By Simon Gould
Losing weight is probably one of the main reasons people take up running. With all the exercise you could do to lose weight running will burn the most calories and burning calories is how you lose weight. You can even run at quite a slow pace for a length of time and you will lose weight if you eat a sensible diet.
There are many calorie burn calculators where you enter your weight and the time spent running and at what speed. You’re told how many calories you’ve burned. But is this the full story. You definitely burn the calories while running, we can all feel that. But does it stop there?
How many calories you burn on a treadmill
So this is the “burning” question since that is the way to lose weight. The calculators on the internet are very helpful. We recommend only the ones that use your weight as well as this is what dictates how much weight you’ll lose. You can run so far and at a certain speed but your weight can make a big difference to how many calories you’ve burned.
The best calorie burned calculator is one I’ve linked to here. You can use this calorie burn calculator even if you’ve been walking. It doesn’t take account of the speed, just the time the exercise took. This gives you an accurate number of calories burned so you can keep an eye on your progress.
Here are some plans to help you lose weight while by a treadmill. See the accompanying text for any instructions before trying them out. We’ve catered for beginners who may be overweight with a walk plan. Plus if you have some running experience and have more weight to lose we have a running plan as well:
You burn calories even when you’re not exercising
This is obvious. Of course you burn calories just to keep you alive. Even lying down your brain and body burns calories. However, after you’ve walked or run, the rate at which you burn calories increases for 24 hours. This burning of calories after exercise is commonly known as afterburn.
A scientific look at all the research completed regarding this afterburn phenomenon confirms that calorie burn after exercise can add up over time. And that this may contribute to long term weight management (source below). So this is good news for all of us who exercise out there. It’s kind of what we already knew, we seem to lose more weight than just the calorie burn from our exercise would indicate.
You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight?
Many articles on running for weight loss will sight this as true. They say that if you burn 3,500 calories in one week you will lose 1 pound of weight if you eat the same amount that maintained your weight. We disagree with this whole heatedly for many reasons. One is the above mentioned afterburn.
To burn 3,500 calories an average sized male would have to run 40 minutes at jogging pace 5 times in that week. I have the proportions of that male and my progress disagrees with that statement. I’m losing more weight than a pound a week and running less than 40 minutes 5 times a week.
The science is probably true that 3,500 is equal to a pound of weight but anyone who exercises can see that in real life something doesn’t add up. If you’re eating the same amount but running for 40 minutes every day you will lose far more weight than a pound a week. If you do run that far you would need to up your calorie intake to help ease some of the calorie deficit you’re experiencing.
If you’re determined to lose weight and are willing to put in the effort. Then some strength training will round of your cardio work. Some strength training is very good to help prevent injuries arising from the cardio walk/run. It will help increase your metabolism so calorie burning happens when you’re not exercising as explained above.
It doesn’t need to be done like a body builder. You’re not really trying to make yourself have ripped muscles but to get toned. Women don’t need to worry, strength training will not give you big muscles like men as you don’t produce enough testosterone for that. We have written about strength training for weight loss as part of our treadmill running plan for weight loss and is half way down the page.
It may take more than exercise to lose weight
Exercise is easily the biggest step to losing weight and the hardest. A calorie deficit is what you need to aim for and that is so much easier. Plus weight loss will happen a lot quicker if you exercise. You get weight management and a whole host of other benefits from regular exercise. Even when you achieve a healthy weight you should still exercise.
However, even if you do the recommended amount of exercise per week that may not be enough if you eat too much. If you eat more because you’re exercising you are at the risk of maintaining your weight and not losing it. This is where the calorie deficit comes in. You must burn more calories than you take in and this means you need to focus on what you eat as well.
We all need to eat a healthy amount and as you exercise you can eat a normal amount and still lose weight. We all need the nutrients that come from food. Therefore you will lose weight if you eat what is recommended for adults. This is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men. You won’t need to starve yourself to lose weight when you exercise.
I recommend you do eat a healthy amount because your body needs it. You need to eat 3 meals a day spread throughout the day. You can also have 2 snacks if needed. Don’t make the portion sizes too big for any of the meals, that would defeat the aim of losing weight. If you’re very heavy you may feel slightly hungry but know that you’re eating a healthy amount and it’s natural to feel this way.
If you feel hungry have one of your 2 snacks a day or wait until your next meal. When I lost a lot of weight I did feel a bit hungry at times but I knew my next meal was coming soon so I resisted breaking my routine. The hungry feeling soon went over time and my weight went down. This is like a new lifestyle and is a big commitment and sometimes that is what it takes.
You don’t need to be too specific where calorie numbers are concerned. As long as you’re not gorging yourself on food in between workouts your weight will fall. Walk/run slowly on a treadmill for a significant amount of time. As long as you’re doing the exercise you will succeed. The amount of calories you burn does have an impact but don’t stress about it.
If you must concentrate on a measurement as part of your weight loss then count the inches lost around the waist. This will decrease if you include strength training as part of your weight loss program. Muscle is very dense and weighs more than fat so even if the scales sometimes don’t change too much, the inches around your waist will. You lose more weight by exercising than just dieting.
Losing weight is a big commitment and that’s why some people don’t succeed or their weight goes down and then up. We recommend after you’re down to your desired weight that you keep an exercise program going. You don’t need to workout as hard as before but for the health benefits of exercising in themselves, carry on some running and you will improve every aspect of your health.
Source: C A Vella & Len Kravitz. coopersguns.com/files/research/epoc/exercise-afterburn_1104.pdf. Coopersguns.com.
Source: Robert Ross, Damon Dagnone, Peter J.H. Jones, Heidi Smith, Anne Paddags, Robert Hudson & Ian Janssen. annals.org/aim/article/713672/reduction-obesity-related-comorbid-conditions-after-diet-induced-weight-loss. Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2000.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*