The benefits of running cannot be overstated. Running changes lives. Period. It’s no secret that running is a great way to lose weight. But there’s so much more to it than just improving your looks or making your butt look good.
Having a regular running routine comes with essential health benefits. Not only will you feel good when you start running, but running can help improve your cardiovascular health, put on healthy muscle mass, regulate your body temperature, and maximize your body composition, just to name a few.
A lot of people are interested in implementing a running program into their lives because they want to change their body weight for the better. There is certainly nothing wrong with that being the driving force behind your decision to start running.
Even better, in fact, is that you stand to benefit from more than just healthy weight loss. As you will soon discover, running can exponentially improve your quality of life. Let’s begin with the external benefits of running and work our way inward.
How Does Running Change Your Body Shape?
When it comes to weight loss, the premise is actually quite simple. You need to burn calories, which of course, running promotes. In fact, running burns almost double the calories as that of walking. In short, if you develop and stick to a running program, you are going to lose weight. It’s that simple.
Now, there is a potential downside to this. Running is also going to make you hungry. There are no two ways about it. As you can imagine, this can pose a challenge if you’re trying to lose weight. As such, you will need to implement a sound diet plan in conjunction with your running routine.
There are many factors that can attribute to weight gain and make it hard if you’re trying to get in shape. Not only could you have your metabolism and age working against you, but medical conditions like hypothyroidism certainly don’t matters, either.
These factors, on top of getting hungry after a good run, can serve as roadblocks if you don’t commit yourself to make changes. So, what can you do? Well, first of all, make it a habit to run. You need to get your body used to running and how it feels.
You’re going to have a much harder time adjusting your current diet if you aren’t first used to running. Like any habit – good or bad – you’ll need to give yourself between two and three weeks. After that, running will either be a habit or be well on its way to becoming one.
At that juncture, you can actively begin work on your diet. Chances are that your diet is going to need a complete overhaul. There are eight things that every runner should have in their diet, so if you’re not already getting them, it’s time to get radical about what you consume.
In doing so, you can expect to see noticeable, healthy changes in your body’s shape.
Best Foods for Running and Losing Weight
First of all, you need potassium in your diet, as it will help you run harder and longer. The first thing that comes to most peoples’ minds is bananas. True, bananas contain potassium, but nowhere near the amount found in avocados.
Just a single cup of sliced avocado has twice the amount of potassium found in one banana. By adding this to your diet, your body will have more electrolytes – fuel that your body loses as you sweat. A good way to ensure that you have the proper balance of fuel in your body is to consume avocados after you finish up with a run.
The advantages of avocados don’t end there. They are full of poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Why are these important? They help tremendously in the healthy loss of weight.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is another must-have that you should add to your list. And not the low-fat or non-fat kind, either. You want true Greek yogurt with its natural fat levels. This fat is essential to healthy recovery after running.
You see, every time that you run, your muscle fibers get damaged ever so slightly. Over time, this accumulates and causes unnecessary wear and tear that can easily be countered by getting the right fats in your diet – namely, protein and whole carbs – both of which are found in Greek yogurt.
Protein is needed to rebuild your muscles and increase their synthesis. It also plays a big role in improving your metabolic rate. As such, it’s a good idea to invest in Greek yogurt and consume some after a run.
For an added bonus, eating Greek yogurt before bedtime will ensure that your muscles have the necessary nutrients to build them up throughout the night.
Looking to get even more protein in your diet? Nuts are a mostly inexpensive food that will provide plenty of protein, among other beneficial things. Aside from protein, nuts provide unsaturated fat and fiber.
Nuts are also linked to lowering inflammation, assisting with healthy weight loss, and promoting longer life. What’s more, nuts are an ideal food choice for runners due to their convenience. You can eat them while you’re out for a run, maintaining your body’s fuel in the process.
As great as this handy food is, it’s important to keep in mind that nuts are high in calories. Therefore, you should limit yourself to about a handful a day. It really doesn’t matter what kind, either. There are some nuts, such as macadamias, that are pretty steep in price.
If you’re on a budget or just don’t care how you get the benefits of nuts, avoid the exotic kinds and stick with what you can afford.
As a runner, you know you need plenty of energy to adequately and safely complete your exercise regimen. There is perhaps no better food for fueling your body than that of eggs. Packed with natural energy and dirt-cheap, eggs deliver the most bioavailable protein on the planet.
