Health

Optimise your running plan for effective weight loss

Running is often the first thing that comes to mind when we mention weight loss, as this vigorous, high-intensity exercise has long been lauded for its calorie-blasting benefits.

Its accessibility - all you need is a pair of track shoes - means anyone can easily hit the ground running.

But before you head out with expectations of shedding kilos or reducing your body fat percentage, know that running is not a magic pill for losing weight.

However, you can optimise your running plan to help you slim down with these tips.

TRACK YOUR WORKOUT

You may feel as though you have burned 500 or more calories from that gruelling 40-minute run, but chances are you have torched only between 300 and 400 calories, depending on your weight, speed and terrain. The best way to gauge will be to use a running app or an activity-tracking watch. That will help you avoid overestimating your effort and overcompensating with your post-run diet.

WATCH YOUR POST-RUN DIET

We often find ourselves famished after a run. Before reaching for food, be sure to hydrate first. That way, you are less likely to mistake thirst for hunger. And when your belly is a quarter filled with water, you are less likely to wolf down an upsized meal portion.

On that note, be mindful of what you eat post-run. If your sole purpose of running is to justify your cravings for junk food or to make you feel better about eating certain dishes, it is unlikely that running will help you shed any weight.

An uncontrolled diet - no matter how religiously you exercise - will lead to weight gain and a host of health issues.

As a rule of thumb, your post-run diet should be in line with this healthy eating principle: 50 per cent fruit and vegetables, 25 per cent whole grains and 25 per cent protein.

VARY YOUR RUNS

It is easy to fall into a comfortable running rhythm or stick to one type of run, especially when you are going solo and without a coach or training plan.

But your body adapts quickly to your training regimen to reduce the effort required, which means you will be doing less work (and burning fewer calories) for the same workout over time.

Doing the same thing over and over again will also lead to boredom and a performance plateau at some point. Switch up your sessions by incorporating speed intervals, uphills or trying a different terrain to keep your muscles guessing.

COMPLEMENT RUNNING WITH OTHER WORKOUTS

Any effective weight loss exercise plan will include both cardio and strength training. You cannot rely on one form of training without the other.

Generally speaking, cardio exercises such as running and swimming are great for burning calories, while strength or resistance training help build muscle mass for a more toned physique.

Having more muscles will help you burn more calories at rest.

This article was first published in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)

WELLNESS & BEAUTY