Way back in the 80s, running and cardio was all the rage. It was simple and easily accessible. Plus the media endorsed it as “the fad”, so readers followed suit.
Now let’s jump in the Delorean and fast forward 30 years and you’ll see a completely different set of fat loss rules. After years of studies and research into fat loss we’ve discovered that for permanent fat loss you will need proper nutrition, rest (sleep and recovery), weight training, walking, conditioning (short bouts with weights, sprints, etc), and recovery runs/fun…in that order of importance.
So, why is running ineffective?
1. Your workout never changes
Our body is an amazing machine that adapts very quickly to a stimulus, whether it’s running, biking, or weight training. The problem that arises with running is that your body will adapt in about 3 weeks and become more efficient at running. Meaning that the 3 miles you ran week one burned 300 calories, while 3 weeks later you might only burn a little over 200 calories.
I know what you’re thinking, run further, right? Well, that’s not gonna work either, since going further at the new efficient rate will do nothing but consume more time with little impact. You would be better served by getting your calorie deficit in the kitchen and save yourself the hours of running and stress on the body.
2. Running causes muscle loss
Running slow and steady will catabolize (destroy) muscle. When you initially start running this will be seen as weight loss on the scale, but the results will soon fade and even go backwards with and increase in weight and bodyfat, if you’re not careful.
The major problem is that losing muscle means you’ll lower your daily calorie expenditure. For each 1 lb of muscle that you have, you burn 50 calories per day. So, if you lose 5 lbs of muscle from excess running, you will lower your daily calorie expenditure by 250 calories. Now that calorie deficit you thought you created in the kitchen disappears and no weight loss occurs. Continue this course of muscle destruction and you’re heading toward metabolic damage, which is difficult and time consuming to come back from.
3. Running causes far too much stress
Our bodies can only bear so much stress before it shuts down and goes into protective mode. You may not think your run is stressful but look at these numbers.
- For every mile, you will step, well over, 1000 steps, but for this example we will use 1000 for simplifying the math.
- Each step you take when running you strike with 3-5 times your body weight. Let’s use the average of 4 for this example.
- So, if you strike with 4 x body weight and you weight 150 lbs, that’s 600 lbs per step.
- Using the 1000 steps per mile from above, or 500 steps per leg, you would be causing 300,000 lbs of stress on each leg. That’s 600,000 lbs of stress on the body for 1 mile.
- Now multiply that by 2, 3, or more miles and you’re gonna run into some seriously high stress numbers and ultimately bigger issues.
This is one of the main reasons runners are so readily hurt. From a stress perspective, the more you run the higher your stress, and as stress increases you move more into protective mode, and start storing more fat. It’s a very dangerous way to try to lose fat, because there’s way too much stress and injury downside to make it dependable long term.
If you enjoy running do it for recovery instead of calorie burning. You will be better served in your quest for fat loss by focusing more time in the kitchen and lifting weights.