Jogging to lose weight: here’s what you need to know

People who want to lose weight often choose to jog. After all, running is an effective way to burn lots of calories in a short time. But just jogging isn’t enough in the fight against excess kilos. What do you need to know and what other factors are involved in weight loss?

13.04.2022 Nina Merli 4 minutes

It’s true – jogging can help you lose weight. Exercise increases our energy requirements and helps to burn fat. Over time, however, the body adapts to the regular exertion of jogging: we become more efficient and require less energy for the same output – meaning that the body burns fewer calories than it did at first.

Achieving long-term weight loss through jogging

If you want to lose weight – and keep it off – by jogging, you’ll need to tackle your “weight loss” project from all sides, taking into account the additional factors of nutrition, muscle building, sleeping patterns and, most importantly, a negative energy balance. You achieve a negative energy balance when you take in fewer calories than you burn. 

It’s important to leave enough time for muscle recovery – during this recovery phrase, the muscles grow and adapt to the stimulus they’ve been exposed to. That’s why it’s important to ensure you get enough sleep. Want to learn more about muscle recovery?

Ten tips for getting started with jogging

Here’s how many calories you burn through endurance sports

Since running burns a relatively large number of calories compared to other sports, jogging is certainly a good choice for your journey to your ideal weight. But if you are overweight, it is advisable to start with walking or swimming. These activities are easy on the joints.

Type of exercise
(30 min)

Men
(35 years, 75 kg)

Women
(35 years, 55 kg)

Jogging

Breaststroke  

Tennis            

Cycling (moderate)

Cross trainer

376 kcal

181 kcal

250 kcal

137 kcal

171 kcal

293 kcal

141 kcal

194 kcal

106 kcal

133 kcal

Source: yazio.com

Calorie consumption is different for everyone. How many calories does your body need? This is something you can easily calculate.

Everything you need to know about calories

Finding the right balance for weight loss

Just like so many things in life, running is all about finding the right balance and the right levels. If you’re going jogging every day, but still eating an unbalanced, high-calorie diet, you won’t lose any weight despite the running. Because you’ll only lose weight through jogging if you’re also keeping an eye on your calorie balance. 

Jogging helps to burn fat

Fat cells are sort of like our batteries: they store energy that we need for countless bodily functions. For that reason, they can expand up to 200 times their original size. When the body “burns fat”, it is drawing this energy from its fat cells. If you also make some changes to your diet, your body will burn fat even more effectively while running. As a general rule: if you consume fewer carbohydrates before you go jogging, you’ll burn more body fat.

Tip: jogging in the morning before breakfast activates the fat-burning process. This is because, when the body is working on an empty stomach, it draws energy from existing fat reserves instead of from the glucose in food.

The right diet makes a difference 

  1. Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. 
  2. Put your trust in dietary fibre. There’s plenty of fibre in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain products, legumes and nuts. Fibre not only keeps you full for longer: it also boosts your metabolism, stimulates digestion and promotes weight loss.
  3. Negative energy balance: in order to reduce your body fat and lose weight, you need to make sure you are achieving a calorie deficit, i.e. consume fewer calories than your body burns.
  4. Carbohydrates are not bad for you per se, quite the contrary. But you need to be eating the right ones: wholegrain products, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oats and legumes.
  5. Find out how many calories you need each day. For example, by using the calorie calculator provided by the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Ernährung (Swiss Society for Nutrition).
  6. In order to lose 1 kilogram of fat, you need to cut out around 7,000 calories. By reducing your daily calorie intake by 300 to 500 calories, you’ll lose about half a kilo per week. 
  7. Remember: if you lose weight slowly, you’ll find it easier to maintain your weight. 
Tips for a balanced diet Calorie calculator: “My calorie requirements” (in German)

Want to learn about weight loss in more detail?

Article series Weight and weight loss

Too much of a good thing

Jogging is fun and healthy. But if you overdo it, you won’t do your body any favours. 

  • Excessive jogging can strain your joints (knees, ankles and hips). This can lead to overexertion injuries, which are caused by an imbalance between exertion and the body’s capacity to manage that exertion, and often affect the metatarsal bone. 
  • Another sign of excessive jogging or endurance training is RED-S, relative energy deficiency in sport. This is a syndrome caused by repeated energy deficiency (i.e. when energy intake is not enough to cover the total amount of energy consumed), which leads to decreased bone density, as well as hormonal and other physical disorders.
  • Excessive focus on a negative energy balance can also pose dangers: “anorexia athletica” is an eating disorder that is characterised by obsessive exercise. In the long term, it can lead to osteoporosis, hormone imbalance or irreparable kidney damage.

Variety: the key to success

Variety is a very important factor, and not just when it comes to your diet: with exercise too, it’s a good idea to keep changing your running routine, with interval training, for example – and, most importantly, to incorporate regular strength training to build up muscle. This is how you’ll burn the most calories. 

Increasing muscle mass

Muscle mass increases our personal basal metabolic rate, that is, the number of calories the body needs in 24 hours of complete rest. According to estimates, with each kilo of muscle mass, the body burns about 50 calories more per day. So when we increase our muscle mass, we automatically burn more calories. But be careful: more muscle mass also means more weight – the scales are therefore no longer a relevant indicator of your appearance. Want to know how to strengthen your core muscles?

Exercises for a stable core Strength training in the Helsana Coach app

Tapping into fat reserves

Short, regular, low-intensity sessions are ideal for beginners, because the body needs to learn to tap into its built-up fat reserves to obtain energy for running. Besides, running when you’re tired increases your risk of injury. Improving your running technique will automatically mitigate this risk. The ABCs of running will help you prepare for regular running training.

Here’s how to improve your running technique

The common assumption that running slowly burns more fat is incorrect. A study by Laval University in Quebec draws a completely different conclusion. During more intensive training sessions at a faster pace, the total number of calories burned is considerably higher, which inevitably means that the (absolute) percentage of fat calories burned also increases: the faster you jog, the more fat your body burns. 

Adding new training stimuli

After the starting phase (the first three to four weeks), it is important to keep adding new stimuli to your training routine, through sprinting, interval training, changes in pace or new routes. This is because, after just a few weeks, the body gets used to the new level of exertion and the calorie-burning effect wears off.

Do you have any questions about your diet or weight?

Our health consultation advisors are happy to help you. We can offer you information and tips on balanced nutrition and controlling your weight.

More information about our health consultation service

How often should you go jogging?

Jogging is healthy. In fact, a few years ago, a Danish study concluded that runners live longer. However, it depends on how often and how fast you run, and how long for. The runners who add the most years to their life (six, according to the study) are those who train three times a week, with a max. total of 2.4 hours of activity at a low to moderate pace.

Looking for tailor-made training routes? Shake up your running routine with Helsana trails. At each location, there are at least three signposted circular trails of varying lengths.

Find Helsana trails

Read more

The optimal nutrition for muscle building
Those wanting to sustainably strengthen their muscles not only have to train, but also eat healthily. We show what matters here.
April 30, 2019

Good running technique
Jogging is easy. It’s still worth examining your running style to conserve your energy and avoid stresses and strains. Read on to find out more.
April 13, 2022 4 minutes

Topics

Running training

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