If you run regularly, watch what you eat, but still can’t lose any weight, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s the bad news. Just because you’re logging in the miles regularly and not feasting on junk food doesn’t mean the extra pounds will fall off you.
The fact is, there are many things that could tip the scale in the other way that you should be aware of.
Don’t Lose Hope
If you’re having trouble losing the extra pounds while running, then there’s likely an explanation—and most importantly, a solution.
You may be simply missing one or two key pieces to the weight loss puzzle and properly addressing them can help you lose the pounds and keep them for good.
Here are the most common reasons why your efforts haven’t been showing up on the scale as well as what to do to fix it.
1. Bad Nutrition
This seems like a no-brainer, but even if you believe that you’re eating sensibly, you might be still off the mark.
Even if you exercise regularly, it doesn’t mean you can get away with eating a big mac and chocolate cake guilt-free and still lose weight. That’s not how things happen in the real world.
A moderate 45-minute run may burn roughly 500 calories, but follow it with a soda drink, or a donut, and the calorie deficit is effectively erased.
Research published in JAMA revealed that subjects underestimated the amount of calories contained in a high-caloric food virtually 100 percent of the time.
Here’s how to eat for weight loss when running.
Eat right. While your eating plan depends heavily on many factors, including your genes, body type, metabolism, the rule is to opt for natural, whole foods, at least 90 percent of the time.
Eat Well. Shoot for three meals a day satisfying enough that you can go for four to five hours before you feel the need for food.
Skip the sugar. Say no to sugary foods, bread, and anything else that’s processed. The fewer the ingredients on the label, the better. If you can’t pronounce, it’s likely not something you want to be putting in your mouth.
Practice Portion Control. Use cups and spoons to measure your serving sizes and make sure they’re appropriate. Here’s the full guide.
Time your meals. When you eat also impacts your weight loss efforts. Here’s the full guide.
Monitor your calories. Use this simple online calculator to figure your daily calorie intake.
2. You’re not Running Hard Enough
If you can read a book or comfortably chat with your friend while running on the treadmill, you may as well have stayed in bed.
There’s no exact formula to running and eating healthy—it’s a matter of trial and error, figuring out what works the best specifically for your body.
When it comes to running, keep this simple principle on your mind the entire time ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it’s not going to change you.’And more time spent running doesn’t always lead to better results.
You don’t need to log endless miles every day for the rest of your life to lose weight and keep it off.
HIIT means exercising at 90 to 98 percent of your maximum for roughly 20 to 30 seconds, then resting for 30 to 60 seconds.
You only need to repeat that cycle for eight to ten times, and you’re done.
Not only do you shed off more calories during exercise, but your metabolism also remains going strong for days instead of hours.
High-intensity training can also help tame your appetite.
Research published in the International Journal of Obesity that examined overweight subjects who either exercised at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or did HIIT style workouts for the same duration.
Here are a few of my favorite exercise plans:
In addition to running, be active as often as possible.
Go on long walks, and take regular breaks from the computer and sitting whenever possible. You can also wear a pedometer to monitor your daily step count.
3. You Are Under Too Much Stress
Plenty of research has revealed that stress and weight gain go hand in hand.
Not convinced? Check the following studies:
Chronic stress can contribute to a host of health issues, including:
Elevated cortisol. Not only does this mess up your hunger hormone, but also cause extra belly fat storage.
Cravings. Research shows that we’re more likely to reach for ‘comfort foods’ that are rich in sugar and fat when we’re stressed.
Skipping Runs. When you feel like the world of the world is on your shoulders, it’s easy to put your run on the backburner in favor of a delicious waffle or a beer.
Take a few minutes throughout your day to consciously check in with yourself and reduce your stress level.
Don’t take my word for it. Research published in the journal Eating Behaviors revealed that regular meditation could help tame bing eating and decrease emotional eating.
4. You’re Sleep Deprived
Making time for your morning runs can mean less time for sleep, but it’s vital to get enough between the sheets hours if you’re trying to lose weight.
Why it’s the case?
Plenty of research has found that poor sleep to be one of the most common risk factors for obesity.
Here are a few:
A study out of the University of Chicago found that sleep-deprived subjects opted for foods with twice as many carbs and fats as those who had enough sleep.
