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How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight Running and See Results?

Taren Gesell

The good news is that running is one of the very best ways to exercise to lose weight and that with the right program, that weight can stay off for the rest of your life. The bad news is that, like all things in life, it might not come as quickly as you want, and it might take some hard work. But if you're willing to put in the work, the results can be phenomenal.

Key Takeaways you'll get from this article:

  • Running is one of the best exercises available for weight loss.
  • A combination of regular running, a mindful diet, and complementary exercises can accelerate weight loss better than almost any other form of exercise.
  • How long it takes to lose weight is different from person to person, but with the right program, weight loss is almost guaranteed.
  • High-intensity interval Training (HIIT) and a tailored diet significantly boost runninginduced weight loss.
  • Avoiding common mistakes like overtraining or neglecting nutrition is crucial for sustained weight loss.

How Can Running Help You Lose Weight?

Running provides so many more benefits than just weight loss. In fact, weight loss itself shouldn't be the primary reason you run.

5 Biggest Health Benefits of Running

  1. Heart Hero: Regular running strengthens your heart and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A strong heart is not just about endurance; it's about a healthier, longer life.
  2. Mood Elevator: The "runner's high" isn't a myth. Studies have shown that running can significantly boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.
  3. Bone Builder: Worried about joint and bone health? Running has been proven, especially when done with proper form and incrementally increased intensity, can actually strengthen your bones and joints.
  4. Breath of Fresh Air: Running increases lung capacity and strengthens the respiratory muscles. It's not just about breathing easier during runs but enhancing overall respiratory health.
  5. Longevity Leader: Studies consistently show that running can reduce the likelihood of premature death by as much as 25-40%. Running is not just a part of life; it adds life to your years!

How Does Running Help in Weight Loss?

Running is an excellent calorie-burning exercise, demanding a lot from the body. Every step you take requires stabilization from major muscle groups, requiring significant energy and thus burning calories. The intensity, duration, and frequency of your runs are directly proportional to the calories you burn.

In fact, you can see from the table below that running burns some of the most calories per hour of any form of cardiovascular exercise:

Activity Calories Burned Per Hour
Running an Easy Jog (6 mph) 590
Walking (3.5 mph) 298
Cycling (12-14 mph) 590
Swimming (slow freestyle laps) 510
Rowing (moderate pace) 510
Dancing 330
Aerobic class 480
Jumping Rope 730
Hiking 438
HIIT Varies significantly

How Effective is Running for Weight Loss Compared to Other Exercise Options?

Running is one of the best forms of exercise due to its calorie-burning ability. According to a plethora of studies, including those published on PubMed, running can lead to significant weight loss, especially when coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

While running is incredibly effective, integrating it with strength training and other exercises can lead to more balanced, sustainable, and comprehensive fitness and weight loss results.

Five key factors that contribute to weight loss through running:

  1. Regular Routine: The more consistently you run, the more consistently you burn calories. Setting a regular running schedule is key to melting away the pounds.
  2. Intensity Matters: Incorporating sprints or uphill runs can dramatically increase the calories torched during each session.
  3. Duration: The longer you run, the more you burn. As you build stamina, gradually increasing your running duration can significantly boost weight loss.
  4. Steadfastness: Weight loss through running is a marathon, not a sprint. Commitment and patience are your best allies in seeing significant results.
  5. Dietary Discipline: Even the most rigorous running routine can be undermined by an unchecked diet. A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is a cornerstone of effective weight loss through running.

What should beginners know about using running for weight loss?

Learning to run can be very challenging for beginners; our Learn to Run guides will help with this process. Here are the key things to keep in mind if you're a complete beginner runner:

  • Follow a learn-to-run training plan that builds you up very gradually.
  • Learn an efficient running technique to make you efficient and reduce injuries.
  • Less is more at the start; your heart and lungs will improve quickly, but your body takes much more time to adapt to running. Even if you feel like you can run longer as you're just getting started, it's safer to hold back and build up much slower than you want

How long does it take to lose weight through running?

The timeline for seeing weight loss results from running is different for everyone. Variables such as starting weight, fitness level, diet, and running regimen all play roles in how quickly you'll see changes. On average, a consistent, healthy rate of weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week. With regular running and dietary adjustments, most people begin to see changes in four to six weeks. However, this is a very individual journey, and patience is key.

In order to lose one pound, people must be in a calorie deficit of roughly 3,500 calories. Rather than make changes to both your diet and exercise, we recommend starting with just adding in exercise and then gradually making small dietary changes as you get more and more comfortable.

You can use the calorie calculator below to see how many calories you burn during your runs, then calculate how much you need to run to reach your weight loss goals.

What's a realistic timeline to lose weight with running?

Realistic expectations are crucial for a sustainable weight loss journey. We can't provide a specific answer about how much weight you can expect to lose, but we can share what studies have found.

One study found that running just 5k (a little more than 3 miles) per week resulted in an average weight loss of over 12 pounds in a year when paired with improvements in diet.

Another study found that runners who burned an average of 500 calories per run and ran five days a week lost a little over seven pounds in ten months.

How many times a week do you need to run to lose weight?

The ideal frequency of running for weight loss is about three to four times a week. This allows your body to adapt, recover, and improve over time. Sessions should last from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your current fitness level and specific goals. Remember, consistency is more important than intensity when starting.

