For many years, moderate intensity steady state cardiovascular activity (MISS), and running in particular, was touted as THE best way to lose weight and get lean. While the benefits to regular MISS activity are many, if you think running more will help you to lose weight or to get healthier, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Here’s why:
RESISTANCE TRAINING AND HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) BURN FAT MORE EFFICIENTLY
Research conducted over the past few years demonstrates that weight training and HIIT burn more fat in less time than MISS does. Both raise your body’s oxygen consumption rates higher and for longer than does MISS. As a result, you burn more fat.
RUNNING TOO MUCH MAY SLOW FAT LOSS
Running may help you relax mentally, but it is stressful on your body. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol, and sustained elevated cortisol levels can result in insulin resistance, which ultimately results in greater fat storage. Additionally, your thyroid gland function may be affected by stress, resulting in a lower metabolic rate. Engaging in excessive amounts of endurance activities can also hinder strength training and reduce muscle growth rates.
RUNNERS SUSTAIN A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF INJURIES AND THUS INACTIVITY
If you run, how often do you sustain an injury that precludes you from doing much of anything? Up to one quarter of runners sustain lower body injuries that prevent them for running for more than seven days per year. Any period of sustained inactivity makes weight loss much more difficult.
EXERCISE CALORIES FROM MISS CONSTITUTE A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF DAILY CALORIC EXPENDITURE
Many people think that if they go for an hour run, they can eat everything in sight afterwards. While your body does burn calories during and after your run, it’s generally in the range of 200 calories on average. Several studies have shown that people on average eat at least twice as many calories as they have expended after MISS, and that many tend to crave sweet, higher fat “reward” foods after MISS than they do after resistance training.
THE ADAPTABLE BODY
Our bodies are remarkable. One of the really cool things they do is constantly get more efficient at doing the same thing. This can have many benefits, but if you are trying to lose weight, you don’t want your body to adapt to the physical activities you are doing because if it becomes more efficient, you burn fewer calories and lose less weight.
SO HOW DO WE LOSE WEIGHT AND GET IN SHAPE IF WE AREN’T DOING MISS?
Weight loss starts in the kitchen and with forming good nutrition habits. Exercise definitely plays a role in promoting weight loss through increased caloric expenditure. Recent studies show that while there is a place for moderate (2-3 times per week) sessions of MISS during weight loss, resistance and HIIT training yield better fat loss results with less stress on the body.
Amy Mariani is the owner of Fit & Fabulous LLC in Winchester, Massachusetts. She is also the nutrition coach at www.mountainstrength.com. Her mission is to help people eat healthy and love life.
Please note that you should consult with your physician prior to embarking on any major changes with regard to your nutrition. Unfortunately, absent authorization from a medical professional, we are unable to provide individualized nutrition coaching to anyone under the age of eighteen, or to persons with certain medical conditions. We are always happy to work with authorized medical professionals under these circumstances.