Running is easily the cheapest and most under-utilized means available for losing weight. Besides burning calories and reducing the paunch, running also has a whole lot of other benefits.
If you ever want to put on your running shoes to shed those extra kilos, there are 10 tips to keep in mind.
1. Never Skip Meals
If you are taking up running as a way to lose weight, it is wise not to be on a crash diet and miss regular meals. Your body will need enough fuel if you are going to be burning calories – and running on an empty stomach will tire you out before you have burned enough. Besides, not having regular meals only increases your temptation for anything and everything.
2. Have Small Meals Throughout The Day
The meals that you do have need not be strictly breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is common knowledge that eating small meals throughout the day is better for the body that eating three or four heavy meals. Besides being kind on your metabolism, it also keeps you light enough for your runs. In fact, binge-eating is also known to be reduced significantly by eating healthy small meals or snacks throughout the day.
3. Eat Lots Of Fibers
Go for high-fiber meals with lots of veggies and greens. They fill you up sooner and you tend to feel less tempted for seconds or dessert. Your starch intake should be decreased in ratio to fibers. In professional running however, athletes abstain from eating high-fiber food before running as opposed to after – as it takes time to digest and impairs performance.
4. Keep A Food Diary
If you are serious about running and losing weight, keeping a food diary is pertinent to keep note of your calorie intake every day. Once you realize your problem areas – that is, the amount of calories you ingest after having a fat piece of chocolate truffle for dessert, you will start pruning your eating habits to better optimize your running.
5. Drink Enough Fluids
It is very important to keep the body hydrated if you are going running. You are going to sweat it out in running, so you need enough water. It also helps get rid of body wastes like lactic acid. However, do avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee or cola before going running. If you are going to be running for more than an hour, it is important to take some fluids with you – like energy drinks, which otherwise is not necessary.
6. Keeps Carbs Handy
While for shorter runs you can refuel after coming back, you run out of energy in a longer run and need to eat something to keep you going. If you are going for a run longer than 60 minutes, besides water, it is also important to take some carbs with you to keep you refueled. It could be a fruit or pretzels or energy bars.
7. The 15-Minute Rule
It is ideal to eat something within 15 minutes of coming back from your run. In that duration, the enzyme sensitivity in your body is still high then, and can absorb the carbs you have easily. So, make a point to have a small snack like a banana or a whole-grain toast within 15 minutes and follow it up with a meal two hours later.
8. Stay Off High-Calorie Foods
It goes without saying that avoiding oily, greasy or fatty foods is a must if you are trying to lose some weight. You might feel like rewarding yourself for the strenuous run you went on today with a packet of potato chips or a slice of pizza – but it is only putting back all the calories you burnt. Staying off junk is not only for runners, but for a healthy lifestyle as well. Go for a crunchy salad instead.
9. Use Running Apps
Although this is not important if you are running to lose weight, it is a very good motivator that our forefathers did not have. Using running apps like Livestrong Calorie Tracker or Runtastic helps you keep track of how much distance you have covered, how much calories you have burnt and your average speed. With many other features to them, they make for the best way to keep you motivated in your running sessions.
10. Set Realistic Goals
When you do take up running, you have to understand that you will not lose 10 kilos in a week or even one kilo in one day itself. For first-timers, it is easy to believe otherwise. While it is true that one needs to up their running distances over time to lose the same amount of weight as they did in the first couple of weeks, this change does not necessarily come about immediately. Thus, set realistic goals to weight loss when you start out, instead of setting un achievable ones and getting demotivated when it does not happen.
If followed, these 10 tips will optimize your weight loss goals when you take up running. Ultimately, the biggest motivator for everyone is subjective – fitting into a certain set of clothes or being healthy. Even when your goal is achieved, you should not give up running once you take it up – as it helps maintain your fitness at a peal level.