Do you lose weight from running?


Running is one of the most popular and effective forms of exercise for losing weight. But does running actually help you lose weight? Let's take a closer look at the connection between running and weight loss.

Do you lose weight from running?

How Does Running Help You Lose Weight?

Running helps you lose weight in a few key ways:

  • Burns calories. Running burns a significant amount of calories, more than many other types of exercise. The faster and farther you run, the more calories you'll burn.
  • Builds muscle. Running strengthens and builds up leg and core muscles which helps increase your resting metabolism. Having more muscle on your body helps you burn more calories day-to-day.
  • Increases metabolism. The action of running requires energy (burning calories!) and after a run, your metabolism remains elevated for some time. This results in additional calorie burn even after you've finished your workout.
  • Suppresses appetite. Running is shown to suppress levels of ghrelin, the "hunger hormone", helping runners feel less hungry after a run.

So in short, running is an efficient calorie-burning exercise that builds muscle, elevates your metabolism, and can curb cravings. These combined effects make running an extremely effective method for weight loss.

How Many Calories Does Running Burn?

The number of calories burned running depends on a few key factors:

  • Your weight. Heavier people burn more calories running than lighter people.
  • Running speed. Faster paces burn significantly more calories per minute.
  • Running duration. The longer you run, the more calories you'll burn overall.

As an estimate, a 155 lb (70 kg) person running at a moderate pace of 6 mph (10 min/mile) burns approximately 100 calories per mile run.

So if that 155 lb runner completed a 5 mile run at that pace, they would burn around 500 calories. The same person running at 8 mph (7.5 min/mile) would burn around 130 calories per mile, equating to 650 calories over 5 miles.

These numbers demonstrate that running farther and faster leads to increased calorie burn.

How Much Running Is Needed For Weight Loss?

How much running you need to do to lose weight depends on a number of factors:

  • Your current weight and goals
  • The intensity and duration of your runs
  • Your diet and other lifestyle habits

As a general guideline, aim for at least 150-250 minutes of moderate intensity running per week. This equates to 25-40 miles for most runners.

At this amount, running can help create a calorie deficit that leads to weight and fat loss over time. Of course, more running will typically lead to faster and greater weight loss (assuming a proper diet).

It's also important to note that diet plays a huge role. You can't outrun a bad diet. Paying close attention to your calorie intake and food quality is essential to lose weight through running.

5 Running Tips For Weight Loss

Here are 5 key running tips to help maximize your weight loss:

1. Run Faster For Greater Calorie Burn

Pick up the pace! Running at faster speeds burns significantly more calories per minute. Interval training is a great way to incorporate higher intensity running.

2. Run Longer For More Total Calorie Burn

Increase your mileage steadily over time. The longer you can run, the more calories you'll burn per session. Build up to running for 45-60+ minutes.

3. Add Hill Workouts For A Tougher Challenge

Hill running burns extra calories and builds strength! Include some hilly routes or hill repeats in your training.

4. Try Fartlek Training For Variable Intensity

Fartlek runs alternate faster spurts with recovery jogging. This type of running keeps your body working hard.

5. Complement Running With Strength Training

Build lean muscle mass through strength workouts 2-3x per week. More muscle will boost your metabolism.

By running farther, faster, and incorporating variety into your workouts, you'll maximize calorie burn and pounds dropped!

How Fast Can You Lose Weight By Running?

A reasonable goal is to lose 1-2 lbs per week through running and diet. However, weight loss rates can vary quite a bit depending on the factors below:

  • Caloric deficit - The larger your daily deficit, the faster you'll drop pounds. A 500-1000 calorie daily deficit is a good goal.
  • Starting weight - Heavier runners tend to lose weight quicker at first vs lighter runners.
  • Diet - A very low-calorie diet will lead to faster weight loss than a more moderate calorie-reduced diet.
  • Genetics - Your genes play a role in weight loss and fat distribution. Some people lose weight more easily.
  • Patience - Allow your body time to adjust to increased mileage. Weight loss may happen slowly at first.

