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Does Running Burn Fat?

Does Running Burn Fat?
There are several reasons why you might want to think twice the next time that you decide to start running to lose weight. Running may not be as effective as you think for weight loss, and if you do it the wrong way you can actually hurt your own ability to burn fat. You might feel like resorting to running when you haven't had much success with other weight loss methods, but the truth of the matter is that your diet is far more important than running or any other exercise. With the proper diet, the amount of exercise that you'll have to do to lose weight is minimal, but with the wrong diet there's no amount of running that will save you from putting on weight. Essentially, you should focus most of your weight loss efforts on your diet, but that doesn't mean that running and other workouts don't have their role as well.

When you run too much you can do too much  of the same workout

Doing the same workout all the time isn't the most ideal way to burn fat. Your body can become resistant to one particular workout by basically becoming better at it. Eventually, if you run all the time your efforts won't be as effective as your body adapts. Your running workouts will start to feel more effortless, and it's possible that you'll burn fewer calories than you did at the beginning of your running exercise regimen. Basically it will take more effort to get the same results as you used to. This effect occurs the most when you literally do nothing else other than running. Even if you mix it up but still mostly run the effect will occur. And, with all of the other exercises out there why would you?

Studies have continued to show that "€œsteady state"€ running, that is running on a treadmill or outside for a long period of time, say 45 minutes straight, is not the best thing to do for weight loss. A study by the University of Tampa found that steady state running resulted in weight loss of just a few pounds during the first week and then the weight loss tailored off. The reason why was because the participants' metabolism adjusted to the workload, and the same effort that they were doing at the start of their routine just wasn't enough to burn fat. The best thing to do is to alternate your workouts as much as possible. Don't stick to running for a long period of time; mix it up with rowing, elliptical training, and other workouts.

You can run for a long time but you won't go very fast

Another major problem that happens when you do nothing else other than running is that you'll be able to run for a long time but it's hard to run at a fast pace. The pace of your workout definitely makes a difference as research shows. When you alternate sprinting at your fastest possible speed with walking, as you would with high intensity interval training, the result is a boosted metabolism, higher HGH production, and many other health benefits that help your body burn more fat. This effect does not necessarily occur when you are long distance running, especially if you're just jogging. A lot of people start the treadmill or the bike at a pace that they can keep for a long period of time thinking that the more time they work out the better their results will be.

This just usually doesn't end up being true because if you maintain a slow pace you aren't pushing your body and you won't be burning a lot of fat. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied the exercise habits of 34,000 women and found that it took an hour per day of moderate exercise just to maintain their weight. That's 60 minutes, every day, of working out just to maintain and not lose weight! That's really not ideal when you are on a limited schedule and that is a lot of work every day just to maintain your weight. You want real results with your exercise routine, combined with a healthy diet of course, and the best thing to do is to avoid moderate exercise as much as possible. If you are going to work out you should push yourself as much as possible to burn fat, improve your metabolism and boost your levels of human growth hormone, and exercises like high intensity interval training can be a great way to do this without having to spend a ton of time at the gym.

You don't burn a ton of calories with any exercise

The truth of exercise is that you won't burn a ton of calories with any of your workouts. Your diet is far more important to your weight loss efforts than the amount of exercise that you do. Most people don't have the time to spend 2-3 hours in the gym every day to get significant results just from working out. Also, there's a huge risk of injury when you overdo working out, and several studies have found that it can even shut your metabolism down and make it more difficult for you to lose weight when you do this, especially if you combine it with a poor diet. Your diet matters more than anything else, and remember that your body burns 1,600 to over 2,000 calories per day just through its normal metabolic processes and functions.

Dieting makes the biggest difference with how much weight you lose. That's why diets like the HCG diet are so effective; they focus on what matters the most, your calorie intake and the foods that you eat rather than working out. Most other diets are misguided, especially the diets that expect you to combine dieting with exercise. Dieting is the most important thing to do, and by dieting we mean eating the right foods on a regular basis and avoiding grains, starches and sugars. Diets shouldn't be a temporary part of your life, but you should implement permanent changes into your lifestyle such as completely avoiding foods and drinks with high fructose corn syrup, avoiding grains, and other foods that can make you gain weight. Focusing on this is much more important than worrying about burning 100 to 150 calories per exercise session.

Does running burn fat? Not as well as you think. Remember to mix up your workouts

Running all the time can very easily get boring, and with all of the studies that show that it's counterproductive, you're better off sticking to other exercise methods. There are tons of cardio workouts that you can do, and you should definitely include some form of resistance training, stretching, interval training, and other workouts that will help keep you from building up resistance to a particular exercise. Running isn't a bad workout but mix it up and don't do it every single day and expect to lose weight from it. You're going to end up doing way too much work in order to just maintain your weight and if you don't increase your speed and the efficiency of your workouts you won't get results. With your workouts you should focus on quality more than quantity and try exercises that are going to push your short term endurance.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

6 min read