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?
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.
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?
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
(35 years, 75 kg)
(35 years, 55 kg)
Calorie consumption is different for everyone. How many calories does your body need? This is something you can easily calculate.
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.
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.
Want to learn about weight loss in more detail?
Jogging is fun and healthy. But if you overdo it, you won’t do your body any favours.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Our health consultation advisors are happy to help you. We can offer you information and tips on balanced nutrition and controlling your weight.
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.
Evelyne Dürr (Msc in Human Movement Sciences, ETH; CAS workplace health promotion) works as a health management specialist at Helsana. She is involved in the areas of prevention and health promotion for our customers. Evelyne Dürr provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article.