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Beginner RunnerRunning For Weight Loss

Running But Not Losing Weight? Here Are The 10 Reasons

16 Mins read

Are you tired of lacing up your running shoes, hitting the pavement with determination, and still not seeing those pounds melt away?

Trust me, you’re not alone. If you’ve been wondering why the numbers on the scale seem stubbornly stuck despite your running efforts, then you’ve stumbled upon the perfect post to unravel this weight loss mystery.

Let’s face it, running is often hailed as the holy grail of weight loss. It’s the go-to activity for countless beginners who are eager to shed those extra pounds and strut their stuff with confidence.

I should know because I embarked on my running journey for the very same reason—to bid farewell to those unwanted pounds once and for all. But here’s the hard truth: running doesn’t always guarantee weight loss.

When I first embarked on my running journey back in 2006, the pounds started melting away. I was ecstatic as I watched the numbers on the scale drop, shedding around 25 glorious pounds within a few months. But then, the weight loss party came to a screeching halt. Despite my unwavering efforts and determination to stay slim, I found myself regaining about 15 pounds within six months. It felt like a cruel cosmic joke.

But here’s the thing—I refused to give up. I knew deep down that consistency was my only option. So I embarked on a journey of trial and error, determined to crack the code and keep those pounds at bay. And you know what? It worked. Today, I stand before you, ready to spill the beans on the main reasons why your weight loss progress may be slower than expected.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 1. You are Gaining Muscle Mass

Imagine your body as a canvas, and running as the brush that creates a masterpiece of physical transformation.

When you first embark on your running journey, your body undergoes a series of remarkable changes in response to this newfound activity. It’s like a symphony of adaptations and physiological shifts that set the stage for a total body makeover.

One of the most exciting transformations is the shift in your body composition. Picture this: as you lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement, your muscles start to awaken from their slumber and begin to grow stronger.

They become lean and sculpted, like the well-defined strokes of an artist’s brush on a canvas. Running has the power to increase muscle mass, particularly in those key running muscles such as the glutes, quads, and calves. It’s like a sculptor chiseling away excess fat and revealing the athletic masterpiece beneath.

But here’s the catch: while your muscles are gaining mass and becoming more defined, your fat cells may not be as quick to bid farewell. They cling on stubbornly, like an unwelcome guest overstaying their welcome. It’s possible that you could be building muscle faster than shedding fat, which might leave you scratching your head and wondering why the numbers on the scale aren’t dropping as quickly as you’d hoped.

Additional resource – Here’s how to lose body fat.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 2 Bad Nutrition

Here’s the truth: just because you lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement regularly doesn’t mean you can indulge in a greasy Big Mac or a decadent slice of chocolate cake without consequences.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not how the real world operates.

Sure, a moderate 45-minute run can torch around 500 calories, but all that hard work can easily be undone if you follow it up with a sugary soda or a tempting donut. It’s like running a race and then taking a detour that leads you right back to the starting line. The calorie deficit you thought you had achieved vanishes in an instant.

In fact, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed a startling truth: people tend to underestimate the calorie content of high-caloric foods nearly 100 percent of the time. It’s like we have an innate blind spot when it comes to recognizing the true caloric value of indulgent treats.

Here’s what you need to do to remedy this quandary.

First and foremost, focus on eating right. While everyone’s eating plan may differ based on factors like genetics, body type, and metabolism, the general rule of thumb is to choose natural, whole foods at least 90 percent of the time. Think of your plate as a vibrant canvas, filled with colorful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains that nourish your body and support your running goals.

Next, aim for three satisfying meals a day that keep you fueled and energized for four to five hours without the nagging need for constant snacking.

When it comes to food choices, say a resounding “no” to sugary temptations, processed foods, and anything with a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients. Remember, the fewer the ingredients on the label, the better.

Portion control is another key aspect of successful eating for weight loss. Grab those measuring cups and spoons and use them to keep your serving sizes in check. It’s a simple yet powerful way to ensure you’re not overdoing it and consuming more calories than you intended.