With all that said, running is one of the best tools for steady, lasting weight loss over time. By combining increased mileage with a solid diet plan, most runners can lose 1-2 lbs per week running.

Running To Lose Weight Long-Term

Running is a great exercise for losing weight initially, but maintaining weight loss long-term is critical too.

Here are some tips for keeping weight off with running:

  • Continue running 3-4x per week or more
  • Run long distances and do speedwork to keep burning calories
  • Mix up your running routes and workouts to prevent boredom
  • Lifting weights helps retain muscle mass as you lose fat
  • Focus on total body health - fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management
  • Monitor your weight weekly and adjust your diet/running as needed

By sticking with running as part of a healthy, active lifestyle, you can experience lasting weight loss and improved fitness for life!

Adding Cross-Training For Faster Weight Loss

While running should make up the bulk of your cardio exercise, incorporating some cross-training can help boost weight loss too.

Here are effective forms of cross-training to complement your running:

  • Cycling - Spin classes, road cycling, and mountain biking are great calorie burners.
  • Swimming - Build cardio endurance while giving your legs a rest.
  • Rowing - Rowing workouts burn calories and strengthen your back and arms.
  • HIIT - High-intensity interval training spikes your metabolism with bursts of intense exercise.
  • Strength Training - Lifting builds lean muscle and raises your resting metabolism.

Aim to cross-train 1-2 days per week in addition to your running routine. Just don't overdo it and risk injury or overtraining.

Common Running Injuries & Prevention

Running consistently is hard work, and injury prevention should be priority #1. Here are some of the most common running injuries along with prevention tips:

Runner's Knee

Symptoms: Pain around or behind the kneecap.

Prevent: Strengthen quads/glutes, rest when sore, avoid overdoing mileage.

Shin Splints

Symptoms: Pain along the shin bone.

Prevent: Gradually increase mileage, run on softer surfaces, strength train.

Plantar Fasciitis

Symptoms: Heel and arch pain, especially taking first steps after rest.

Prevent: Wear supportive shoes, stretch and massage feet, don't over-stride.

Stress Fractures

Symptoms: Localized foot and leg pain that intensifies while running.

Prevent: Increase mileage slowly, wear proper shoes, cross-train, consume calcium-rich foods.

Paying attention to injuries early and taking preventative measures can help you avoid interruptions to your running routine.

Tips For Running Injury Recovery

If you do sustain a running injury, here are some recovery tips:

  • Rest! Take time off from running to allow your body to heal. How much time depends on severity.
  • Ice the area to reduce swelling and pain. Icing for 15-20 minutes 2-3x per day can help.
  • Use compression such as a sleeve on the injured area to minimize swelling.
  • Elevate your legs above your heart level whenever possible to promote circulation and healing.
  • See a sports doctor if pain persists or worsens. They can diagnose the issue and provide treatment options.
  • Consider PT or massage for muscular injuries. This helps break up scar tissue and speed recovery.
  • Cross-train to maintain fitness. Swimming, cycling, rowing machines, and lifting weights are good options.

With rest and proper care, most running injuries can fully recover within a few weeks to months. Take injuries seriously and don't return to running prematurely before fully healed.

Healthy Diet Tips For Runners

No matter how much you run, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. Here are some healthy eating tips for runners:

  • Eat less processed foods - Focus on whole foods like veggies, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains. Limit sweets and fried foods.
  • Hydrate properly - Drink water and electrolyte beverages before, during, and after running. Dehydration hampers performance.
  • Load up on carbs - Carbs provide energy for running. Include healthy sources like whole grains and sweet potatoes.
  • Eat your protein - Aim for 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight to build and repair muscles.
  • Replenish nutrients after running - Refuel with a mix of carbs and protein within 30-60 minutes post-run.
  • Don't skimp on calories - Cutting calories too drastically can backfire. Create a modest calorie deficit for weight loss.

