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Weight Loss

Looking to Lose Weight? Run, Run, Run!

Published on: May 07, 2019

Looking to Lose Weight? Run, Run, Run!

Can running help you lose weight? We’re going to discuss the effectiveness of running for weight loss and give you tips on how you can speed up your progress.

Running for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Here are a few ways running can help you lose weight.

Running can help you burn more calories

Some types of running can help you burn more calories than other types of aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming. Running combined with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises can help you burn even more calories.

A 6.2 year follow up study found running to be more effective for weight loss than walking. Results revealed that runners burned more calories running than walkers spent on walking [1].

A 2004 study compared the energy expenditure rate of walking and running in 24 participants. Results showed that running required more energy than walking on both the track and treadmill [2].

An older study conducted in 1978 also confirms that running burns more calories than walking the same distance [3].


Running may help lose belly fat

Some studies have found that running combined with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you lose belly fat. A 2018 meta-analysis study found that HIIT combined with running burned more abdominal and visceral mass compared to cycling [4]. This occurs with the mobilization of fat for energy after running for a period of ten minutes or more.

Running can help suppress your appetite

A 2016 study investigated the effectiveness of a 20 km run on appetite control in 23 long-distance runners. The runners were assigned to complete either a 20 km outdoor run or a control trial with an equal period of rest. Results showed that running helped reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin while having no significant impact on the satiety hormone peptide YY. The total calorie intake during the buffet meal was significantly lower in the runners compared to the control trial group [5].

A 2007 study has also found the same results that running can help suppress ghrelin and appetite [6].

Running for weight loss sample studies

A 2014 study investigated the effectiveness of sprint interval training (SIT) on body composition, waist circumference, peak running speed, and the cholesterol profile. In this study, fifteen recreationally active women completed six weeks of SIT. Results showed a reduction in body fat mass, waist circumference and an increase in lean body mass [7].

Another recent study also examined the effectiveness of high-intensity interval intermittent sprinting on body composition, fitness level, and performance in untrained participants. The training was carried out three times per week for seven weeks. Results revealed a reduction in body fat mass and a slight increase in lean body mass [8].

A 2006 study investigated the effect of physical activity on age-related weight gain in 12,951 participants via questionnaires. Results showed that weight gain could occur even in those who were most active and practiced more exercise. Results showed that they need to practice more vigorous exercises to fight age-related weight gain, which in this case was running [9].


10 Tips to Speed Weight Loss While Running

1. Reduce calorie intake

Going on a caloric-deficit is by far one of the best and proven ways to lose weight. Use a weight loss calculator to find out exactly how many calories you may have to reduce to reach your weight loss goal.

On average, you need to reduce 3500 calories to lose one pound of body fat [10]. So if you’re someone who currently consumes 2500 calories per day, you have to take away 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week. This could vary depending on your level of physical activity.

2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

As discussed earlier, combining running with HIIT is another proven way to speed up weight loss. For example, a 2018 study investigated the effectiveness of HIIT in 20 young overweight and obese men. The participants were divided into two groups: experimental group (HIIT) and the control group. The experimental group completed HIIT training sessions three times per week for 12 weeks. Results showed a reduction in body fat mass, improvement in breathing capacity and cholesterol profile in the HIIT group [11].

3. Try different types of running

It’s also a good idea to try different types and levels of running for weight loss. For example, one day you might want to practice low-moderate intensity running, and another day you can try sprinting or hill running (if possible).

You may also want to switch your running route every few days to stay motivated. One day you could run in your local park, and another day you could pick a different location.

4. Avoid overdoing it

It’s not a good idea to practice intense running five days a week, especially when you’re starting out. You may also increase the risk of injuries. Aim for a variety of 30-60 minutes of running three times per week.


5. Running doesn’t mean you can eat more.

A lot of people who run to lose weight overestimate the calories burned while running and feel entitled to eat more after. Running thousands of miles doesn’t mean you’re burning thousands of calories. You can only burn a few hundred calories for every 30-60 minutes of running.

