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Running to Lose Weight? Expert Tips and Common Mistakes

Taren Gesell

If you're looking to start running as an effective way to lose weight, you're in the right place. Running is one of the best forms of cardio to help you burn calories, reduce belly fat, and create a caloric deficit, all of which are essential for weight loss.

Running is actually the physical activity that burns the greatest number of calories per minute that you spend exercising, so running helps you lose weight better than almost any other form of aerobic exercise.

Studies have found that people who run just 6.1 miles (10 kilometers) per week tend to have lower body weight and body fat percentages than non-runners, making running a great way to lose weight and keep it off. So, if you're curious about running for weight loss, keep reading to find out more.

What You'll Learn in This Article to Help You Lose Weight Running:

  • What do you need to know about running to lose weight
  • How many calories do you burn when running
  • How long should you run to lose weight
  • How many days per week do you need to do to lose weight
  • What mistakes should you avoid when you use running for weight loss
  • How to use high-intensity interval running for weight loss

When it comes to running and weight loss, the key to success is to be patient and consistent with your running routine, and you're sure to see results in no time!

Joshua Lusk joined the MOTTIV app and took up running and endurance sports as a way to feel better living with Multiple Sclerosis. And he says it has worked, many of his symptoms are under control... and he feels fantastic!

4 Benefits of Running for Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, running is a great form of exercise when it comes to weight loss. It offers numerous benefits that can help you burn more calories, reduce belly fat, and achieve your weight loss goals.

We should add something very important. While running is a great way to lose weight, the beneficial effects of running aren't limited to losing weight. Also, overall health should be the main focus of someone taking up a new running plan.

Benefits of RunningHow Running Helps with Weight LossHelps burn more caloriesRunning is a cardiovascular exercise that burns a significant number of calories in a short amount of time. This helps create a caloric deficit, which is key to losing weight.Reduces belly fat have found that high-intensity exercise like running targets belly fat. By regularly running, you can help reduce belly fat and achieve a slimmer waistline.Burns a lot of caloriesRunning burns more calories than many other exercises, making it an efficient way to lose weight.Helps maintain a caloric deficitTo lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. Running helps you burn more calories, which can help you achieve and maintain a caloric deficit over time.

By incorporating running into your weight loss journey, you can benefit from all of these advantages and more. Whether you prefer to go for short, intense runs or longer, slower jogs, there are many ways to use running to help you lose weight.

How Fast Do You Burn Calories When Running? Very!

Below is a table comparing how many calories are burned by a 185-pound athlete during some of the most popular exercises. You can see that running burns more calories than you're burning in most other forms of exercise.

High Intensity Running 965
Cycling 710
Circuit Training 710
Rowing Machine 622
Swimming 587
Easy Jogging 587
Hiking 503

While many people will say that maintaining a caloric deficit is the most important factor in weight loss, prolonged calorie deficits and extreme exercise can actually cause you to keep running but not lose weight.

Running can help create the foundation for fat loss and weight management. When paired with strength training, a well-designed training plan, and a good runner's diet, you'll be able to maintain weight easily.

Keys to Incorporating Running into Your Weight Loss Journey

Running can be an excellent way to lose weight, but it's important to incorporate it into your weight-loss journey in a way that is both sustainable and effective. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:

  1. Begin by setting a realistic goal: You don't have to run a lot; run two to five times per week. Studies have seen weight loss in runners who ran as little as 5 kilometers (a little over 3 miles) per week.
  2. Start by running for 30 minutes: Studies have seen excellent weight loss benefits from running regularly for just 30 minutes, so don't feel like you need to go on multi-hour long runs when you're just starting.
  3. Follow a learn-to-run training plan: Following a learn-to-run training plan or a Couch-to-5k training plan will help ease you into running gradually so you don't do too much too soon, inviting injuries.
  4. Don't stress too much about diet at the start: While short-term studies show that changing your diet at the same time as you take up running will create the most weight loss, longer-term studies show that sudden changes involving extreme exercise paired with calorie restriction will likely cause the weight to return. We recommend starting with running, then adding in diet changes very gradually over your first year running.
  5. Stay consistent and keep motivation high: Run with a run club, enter a race, tell friends about your goals. Anything you can do to keep your motivation levels high will help make running a habit for the long term.

Studies have found that runners who commit to running for weight loss are more likely to succeed in their goals. By incorporating running into your weight loss journey and taking a structured approach, you can achieve the weight loss results you're aiming for.

Beth Warren is a MOTTIV app user who travels at least half of every month for her job. To stay in shape and keep her weight down, she makes sure to train on the road -- and she love the flexibility provided by the MOTTIV app that makes it easy to train even when she's not at home.

3 Ways to Lose the Most Weight By Running

To make the most of your running weight loss journey, you should keep a few key strategies in mind. First and foremost, creating a caloric deficit is crucial. This means burning more calories than you consume, which can be achieved through a combination of running and a healthy diet.

