Doubtlessly, running is one of the favorite physical activities to burn off calories and fat and to lose weight.
However, for running to be an effective tool to lose weight and not to fail trying, it is important for you to take these four recommendations into account:
1.- IT IS NOT ENOUGH
Running causes a significant energy expenditure during exercise and also allows you to burn off calories while resting since running accelerates your basal metabolism (the minimum amount of energy that our body needs for the basic cellular functions).
However, it is important to highlight that running an hour daily (many runners run less time and not daily) cannot fix 23 hours of gross mistakes that produce fat accumulation and weight problems.
Believing that, by running a few times a week, you will attain your ideal weight can be a gross mistake (especially for those who are overweight or obese).
This does not mean that running is not an effective way of losing weight, but it should be accompanied by an appropriate lifestyle and nutritional habits.
2.- IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF CARBOHYDRATES
Regarding the intake of carbohydrates in a runner’s diet, there are some important nutritional myths, among which one of the most outstanding is the belief that it is necessary to take great amounts of carbohydrates.
Under the logic that “carbohydrates = fuel = better performance”, many people start to run in order to lose weight, but they do not succeed since they increase their energetic intake by having an excessive amount of carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, a diet that is only made up of carbohydrates may probably make you gain weight without allowing you to attain a better performance.
Most people tend to take a great amount of carbohydrates in their diets; and increasing their intake can only cause negative effects.
Proteins are vital to attain the proper recovery after a hard training and/or a competence. Fats are a good source of energy when running.
Furthermore, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also vital for our general health and sports performance.
The clue to obtain these micro and macronutrients is a balanced diet based on eating healthy and full of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, etc.
3.- YOU SHOULD NOT STOP EATING
When trying to lose weight quickly, many runners make the mistake of reducing their calories intake drastically.
To lose weight in a healthy way, it is important to know that not all the calories are the same or have the same effects on our body.
A Study compared two groups of people that ate foods with identical amounts of calories, but with different characteristics: one group had foods with low glycemic index, while the other group had foods with a high glycemic index.
Investigators detected that, even though both groups had the same amount of calories, the group that had foods with a high glycemic index underwent a sudden increase in blood glucose and felt hungry quicker.
This means that if you want to use running as a way of losing weight, it is important to reduce the amount of calories derived from processed foods (which are the foods that provide more calories and glycemic index) and have natural and nutritive foods (fruits and vegetables are perfect).
4.- EATING MORE FAT MAY HELP YOU
Though many runners that want to lose weight believe that doing away with fat-rich foods is the solution to their problems, this is a gross mistake.
Even though fat tends to have a bad reputation and be considered the “guilty” of many health problems, it is important to know that there are many foods that provide fats that are good and necessary for a person’s health, and very important for runners’ performance.
Moreover, there are multiple studies that have proved that, for people with overweight or obesity, having a high intake of fat and a low intake of carbohydrates in their diets produces a faster weight-loss.
It is necessary to highlight that, in many cases, an improvement in important health markers such as cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin resistance, among others, has been discovered.
– Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/06/26/ajcn.113.064113.abstract
flickr photo by Rafael Peñaloza http://flickr.com/photos/rpenalozan/5849354012 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license