Burning Question: Can You Lose Weight From Running?

March 25, 2014 | 4 Comments

can you lose weight from running

Ahh… running. It’s what you do when you’re being chased by a black panther, the Russian mafia, or an pistol packing ex-girlfriend.

But while running can help get you out of some sticky situations, we must answer the burning question on everyone’s mind: can you lose weight from running?

The answer is a resounding YES!

But did you also know that you can lose weight by scratching your head, wiping your butt, and playing the piano.

The difference between running and butt wiping

Any time you move your body, you are burning calories, and burning calories means losing weight.

So even if you’re just wiping your butt, you’re still burning calories because you’re moving your body. Obviously, the calorie burn is next to nothing, but it’s definitely there.

Running on the other hand is harder and more intense than wiping you butt, so the calorie burn is MUCH higher(than butt wiping), which equates to faster weight loss.

To help you understand this, I drew a very detailed and complex graph 🙂


Is there anything special about running?

From a pure weight loss perspective, there is nothing special about running.

Don’t  believe the hype. Don’t believe Runner’s World. Don’t believe those crazy marathon runners who say running is the greatest thing in the world.

Now before you start bashing me, let me just say that I have nothing against running or marathon runners. Many marathons are geared towards great causes like breast cancer research and that’s awesome, but running  just isn’t my style.

While running can help you lose weight, I simply don’t believe that running is worth the negligible calorie burn it produces, and too much running can result in muscle loss.

Do I recommend running for weight loss?

Um… not particularly.

Unless you want to exert large amounts of energy on something that provides little in return, then don’t start running in hopes of losing large amounts of weight.

Also, running too much can put you at risk of losing lean muscle mass, which is something you definitely don’t want if you’re goal is to build an attractive body.

So what should I do to lose weight?

If you’ve read my other posts, then you know that I’m all about minimalism and simplicity.

I usually just recommend people to simply lift weight 2-3 times per week to maintain muscle and to use their diet to lose weight.

But, if you really wanted some sort of extra activity besides weight lifting, then you could give HIIT(high intensity interval training) a shot.

HIIT is much more effective than traditional running. You get to burn more calories in the same amount of time as running, plus it won’t make you lose muscle.

A sample 20 minute HIIT routine

  1. Hop on a treadmill and adjust the speed levels so that you are able to walk at a medium pace for 5 minutes. This is your warmup.
  2. Crank up the speed so that you have no choice but to sprint as fast as humanly possible. Sprint for 30 seconds.
  3. Lower the speed so that you are back to walking at a medium pace. Walk for 90 seconds.
  4. Continue to alternate steps 2 and 3 until you perform 6 total sprints.
  5. Perform a 3 minute cooldown on the treadmill by walking at a slow to medium pace.
Some notes about the above routine:
  • Performing HIIT every day can lead to overtraining, especially if you’re already doing intense lower body movements like squats and deadlifts.
  • Preferably, perform HIIT after an upper body workout or on your rest days.
  • Don’t perform HIIT more than 2x per week if you’re already lifting weights.
So there you go, a sample HIIT routine that is a trillion times better than conventional running.

Closing thoughts

So can you lose weight from running? Yes, but technically, you can also lose weight from wiping your butt all day.
It’s your job to choose something that’s smart and gets results. Running can get you results but it’s really not worth the effort. HIIT simply gives you more bang for your buck.


4 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. Ok, I’ll bite.
    If it’s necessary to burn more calories than you take in every day to lose weight, then running still remains the best way to do so, along with many other high intensity aerobic exercises. Many researches prove it, like this one – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/sm00109 -, that clearly shows how weight lifting burns pretty much the same calories as a walk in the park, or an heavy session of butt wiping. If you’re 50 pounds overweight, I seriously doubt you can get lean by lifting weights 2-3 times a week alone.
    The reason why many people don’t wanna run and look for better alternatives is because, even though anyone can do it, running is hard. It’s hard for beginners and it can make you feel discouraged when you notice it takes a good amount to effort to start seeing results, that’s why people resort to diets, yoga, weird group aerobics and so on.
    HIIT is actually good from what I hear: I never tried it but maybe sometimes I will, just for the heck of it.
    The truth is that both activities should be done in sync, and not exclude each other. Weight lifting without some cardio won’t really work, and running without some weight lifting will give you legs of steel, but a flaccid upper body (not to mention you gain in stability, power and speed by training your upper body too).
    It all comes down to the fitness model you have in mind: if you wanna bulk up, more weight lifting and less cardio; if you wanna get leaner, more cardio and less weight lifting. But by all means, do both.
    And recommending just weight lifting and, if you really want, HIIT, is just wrong and misleading, imho.

    1. Hey Kagemitsu,
      If you want to lose weight, the best way to do is through your diet and making sure you’re eating in a calorie deficit.

      If you’re 50 punds overweight, it’s really possible to get lean from 2-3 days of weight lifting. The key here is to let your diet take care of the fat loss and to let the weight lifting preserve or build muscle.

      Running and hiit can both be used to assist in weight loss, but they aren’t 100% necessary. More than anying else, cardio is more of a bonus to help accelerate weight loss.

  2. Actually, there are some very compelling points made in both posts. It should be remembered that not all bodies are alike, and no one program is a “one size fits all tee-shirt.” As one who successfully lost over thirty pounds preparing for my first marathon, as a clydesdale, I am kind of partial to that program. I even trained solo, which is something that even the running gurus say you should never do. On the other hand, I lift weights so I don’t lose precious muscle mass. Perhaps the correct answer is to seek a balanced program that is right for you and practice moderation in all things.

    1. Fitness Coach,
      First off, congrats on losing the weight. And you’re right, the best exercise plan to lose weight is the one that fits your lifestyle. If you like running, then go running, but don’t think that running is the only way to lose weight.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}