The first step to any successful, long-term weight loss plan is to increase one’s energy expenditure through exercise.
No secret foods, fad diets, or fasting plans will help you achieve the lean body you want, but a little perspiration will go a long way in helping you trim down and shed weight. Fortunately for you, running can be a great way to accomplish this goal while enjoying your chosen activity to the fullest!
If you are reading this, you have already made the important first steps towards your goals to get faster, extend endurance, and/or lose weight. Let’s now look at five ways that you can boost your metabolism through training and accelerate your path to the weight loss goals you want to achieve. Check out our “Run Lean, Run Strong” project.
1) Run in the Morning
Running and other forms of strenuous exercise accelerate metabolism for several hours after you finish your last mile. Therefore, in order to achieve the greatest metabolic benefits of training, try to exercise at least 3-4 times per week in the morning. This will turn on the furnace for several hours after your session is complete so you can burn more calories while at work or otherwise going about your day.
Note- Don’t skip breakfast after a morning training session! You can further raise your metabolism after training by eating a good meal that contains complete proteins and carbohydrate within 30-60min of your run. Look for examples of metabolism boosting foods in our MetaRev meal plan section.
2) Train Again…
Running twice a day is not only for elite athletes who training full time. You can further boost your metabolism and burn calories by running again in the evening to round-out your day.
The goal here is nothing strenuous, but to simply raise your heart rate a bit and increase muscular vascularity before retiring for the night. You might take a fifteen minute jog after work, go to the gym for some strength training (see below), or even take the kids for a walk in the park.
Any activity is good activity when trying to lose weight, so divide your day into two blocks of training for maximum weight loss and fitness.
3) Boost Beneficial Hormones
One of the goals for runners training at any level is to increase beneficial hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone while reducing negative hormone production. These positive products of our endocrine system can help increase lean muscle tissue, raise metabolic needs, and burn more calories at rest.
The best way to increase these hormonal good guys is to run hard 2-3 times a week, even for short amounts of time. Completing 5-10 short hill sprints or a few 1-3min fast pick-ups at the end of your runs is a great way to boost metabolism and increase fitness. For more details, see the MetaRev training section.
4) Reduce Negative Hormones
Conversely from the above, another goal when training for weight loss is to reduce negative hormone production through training. Long runs over an hour, too little sleep, too little food, etc. can all raise cortisol and CPK production in the body. These two hormonal enzymes are stress-related, and can cause the body to slow its metabolism and increase fat cell production to compensate for the stress.
If you are running over an hour on a regular basis, be sure to use a sports drink or gel to keep energy levels high and reduce cortisol production. After extended training sessions, be sure to eat within 30-60min of exercise to regulate hormones and begin the recovery process.
Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night when training to lose weight, and eat moderate sized meals and snacks every 3-4 hours to keep the metabolism high and fight cortisol production in the body.
5) Strength Train
Strength training is often overlooked by runners due to time constraints or fear of “bulking-up” with too much muscle. However, strength training has multiple benefits for runners, especially for those looking to lose weight.
First, remember the adage “all activity is good activity” when talking about weight loss. Strength training, cross training, etc. will all burn extra calories and are therefore good things to include in your weekly repertoire of training.
Next, strength training and formal flexibility work can prevent running injuries. If you can’t run due to injury, your weight loss goals may be curtailed. Therefore, staying healthy and consistent with your run training is priority one. Hitting the gym or completing home exercises 2-4 days per week can help keep you on the road towards your fitness goals.
Finally, the right strength training will boost metabolism and help you transfer the weight you lose through diet and exercise into lean muscle tissue instead of loose skin.
The target areas below will have the greatest impact on your fitness goals, metabolism, and running performance. Before lifting weights, always consult with your doctor first and consider having a professional show the proper technique when lifting heavy.
- Gluteals and Quadriceps (your butt and big thigh muscles)- Complete body-weight squats and eventually weighted squats to fire-up your glutes and quads; go for sets of 3-5 repetitions with heavier weight for maximum benefit
- Core Muscles (abdominals, obliques, and back)- This region is responsible for postural support when running, and is large enough to have a great impact on your metabolism (working big muscle groups = big calorie burn)
- Chest and Shoulders– Also bigger muscle groups, working this region of the body will help improve upper-body stability when running and fire up the metabolis furnace; good options included push-ups, pull-ups, and sets of 3-5 repetitions on the bench press, lat pull-down machine, and overhead press.
Use these five training steps in addition to the five dietary steps to rev your metabolism, stay healthy, and run toward your weight loss goals this year!