Is running the golden ticket . . .


. . . to weight loss?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Some runners have won the genetic lottery: all they have to do is run (or start running) and the weight just melts off. It’s usually not quite that simple for the rest of us.

Abs are made in the kitchen
No doubt you’ve heard that abs are made in the kitchen. I am not a medical professional, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer, but through my own journey and my observations of others’ journeys, I believe it to be true.

You can’t out exercise a bad diet. Sooner or later, it will catch up with you. There’s no reason to punish yourself for eating “badly” by trying to exercise it off. It doesn’t work, anyway, and most likely will do far more damage than good in the long run.

Can you lose weight without exercising? It will probably come off slower, but if you eat healthy, most likely you will lose weight. Exercise has so many benefits, so far beyond losing weight — I’m not advocating not exercising. I’m just saying do it because it makes you feel good, not because you think you need it to erase too many indulgences.

Not all calories are create equal
Forget about calories in, calories out
Many people believe that weight loss is a simple equation. Burn off more than you take in  and you’ll lose weight. Running happens to burn more calories than many types of exercise. Which is why so many people (myself included) turn to running when they think they need that little something extra.

If it were truly that simple, far fewer people would have weight problems. Not all calories are created equal. You can eat 200 calories of donuts or 200 calories of a nice sirloin. A steady diet of donuts is not going to help your waistline, no matter how carefully you calculate calories in vs calories out.

Yup, I gained weight training for this half
#thestruggleisreal with runger
It is very easy to overestimate the amount of calories you “burned” and innocently overeat to “refuel”. Which is exactly how I ended up gaining weight training for my first half marathon.

How ironic is is that I started running to help bust through a weight loss plateau, only to end up gaining even more weight? It’s not an unusual story, either.

Yes, fueling properly for runs and refueling after long runs is very important. In fact, doing it properly can even (sometimes) knock out that runger (hunger from running). But . . . and you knew there would be a but, right? But it often takes a lot of experimenting to find out what will slay your runger but not pack on the pounds.

It may not be the golden tick to weight loss, but running can help
I personally believe that long distance running is not the secret to weight loss. Strength training, HIIT, Tabata — these are the sort of workouts that really torch fat. Basically, anything where you’re getting your heart rate up and increasing your muscle mass. Again, I am not a medical professional.

If you do decide to take up running and you’d like to lose some weight, here are my tips:

  • Don’t worry about “refueling” for short runs (anything under an hour). It’s not necessarily wrong, especially if you haven’t eaten in a few hours, but it’s also not necessary.
  • Don’t just run easy all the time. Your body adapts to exercise very easily, and then it can take more and more effort for the same results. Do some speedwork. Run some hills. Vary the distance.
  • Don’t forget the strength training. Not only will it make you a better runner (maybe even a faster runner), it can also help prevent injury. A side benefit is that it will make you look as if you’ve lost weight even if you haven’t. Check out my post “5 Reasons to Be a Killer B” here for where you can get some great workouts geared towards runners.
  • Don’t forget the protein. Protein will help you feel fuller longer and it helps you repair and rebuild those hard-worked muscles.
  • Don’t forget to visit on Friday when I’ll be sharing some tips on how to prevent those rungries from happening in the first place.
Here are a few more resources about running and weight loss:


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescornerTalk to me:

Was weight loss a factor for you in starting to run?

Did you continue to struggle with weight loss once you started to run?

Do you feel that you “have” to exercise when you’ve eaten something “naughty”?


33 thoughts on “Is running the golden ticket . . .

  1. I’m one of those fortunate people who don’t struggle much with weight, however—I don’t eat junk either. I’m not a big snacker–you won’t see me subscribing or even reviewing those snack boxes. I do watch what I eat, but I don’t avoid the things I love (like ice cream). Everything in moderation.

    Pretty sure running helps me too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it doesn’t take long reading my blog to see that I enjoy my food. πŸ™‚ I’m not into deprivation, but it’s not easy for me to maintain weight, either. Never has been. But it’s a battle worth fighting and because I know I’m not alone, that’s why I write about it so much.

      I’m glad that that isn’t something you have trouble with; you’ve got enough stuff going on with your health!


