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Losing Weight

Many people start running, jogging, or walking as a way of losing weight. Those activities can help one lose weight, but it is not a fast way to lose pounds. Let's take a look at running, jogging, or walking as a method of weight-reduction. In this discussion, I'll use the word "running" as a catch-all for all three types of exercise.

Running Does Burn Calories

Running, jogging, or walking burns about 100 calories per mile. This estimate ignores individual factors such as metabolism or hereditary factors. Since a person can run or jog a mile in 10-15 minutes (typically) and can walk a mile in 20 minutes, it looks like these activities would be a great way to lose weight. However, to lose a pound of weight through running, one would have to do 35 miles since each pound lost means 3500 calories burned or not consumed. Thirty-five miles is quite a distance, especially for a beginning runner who may do only 3 or 4 miles per week. Thus, we realize that running is an important factor in weight reduction, but it is not the whole picture. It is just one piece of the puzzle.

Get Into the Long Haul

Since one pound of weight-loss requires 35 miles of running, recognize that you may have to run for several weeks before you lose one pound! Don't become discouraged if, after two or three weeks of running, you don't measure any weight loss. Weight loss will come, but it takes time
and miles and miles. As you run, try and develop a positive attitude about running. Try and develop enjoyment about running. Forget, for a while, about running to lose weight. Run for enjoyment!

Throw Your Scale Away

Many people weigh themselves every day hoping to see the needle come down. The needle hangs up there, and they become discouraged. My suggestion is not to weigh yourself more often than once a week, and once a month is even better.

Most bathroom scales aren't super accurate, and those scales may not accurately measure weight to a fraction of a pound. In measuring your weight, you need to realize that there is a small range or tolerance about the number you see on your scale, and your actual weight could be anywhere within that range. For example, suppose your scale has a tolerance of plus or minus a pound. You weigh yourself and see the number 143. Your weight could be anywhere from 142 to 144. Thus you can not accurately measure your weight with typical bathroom scales, and there is no need to weigh yourself every day since daily changes in your weight are probably within the accuracy tolerance of the scale and thus can not be measured accurately. Many scales have a tolerance greater than plus or minus 1 pound.

No Need to Run Fast

Except for a slight effect on your metabolism before and after running, going faster does not increase the calories burned per mile. Thus, if you're running, slow down and enjoy it. Don't try to sprint. Take LSD, not the drug kind, but the running kind.

Running is only Part of the Story

Putting in the miles will help you lose weight, but there is the other half of the weight-loss equation.

Weight Loss = Exercise + Reduced Calories

Reduced calories can come from running, but it must also come from reduced eating! However, don't go on a crash diet! To be successful in reducing weight, you must have fewer calories going into your body. If you try and reduce too many calories through dieting, your body may think it is starving, and it may lower your metabolism in an attempt to conserve energy. You may lose weight, but you probably won't be able to continue your diet for years and years, and when you leave your diet, you will eat more and, due to a lower metabolism, may gain even more weight than you lost . This is known as the "yo-yo" effect.

A reasonable goal is to reduce your calories from food by about 300 per day. Many people can do this merely by consuming fewer calories from sweets and sodas. Others have success with small changes in diet -- losing 50 calories here and 25 calories there. That, plus losing 200 calories per day due to running will give you a weight loss of about a pound a week. That may not seem like much, but that is 52 pounds per year, and that is significant weight loss.
Be sure that the calories you do consume come from a nutritious diet. Eat veggies, fruits, fish, poultry, nuts, and whole grains. If you eat meat, eat small amounts as a condiment not as the main course. If you eat foods with a high glycemic index, balance that with foods with a low index. If possible, shun processed foods and prepare meals from "scratch".

Avoid eating three big meals a day. Instead, eat five or six small meals. If you eat three meals, you'll probably be pretty hungry at each meal and may overeat (it takes a while after you eat before your hunger subsides). If you eat more often but smaller meals, you'll be less hungry for each meal and may be better able to control your intake.


A good check on your weight is to occasionally calculate your Body Mass Index or BMI. Your BMI is a measure of body fat as a function of your weight and height.

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Under weight
18.5 to 24.9 Normal
25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
30 or higher Obese

Here is a BMI calculator from the National Heart Lung and Institute.

Volume not Weight

People who are too big and want to reduce usually think in terms of weight -- they want to lose weight. Thinking in terms of weight is fine for people who don't exercise, but people who do exercise may get confused if they think in terms of weight. It is common for runners to increase their muscle mass and thus gain weight since muscle is heaver per cubic centimeter than fat. I thus suggest that runners who want to reduce think in terms of how well their clothes fit. They may gain a bit of weight due to increasing their muscle, but if their clothes fit looser, they are reaching their goal. They want a smaller body, not necessarily a lighter body.

You Can Do It!

Be assured that you can lose weight and that running can be a part of your plan. Take a balanced approach to weight-loss, an approach that involves exercise, good nutrition, and a slightly lower consumption of food. Click here to go to a great site on weight control

Here is a good articles on carbohydrates.


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The information in this site and in my podcasts is for informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical or physical therapy advice. For medical advice, consult a physician. For physical therapy advice, consult a physical therapist.

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