Timing is everything. Yes, even when you eat plays a role in your weight loss efforts. Consider exploring the concept of meal timing and its impact on your body’s metabolism. It may just give you an extra edge in achieving your goals.

Lastly, keep a close eye on your overall calorie intake. Knowledge is power, and monitoring your calories can provide valuable insights. Utilize a simple online calculator to determine your daily calorie needs and adjust accordingly based on your weight loss objectives.

Additional resource – Clean keto food list for beginners

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 3 You Run too Much

Picture this: you’re a dedicated runner, pounding the pavement, logging in those miles, and pushing yourself to new limits. It’s exhilarating, isn’t it? But here’s a plot twist you may not have anticipated: too much running without enough recovery time can throw a wrench in your weight loss vision. Yep, you read that right.

Overtraining is the villain in this story, lurking in the shadows, ready to wreak havoc on your health and sabotage your weight loss efforts. It’s not just about feeling exhausted and fatigued; overtraining can actually mess with your body’s delicate balance, affecting crucial factors like fluid levels, electrolytes, blood sugar, and stress levels.

And guess what? All of these can put a strain on your thyroid and slow down your metabolic rate, dealing a blow to your weight loss aspirations. Talk about a setback you didn’t see coming!

In simple terms, excessive stress, whether it’s from overtraining or other aspects of your life, can be a major roadblock on your weight loss journey, no matter how diligently you champion a healthy lifestyle

Here’s the fix you’ve been waiting for:

Recovery must become your number one priority. Give your body the TLC it deserves and watch as the benefits ripple through every aspect of your well-being. Here’s what you can do to promote effective recovery:

First and foremost, eat for recovery. Focus on post-run nutrition, fueling your body with natural, nutritious foods that replenish your energy stores and support the healing process. Think of it as giving your body the nourishment it needs to bounce back stronger than ever.

Next up, sleep like a champion. Aim for a solid 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted slumber each night. Sleep is when your body works its magic, repairing and rejuvenating itself. Don’t skimp on this essential recovery tool.

To truly prioritize recovery, integrate it into your training program. Schedule dedicated recovery runs, workouts, days, and even weeks. These intentional breaks give your body a chance to recover and adapt, setting the stage for better performance and weight loss progress in the long run.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 4 You’re Not Running Hard (or Long) Enough

You start off on your running journey, taking a few short runs around the block, and you’re thrilled to see a few pounds melt away.

It’s like a magic trick, right?

But then, after a couple of months, you hit a roadblock. Suddenly, the progress comes to a screeching halt. What’s going on? It’s as if your body has decided to play a cruel joke on you.

The truth is quite simple. Our bodies are incredibly smart machines, designed to be efficient and adapt to the demands we place upon them.

So, if you keep running the same route at the same pace, over and over again, your body catches on and says, “I’ve got this.” It adjusts to the workload, and the weight loss party comes to a disappointing end. It’s like hitting a weight loss plateau—a frustrating predicament that can make you want to throw your running shoes out the window.

But don’t despair just yet! The researchers at the University of Tampa have shed some light on this phenomenon.

They found that while running on the treadmill for 45 minutes at a steady pace does promote weight loss, it’s most effective during the initial weeks. After that, the magic starts to fade, leaving you stuck in a fitness limbo.

Here’s what you need to do

First and foremost, be consistent. If you’re serious about shedding those pounds, aim to schedule at least three runs per week, totaling a minimum of 240 minutes of exercise. Consistency is key, my friend.

Now, here comes the secret ingredient: diversify your training. It’s time to kick boredom to the curb and introduce some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine. This could mean incorporating sprints, hill repetitions, or other HIIT workouts that will leave you breathless and your muscles begging for mercy. By mixing up the intensity and duration of your runs, you’ll break through that weight loss plateau and reach your running goals in no time.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t limit yourself to running alone. Embrace the world of cross-training. Whether it’s spinning, yoga, weight training, or swimming, cross-training sessions will not only keep you consistent but also accelerate your fitness gains. It’s like adding some secret ingredients to your weight loss recipe.