  2. I started running not to lose weight, but to “tone up.” I had a misc. extra 5 pounds years ago (before having kids, believe it or not), but I’m tall enough it was never obvious. That said, I am very conscious of my weight. I have gained some weight, but have lost inches, due to strength-training. I think it’s a matter of moderation. By allowing a few “treats” now and then, I don’t crave them. We’re all individual on this, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well you know I struggle all the time and I am currently in an uphill phase again. The crazy thing is I haven’t changed my intake much, I never do, but I take these swings up even when I am feeling pretty consistent.
    When I first started running i did lose almost 15 pounds( I was 25 pounds up), but the up and down of those 15 lbs. is constant. I am tired and sometimes I wonder if it is time to give in and take hormones. I did take hormones years ago and it was easier to keep my weight down, but it comes with other side effects.
    It would be nice to feel like hard work does have some return πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily I don’t have the thyroid issue you have. At least not yet. That definitely makes it more difficult and yes, it just gets worse as we age.

      There are times when I feel running ins a silly indulgence, definitely times I wish I didn’t have to watch what I eat.

      I had lost most of what I’d wanted to before I started to run. It was just those last few pounds. Usually summer isn’t so hard, but it is what it is, right? No way around it but through it!


  4. Most of my weightloss occurred before I was a runner and was heavily into strength training. I added running to the mix for cardiovascular health since I have heart disease in the family. I swear hormones and ageing have been my biggest challenge. I can eat less and better but my body seems to hang on to weight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of my weight loss occurred before I was a runner, too.

      Aging is definitely a challenge. I don’t have thyroid issues, but I can tell you for sure I can’t eat like a lot of my friends do. I’d weigh 300 lbs. Not joking!


  5. Looking at my monthly miles and weight, I think that running definitely contributes to weight control! I will share my lovely graphs in a post😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great information! I gained weight after I started running longer distances and I know it’s because I fell into the trap of not paying close attention to what I was eating since I felt like it was ok due to the time spent running. I know that’s not true but it’s hard to avoid thinking like that. I’m back to tracking my food again and hopefully that helps with losing some of the weight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of us do fall into that trap, which is exactly why I wrote this post!

      And then there are the people who think running is all you have to do. And for some people, it’s true — for a lot of us, it isn’t.

      Tracking is always super helpful!


  7. I gained weight since I started running but I think it’s an age thing because I actually eat less and better. Mostly in my 60s. Maybe I’ll lose in my 70s.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahhhh, your post perfectly ties in with mine! Seriously…. in the past month I have run less and bike more and have lost 6 pounds. It’s crazy! Biking doesn’t seem to create that crazy insatiable desire to eat everything in sight like running does. Why in the world does running make you so hungry??? I want to eat more after a 4 mile run than I do after biking 20 miles!!

    It’s made me much more aware of the ‘rungries’ and I will hopefully be able to keep them in check when I get back to mostly running in another month.

    Great post Judy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s super interesting about biking not making you as hungry — maybe I need to take it up, LOL! I do do my stationary bike.

      Of course I try to swim, too, and that can be worse than running when it comes to hunger!


  9. I don’t lose weight with running sadly. It’s all in the diet for me, but I’ve always been food sensitive. However, running has made everything else inside me healthy, so yay!! I’ll keep doing it! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I started running because the military said I had a yearly PT test that I needed to pass!! My health issues play a part in my fluctuating weight. Thyroid and Age/Hormones are no joke!! My goal this marathon training cycle is to weigh the same at the finish as I did at the start!! I always gain during marathon training!! And what’s crazy is I’m not hungry after my long runs?? The hubs reminds me to eat about 4 hours after!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course your healthy issues make it much more difficult.

      That is a great goal for your training. My guess is if I ever trained for a marathon I’d struggle with my weight & want to eat all the things.

      Even training for a half, as the runs get long they can often suppress my appetite.


  11. Weight loss was not really a factor in my reason to start running. I wanted to try something outside of my comfort zone & I picked completion of a 5k. I was never a runner & at 52 it was a bit intimidating. I found a training plan & just did it & I keep doing it because it has made my lower body lean. You are 100% correct that if weight loss is your goal focus on dieting. You can never exercise a bad diet away. Yes I did struggle with my weight after I began running. Hormones really make it tough, but I did manage to lose the last 10 by being very focused on my diet & running does help too.

    Liked by 1 person

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