Can Running Make You Fat?

By on July 7, 2015

Try a simple google search for ‘running makes you fat’ and you’ll find an abundance of articles warning you of the dangers to your physique from running and other traditional cardio activities. So is it really true, can running too much make you fat? The answer, of course, is it depends!

309 days into a year-long run streak (and having covered just over 1100 miles) and being almost 1 stone lighter, it is my opinion that, if done with careful thought and planning, running does not make you fat. However, I can see how people could easily put on weight when running, just the same as people could get fatter by inappropriately doing any form of exercise, including resistance training!

The human body is an amazing adaptable machine. Place it under physical stress and it will respond by becoming fitter and stronger to make it better able to cope with that stress. So if you take up running, whilst your first few runs may only be a mile and feel like a marathon, using up a large amount of energy, after a few weeks of running that same mile will begin to feel much easier, thereby using less energy.

To continue to benefit from greater energy use to keep your weight in-check, you will need to run further, faster or smarter. This is the principle of adaptation, and is true for all forms of exercise. Many of you will be familiar with the concepts of progressive overload in weight training, the same is also possible for running and other forms of cardio, you just have to be smart about it. This means incorporating a mixture of different types of run including interval, tempo, progressive and long runs which are similar to lifting with a variety of weights for different reps/sets.

The second issue that may cause people to gain weight when exercising is a miscalculation or just mis-understood nutrient and calorie intake in the mistaken belief that because you are exercising hard you can get away with eating more junk and more calories. Unfortunately, when it comes to physique, nutrition is key.

You can lose fat and develop a good physique through appropriate nutrition and minimal exercise, but you cannot out-train a bad diet! For further information and advice, ask the experts at GoNutrition who can help you build a solid nutritional foundation to support your physique goals whatever your preferred exercise modality may be.

Richard Whall

About Richard Whall

Since 1st September 2014 I have been running at least 1 mile every day (regardless of weather, illness, minor injury, holidays, lack of time or general daily stress!) and will continue to do so for an entire year, all in aid of my local children's hospice. To make this even more of a challenge, I aim to cover 1500 miles in the year, during which time I will complete my first ever marathon and, towards the end of my run streak, on Day 363, complete an ultra-marathon in the Lake District! As a devoted husband, father of two young children and full-time teacher I understand the difficulties of modern life, but also appreciate that some have it much more difficult than others. Completing this challenge helps me to remember the struggles many children and their families face on a daily basis, as well as being an opportunity to prove that there is always time to exercise, it is just a matter of planning and priorities!