5 ADVICE ON LOSING WEIGHT BY RUNNING

When you want to lose weight, you start with lots of good intentions. You manage your diet, eliminate everything that makes you gain weight and you get back into some form of physical activity, particularly when there is a certain pressure to make resolutions, e.g. the New Year. But will all these efforts actually help you to lose weight, and stay slim in particular? Here are my 5 suggestions for achieving long-term weight loss by running and avoiding the "YO-YO" effect of the draconian diet.

1. SET YOURSELF AN OBJECTIVE THAT IS ACHIEVABLE

When people want to go on a diet, they often set themselves too big a target in terms of the number of kilos they are planning to lose, simply because they do not know their body well enough.

The weight that you want to attain must not be less than your fitness weight. What we mean by fitness weight is a weight at which you feel good in your body and mind, without endangering yourself. It is a stable weight requiring no dietary deprivation or excess. It can vary by more or less 2kg over time – this is entirely normal.

You can calculate your BMI = weight (kg) / height (m)². If the result is between 18.5 and 25, the body weight is deemed to be normal. A figure between 25 and 30 indicates that you are overweight and a figure in excess of 30 indicates obesity. This is an indicator that should be treated cautiously because it does not take into account muscle mass, fat mass, age or gender. It can help you to set an objective but you should bear in mind that muscle weighs more than fat.

 

2. BALANCE YOUR ENERGY EXPENDITURE AND INTAKE

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The stability of your weight depends on the balance between the energy you expend and the energy you take in. Any excess intake that is not compensated by an increase in energy expenditure will lead to your body storing the excess energy in the form of fat which will therefore lead to a gain in weight. Conversely, in order to lose weight effectively, you need to burn off more energy than you take in through your diet.

Energy expenditure corresponds to the energy used to make your body function.

Energy intake corresponds to the food that you eat and that the body transforms into macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

 

Focus: what is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is not based on a single meal but on several meals: breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner will be part of your everyday routine. Here are the daily recommendations:

Carbohydrates (pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, bread, etc.): fill up with energy at every meal.

Meat, fish, eggs: 1 to 2 times a day to provide protein.

Fruit and vegetables: at least 5 times a day, for taking in vitamins, fibre and water.

Dairy products: 3 times a day for taking in protein and calcium.

Fat: to be reduced without nevertheless removing it altogether. It provides lipids and vitamins.

Sugary products: to be limited without necessarily eliminating them altogether. They provide pleasure and we need to bear in mind that eating should also be enjoyable!

Water: as much as you want.

 

3. ACCEPT THE PHASES INVOLVED IN LOSING WEIGHT AND BE PATIENT!

Start by adopting a balanced diet. The secret is to continue eating of everything, while managing the quantities of each type of food. Initially, you will experience a more rapid drop in weight.There is no need to panic, this is quite normal, but it should not last.

During your "diet", you will also experience plateau periods during which you will stop losing weight. This should not be a cause for concern either, as your weight will start to drop again once your body has had time to adapt. Should this plateau period last for too long, lower your energy intake slightly in order to re-engage the process.

In order to effectively lose weight and not regain it afterwards, you must not exceed -0.5 to 1kg per week. By reducing your energy intake by 200 to 300 kCal per day, you are likely to attain your objective without affecting your metabolism or disrupting your mental well-being.

 

4. FINDING YOUR RUNNING PACE

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Running, aside from being the best solution for attaining your weight loss objective, also procures mental well-being and many benefits for your health. It not only helps you to burn off calories (between 600 and 900 kcal/hour), but also strengthens the muscles and tones the body – don't forget that a firmer body looks slimmer!

The basic rule for slimming and staying slim is to run regularly and enjoy running in order to stay motivated. Your starting objective is to run several times a week (2 to 3 times) without worrying about your pace or running intensity. Without even noticing, your endurance will improve.

You may start by running for 30 minutes and gradually increase your running time to 40-45 minutes or more. The longer your running time, the more fat will be burnt off. If you have not run for a while, start gradually and don't hesitate to alternate between walking and running, e.g. 10 minutes of running and 5 minutes of walking while gradually increasing the running time over the course of your training.

After each run, take the time to recover properly so that your running exercise will be of benefit to you and there is no accumulation of physical fatigue which can lead to physiological stress.

 

5. DO NOT RUN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH

If you are going out for a jog a long time after your previous meal, it is preferable to have a snack at least one hour beforehand. Running on an empty stomach will not make you lose weight more quickly. On the contrary, you will accumulate fatigue which will not help you to attain your objective.

Your snack should include cereals in the form of cereal bars, low-fat biscuits, multigrain bread, etc. combined with fruit and water.

Now, you have all the information you need to lose weight, stay in shape and enjoy the benefits of running. 

Marie Fauchille

This article was written by Marie Fauchille, dietician and nutritionnist.

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