How long does it take to start losing weight from running?

Running is one of the most effective forms of exercise for losing weight. When you start a running program, you may be wondering how long it will take before you start shedding those extra pounds. The answer depends on several factors, including your current weight, diet, running routine and genetics. With consistency and hard work, most people can expect to see some weight loss from running within a few weeks to a couple months.

What factors influence weight loss from running?

The main way running helps you lose weight is by burning calories. The number of calories you burn depends on:

  • Your weight – Heavier people burn more calories per mile.
  • Running speed – Faster paces burn more calories per minute.
  • Running duration – Longer runs result in more calories burned.
  • Running frequency – Running more days per week creates a bigger calorie deficit.
  • Hills – Running hills burns more calories than running on flat terrain.

In addition to exercise, weight loss relies heavily on your diet. To lose one pound per week, you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. If your runs are burning 300 calories, you need to cut 200 calories from your diet.

How many calories does running burn?

Here are estimates for how many calories a 155-pound person burns running at different paces and durations:

Pace 30 minutes 45 minutes 60 minutes
5 mph (12 min/mile) 240 calories 360 calories 480 calories
6 mph (10 min/mile) 280 calories 420 calories 560 calories
7 mph (8:30 min/mile) 320 calories 480 calories 640 calories
8 mph (7:30 min/mile) 360 calories 540 calories 720 calories
9 mph (6:40 min/mile) 400 calories 600 calories 800 calories

As you can see, running faster and longer results in more calories burned. Someone who weighs more will burn even more calories at each given pace.

How much running is needed to lose weight?

Most experts recommend aiming for 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week to spur significant weight loss. Running for 30-60 minutes 3-5 days per week is a good goal.

Here are general running guidelines for weight loss:

  • Beginners: Run 20-30 minutes 3 days per week
  • Intermediate: Run 45-60 minutes 4 days per week
  • Advanced: Run 60+ minutes 5-6 days per week

Also, consider adding in other forms of exercise like strength training a few days per week. Combining cardio like running with strength training will help maximize fat loss.

How much weight can you lose from running?

It’s possible to safely lose 1-2 pounds per week through running if you are also eating in a calorie deficit. However, weight loss tends to happen more rapidly when you first start running.

It’s common to lose 5+ pounds in the first 1-2 weeks of a running program, but don’t be discouraged if the scale slows down after that. Much of that initial weight loss is water weight, not fat.

Aim for a rate of 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week. For most runners, that equates to approximately:

  • 1 month: 4-8 pounds
  • 2 months: 8-16 pounds
  • 3 months: 12-24 pounds
  • 6 months: 24-48 pounds

These numbers assume you are running consistently, ramping up mileage moderately and maintaining a calorie deficit through diet. Results can vary substantially based on the individual.

Tips to boost weight loss from running

Here are some tips to help maximize fat burning and weight loss from your running routine:

  • Increase running frequency – The more days per week you run, the faster the weight loss.
  • Add intervals – Speed intervals burn extra calories and boost your metabolism.
  • Run longer distances – Endurance running promotes fat burning, especially once past 45-60 mins.
  • Add hills – Hill repeats burn more calories and prevent plateaus.
  • Lift weights – Strength training builds metabolism-boosting muscle.
  • Watch your diet – Monitor calories and eat in a modest deficit for safe, sustained weight loss.

Other health benefits of running

Aside from weight loss, some of the many health benefits of running include:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Increased stamina
  • Better sleep quality
  • Reduced stress and improved mental health
  • Potentially slower aging

Running has also been shown to boost immunity and reduce inflammation throughout the body. It’s one of the most comprehensive exercises for overall health.

Potential downsides of running for weight loss

Running is highly effective for weight loss and health improvement for most people. However, there are some potential downsides to be aware of:

  • Injury risk – Running injuries are common, especially increasing mileage too quickly.
  • Time commitment – Fitting in several runs per week requires dedication.
  • Less muscle growth – Running doesn’t build muscle like strength training does.
  • Hunger cues – Running stirs up appetite, requiring diet discipline.

The injury risk can be mitigated by ramping up running volume gradually, getting proper shoes, running on softer surfaces and allowing rest days between runs. Overall, the weight loss benefits far outweigh the downsides for most people.


Most runners can expect to start seeing weight loss within 1-2 months of starting a running program. Losing 1-2 pounds per week is a reasonable goal. Weight loss is ultimately determined by your running volume and intensity along with maintaining a calorie deficit through diet. Be patient, run consistently, fuel properly and the weight will start coming off!

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