Not So Much. Here’s Why.
One would assume running would equal fat loss. Or at least exercise high in cardiovascular activity and calorie burn would equal fat loss. I’ve been running consistently now for a span of 6 months and haven’t lost much fat. So does running = fat loss? Not so much and here’s why.
I have to admit. As a personal trainer I’ve spent most of my career promoting weight training, or at least resistance training of some sort. Why? Because I enjoy it first of all. Second of all, resistance training has so many benefits including preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis. It is the key component to achieving that desired “toned” look that every one and their mother seems to be after; you cannot achieve the aesthetics of “toned” muscles without muscle… plain and simple. Additionally, resistance training puts your body out of its natural state: homeostasis. Your body ends up burning calories 24 hours AFTER you complete the workout as your body works to get back to homeostasis. Weight training has aided me in shaping my body exactly the way I want it. I’ve felt strong, I look good.
So why did I assume when I signed up for the New York City Marathon that running 20-30+ miles weekly would magically shed my excess lower belly, back, and under booty fat?
WHY you’ve THOUGHT Running = Fat Loss
Don’t get me wrong, running has it’s place. Cardiovascular exercise is important! But endurance running does not necessarily correlate with fat loss. So why do we think it does?
High Calorie Burn
This past Sunday in my marathon training I burned 2500 calories in one session. ONE RUN. ONE RUN and I BURNED 2500 CALORIES!!! That is a lot of calories to expend in one exercise session. And for the most part, we associate calorie burn with fat loss. Burn more calories = burn more fat right? More on this later.
Proof is in the Pudding
What’s another reason why we associate running with fat loss? Because all the elite athletes are skinny AF.
I mean just look at these people. Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich one of the greatest long distance runners in the world: Skinny. AF.
What about Paula Radcliffe?
Like woah why wouldn’t we assume running means low fat?
Why Running DOES NOT = Fat Loss
High Calorie Burn Doesn’t Result in Weight Loss
Ever thought about this? The more energy you’re burning… the hungrier you are. Believe it or not it IS possible to still GAIN weight even while burning 2500 calories in one workout. HOW? By eating MORE calories then you burn throughout the day. Calorie burn DOES NOT EQUAL WEIGHT LOSS. The only way to lose weight is to be in a caloric defecit. Meaning, consuming LESS calories than you’re burning throughout the day.
A Study… on Myself
On day one of my marathon training I took an InBody Scan. These Sans measure Body Composition including Weight, Body Fat Mass, Body Fat Percentage, and Skeletal Muscle Mass amongst other things.
My Results on day one (July 19, 2019) included an overall weight of 138.7, skeletal muscle mass of 61.3, and a body fat mass of 28.9 all measured in pounds (lbs).
Over the course of a month my running increased A LOT. I went from running maybe once a week (if I felt like it), to running 3-4, sometimes 5 times a week. My running increased from 3-5 miles a week to 20-30 miles a week. My overall calorie consumption didn’t change much; Admittedly I didn’t track my calorie intake, but I also didn’t make any drastic changes besides increasing my cardio.
On September 9, 2019 I took a scan (more on my mid scans later). My weight? 138.5 lbs. Skeletal muscle mass 62.6 and body fat mass 26.9. Essentially EXACTLY THE SAME.
Based on my personal results, you can see that increased running DOES NOT EQUAL WEIGHT LOSS.
Oh, so if I just run but also make sure to eat less, I’ll burn fat?
That’s where you’re wrong. Let’s go back to my SECOND SCAN within that 3 month time period. After the first two weeks of running, I scanned for the second time. My weight decreased by approximately 4lbs (134.9), but my body fat mass only decreased by .3. So what happened?! MY SKELETAL MUSCLE MASS DECREASED! In this mid scan, I was expecting to see my body fat percentage decreasing like crazy. After all, I was running around like a crazy person… LITERALLY. I saw these results and decided to continue to include resistance training in my weekly workouts, not just running.
Here’s the catch with running: when you’re burning calories through cardio endurance training, you’re not just burning fat, but muscle as well. And less muscle mass means less efficient calorie burn. How so? Because more muscle mass means a higher metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate means more calories burned while resting.
YUP, RESISTANCE TRAINING CAN HELP YOU BURN MORE CALORIES WHILE NOT DOING A DAMN THING.
So what’s the best way to lose fat?
Balance. I know. The sexiest word you’ve ever heard but it’s true.
Have a balance of resistance training AND cardiovascular exercise, PAIRED with a caloric defecit. All three working together in tandem will produce optimum fat loss results.
And honestly… don’t over do it. Too much stress on the body (yes, exercise is a form of stress), can produce too much cortisol, a hormone released during exercise. Corisol is not all bad BUT too much cortisol can result in insulin resistance and excess storage of belly fat.
“BUT I don’t know how to weight lift/ am scared!”
Unsure how to start a resistance/ weight lifting program?
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