(WellnessNova.com) - Running is regarded as one of the best forms of exercise for anyone trying to lose weight. So you went out and bought a great pair of running shoes, you started working with a personal trainer, and you thought you were on the path to a slimmer, thinner version of you. But to your dismay, you haven’t been losing weight! Or you’re been losing weight at a much slower pace than you expected.
So what gives?? Well, there are a few reasons why you may be running without losing weight:
1. Problem: You’re Running Each and Every Day
More isn’t always better and this is definitely true when it comes to running. When you exercise daily, especially at an intense level, this can keep cortisol levels and other stress hormones at relatively high levels. As a result, muscles don’t have an opportunity to mend – a process that’s crucial for muscle growth and strength development. This can lead to muscles that get smaller over time (the exact opposite of what you should be achieving!), which causes a reduced rate of fat loss, especially in the long term.
So it’s critical that you spend at least one day a week resting and avoiding strenuous exercise. This will allow your hormone levels to normalize, giving your muscles an opportunity to mend the tiny muscle fiber tears. That results in the formation of larger, stronger muscle mass. Getting lots of sleep is crucial too, as this is prime time for recovery.
2. Problem: You’re Sapping Your Energy
If you’re running at an intense level for over an hour a day, you could end up in a situation where you’re leaving yourself drained throughout the rest of the day. As a result, you may actually decrease your overall activity level. For instance, you may find that you lack the energy required to take the stairs or you may find yourself driving to the corner store instead of walking.
So if you find that you’re chronically tired after exercising and resting and napping more often, then it may be best to scale back on your runs, limiting it to 30 to 60 minutes per day. Exercise should leave you feeling fitter and more energetic, not sapped and exhausted!
Also, if you’re feeling lethargic, you may also want to consider what you’re eating. Not all foods are created equal and your body needs lots of protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients to repair the microscopic muscle damage that leads to muscle growth. Your running routine could be sapping your body of certain nutrients, resulting in a lack of energy. So take some time to evaluate what you’re eating and when you’re eating it.
3. Problem: You’re Over-fueling for Your Run
In an attempt to stay hydrated and full of energy, some runners actually overdo it, eating and consuming more calories than they’re expending!
Sports drinks are a big problem in this regard, as are energy gels and sports bars, which are high in calories. Opting for water in place of sport drinks is key if you’re aiming to lose weight.
You could also end up in a situation where you find that you’re hungrier as a result of your intense running sessions, leading to binging and over-eating.
So be cognizant of exactly what you’re eating and consider keeping a meal diary over the course of a week or two. This will provide you with some valuable insight into how many calories you’re consuming (and you may really be surprised!)
Also, be sure you’re accurately estimating the calories burned during each run. Keep reading to learn more about this!
4. Problem: You’re Not Running at the Right Intensity
Many believe that running is one of the best ways to burn calories, and it can be, but only if you’re running at the right level of intensity. It’s easy to over-calculate how many calories you’re burning while running.
Intensity really matters when it comes to how many calories you burn. A typical, 150-pound person will burn about 280 calories per hour if they’re traveling at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour. That’s a very fast walk or slow jog. If you increase the intensity to a moderate run at a speed of about 5 miles an hour, you’ll increase your calorie expenditure to around 590 calories per hour. That’s a big difference, so it’s important to accurately calculate your calorie expenditure so you can adjust your run intensity or distance to hit your calorie target.
You can also maximize your exercise session by running in the cold, which burns extra calories, or by adding weights to your arms and legs, which serves to help promote muscle development. Muscle does weigh more than fat, but more muscle mass means you’ll burn more calories, even when you’re resting.
5. Problem: You’re Not Performing Other Types of Exercise
The best and most effective exercise regimes involve different types of exercise; activities that impact your aerobic and your anaerobic systems.
Running is a great aerobic exercise, but strength training and yoga are also great because they help build muscle mass and improve flexibility, which can also reduce your risk of injury. (And nothing puts a wrench in the gears like an injury!) The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn during each workout. Muscle also gives your metabolic rate a boost.
Also, running isn’t super effective at toning your core and arms, so by mixing it up a bit, you’ll see improved muscle tone and strength throughout your entire body.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t limit your exercise routine to just running. Perform other types of exercise, like yoga, swimming, or strength training. Ideally, you should spend one day resting from all forms of exercise, and spend two days a week performing other types of exercise. The other four days of the week can be spent running.