Following a whole food, runner-friendly diet will provide proper fuel for your workouts and recovery.

Supplements For Runners

Some runners take supplements believed to aid performance and recovery. Some popular supplements include:

  • Protein powder - Whey and plant proteins help rebuild muscle. Look for at least 20g of protein per serving.
  • BCAAs - Branch chain amino acids are thought to reduce muscle damage from running. But benefits are debated.
  • Creatine - May provide a boost in high intensity running efforts. Be sure to hydrate fully when taking it.
  • Beet juice - Nitrates in beets may improve oxygen uptake and delay fatigue.
  • Tart cherry juice - Has anti-inflammatory properties that may aid muscle recovery.
  • Fish oil - Anti-inflammatory omega-3s help counter inflammation from running.

While some runners find supplements helpful, they aren't necessary for most. A balanced diet high in whole foods generally provides sufficient nutrition.

Is Running Enough For Weight Loss?

Running is excellent exercise for losing weight due to the high calorie burn. However, in most cases running alone is not enough to produce significant, lasting weight loss.

Here are some reasons why:

  • You can't outrun a bad diet - Nutrition has a huge impact on weight. No amount of running can negate the effects of a diet too high in calories.
  • Running stimulates hunger - The calories burned from running can make you famished. Controlling food intake becomes more difficult.
  • It's hard to sustain high mileage - Lack of variety and rest can lead to overtraining, potentially causing you to cut back on running.
  • Adaptation - As your body adapts to running, you become more efficient and your calorie burn decreases over time at a given pace.

So while running is a critical component for weight loss, it generally works best when paired with dietary changes to create a sustainable calorie deficit. Other forms of exercise like lifting and HIIT workouts can complement running as well.

Weight Loss Running Schedule Example

Here is a sample weekly running schedule for weight loss:

Monday: Rest or cross-train

Tuesday: Interval workout - Warmup, then 8-10x 400m at 5k pace with 400m rest periods, cooldown

Wednesday: Easy run - 3-4 miles at conversational pace

Thursday: Tempo run - 2 miles easy, 3 miles at 10k pace, 2 miles easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long run - 7-8 miles at easy pace

Sunday: Hill repeats - Warmup, 6-8x hills sprints, cooldown

This schedule allows for:

  • High intensity interval and tempo sessions to maximize calorie burn
  • Long slow runs to build endurance
  • Hill workouts to build strength
  • 2 rest days to support recovery

Aim to run 25-40 miles per week if possible for weight loss. Spread across 3-4 runs.


So does running help you lose weight? Research shows running absolutely can help you lose weight and body fat. The key is being consistent with:

  • Frequency - Run at least 3 days per week, ideally 4-5
  • Duration - Work up to run for 45-60+ minutes per session
  • Intensity - Incorporate sprints, hills, and tempo runs in addition to easy runs
  • Distance - Build a base with weekly mileage in the 25-40 mile range
  • Diet - Eat a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet to complement increased mileage

By putting in the consistent miles and running at a variety of intensities, runners can maximize calorie burn. Combined with dietary changes, running is an extremely effective exercise for losing weight sustainably over time.

So lace up your shoes and hit the road - your thinner, healthier self is waiting! Just be sure to fuel properly, listen to your body to avoid injuries, and consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Running is one of the most effective forms of exercise for losing weight. But questions about the details of how running leads to weight loss often arise. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

How many calories does running actually burn?

The number of calories burned running depends primarily on your body weight, running speed, and running duration. As a rough estimate, a 155 lb (70 kg) person running at a moderate pace of 6 mph (10 min/mile) burns about 100 calories per mile. So running 5 miles would burn around 500 calories for a 155 lb runner. Speeding up to 8 mph (7.5 min/mile pace) would burn about 130 calories per mile. The longer the run, the more total calories burned.