What does that mean for you? In short, your body absorbs and converts eggs into fuel better than any other food on the market. Furthermore, you will be getting the protein needed to lose weight healthily. It’s a win-win however you slice it.
Studies have revealed that most Americans get the protein their bodies need at dinnertime. This practice ultimately does very little for weight loss, since it leaves little time to take advantage of the advantages of protein.
By adding eggs as a regular part of your breakfast, you can look forward to fulfilling energy throughout the day. Get a good breakfast in you, head out for a run, and enjoy the effects that eggs provide.
Moreover, eggs are full of B vitamins and antioxidants that serve to improve energy levels and fight free radicals, respectively.
5. Lean Beef
Did you know that some 10 million Americans don’t have enough iron in their diets? Iron is needed to help ensure that your muscles are getting the necessary oxygen for healthy building. Lean beef is an excellent way to get iron that will help keep your muscles and body in tip-top shape. When you shop for beef, just make sure that it’s at least 90% lean.
6. Frozen Berries
When you run, your body naturally uses oxygen to break down the food you’ve consumed, turning it into energy. Known as oxidative damage, this process can be tough on your body without the proper nutritional balance.
This is where frozen berries come in. They are rich in antioxidants that help combat the stress that your body undergoes during the oxidative damage process. And if you have other exercise programs in your life besides running, you’re going to need these antioxidants even more so.
While it’s true that berries contain antioxidants regardless of whether they are frozen, it’s the frozen state that ensures the berries have the most antioxidants. And you can be sure to get the most benefit from them if you consume frozen berries immediately after a run. This is when your body can most effectively absorb the goodness that’s packed inside.
7. Whole Grains
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight by running is eliminating carbs from their diets. It makes sense on paper, but in application, you need carbs in your diet. This is especially true if you’re a runner.
Why? Because once you digest carbs, they get stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen. In turn, glycogen becomes your main source of fuel during workouts and running. Now, you might be thinking that you’ll have to eat pasta and bread for whole grains and risk gaining weight.
In truth, you can avoid both and still get whole grains. Foods like oats, quinoa, amaranth, and bulgur will give you the fuel you need for recovery and running. What’s more, these foods will also provide you with enough fiber to help combat cravings and overeating.
Lastly, water is quite possibly the single most important thing you can consume if you’re trying to lose weight through running. Did you know that the slightest decrease in your body’s hydration can negatively affect your performance?
This may not sound like too much worry about, but think about this: A decrease in performance means your body won’t be able to burn calories as effectively, nor will it build muscle as well.
The best way to determine whether you need to increase water in your diet is to measure how much weight you lose in sweat after a run. If you’re losing over 1% of your weight, it’s time to add more water to the equation.
So, how can you find out how much weight in sweat you’re losing from running? Simply weigh yourself naked before and after your run. If you weighed 140 pounds before a run and weigh 138 after, that’s more than 1% and a sign that you need more water.
As such, make sure to start drinking before, during, and after runs. Your body will appreciate it and you’ll feel the effects right away.
How Does Running Change a Woman’s Body?
Now that you know what foods are essential to a runner’s diet and how consuming them can help change your body’s shape, let’s take a closer look at women, specifically. There are several things that a woman can expect to experience with regular running.
Maybe there are things you’re hoping that running changes for you. As we have already discussed, the benefits of running include healthy weight loss. Both men and women can expect to experience fat loss when they stick to a running routine.
Women, however, undergo weight loss in different areas. How running changes your body largely depends on your gender.
Buns of Steel
First of all, the female human body will benefit from an incredibly toned butt. A lot of people think that a toned butt comes from pumping iron at the gym, but that’s simply not the case. At least, not exclusively.
True, lifting weights is an effective way to get your butt and body in fabulous shape, but it’s not a necessity. But if you would rather tone that booty without the heavy lifting, running will assuredly do the trick.
Arms of Adonis
One of the downsides to skipping the gym and solely sticking to running is that the muscle mass in your arms will decrease. This is great for some people, but if you’re wanting sculpted arms, we recommend that you incorporate some type of weight training or yoga exercises into your running program.
In doing so, you can look forward to having slim but solid arms. If you’re not worried about looking like an Adonis, simply stick to running and enjoy your sleek bod.
