Running Weight-Loss FAQs

What’s the best way to break through a weight-loss plateau?
Since you’re not burning more calories than you consume—hence no weight loss—tweak your routine. Up the protein at each meal (especially breakfast) to 25 grams—this curbs appetite and may boost calorie burning. Eat fiber-rich foods (beans, whole grains) to stop a few calories from being absorbed. To burn more calories, add an interval workout or make one run longer and take a new route.


Which is better: Long, slow runs or short, fast runs?
Both can help you lose weight, if you keep your calorie intake in check. Long, slow runs may be more manageable for most runners, leading to fewer injuries than speedier runs. You burn about 90 to 110 calories per mile on long runs. Short, fast runs yield slightly more calorie burning per mile, and studies show they may lead to more calorie burning postrun than slow efforts. Bottom line? Get out and run, and if you enjoy faster runs, do them sparingly to avoid injury.

How can I kill sugar and salt cravings?
The good news: Studies show that unhealthy food cravings, especially for sweets, tend to taper over months of cutting calories, while cravings for fruits and veggies increase. Until that happens, you can put a lid on cravings by indulging in one treat a day, like a really delicious salted caramel. Studies show that restricting foods leads to stronger cravings, so one small treat can spare you the disaster of overeating if you try to resist and then cave.

I’m tired! What meals can I eat to lose weight, boost energy, and fuel workouts?
Boosting energy and fueling runs while shedding pounds requires what I call “metered eating.” Plan on eating every three to four hours—breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with two snacks. You’ll avoid getting ravenous, which can make you sluggish and likely to overeat. Here’s a sample high-energy plan for weight loss with about 1,500 calories (adjust portions based on your needs).

Prerun: ½ banana, water (morning run of 3 miles)
Breakfast: 1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt, small handful almonds, and 1 cup berries; 1 slice whole-grain bread with avocado
Lunch: 2 whole-grain tortillas with ¾ cup black beans, ½ cup salsa, and 1 ounce cheese
Snack: 1 cup snap peas and radishes with 1 tablespoon light dressing; 16 ounces iced tea with 2 teaspoons honey
Dinner: 3 ounces salmon, ¾ cup black rice, 2 cups greens with 1 teaspoon each olive oil and vinegar, 8 ounces milk
Snack: 1 small chocolate, ½ cup sliced strawberries, tea


By Liz Applegate, Ph.D. Image by Gary Taxali

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