How many miles does it take to lose weight running?

The magic number of miles for weight loss is a moving target, varying widely depending on individual circumstances like weight, pace, and overall lifestyle. On average, you burn about 100 calories per mile. To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories, equating to about 35 miles of running for the average person. The key is to combine running with a sensible diet and other healthy habits for effective weight loss.

What are effective strategies for running to lose weight?

Runners diet to lose weight while running

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in running for weight loss. A balanced diet rich in proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates fuels your runs and aids in recovery and muscle building. Hydration is equally important; ensure you're drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your runs. Avoiding empty calories and keeping a watchful eye on portion sizes will help maintain the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.

High-Intensity Interval Training for Weight Loss

HIIT has been shown in studies to do a better job at creating weight loss than steady-state cardio; other studies have found that it may even target belly fat better than other forms of exercise. By alternating between high-intensity bursts and recovery periods, you maximize calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits in a shorter period.

This method also increases your metabolic rate, leading to more calories burned throughout the day. Incorporating HIIT once or twice a week can significantly enhance your weight loss efforts and break the monotony of steady-state runs.

MOTTIV athlete Jonathan Perez has lost over 200lbs since this photo was taken; he took up endurance sports to lose weight and take control of his life.

4 Factors That Maximize Calorie Burn While Running

  1. Varied Terrain: Tackling hills or uneven paths challenges your body in new ways, increasing calorie expenditure.
  2. Speed Work: Intervals or tempo runs increase the intensity of your workouts, leading to higher calorie burn.
  3. Body Weight Considerations: Generally, a heavier individual will burn more calories running the same distance as a lighter person due to the increased energy expenditure.
  4. Running Form: Efficient running form can help you run longer and faster, boosting calorie burn without necessarily increasing effort.

How can runners manage and monitor their progress for effective weight loss?

Tracking your runs, diet, and weight can offer invaluable insights into what's working and what isn't. Utilize apps, journals, or fitness trackers to monitor your progress. Set regular intervals to review your goals and celebrate your achievements. Adjust your running and diet plan as needed based on feedback from your body and performance data.

The four most common mistakes made with running and weight loss

What are the signs of overtraining, and how can they be avoided while running for weight loss?

Overtraining can sap your energy and derail your progress. Signs include persistent fatigue, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and declining performance. Avoid these pitfalls by increasing your mileage and intensity gradually, incorporating rest days, and ensuring your diet provides adequate nutrition and energy.

  1. How to Avoid Overeating When Starting a Running Plan for Weight Loss

Increased activity levels can lead to increased appetite. To avoid overeating, focus on nutrient-dense foods that satisfy hunger and provide long-lasting energy. Plan your meals and snacks to ensure you're eating for nourishment and energy, not out of boredom or stress.

  1. Four Keys to Avoiding Injury When You Start Running
  2. Gradual Progression: Avoid the temptation to do too much too soon. Increase your running distance and intensity gradually.
  3. Proper Footwear: Invest in a good pair of running shoes that offer support and suit your foot type.
  4. Rest and Recovery: Incorporate rest days into your routine to allow your body to recover and reduce the risk of injury.
  5. Diverse Training: Engage in different types of exercise to balance muscle development and overall fitness.
  6. Extreme Exercise and Calorie Restriction Causing Metabolic Damage

Going to extremes with exercise and calorie restriction can lead to metabolic adaptations that hinder weight loss and health. A balanced approach to running, diet, and lifestyle is key to sustainable weight loss and health. Ensure you're consuming enough calories to fuel your runs and support your body's needs.

FAQ Common Questions About How Long it Takes to Lose Weight Running

Q: How long does it take to see weight loss results from running?

A: The time it takes to see weight loss results from running varies for everyone and depends on factors such as your current weight, running frequency, intensity, and diet. Many people start to notice changes in their body composition within a few weeks of consistent running.

Q: How does running a 5k help with weight loss?

A: Running a 5k can be an effective way to burn calories and aid in weight loss. Training for a 5k race involves consistent running workouts, which can contribute to improved fitness and fat loss.

Q: How long does it take to lose one pound of fat by running?

A: The time it takes to lose one pound of fat by running depends on factors such as your running pace, duration, and calorie deficit. On average, creating a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day through running and diet can lead to losing one pound of fat per week.

Q: Is running every day a good way to lose weight?

A: Running every day can be an effective way to support weight loss, but it's important to listen to your body and allow for adequate rest and recovery. Consistent running can contribute to burning calories and improving overall fitness, but be mindful of potential overuse injuries.


Running is a potent tool for weight loss and overall health. It requires dedication, consistency, and a balanced approach to nutrition and training. Each runner's journey is unique, with different timelines and strategies for success.

By understanding the principles of effective weight loss through running, avoiding common pitfalls, and listening to your body, you can embark on a rewarding journey that not only sheds pounds but also builds a healthier, happier you. So lace up, hit the road with confidence, and remember: the journey may be long, but the rewards are well worth the effort.If you're a beginner runner, or you've started running to lose weight, you've almost certainly thought, "How long does it take to see results from running?" As someone who has lost 65 pounds from endurance sports, I know how much of a positive effect long-term weight loss can have on our lives, and I understand the impatience to see results.

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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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