How Many Calories Does Running Burn?

Calculating Your Goals to Effectively Lose Weight

Man and woman running together
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People will frequently embrace running as means to lose weight, and for good reason. According to a report from the American Council on Exercise, running burns more calories than weight training, swimming, cycling, or even downhill skiing.

With that being said, most people have no idea how far they need to run to meet their weight loss goal. And, in truth, there is no fixed answer.

Rules of Weight Loss and Running

The amount of calories you burn during a run depends on numerous factors, the most important being your weight and level of exertion. As a rule:

  • The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn. A 140-pound person running at a 10-minute mile (roughly six miles per hour) will burn 318 calories in 30 minutes. Running at the same pace for the same amount of time, a 180-pound person will burn 408 calories.
  • The faster you run, the more calories you will burn. A 160-pound person running at a 12-minute pace (five miles per hour) for 30 minutes would burn 290 calories. The same person running at a 10-minute-per-mile pace (six miles per hour) would burn 363 calories in the span of time.

Estimating Calories Burned

To get a rough estimate of how many calories you're burning at your current weight and speed level, use a total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator readily available online. There are also apps available that can track your calories as you run or devices like Fitbit that can monitor your calories.

Keep in mind, however, that this is just a rough estimate of your caloric expenditure. Treadmill calorie calculators, in particular, tend to overestimate the number of calories burned during a run.

Don't make the mistake of overindulging when you may, in fact, may be burning fewer calories than you think. Even more importantly, don't let the presumed calories burned direct your eating plan.

The two most important features of any successful weight loss plan are consistency and accuracy. If you meet your daily or weekly running goal, don't reward yourself with a croissant or order of fries. Instead, maintain your diet and gift yourself with a manicure, massage, or spa visit.

Establishing a Weight Loss Goal

If you are trying to lose weight by running, keep in mind that one pound equals 3,500 calories. If you intend to lose a pound per week (a reasonable goal), you would need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit by either cutting 3,500 calories from your diet or burning 3,500 calories with exercise each week.

The best weight loss plans tend to include both. By doing so, you'll be less likely to feel deprived and less likely to give up on a training plan that may require you to run 30 to 40 miles per week.

A safe and healthy weight loss rate is between a half pound to two pounds per week. If you lose faster than that, you will likely be losing muscle as well as fat.

How to Lose Weight Running

To reach a weight loss goal of a pound lost per week, you would need to create a 500-calorie deficit per day (500 calories x seven days = 3,500 calories).

Start by figuring out how many calories you need per day to maintain your current weight. You can do this by spending the week journaling everything you eat. You can then use an online calorie calculator to work out the exact figure. The more accurate you are at the beginning, the more successful your weight loss plan will likely be.

If you don't want to cut calories with diet, a TDEE calculator can help you figure out how much you would need to run each day to burn 500 calories.

By way of example, to create a 500-calorie deficit by running, a 150-pound person would have to run at a 10-minute-per-mile pace for 45 minutes. That translates to a running target of around 4.5 miles per day or 30.5 miles per week.

A Word From Verywell

While a running strategy like this offers a solid template for weight loss, it is not a fixed solution. Over time, most runners will reach a weight loss plateau where the pounds are no longer being shed despite consistent effort.

This is when you would need to take your running to the next level by adding speedwork, doing hill workouts, or running longer distances to increase your calorie burn.

Don't let the plateau discourage you. What it is telling you is that you are now stronger and better able to withstand greater intensity and longer runs. With just a little extra effort, you'll be back to shedding pounds and building lean muscle mass. It's a win-win all around.

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