so how much running would I have to do to lose weight?
Tbh, you’d have to commit to a serious schedule. That’s because if you want to lose, say, a pound a week, you need to burn about an extra 500+ calories every day. To do that via running alone, that’d likely ballpark around a 45-minute run every day of the week for a 160-pound woman, says Janet Hamilton, CSCS, an exercise physiologist, running coach, and founder of Running Strong in Atlanta, Georgia.
Are there any downsides to running for weight loss?
There aren’t necessarily negatives to running for weight loss, but there are a few thing to keep in mind: First, knowing that the way your body responds to running for weight loss may be totally different than the way your best friend’s body responds, says Dr. Seltzer. That’s because exercise can tweak body composition, hormones, metabolism, and appetite in super individualized ways—all of which contribute to weight loss.