From green-juice cleanses to alkaline diets, there is no shortage of fad weight-loss schemes. But between all the banter, it can be tricky to figure out what works—and what’s a total waste of time. Many assume running and weight loss go hand-in-hand. However, this isn’t always the case. When it comes to lightening your load, runners often make a few key mistakes.
If any of the following blunders feel familiar—rest assured you’re not alone. You’ve got the running part down, now you just have to tie up a few other loose ends and you’ll have a clear path toward dropping unwanted lbs!
Mistake #1- Setting Unrealistic Goals
It’s easy to get overzealous when you start training for a big race. “People often think, Now I’m exercising, so I’m going to lose weight really fast,” says registered dietitian Sharon Richter. “They forget that they could also be put-ting on muscle, so the number on the scale might not be changing, even though their body is.”
Remedy: Richter suggests setting four to eight pounds per month as a realistic goal. “Weigh yourself at the same time and the same day up to two times per week,” she recom-mends. Since a myriad of factors can affect those numbers, avoid getting too preoccupied with singular scale readouts. Instead, watch for progress over the long haul.
Mistake #2: Miscalculating Calorie Burn
“Many runners overestimate how many calories they are burning, as well as how many calories they deserve after workouts,” explains Richter. Since you are often hungry after a run, it can make you feel that you have license to scarf down snacks.
Remedy: By understanding about how many calories you burn, you’ll have a better idea of how to approach post-run replenishment. “Very generally, you burn about 100 calories per mile or every 10 minutes,” she says. “If you’re running 5 miles at a 10-minute pace, that’s going to be about 500 to 600 calories.”
Mistake #3- Going Overboard with Sports Fuel
Sports drinks, chews, gels and bars are important tools in a runner’s training arsenal—but it’s easy to over consume. She explains, “If you burn 600 calories on a run and then have two gels and a bottle of sports drink, you can end up consuming 800 calories without realizing it.”
Remedy: By making calculated decisions about both exercise and diet, you’ll reach your goals, rather than crashing and burning. “When you cut 500 calories a day, you will lose about a pound a week,” says Richter. That means whether you’re cutting 500 calories from your diet or simply burning 500 extra calories through running, you’ll see a steady loss over weeks and months.