Losing weight is unquestionably full of advantages that help promote a long and healthy life. However, one of its downsides is that your boobs are bound to get smaller. This true for both men and women, as the chest is one of the first areas to lose mass.
Be that as it may, you shouldn’t worry about losing your sex appeal. Your cleavage can still look attractive, regardless of how much weight you lose. The key is to wear a sports bra when you run. Even if your boobs are already on the smaller side, a sports bra will help them retain their shape.
Not only will a sports bra keep you toned, but it will prevent painful stretching in your breasts, as well. This is because your Cooper’s ligaments are supported as you run, thus ensuring comfort and safety.
It goes without saying, but you can count on your calf muscles getting sleek and toned when you take up running. If you’re into wearing skinny jeans, though, prepare to make some major adjustments to your wardrobe.
Many women come to find that they can no longer wear skinny jeans after running or weight training. As such, you should hold the expectation that you won’t be able to wear the same clothes as before.
For many women, this is a Godsend. However, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of overhauling their wardrobe. Still, it’s a good problem to have, and you can always start rocking yoga pants instead if you’re into that sort of thing. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to show off your killer calves.
Another one of the most noticeable ways how running changes your body is your thighs. Running can help shed unwanted fat around your thigh muscles, leaving you looking fit and toned. If you want to speed up the process, try to increase your running to longer distances per week.
This will increase the burn you feel in your leg muscles, thereby promoting better muscle definition in less time.
Can You Get a Toned Body by Running?
Without a doubt. As a runner, your body muscles are going to become more pronounced while unwanted body fat burns away. The energy expenditure that running promotes ensures that your body gets the exercise it needs to become defined.
And the more you run, the more defined your body will be. Running strengthens parts of you that you never even knew you had. Just like weight training, you’re going to build muscles that don’t typically get the exercise they need.
Even better, if you struggle with belly fat, you can count on running to shed those unwanted pounds and help you build abs of iron. Belly fat is a common struggle for many people, so don’t feel like you’re alone here.
What isn’t common, however, is a healthy exercise regimen. You can break out of the norm and effectively do something good for your body by taking up running. Initially, you’re likely to hate it. Fortunately, a person who sticks with running usually comes to fall in love with it.
And in going so, benefits from all of the good things that come with it. If you’re tired of the way you look and feel, running can and will change your life for the better. On that note, let’s take a moment to explore some of the benefits that you’ll get from running. We’ve already talked about many of the external benefits. Now it’s time to look deeper.
A Closer Look at a Runner
One of the first things you’re likely to notice as a new runner is that you can now sleep like a baby. If you currently suffer from insomnia and tossing and turning at night, running could very well hold the key to sound sleep.
The best way to benefit from this is to get your run in early in the day. Not only will you sleep like a rock, but you will also wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Please keep in mind, though, that you want to avoid running in the evening. Studies show that exercising before bed actually makes it harder to fall asleep. Without getting too sciencey, your body has its own internal temperature that it maintains throughout the day.
Usually, sometime in the afternoon, your internal body temperature begins to lower as it prepares for sleep at night. When you start any kind of exercise in the afternoon and beyond, you’re causing your body’s natural temperature adjustment to get out of whack.
This leads to a higher internal temperature come bedtime. As a result, you are likely to toss and turn and find it very difficult to get some shut-eye. There’s a time and place for running, and that’s before your body begins its natural temperature drop.
Even if you forgot to get in your morning run, don’t think that making up for it in the evening will make up for it. Instead, it will only serve to keep you up at night. If you forget to run during the day, just skip the rest of the day and pick it up the following morning.
Better Quality of Life
You’ve likely heard the term “runner’s high.” This is what a runner experiences after running for so long. You don’t necessarily have to run a half-marathon to experience runner’s high, although long-distance runs certainly help.
Runner’s high is exactly what it sounds like. It is a natural period of euphoria that provides a deep, relaxed state of being after running longer distances. This includes feelings of joy and elation, and best of all, it’s completely natural; no chemicals needed.
As a brief aside, running can serve as an excellent substitute for someone who is trying to kick a chemical dependency. The energy expenditure that the body goes through during running turns into an all-natural high that few people get to experience.
Many runners will even tell you that they start to miss the runner’s high, which helps to keep them coming back for more. It’s a great excuse to stick with your running program and thus stay in peak condition.