Additional link – Slow running vs fast running for weight loss

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 5 The Scale is Just One Piece of a Much Bigger Puzzle

The scale—a sly trickster, if you ask me. It has a knack for playing mind games and can easily throw you off track when it comes to measuring your weight loss progress. Trust me, it’s not always the most reliable buddy in your weight loss journey.

Here’s the thing: our body weight is like a mischievous rascal, fluctuating by a few pounds from one day to the next. Blame it on the hormonal dance, the foods we consume, or even our hydration levels. These factors can create a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs on the scale.

Let me share a little secret with you: the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s like trying to understand an intricate painting by focusing on a single brushstroke. Weight loss encompasses so much more than what those digits reveal.

But fear not! I have the perfect fix to liberate you from the scale’s mind games. Are you ready?

It’s time to broaden your horizons and embrace a variety of measurements to track your progress. The scale is just one piece of the puzzle, my friend. Consider incorporating other methods to paint a clearer picture of your weight loss journey.

For starters, how about taking some measurements? Grab a measuring tape and track the changes in your waistline, hips, and other areas of interest. These measurements can be a fantastic indicator of your progress, even when the scale refuses to budge.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the power of visual evidence. Take some “before” photos and snap new ones every few weeks. Compare them side by side, and you’ll be amazed at the transformation your body is undergoing. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words—much more than a number on the scale.

And here’s a little tip that athletes swear by: keep an eye on your clothing. As your body transforms, your clothes will start fitting differently. That snug pair of jeans will suddenly become looser, and those shirts will drape over your figure in a whole new way. Pay attention to these subtle changes—they’re a testament to your progress.

Now, here’s a refreshing thought: instead of solely relying on the scale, shift your focus to how you feel. Are you gaining strength? Are your energy levels soaring? Can you tackle physical activities with newfound vigor? These non-scale victories are priceless and a true reflection of your overall well-being.

Try some of these ways to measure your progress:

  • Measure your body fat percentage once per month.
  • Measure your waist circumference.
  • Keep tabs on how well your clothes fit. Try on the same pair shirts or jeans every four to six weeks, and look for the subtle differences.
  • Take before and after pictures on a monthly basis.
  • Keep tabs on your emotional states and energy levels. Are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy? Are you feeling less stressed? Do you feel more alive? Etc.
  • Keep tabs on your athletic performance. Is your athletic performance improving? How much you can you run? How long can you run? How fast can you run? Take these fitness tests on every six to eight weeks to see how your fitness level stacks up to the average Joe.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 6 Unrealistic Weight Loss Expectations

Alright, let’s have a heart-to-heart about weight loss. Brace yourself because I’m about to drop some truth bombs. Are you ready?

Here’s the thing: weight loss is not a magical overnight transformation. I know it’s disappointing to hear, but it’s the reality. Contrary to popular belief, shedding those extra pounds takes time—more time than we’d like it to.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all heard those tales of people who seemingly dropped weight like it was nothing. But here’s the catch: those stories of rapid weight loss rarely tell the whole story. In fact, research shows that losing a substantial amount of weight quickly is not the healthiest approach, nor is it sustainable in the long run. So, let’s put those unrealistic expectations aside.

If you’re feeling frustrated with the scale, it might simply be a matter of not giving it enough time. Patience is key, my friend. Weight loss is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s about embracing a slow and steady journey rather than chasing quick fixes.

Now, I can already hear you saying, “Easier said than done!” And you’re absolutely right. But fear not, because I have an action plan to help you navigate this weight loss marathon.

First things first, let’s set realistic goals. Aim for no more than one pound of weight loss per week. Yes, you heard me right. Slow and steady wins the race. This means creating a daily calorie deficit of 300 to 500 calories. It’s all about finding a sustainable approach that works for you in the long term.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 7 You Are Under Too Much Stress

Plenty of research has revealed that stress and weight gain go hand in hand.