One Mayo Clinic research found that sleep deprived subjects consume an average of 500 extra calories a day.
Research out of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep deprivation can increase the chances of late-night snacking and unhealthy food decisions.
Research proposes that lack of sleep may lower your resting metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body burns calories when at rest.
In other words, by skipping on sleep, your body is cooking up a perfect recipe for weight gain.
The reasons sleep affects your weight are manifold. These include :
- Sleep deprivation can boost both insulin and leptin levels, resulting in the body becoming desensitized to their response.
- You’re more likely to get takeout for dinner then hit the bed late because you feel uncomfortably full.
- When tired following a bad night, you may choose to skip your workout or simply do less, burning fewer calories.
- Being tired and moody the next day sets your brain up to make bad food decision, research shows.
Get at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep every day. That may require you to change your schedule around a bit, but it’s worth the effort.
Improve your sleep quality by doing the following:
- Build the habit of napping –30 minutes max—every
- Try different bedtime schedules and see which one works best for you. For example, go to bed at 11 pm so you can wake up at 7 am.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time, including weekends
- Reduce distraction and light exposure in the few hours leading to bedtime
- Avoid stimulates such as caffeine or nicotine for three hours before bed.
5. You’re Losing Weight Without Realizing It
If you’ve been training hard lately and suddenly see the number on the scale go up, don’t panic.
The stats on the scale provide one variable, your absolute weight, which isn’t always the more reliable judge of what’s happening in (and to) your body.
By stepping on the scale day in day out, you’re simply measuring everyday fluctuations in your hydration levels and other trivial weight metrics.
Muscle gain can also be a culprit. Sure, pounding the pavement doesn’t create a lot of bulk, but it does allow you to increase muscle mass, especially in your lower body.
In fact, if you’re running consistently enough to develop telltale running calves and quads, then you gained some muscle.
And since muscle weight more than fat, you might not see the scale move to the direction you desire, or you could put on a few pounds.
This is especially the case if you pick up training for the first time and/or are close to your ideal weight.
Don’t jump on the scale every day. It’s not unheard of for body weight to go up and down by a few pounds throughout the day.
Instead look for gradual, yet consistent, changes in your weight every three to four weeks.
To remove ups and downs from external factors form the equation, build the habit of weighing yourself at the same time of day and same day. And make sure to do it first thing in the morning, before eating or getting dressed.
Use other measurements other than the scale to keep track of your progress.
- Measure your waist circumference
- Measure your body weight percentage.
- Get your body composition analyzed
- Track your body fat percentage.
6. You Have A Medical Condition
Maybe you’re not losing weight, despite running regularly and eating well, is because you have got an underlying health condition.
A host of medical conditions can hinder weight loss or cause weight gain. Among them are:
Cushing’s syndrome. Occurs when your adrenal glands release too much cortisol, resulting in the buildup of fat in your abdomen, upper back, and face.
Hypothyroidism. Happens when your thyroid is underactive, resulting in a limited production of the thyroid hormone, which is key for burning stored fat.
Polycystic over syndrome. Or PCOS, this condition is caused by a hormonal imbalance, affecting more than 5 million women in the US alone.
Insulin resistance. Or hyperinsulinemia, this is the umbrella term for host health issues thought to be rooted in insulin resistance.
Depression. You’re more likely to turn into eating to ease your emotional issues. Some antidepressant medications (SSRIs) can also cause weight gain.
Regardless of your exercise, diet, or lifestyle habits, if you’re piling up the pounds and don’t know why, consult with your doctor to rule out a medical issue as the cause.
Although you might feel tempted to give up, don’t. Most of these medical problems can be solved.
If you’re having trouble losing the pounds while running, you need to get real get back to basics—most of which I shared with you today (as well as this previous post).
It’s not only important to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, but also how much sleep you’re getting, your stress level, your training intensity, and the fact that you might have medical issues that are sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
I know it’s hard to keep track off, but it’s worth the effort. Just remember to take action, start small, and build these healthy habits gradually. Then it’s just a question of time.
Losing weight is a messy business. There are no shortcuts nor silver bullets—and it requires hard and persistent work to see results—the type of result that works for the long term.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep Running Strong.