Running burns calories—and lots of them.
It’s also convenient, low-cost, and almost everyone can get into it.
But just how many miles you have to run to lose weight?
Here’s my best answer.
If you’re looking for how much to run to lose weight and get lean, the answer is a little complicated.
There are many factors to consider and how many calories are burned varies greatly from one runner to the next.
Would you like to learn more about these factors as well as how to maximize your calorie burn while running?
Then keep on reading.
In today’s post, I’ll outline the many variables that affect calorie burn while running as well as how to make the most out of your miles so you can reach your weight loss and fitness goals as quickly as possible.
Let’s lace up and dig in.
How Many Miles A Day Should I run To lose Weight?
Let’s start with some math.
There are roughly 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, and the average person burns about 100 calories for one mile of running—meaning a 5-mile run will burn around 500 calories—give or take.
Abiding the 100-calorie per mile general rule, you’ll need to run 35 miles to lose one pound of fat.
So if you wanted to lose 10 pounds by running alone, you would need to run 350 miles without changing anything else about your lifestyle.
This may seem like too much for many people.
That’s the reason you should always back up your exercise plan with the right diet.
Or else, you might compromise your weight loss efforts, and you don’t want that.
Of course, I’m oversimplifying things here, but just for the sake of making things less complicated.
Keep on reading to learn more about the process behind weight loss as well as the factors that impact calorie burn during running.
Weight Loss Explained
When it comes down to it, weight loss is a number’s game—calories in Vs. Calories out.
Your physical activity and nutrition are two big things you can control, to some degree.
Re-adjusting each can help you shed more calories than you take in on a regular basis.
Metabolism refers to the process by which your body converts food into energy.
During the process, calories eaten are mixed with oxygen to release and produce the fuel your body needs to function.
Even when you’re sleeping and not doing anything physical, your body still requires fuel for all its vital function such as:
- Blood circulation,
- Food digestion
- Waste elimination
- Repairing and boiling cells and tissues
- Maintaining brain and nervous system activity
- Regulating hormone levels
- And so many more.
The Second Burner – Physical activity
Physical activity may refer to everything from typing into a keyboard to running, taking stairs, and generally moving your body around—all of this burns calories.
The number of calories that you burn in any given activity—running is no exception—depends on many factors.
How Many Calories
How many calories you burn while running depends on many factors, such as your body weight, age, and fitness experience.
Let’s break them down.
Bodyweight plays a crucial role in how many calories are burned during a run.
As a general rule, the heavier you are, the more effort your body has to exert to propel you forward—therefore the higher the calorie burn.
For example, a person weighing 120-pound can burn up to 620 calories running an 8-minute mile for one hour.
That number can go up to 1500 calories for a 200-pound person.
How fast you run matters as well.
The faster you run, the more calories you shed.
For example, a 160-pound person running a 10-minute mile pace per hour can burn up to 720 calories during the workout.
If the same person speeds it up to a 7.5-minute mile, they can burn more roughly 1000 calories in the same amount of time.
High-intensity training affects calorie burn by achieving the so-covered “afterburn effect.” This is what’s known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, which is the amount of energy needed to help the body return to its pre-workout state.
This means that you’ll keep burning calories at a higher rate even after you stopped running.
Training intensity can also be affected by the surface you’re running on.
Running uphill and running on a flat surface is not the same experience.
The former is more challenging; therefore, it burns more calories.
In fact, you can burn up to three to five calories per minute, depending on the incline, then running on a flat surface.
Research out of the Journal of Sports Sciences revealed that incline running achieves greater leg muscle activation than running on the decline slope.
This obviously means more calories burned.
For example, the same 160-pound person from before may burn 200 calories during a 45-minute treadmill walk at 4.0 mph.
But if they just changed the incline to 5 percent, their calorie burn can go up to 300 calories for the same duration.
Losing Weight While Running
Although how many calories are burned while running is different from one person to the other, one thing is certain—you’re still burning calories and lots of them.
So, let’s get into how to start running for weight loss when you’re a beginner.
The best thing about the run/walk method is that you get to decide your walk-to-jog ratios and are how many times you repeat it.
You’re in control—as long as you keep your ego in check.
Here’s how you should proceed:
- Warm-up by brisk walking for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once you’re ready, jog one for a minute, followed by one minute of walking.
- Jog again for one minute, and then do another one-minute walk.
- Repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool down with a 5 to 10-minute easy walk to bring your breathing and heart rate down.
As you get fitter, increase the time spent running, or the number of intervals, until you can run straight for 30 minutes without stopping.
Logging the miles can help you achieve your weight loss goals, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
If you push your body too much, you can get injured and/or burned out, making weight loss much more difficult than it has to be.
You can also supplement your road work with other forms of exercises such as strength training and yoga to create a steeper energy deficit.
The more, the merrier, as they say.
Other than that, if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good, running is a step in the right direction.
Following a regular exercise plan and paying attention to your diet are the most important weight loss tools at your disposal.
Sure, it might take you quite a while to reach your weight loss goals, but it’s in the end; it’s just a matter of time (and trial and error).
The rest is just details.