Not convinced? Check the following studies:

Research 1

Research 2

Research 3

Research 4

Research 5

Chronic stress can contribute to a host of health issues, including:

  • Elevated cortisol. Not only does this mess up your hunger hormone, but also cause extra belly fat storage.
  • Research shows that we’re more likely to reach for ‘comfort foods’ that are rich in sugar and fat when we’re stressed.
  • Skipping Runs. When you feel like the world of the world is on your shoulders, it’s easy to put your run on the backburner in favor of a delicious waffle or a beer.

The Solution

Let’s take a moment to talk about the importance of checking in with yourself and managing your stress levels. Trust me, it’s worth it. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. I’ve got some fascinating research to back it up.

According to a study published in the journal Eating Behaviors, regular meditation can actually help tame those pesky binge eating tendencies and reduce emotional eating. So, taking a few minutes out of your day to consciously center yourself and lower your stress levels could be a game-changer on your weight loss journey.

Now, let’s dive into another reason why you might be running but not seeing those pounds melt away. Are you sleep-deprived? Hear me out on this one. I know that squeezing in your morning runs means sacrificing precious sleep time, but here’s the thing: getting enough shut-eye is crucial if you want to shed those extra pounds.

Multiple research studies have highlighted the link between poor sleep and obesity. It turns out that sleep deprivation is a common risk factor for weight gain. So, if you’re not clocking in enough hours between the sheets, it could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Think of it like this: sleep is the secret sauce that helps your body function at its best. It’s the time when your body restores itself, balances hormones, and regulates metabolism. When you skimp on sleep, you’re throwing off this delicate equilibrium and potentially derailing your weight loss progress.

Here are a few:

Study 1

A study out of the University of Chicago found that sleep-deprived subjects opted for foods with twice as many carbs and fats as those who had enough sleep.

Study 2

One Mayo Clinic research found that sleep deprived subjects consume an average of 500 extra calories a day.

Study 3

Research out of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep deprivation can increase the chances of late-night snacking and unhealthy food decisions.

Study 4

Research proposes that lack of sleep may lower your resting metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body burns calories when at rest.

In other words, by skipping on sleep, your body is cooking up a perfect recipe for weight gain.

The reasons sleep affects your weight are manifold. These include :

  • Sleep deprivation can boost both insulin and leptin levels, resulting in the body becoming desensitized to their response.
  • You’re more likely to get takeout for dinner then hit the bed late because you feel uncomfortably full.
  • When tired following a bad night, you may choose to skip your workout or simply do less, burning fewer calories.
  • Being tired and moody the next day sets your brain up to make bad food decision, research shows.

The Solution

Ah, the elusive and often underestimated power of a good night’s sleep. It’s time to dive into the solution for those sleep-deprived nights and the impact they can have on your weight loss journey. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

To get things rolling, you’ll want to aim for a solid seven to eight hours of quality sleep each and every night. I know, I know, it may require some adjustments to your schedule, but trust me, it’s worth every minute.

Now, let’s talk about improving the quality of your sleep. Here are a few tips to help you catch those Zzz’s like a pro:

First up, let’s talk about napping. A power nap can work wonders, but remember to keep it short and sweet, no more than 30 minutes. It’s like a little recharge for your brain and body.

Next, experiment with different bedtime schedules to find what works best for you. Maybe hitting the hay at 11 pm and waking up at 7 am is your sweet spot. Give it a whirl and see how it feels.

Consistency is key, my friend. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, yes, even on weekends. Your body loves routine, and it’ll reward you with better sleep.

Now, let’s set the stage for a restful night. In the few hours leading up to bedtime, try to reduce distractions and limit your exposure to bright lights. Think of it as creating a tranquil and cozy environment for your slumber.

