Does running help weight loss?

Does running help weight loss?
Learn how running helps weight loss (Image credit: Getty)

To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories overall, or burn more calories than you consume. For most people, a weight loss plan involves a balance of diet and exercise. One of the best and most accessible forms of exercise for helping with weight loss is running.

Once you own a pair of running shoes, whether they are trail running shoes or for road running, you can run. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, the season or whether you run with a friend or on your own. Running is a simple and effective form of exercise. 

Most experts – and many studies – suggest that a person of average weight burns about 100 calories for every mile of running. The number increases slightly if you weigh more or if you’re a less efficient runner. 

Compare running and walking, for example, and you’ll see that the calorie burn is around twice as much for runners. Various studies conclude that while men burn about 105 calories per mile on average while running a mile, the calorie burn is about 52 calories when walking the same mile. For women, the equivalent calorie burn is 91 and 43 calories, respectively.

Running burns more calories because it involves many different muscles to work hard together and requires you to jump from foot to foot to propel yourself forward. All this leads to a greater burn of calories. 

Does running help weight loss?

Running as part of a healthier lifestyle can aid weight loss (Image credit: Getty)

Tips: how running helps to lose weight

Running alone will hep with calorie burn but there is more you can do to aid  weight loss. 

Diet matters

If you eat too much or over-fuel your runs, the weight loss potential will be reduced. It’s important to keep an eye on your diet and to think about what you are eating.

For example, if you run three miles you will burn on average 300 calories. But if you then eat a couple of chocolate biscuits before or afterwards, the calorie burn benefit will be hugely reduced.

A good weight loss plan should include consuming fewer calories, as well as burning more calories than you consume. 

The more you run

The more you run, the greater the overall calories burn will be. Running 3 miles will burn around 300 calories, but running 10 miles will burn 1000 calories.

If you run faster, you’ll cover more miles in a quicker time and faster running can increase the calorie burn per mile, although not by as much as you might imagine.

To increase the calorie burn from running you ned to be doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – for example, sprints, hill reps or Fartleks – to make your muscles work to their maximum. 

Does running help weight loss?

It's claimed that a run before breakfast can boost fat burn (Image credit: Getty)

Take to the trails

Trail running has many benefits including the potential to burn more calories. Per mile, trail running is likely to burn more calories – some studies suggest 10% more – because the off-road terrain makes it a tougher work out.

Be strong

There are plenty of tips for successful running, including strength or weight training. A stronger body will make you a more powerful runner and also help you to avoid potential injury. 

In addition, the more lean muscle in your body, the higher your metabolism will be at rest. This means you will burn more calories even while sitting still.

Run before breakfast

There's some evidence to suggest that running before breakfast – known as “fasted” running – can help to increase fat burn. It’s claimed that the calorie burn is as much as doubled if you run fasted.

However, it’s not wise to run too far or too fast without food first. Make sure you keep fasted runs to less than 75 minutes at an easy pace and don’t do all of your running at this time.

Stay hydrated

Many people think they are hungry when in fact their body is craving hydration. If you feel the pangs of hunger, try having glass of water. It is important to be well hydrated when running, too.

Running is a great form of exercise to help with weight loss, especially s part of a calorie-controlled plan.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.