How long does it take before you notice weight loss from running?

A common question about running is "How good is it really at giving fast weight loss results?" This article lists the improvements you can make by running and gives a time indication for each.

As mentioned in a previous article, running is a terrific exercise to get into shape.

But a few questions that pop up often are:

Results from running can be classified into 3 categories:

  1. Heart rate
  2. Running distance
  3. Body fat

1. Heart rate improvements from running

The obvious benefit of running is improvement of your cardiovascular endurance. Running will better the way your heart, lungs, veins, vessels, and arteries work to supply your body with oxygen and nutrients.

Where your heart is concerned, you may notice improvement within the first week of a running program. Depending on how fit you are or whether you have exercised in the past, your heart will show immediate improvement by dropping.

This means that if you run the same distance in the same amount of time, your average heart rate should be lower with each workout you do. You can use a heart rate monitor to track heart rate changes.

2. Running distance improvements

Where running distance is concerned, it might take a little longer than a week to notice any improvements. This because the human body is slow to adjust to changes and stress you put upon it.

It can take you anywhere between 1 month and 3 months before you see noticeable improvements in the distance you are capable of running in the same amount of time and at the same heart rate.

3. Body fat loss from running

The preferred fuel for your body is carbohydrate. This means that your body will convert carbs into energy, before it chooses to convert fats or protein into energy.

As you develop your cardiovascular system through exercise, your body will start to more efficiently convert fats into energy. Everyone is different, so the time it will take you to reach this point is not written in stone.

It takes approximately 3,500 calories burned through any physical activity, to lose 1 pound of body weight. The weight you lose will most likely be a combination of body fat and muscle. But as your body begins to favor burning fat instead of carbs or protein, you’ll lose more body fat than muscle.

For example, if you weigh 157 lbs (71 kg), you’d have to run at a pace of 11 min per mile (1.6 km) for 6 hours to burn 3,500 calories. This means that if you ran 1 hour a day, 6 days a week, at the right intensity, you’d be 1 lbs lighter at the end of the week. This might sound unbelievable, but I can vouch that it works if you do it right.

Just last week I started incorporating running into my exercise program – after having had a layoff of 3 years. Within that week I ran 3 times for approximately 1 hour each workout at an average heart rate of 65% to 75% of my maximum heart rate. At the end of the week I had lost 2 pounds of body weight, 2/3 of which was body fat.

Final words

While the weight loss results you get from from running cannot be generalized, it should not take more than 2 weeks before you see results; in heart rate drops as well as body weight. Combine this with a good diet and you will accelerate your weight loss progress.

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