However, three strategies will make a big impact on how much weight you lose from running.

Follow a Running Plan as Part of Your Routine

Following a run training plan or hiring a running coach will help in your weight loss journey. There are three huge ways this will make your life easier:

  1. You'll know what to do every day: Should you run fast, slow, or long, include intervals, add strength training, or take a rest day. A good training plan will answer all these questions for you.
  2. Keeps motivation high: Following a training plan tends to keep people motivated much better than not following a training plan.
  3. Gradually builds you up safely: A good training plan will include progressive overload that will gradually increase the amount of effort that you run while including enough rest to make sure you can recover.

Add Strength Training to Your Training Plan

Many runners find that their weight loss plateaus after several months to a couple of years. Including weight training will help build muscle and keep your metabolism high, delaying any weight loss plateaus you might experience.

Many organizations go so far as to recommend that strength training should always be included in a good run training plan. We actually include guided thirty-minute strength workouts in all our training plans.

Two athletes perform Renegade Rows using kettlebells, part of the guided video strength workouts available to all athletes inside the MOTTIV training app.

High-Intensity Running Targets Belly Fat and Continuous to Burn Calories After Exercise

Research is starting to find that high-intensity interval training is superior to steady-state aerobic exercise for body composition and fat loss. Of course, you can't perform a HIIT workout every single time you lace up your running shoes; you need to balance your training, which is why following a training plan is so critical.

FAQ: Running to Lose Weight

Below, you will find answers to the most common questions when it comes to running and weight loss.

Q: Is running a good way to lose weight?

A: Yes, running is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. It not only helps in burning fat but high-intensity cardio also continues to burn calories even after you have finished running.

Q: How often should I run to lose weight?

A: It depends on a few factors, such as your current fitness level and weight loss goals. However, running three to four times a week can be a good starting point.

Q: How many calories can I burn by running?

A: The amount of calories you burn depends on factors like your weight, running speed, and duration. On average, running can help you burn about 100 calories per mile or up to 500 calories per 30 minutes.

Q: Can running help in reducing belly fat?

A: While high-intensity cardio does somehow tend to target belly fat, spot reduction of fat in specific areas is not possible, so it's important to focus on overall weight loss through running and a healthy diet.

Q: What are common mistakes that runners make when trying to lose weight?

A: One common mistake is overestimating the amount of calories burned during a run. It's important to find out what you need to eat to support your energy levels and overall health. You can check out our running calorie calculator to determine exactly how many calories you're burning during your runs.

Additionally, some runners may not incorporate strength training, which is crucial for building lean muscle mass and boosting metabolism.

Q: How do running shoes impact weight loss during running?

A: The right running shoes can help you avoid injuries and discomfort during runs, allowing you to maintain a consistent running routine. However, they do not directly impact weight loss; it's the actual running and calorie burn that leads to weight loss.

Q: Can running alone be enough for weight loss?

A: While running is a great way to burn calories, it might not be enough if it's not combined with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise. To lose weight effectively, it's important to maintain a holistic approach that includes diet, strength training, and overall physical activity.

Q: How long should I run to see weight loss results?

A: Consistency is key when it comes to seeing weight loss results from running. It's not just about the duration of a single run but about running regularly over time. Patience and dedication are crucial for seeing significant weight loss results.

Q: Does running at different speeds impact weight loss?

A: Yes, running at different speeds and intensities can affect the amount of calories burned. Higher-intensity runs may burn more calories in a shorter time and help burn calories after the run is over, while slower, longer runs can also contribute to a large amount of calorie burn and weight loss.

Q: How does running help in burning calories even after the run?

A: After running, your body continues to burn calories to recover, repair muscles, and restore energy levels. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and it's one of the ways that running continues to contribute to calorie burn even after you've finished.


Overall, running can be an effective form of exercise for your weight loss journey. When done consistently, it can help you achieve weight loss results by burning calories, reducing belly fat, and contributing to a caloric deficit. Here are some important things to remember to help you lose weight safely from running:

  • Remember that running should not be your sole weight loss strategy; include strength training and gradually improve your diet.
  • Aim to run for at least 30 minutes or longer three to five times per week, and gradually increase your mileage to maximize your weight loss journey.
  • Create a caloric deficit through exercise and proper nutrition, you can achieve your weight loss goals.

So, keep on running and stay dedicated to your weight loss journey. With the right approach and consistency, you can achieve the results you aim for!

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Taren Gesell

| Author

"Triathlon Taren" Gesell is founder of MOTTIV and one of the world's top experts on helping adults become endurance athletes later in life. Best known for his YouTube channel and podcast, Taren is the author of the Triathlon Foundations series of books and has been published featured in endurance publications around the world.

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