Oh, and here’s a sneaky culprit to watch out for: stimulants. Avoid caffeine and nicotine at least three hours before bedtime. They can interfere with your ability to drift off into dreamland.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 9 You’re Losing Weight Without Realizing It

Here’s the deal: the scale provides just one piece of the puzzle, your absolute weight. But here’s the thing, that number doesn’t always give you the full picture of what’s really happening in your body.

Stepping on the scale day in and day out only captures the everyday fluctuations in your hydration levels and other trivial weight metrics. It’s like trying to measure the vastness of the ocean with a single drop of water.

But wait, there’s more to the story. Muscle gain can also throw a wrench in the scale’s grand plan. Yes, running might not make you bulk up like a bodybuilder, but it does allow you to build lean muscle mass, especially in those powerful lower body muscles.

So, if you’ve been hitting the pavement consistently and notice those defined running calves and quads, congratulations, you’ve gained some muscle! And here’s the twist: muscle weighs more than fat.

So, it’s no surprise that the scale might not move in the direction you desire or, heaven forbid, it might even show a slight increase. But fear not, my friend, it’s just a sign that your body is getting stronger and more resilient.

Now, let’s get to the solution. First and foremost, step away from the scale obsession. No need to hop on it every single day.

Remember, weight can fluctuate by a few pounds throughout the day due to various factors. Instead, focus on gradual and consistent changes in your weight over a span of three to four weeks. This gives you a more accurate reflection of your progress

To eliminate the influence of external factors, establish a routine. Weigh yourself at the same time of day, on the same day each week. And here’s a pro tip: do it first thing in the morning, before indulging in breakfast or getting dressed. This way, you’re capturing your body’s true state.

But hold on, my friend, there’s a whole world of measurements beyond the scale that can provide valuable insights into your progress. Let’s explore some alternatives:

First, grab a measuring tape and track your waist circumference. It’s a fantastic way to monitor changes in your body shape and inches lost.

Next, consider measuring your body weight percentage. This gives you a glimpse into the proportion of your weight that comes from fat versus other components like muscle and water.

For a deeper understanding of your body composition, you can even get your body analyzed. Various methods, such as DEXA scans or bioelectrical impedance, can provide you with detailed insights.

And last but not least, keep an eye on your body fat percentage. It’s an excellent indicator of your overall progress and can help you see beyond the scale’s deceptive games.

Running But Not Losing Weight Reason – 10  You Have A Medical Condition

Maybe you’re not losing weight, despite running regularly and eating well, is because you have got an underlying health condition.

A host of medical conditions can hinder weight loss or cause weight gain. Among them are:

  • Cushing’s syndrome. Occurs when your adrenal glands release too much cortisol, resulting in the buildup of fat in your abdomen, upper back, and face.
  • Happens when your thyroid is underactive, resulting in a limited production of the thyroid hormone, which is key for burning stored fat.
  • Polycystic over syndrome. Or PCOS, this condition is caused by a hormonal imbalance, affecting more than 5 million women in the US alone.
  • Insulin resistance. Or hyperinsulinemia, this is the umbrella term for host health issues thought to be rooted in insulin resistance.
  • You’re more likely to turn into eating to ease your emotional issues. Some antidepressant medications (SSRIs) can also cause weight gain.

The Solution

Regardless of your exercise, diet, or lifestyle habits, if you’re piling up the pounds and don’t know why, consult with your doctor to rule out a medical issue as the cause.

Although you might feel tempted to give up, don’t. Most of these medical problems can be solved.

Running But Not Losing Weight – The Conclusion

If you’re having trouble losing the pounds while running, you need to get real get back to basics—most of which I shared with you today (as well as this previous post).

It’s not only important to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, but also how much sleep you’re getting, your stress level, your training intensity, and the fact that you might have medical issues that are sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

I know it’s hard to keep track off, but it’s worth the effort.

Just remember to take action, start small, and build these healthy habits gradually.

Then it’s just a question of time.

Losing weight is a messy business, especially when you’re a fat runner.  There are no shortcuts nor silver bullets—and it requires hard and persistent work to see results—the type of result that works for the long term.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.

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