Is Running Effective for Weight Loss?

If you’re in the habit of perusing fitness and nutrition forums, you have probably come across this saying: “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” or maybe you have read that “abs are made in the kitchen.” The idea is that no matter how much you run, you probably won’t lose weight if you’re fueling up on Twinkies and soda. The reason is that diet plays more of a role in weight loss than does exercise. The reality is that you won’t be burning that many calories even though every run will feel like a marathon when you just start out. Even so, exercise is still a valuable part of your effort to lose weight, one that you can’t afford to neglect.

Why is Your Body Craving Sweets?

When you have just started to run, you feel like you have earned treats because exercise is miserable for the first hundred or so times you do it. A second issue is that you start to crave food more than you did before, and the craving is physical. What’s more is that it not just any food that you want, but the sweet, carb-laden stuff. The result is that you wind up eating more of the junk that caused your weight problems in the first place.

The reason for the sweet-tooth is that your body wants to replace the energy reserves (fat) that it is losing because you are running. You can tackle this in a couple of ways:

Work on your will power. You can try abstaining from foods, and maybe you will develop a habit of self-control. Over time, being able to exercise and not eat as much as you once did will help you to shed pounds.

The easier way to combat the cravings is to replace the carbohydrate bombs that you want with something healthy. Note that “healthy” does not always mean celery sticks or rice cakes, though those will work if you can stomach them. You just need to reduce your intake of sugar and carbs. You may be able to replace them with protein in the form of soy, meat, or healthy dairy.

Keep in mind that carbs aren’t the complete evil they have been made out to be in the past. We need them for energy, and if we don’t take in enough, we will eventually lose energy and become lethargic.

The True Benefits of Running

Okay, so running won’t help you to take off the pounds, but it might help you to keep them off. Research from the University of Colorado and cited in Runner’s World shows that people who exercise regularly are better at keeping the weight off. Other benefits of running include its effects on mood and heart health. Exercise has been shown to help with depression and with burning cholesterol as well. Running can also treat high blood pressure, high blood sugar and may prevent certain cancers.

Running may not be as effective for losing weight as was once commonly thought, but that doesn’t mean that it is not valuable. Its numerous other benefits are just as important for health, and it is a valuable component in a weight loss regimen.

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