In the fight against fat, running is one of the most powerful weapons. A high-impact activity requiring a high energy output, running burns from 240 to over 700 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your pace and how much you weigh. Combine a regular running routine with a calorie-controlled diet and you can say goodbye to those affectionately named but unsightly bulges at your waistline.
Understand Weight Loss
When most people talk about "weight" loss, they actually mean fat loss. Your love handles are comprised of fat, which is what you need to shed to smooth out your waistline. You burn fat by burning calories -- through fitness activities and during your daily activities of living.
As long as you don't consume more calories than you burn each day, your body stays in a calorie deficit and you lose fat. However, you can't target only your love handles for fat loss. You'll lose total body fat -- from your face, arms and butt, as well as your waistline.
If you haven't been running regularly, plan to spend the first few weeks of your training walking, jogging or doing a run/walk. Because running is an intense activity, jumping right in and doing too much too soon can lead to injury.
Plan to walk the first week for about 20 minutes each time. Then, work up to a jog. When you can comfortably jog for 20 minutes, you can increase your pace. When you start running, you might want to alternate between a walk and a run throughout the workout before graduating to running the entire time.
Determine Your Pace and Calories Burned
Typically the faster you run the more calories you'll burn. You'll also burn more calories if you weigh more because it takes more energy to propel yourself forward. In the beginning of a running program you can expect to burn more calories because you're less conditioned; as you become fitter, your body will become more efficient and burn fewer calories.
At a leisurely pace of 5 miles per hour, a 125-pound person burns about 240 calories per hour and a 185-pound person burns about 355 calories in 30 minutes. Up the pace to 6 miles an hour and the calories burn increase to 300 for the 125-pound person and 444 for the 185-pound person in 30 minutes.
At an even faster pace of 7.5 miles per hour, calories burned range from 375 for the 125-pound runner to 555 for the 185-pound person. At sprinting speeds of 8.6 to 10 miles an hour, the 125-pound runner burns 435 to 495 calories in 30 minutes, while the heavier runner burns 644 to 733 calories.
Read more: 10 Exercises to Increase Your Running Speed
There's more to running than just going out at a steady pace for a particular time or distance. One type of running workout has been scientifically proven to be better for weight loss than steady-state running. High-intensity interval training, or HITT, consists of alternating bouts of intense activity with periods of recovery.
You can do HITT running workouts on a treadmill, track or trail. After a warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, increase your pace to a sprint -- whatever that means for you. You want to be working at about 90 to 100 percent of your potential. Hold this pace for 30 seconds to two minutes, then return to an easy pace. Recover here for as long as you sprinted, allowing your heart rate to even out. Then increase the pace again. Repeat these intervals for 15 to 20 minutes, then cool down.
Because this is an intense form of exercise that can stress the muscles and joints, you don't want to do this every day. In the beginning, once a week is enough. As you become more conditioned, you can do a HIIT workout two or three times a week on non-consecutive days.
Balance Running With a Healthy Diet
In order to lose 1 pound of fat a week, you need to create a deficit of about 3,500 calories. You would need to run a lot of miles each week to reach this goal with running alone. Not only do most people not have enough time for that much running, but it's also not good for your body.
A better way to banish those love handles is to combine three to five runs each week with a nutritious diet that's low in calories. Focus your diet on fresh vegetables, which are naturally low in calories. Choose whole grains over processed grains for sustained energy and fiber. Eat smaller portions of lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu or beans, low-fat dairy and healthy oils. Cut out junk foods high in fat, sugar and salt, and drink water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary beverages.
Boost Your Metabolism With Muscle
On your non-running days, get in the gym and lift weights or do some other type of resistance training. Building muscle increases your body's calorie consumption, because muscle takes more energy to maintain than fat.
Make sure to target all your major muscle groups, including your arms, back, shoulders, chest, legs and abs. Compound exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time, such as push-ups and squats save time and burn more calories while you're doing them than isolation exercises like biceps curls.
Read more: 17 Reasons to Start Running