We know, we know. It may sound cruel and unfair, but running alone won’t make you thin. While exercise burns calories, it has another effect: it stimulates hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can reverse our weight-loss.
So, that post-run white chocolate and raspberry muffin from Starbucks you feel you’ve earned? Well, chances are it’s putting back on what you worked so hard to shed. Exercise, in other words, doesn’t necessarily help us lose weight. It may even make it harder.
All is not lost. We have a few tips to help transform you into a lean, mean, calorie-burning machine. (As long as you stand well back from those chocolate muffins, that is…)
1. Eat right
Make sure you have a well-balanced diet. Studies show that people who eat ample fruits and vegetables have smaller waist lines. Eating whole-grain instead of refined-grain products can also keep waistlines trim, while cutting down on alcohol can help prevent fat accumulating around your middle. If you want more detailed advice on healthy eating, it’s worth finding a dietician. Try the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute’s database for more nutritional pointers or for a complete diet overhaul.
2. Stick to a plan
A training schedule is a simple way to stay motivated to run. You’ll know exactly what you need to do every day and each run builds on the next, so it’s much harder to skip workouts. A plan can also help avoid a running injury by not increasing your mileage too quickly. Consistency is key. Try entering a race as well – it’ll give you something to aim towards.
3. Up the pace
You burn about 100 calories for every mile you run. As intensity increases, so does calorie burning — up to 10 calories per minute per mile. That might not sound like much, but it all adds up. After a run, you burn additional calories as your body recovers. There are various studies which back this up. One in particular found that a high intensity session boosted the “afterburn” effect by more than double, compared with a low intensity session.
4. Eat often
It might sound counter-intuitive, but aim for three healthy meals and two small snacks a day. A study in 2010 involving more than 3,000 people found that those who ate more than three times a day had a lower body mass index, smaller waist-line and drank less alcohol compared to those who limited eating to three times a day or less. Researchers figure that eating often keeps your metabolism hummingalong and prevents you getting too hungry.
5. Increase mileage
It may sound obvious, but it’s effective. The more miles you run, the more calories you burn. The relationship between miles run and calories burned remains the same whether you’re adding 1 mile (100 calories) to your running plan or 20 (2,000 calories). Beware of piling on the miles too fast, though. It’s a sure-fire way to get an injury.
Have you any proven weight-loss tips? Don’t keep them to yourself! Let us know…