Weight Loss

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Running is a great way of staying fit and healthy. It also burns a lot of calories, so it can help in a weight loss program. Running burns more calories per mile than walking (about 0.75 calories/pound body weight running compared with 0.63 walking)[1]. Running also covers more miles in a given time than walking, so the rate of calorie burn for a given time is even higher. Great, eh?

Not so fast. The problem is that weight lost is about the balance of calories burned compared with calories consumed. Eat more than you burn to put on weight, Burn more than you eat to lose weight. That's the simple, if harsh, reality of weight loss. Everything else is about boosting the burn or limiting the intake. If you burn more calories, the body will tend to react with an increased appetite. I can run 100 miles a week and put on weight. I know this because it's happened.

As an aside, some people walk (lower intensity) rather than run (high intensity) because walking burns a higher percentage of the calories from fat. It sounds appealing, but there are two problems. Firstly, it is the total calories that count, not if they come from fat or carbohydrates[2]. Secondly, though walking burns a higher percentage of calories from fat than running, in terms of the absolute number of calories from fat, running is higher[2].

1 Insulin Sensitivity

Probably the biggest benefit to weight loss from exercise is the muscle's increased sensitivity to insulin. This means that the calories you eat get used to replenish the Glycogen in the muscles and to build new muscle, rather than being stored as fat. See Nutrient Timing for more details.

2 References

  1. http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-304-311-8402-0,00.html How many calories are you really burning?
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/busting-the-great-myths-of-fat-burning.html Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning