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When Runners Struggle to Lose Weight

One of the main reasons people start running is to lose weight. But too often for a variety of reasons they’re unable to shed the unwanted pounds. If you’re looking to make running work for you, there are a few steps you can take based on scientific research to help ensure you get results.

This “runner’s conundrum,” as it’s often called, has a lot to do with the fact that runners generally overestimate how many calories they burn (1). They spend long hours and endless miles thinking they’ve burned up a ton of calories, yet don’t realize that the running itself doesn’t burn that much. Then, they follow that up with overeating – and underestimating how many calories they’ve eaten.

But through practices such as upping exercise intensity, practicing mindful eating, and sticking to a plan, experts say you can finally make running work for you.

Intensity Matters 

Running, especially when done at varying intensities, or interval style, creates the greatest metabolic and caloric burning effect (2). Incorporating sprint interval training into your runs uses all of the body’s larger muscles and elevates oxygen consumption through the varying segments of peak running speed. This type of training positively affects cardiovascular endurance and body composition of both men and women; however, men were found torespond more favorably (3).

Sprint intervals will also temporarily increase your metabolism, which helps to shed more calories as you exercise. The downfall? You might be extra hungry after a run laced with sprint intervals. So combat this by eating healthy, complex carbs pre-run followed by post-run whey protein and water (4,5). The additional whey protein will increase your satiation (making you feel less hungry) and decrease your probability to overeat post-run.


A simple key to becoming mindful is slowing down, but not when you’re running, of course! When you slow down your eating, you become more in touch with how you are feeling while you eat (1). You get to check in and ask yourself questions such as, “Am I really that hungry? Do I really need to have that second helping? Have I had enough water? Would a run or walk be the best solution to de-stress right now?” Give yourself the time to feel, chew, and think while eating. Your body will be able to communicate more clearly when it is full. And, although we have the Internet tethered to our wrists, eat without your phone or television around you, and you’ll become aware of every nourishing bite.

Moreover, recent studies have found that individuals who are not mindful about what they’re eating tend to underestimate the calories they ate by 50 percent. On the other hand, those practicing mindfulness are found to be more able to conquer unhealthy eating behaviors and also reduce their total caloric intake (1,6). Basically, all this proves that slowing down might just speed up results!

Try a Cleanse Day

You can also cleanse the pounds off. Isagenix-style Cleanse Days combine intermittent fasting and drinking the herbal beverage Cleanse for Life®. Especially when combined with endurance exercise like running or cycling, a dietary regimen that includes Cleanse Days certainly can accelerate weight loss.

According to a study that paired alternate-day fasting with endurance exercise (stationary bikes and elliptical machines), the combination led to superior changes in body weight and body composition (7). Together cleansing and exercise helps to positively change body composition more readily than either alone. Try scheduling your Cleanse Days on your rest days or easy-run days and see how you feel. This might be the ticket to better weight loss for you.

Sticking to it

Running for weight loss takes serious dedication and the ability to stick with it. Yes, barriers such as inclement weather, injuries, and poor motivation exist, but runners can handle these hurdles by tweaking behaviors. To improve long-term weight-loss success, start with figuring out which foods are best for your body, how many calories you really need, and planning meals in advance (8,9). So when a rainy day comes along or if you do happen to get injured, you will be prepared for success without panic.

Finding an accountability partner or coach can help you too. This holds especially true for individuals setting out to lose weight, with studies showing that accountability partners improved follow-through and helped people achieve their weight-loss goals (10).

One Foot in Front of the Other

In sum, if you’re thinking that running is an excellent way to burn more calories, you are right. Now you have the tips, that when paired with a healthy lifestyle and convenient products like those from Isagenix, you can work to ensure your weight-loss success. And although you run to lose weight, don’t forget that running also improves muscle tone, cardiovascular endurance, bone density, and provides the release of endorphins that make you feel good (1, 11-13).


  1. McDowell D. Get in the Lean Lane: Want to lose weight, get in shape, and run your best ever? Here are 50 ways to get there. Runner’s World. 2012.
  2. Boutcher, SH. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. J Obesity. 2011.
  3. Hazell TJ, Hamilton CD, Olver TD et al. Running sprint interval training induces fat loss in women. Applied Phys Nutri and Meta. 39(8), 944-950.
  4. Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre -Exercise Nutrition: The Role of Macronutrients, Modified Starches and Supplements on Metabolism and Endurance Performance. Nutrients. 2014: May 6.
  5. Beelen M, Burke LM, Gibala MJ. Nutritional strategies to promote post exercise recovery. J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010: Dec 20(6):515-32.
  6. Olson KL, Emery CF. Mindfulness and Weight Loss: A Systematic Review. Psych Med. 77(1), 59-67. 2015.
  7. Bhutani S, Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Trepanowski JF, Varady K. Alternate day fasting and endurance exercise combine to reduce body weight and favorably alter plasma lipids in obese humans. Obesity. 2013.(21)1370-1379.
  8. Van Dillen SM, Noordman J, Van Dulmen S, Hiddink GJ. Setting goal and implementation intentions in consultations between practice nurses and patients with overweight or obesity in general practice. Public Health Nutr. 2015: 5:1-9.
  9. Mastellos N, Gunn LH, Felix LM, Car J, Majeed A. Transtheoretical model stages of change for dietary and physical exercise modification in weight loss management for overweight and obese adults. 2014 Feb 5;2.
  10. Venditti EM, Wylie-Rosett J, Delahanty LM, Mele L, Hoskin MA, Edelstein SL & Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Short and long-term lifestyle coaching approaches used to address diverse participant barriers to weight loss and physical activity adherence. Int J of Behav Nutri and Phys Activity. 11(1), 16.
  11. Goode T, Roth DL. Factor analysis of cognitions during running: Association with mood change. J Sport and Ex Psyc. 1993:  15, 375-375.
  12. Hansen M, Nielsen RO, Videbaek S et al. Does running with or without changes in diet reduce fat mass in novice runners?: A 1-year prospective study. Sport Med Phys Fitness. 2015: Mar 13.
  13. Hopkins M, Gibbons C, Caudwell P, Hellström PM, Näslund E, King NA et al. The adaptive metabolic response to exercise-induced weight loss influences both energy expenditure and energy intake. Euro J of Clin Nutri. 68(5), 581-588.

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