Now Walk It Out
Before I jump into this, I’m by no means saying do not run or that running is bad! Running is good in moderation. Kind of like chocolate, avocado, coconut oil, kale - you see my point. If you’ve been following me for a while now, when it comes to healthy weight loss, it comes down to what’s on your plate!
As a society, we’re told in order to lose weight we must burn more calories and eat less. Running burns a lot of calories and is accessible to many as it does not require a gym membership. This theory is flawed because it does not mention how this impacts our hormones. Weight loss is a hormonal concern, not a caloric one. Those who follow this idea often lose weight at first, but eventually their BMR (basal metabolic rate) slows down and the body perceives its in a starvation phase and clings to fat.
We’re all different and our bodies manifest issues in different ways. I’m here to talk about running and walking, and our hormones. For some, logging long runs or running every single day may result in additional weight gain around the waistline (visceral fat). For others, it might manifest itself into something such as: loss of period, acne, fatigue, hypothyroidism.
Today’s post is breaking down why I recommend clients opt for walking over running for weight loss. Side note: if they love to run, I don’t discourage them, we simply work together to find balance.
Running burns way more calories than walking - you bet your bottom dollar it does. We know that physical activity increases energy expenditure, and improves metabolic efficiency, body composition, and appetite control, which are all good things. The type of activity and duration is critical.
A 2006 study of 13,000 habitual runners found that those who ran the most tended to gain the least, but all runners tended to get fatter with each passing year.
What happens when you run? The first 2 mins of the run your body uses a quick, but ineffective source of energy via anaerobic metabolism before switching over to aerobic metabolism.
Most of you may know the body will tap into your muscles for energy (glycogen stores aka carbohydrates). Your body needs help to stimulate the release of those stored carbs, so it calls on some hormones with the star being cortisol, a glucocorticoid, gluco: meaning glucose (sugar); and corticoid: meaning a steroid made from cholesterol.
When we run long distance or are running everyday, this results in chronically high levels of cortisol in the blood.
Cortisol: What the actual F is that?
Cortisol is produced as a result of essentially every type of workout and is an essential part of exercise (it provides energy).
Cortisol stimulates glycogen breakdown in the liver, liberating glucose and increasing blood sugar levels, which provide the body with energy!
A key role of cortisol is to raise blood sugar – to provide quick energy for necessary activities.
It’s when it becomes chronic it becomes problematic. High levels of cortisol causes your body to deposit and store fat around the abdomen - even if you are exercising more and eating less.
Cortisol is required for optimal health and when released in appropriate amounts its anti-inflammatory, it supports our immune system and blood pressure management, which are all beneficial to the body.
Long term effects of chronic cortisol activation: The effects of insulin are counteracted, increasing insulin resistance. Insulin is a fat storage hormone. Insulin resistance = weight gain Metabolic factors affecting adipogenesis (aka white fat) includes glucocorticoids! Long-term it leads to insulin resistance.
It also negatively impacts the thyroid ,our master regulatory gland, responsible for metabolic function or of calorie burning..Intense exercise can temporarily raise blood sugar, so if you have poor blood sugar control to begin with, this will command the issue.
Walking balances cortisol! In fact, studies show that those who walk have a lower BMI and waist circumference than those who don't.
Research also highlights the power of walking and its ability to balance your hormones, increase energy levels, protect your thyroid, and reduce PMS symptoms, to name a few.
Aim for a brisk walk first thing in the morning. I’d aim to walk anywhere between 30-60 minutes.I like to couple my morning walk with some light strengthen training such as light weights or pilates or yoga. Your muscles are your metabolism and lean muscle improves blood sugar regulation meaning your body requires less insulin.
Do I need to give up running?
No! If you’re on a weight loss journey, and running all the time with little to no change on the scale, even though your diet is on point, slow down. Opt for walking over and running and see how you respond.