It’s easy to consume over 400 calories with a slice of pizza and a can of coke. If you burn 300 calories from running and consume 400 calories more, you may gain weight instead of losing weight. As stated earlier, you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs to lose weight.

6. Sleep well

Sleep deprivation can cause a lot of health problems and also hinder your weight loss journey. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain and obesity. Sleep deprivation can also increase your cravings and make you consume more calories. It can also contribute to stress and daytime tiredness which can slow down your physical activity.

A 2010 study examined the effects of sleep deprivation on calorie intake in 12 healthy men. Results showed that participants consumed 559 more calories when they only had 4 hours of sleep compared to when they had 8 hours of sleep [12]. It is recommended that healthy adults get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.


7. Eat more protein

Protein can speed up your weight loss in several ways such as increasing thermogenesis and suppressing appetite. Eating a high protein diet can reduce your late-night cravings and contribute to less calorie intake. It can also help reduce lean muscle mass loss and help build more muscles.

8. Run with a friend

Having a support system can help motivate you when you’re trying to lose weight. Consider running with a friend whenever you can and ask someone you trust to question you about your weekly running schedule.

You can also join running challenges or sign up for a local marathon to further increase your motivation. This social support during exercise can help a person to adhere to a workout regimen or program.


9. Eat more healthy fat

Consuming healthy fat, especially on a restricted calorie diet can help you lose weight. It can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce your cravings. Some excellent healthy fat foods to add to your diet include avocados, olive oil, nuts, and full-fat cheese.

Beware of the calories and make sure not to add those foods on top of a high-calorie diet. You should also avoid low-fat foods from the stores because they can contain a lot of added sugar and additives.

10. Track your food, water & exercise

Keeping a journal to track your food, water, and exercise can be beneficial to lose weight. It can give you a clear picture of exactly what you’re doing right and what mistakes you’re making. There are so many weight loss apps to make it easier for you to track your weight loss journey. Some weight loss apps such as MyFitnessPal and Lose It also have a community where you can interact with others and get more support. Additionally, water and hydration are important aspects of hunger control and suppression. Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of hunger.

How Long After Starting to Run Will I Lose Weight?

There’s no one size fits all answer for this question. Your weight loss rate depends on several factors such as your starting weight, your lifestyle changes, physical activity level, genetics, and health conditions.

Running can contribute to your weight loss journey and help you burn a few hundred (200-350) calories per 30-60 minute session. However, how much or how fast you lose weight will depend on a lot of factors such as the ones mentioned above.

Some people have a genetical disadvantage than others which can make it harder for them to lose weight faster. Others may suffer from health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or hypothyroidism that may make it difficult to lose weight more quickly.

You have to analyze all of those things to get an idea of how long it may take to lose weight for you. But going on a caloric deficit is one of the best ways to speed up your weight loss with running. You should at least make sure to avoid overeating because you think you’re burning more calories now.

As mentioned earlier, you can also speed up your weight loss by combining running with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Just remember, you’ll need to burn at least 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat.


Running can help you lose weight in several ways such as helping you burn more calories and suppressing your appetite. You can speed up your weight loss by combining running with a restricted calorie diet and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine.


  • Running can help you lose weight and running combined with HIIT is considered to be the best approach for weight loss.
  • Running 3-4 times per week is more effective and sustainable. Overdoing it for 5 or more days a week can increase the risk of injuries and burnout.
  • Spend five minutes to warm up and stretch before you start running and five minutes to cool down after you finish running.
  • How fast you lose weight from running will depend on several factors such as your starting weight, health conditions, and other lifestyle changes.


  1. Williams PT. Greater Weight Loss from Running than Walking during 6.2-yr Prospective Follow-up. 2014 June 23 -
  2. Hall C et al. Energy expenditure of walking and running: comparison with prediction equations. 2004 December -
  3. Fellingham GW et... View all references

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