Regardless of your reasons for running, it can help you in more ways than one. So if you’re ready to experience all of the benefits that this activity provides, pick up a good pair of running shoes and get busy enjoying the runner’s life.
No More Overthinking
Does your mind never seem to stop thinking about life? You’re not alone. Without positive exercise and activity, your brain will be the one doing the running. As you can likely attest, this is a trap that can cause mounting fear and anxiety.
If you’re tired of feeling this way and overthinking everything, running is just the solution you need to combat your restless mind. It’s no wonder, then, that most runners enjoy a positive outlook on life.
You’re almost certain to start looking at life through a new lens, not caring about the trivial matters that used to haunt and confound you. On average, runners enjoy more energy, better muscle tone, feeling healthier overall, and less pain. And this brings us to the next benefit.
Feeling Better Physically
When you don’t get enough physical activity, your body starts to let you know in various ways. Your legs may hurt, you may suffer from knee pain, or you may have a poor heart rate, just to name a few.
Running can help improve your health exponentially, resulting in better cardiovascular health, which leads to a longer life. Your muscles are less likely to hurt, as are your knees. With the improved strengthening throughout your body, you aren’t likely to suffer from stiff joints and sore, achy muscles.
Running serves as a major tune-up for your body and is necessary for anyone struggling with daily aches and pains. Plus, with your increased energy levels, you will be able to accomplish more throughout the day.
Furthermore, you can look forward to vastly improved self-esteem. When you have unwanted fat on your body and you hurt all the time, it can make you feel depressed. It’s another reason why runners have a positive outlook on life.
Being physically fit leads to natural joy and happiness, so it stands to reason that you should take up running if you’re struggling with self-esteem issues or depression. If you’ve read this far, it’s safe to assume that you’re seriously considering taking up running.
All it takes is a little bit of your time. It’s likely to be hard at first, but so is everything else. With practice and a commitment to stick with it, you are likely to fall in love with running, making it a regular part of your life going forward.
To give you a better idea of what you can expect from running when you first start, let’s explore what happens to your body composition after the first 30 minutes. By knowing what to expect from running, it will be easier to adjust to.
What Happens to Your Body After 30 Minutes of Running?
At first, you’re going to be out of breath. Your heart rate is going to go way up because you’re not used to running. This is normal. What’s happening is, your lungs are taking in oxygen and your heart uses that oxygen to supply energy to your muscles.
In the beginning, yes, you’re probably going to feel pretty rough. Your stomach is likely to hurt, too. This is because it’s in the process of breaking down the energy in your body. the pain you’re feeling is the result of gas being released by your muscle cells.
At the juncture, your muscles are going to start using something called “Adenosine Triphosphate” for energy. Adenosine Triphosphate is simply an organic compound that works to provide energy to your cells.
Remember earlier when we talked about glycogen and whole grains? Well, Adenosine Triphosphate is stored in glycogen, which is in your muscles and bloodstream. You really only store tiny amounts of glycogen at any given time, but running makes sure that your body produces more, thus improving your overall health.
However, you need to make sure that you’re getting plenty of oxygen, too. Without it, your body can’t create Adenosine Triphosphate and therefore can’t provide you with the energy it needs to keep you going.
This is why when you run, you start breathing faster and harder. Your body is trying to get more oxygen to create Adenosine Triphosphate. What’s more, as you breathe harder, your body knows to divert blood from any areas that don’t readily need it.
As all of this is going on, you are burning calories in your body, which is needed to lose weight healthily. Lactic acid also starts building up in your muscles while your core body temperature increases.
Seasoned runners can go through the above process without issue. But if you’re new to running, your lactic acid building up is going to cause you some discomfort and pain. That’s why it is so important to start out slow. Don’t try to run a half-marathon on your first day.
It’s the same principle with endurance training. You have to build yourself up to it. That means getting your heart, legs, lungs, and the rest of your body in shape. When you’re ready, then you can tackle that half-marathon; but not before.
The Final Lap
As you can see, running just makes sense. There are far too many benefits to running. We’re talking about life-changing benefits that can lead to a longer and healthier life. The key is to take it slowly and stick with it.
Each day, running will become more natural. As long as you know what to expect, you will have an easier time getting used to it. Runners don’t just start out running 20 minutes a day.
It takes time and dedication to get to where you are running comfortably for several minutes at a time. But in doing so, you can expect to lose weight and feel great while you do it.