Does running build muscle and increase metabolism?

Yes, running strengthens muscles in your lower body and core while also increasing your resting metabolic rate. The action of running requires energy (burning calories!) and after a run, your metabolism remains elevated for a period of time. Having more muscle on your body also helps you burn more calories day-to-day at rest.

How much running per week is needed for weight loss?

Most experts recommend 150-250 minutes of moderate intensity running per week for weight loss. This equates to roughly 25-40 miles per week for recreational runners. Spread out over 3-4 running sessions per week, along with a calorie-controlled diet, this amount of running can lead to a significant calorie deficit and weight loss over time.

What are good running workouts for maximizing calorie burn?

Interval training, fartlek runs, tempo runs, and hill repeats all maximize calorie burn by incorporating higher intensity effort. But longer easy runs also play an important role by burning calories through sustained activity over time. A training plan that combines workouts of various distances, intensities, and terrain is ideal.

How rapidly can you lose weight by running?

A safe and sustainable goal is to lose 1-2 lbs per week through running and diet changes. Running newbies often lose weight quicker at first as their body adapts to the increased activity level. Patience is key - it takes time for the pounds to start consistently coming off as your mileage increases.

How soon after starting running did you notice weight loss results?

Many runners don't notice significant weight loss in just the first few weeks of running. It often takes 2-3 months of consistent running before the pounds start noticeably dropping, assuming you are also paying close attention to your diet. Weight loss is a gradual process. Expect that the results will compound positively over time.

Will running help tighten loose skin after major weight loss?

While running burns calories and tones muscles, it unfortunately doesn't do much to tighten loose skin after major weight loss. That loose skin results from being significantly overweight for an extended period, which permanently stretches the skin. Only surgery can fully tighten large amounts of loose skin. But running will help improve underlying muscle tone.

What should you eat before and after running for weight loss?

Before running, eat easily digested carbs like a banana, oatmeal, or toast along with some protein. After your run, replenish carbs, protein, electrolytes, and fluids within 30-60 minutes. A smoothie with Greek yogurt plus fruit makes a great recovery snack. Proper fueling will help you get the most out of your runs.

How can you avoid running injuries that derail weight loss progress?

Gradually build up your mileage to prevent overuse injuries. Strength train 2-3x per week to reinforce muscles and joints. Replace running shoes every 300-500 miles. Listen to early warning signs from your body and take a break when needed. Cross-training also helps avoid injuries from repetitive running. Patience and consistency are key.

What is a good weekly running schedule for losing weight?

A good sample schedule is 1 long run, 1 interval workout, 1 tempo/fartlek run, and 2-3 easy runs for a total of 4-5 weekly runs. Getting in one weekly strength training session also helps complement the running. The key is finding a manageable schedule you can adhere to long-term. Consistency is vital.

How can you make running a lifelong habit for weight management?

To make running stick long-term, vary your routes and workouts, run with friends periodically, set new goals like races to train for, buy new running gear regularly, keep an exercise log, join a running club, and focus on total body health including proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management. Making running fun and part of your identity increases long-term adherence.


Running is an extremely effective exercise for losing weight due to the high number of calories it burns. The faster and farther you run, the more calories you'll burn. Running also builds muscle which boosts your resting metabolism. It increases your metabolism after runs too. These combined effects make running a great choice for weight loss. Aim for 150-250 minutes of moderate running per week, which equates to about 25-40 miles for most runners. This amount, along with a proper diet, can create a calorie deficit leading to pounds dropped. Interval training, tempo runs, hill repeats and long runs all help maximize calorie burn. Run at least 3 days per week, if not 4-5. Pay close attention to your diet too since you can't outrun poor nutrition. Expect to lose about 1-2 pounds per week with the combination of increased mileage and diet changes. Be sure to add cross-training like strength training as well. Running is extremely effective for weight loss, but works best when combined with dietary changes and other exercise.

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