If you want to lose weight but don’t have the time or money to hit the gym, go for a run. Even 30 minutes can help you shed unwanted pounds, Kelly Borowiec, an ACE-certified personal trainer— especially if you’re just starting to work out and committing to cleaning up your diet at the same time. Here’s how to ensure you’re maximizing the time you do have to work out in order to reach your weight-loss goals.
How Often Should You Run to Lose Weight?
You don’t have to run every day to start seeing results. Borowiec recommends running three to four days a week to stay in shape and prevent injury, though you should work your way up to it. On days you don’t run, plan to do a different workout, like strength training or yoga. “This will help strengthen the muscles you use to run, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes,” Borowiec says. Building muscle also helps bolster your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories and fat. “Just remember to schedule one full rest day per week to allow your body to recover,” Borowiec adds.
Is Running 30 Minutes a Day Really Enough?
For regular runners, a 30-minute workout won’t have the same effect. When your body is used to an activity, it uses less energy to do it. However, the faster you run, the more calories you’ll burn, Borowiec explains. Once you’ve worked your way up to running consistently, think about incorporating speed work or high-intensity intervals to increase your calorie burn.
Remember that if you’re going from little or no physical activity to running, you’re likely to feel hungrier, and eating more will make it much harder to stay in the calorie deficit that’s necessary for weight loss. Borowiec suggests keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy options (think lean protein and low-glycemic-index fruits) to avoid grabbing something after your run that amounts to more calories than you’ve just burned. Having a healthy pre-workout snack about 30 minutes before your run will also keep your energy levels up and prevent you from feeling famished when you’re done.