Jogging To Lose Weight Is Inefficient

by Jeff on November 26, 2010

Usually, the first thing that comes to mind when you want to lose weight is either Jogging or Diet.

Jogging is the traditional and conventional way of doing cardio. The theory behind it is that jogging will burn off some excess calories, which will lead to weight loss. It is usually recommended that you jog for 45 mins to an hour every day for optimal results.

Why 45 minutes to 60 minutes?

Your body starts producing a hormone called ‘cortisol’ after 60 minutes of exercise. Cortisol is a stress hormone and this is not good for you. Long-term elevated levels of cortisol will lead to harmful side effects such as:

  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Negatively affects your reproductive system
  • Increased appetite and linked to obesity

Jogging up to 60 minutes will allow you burn the maximum amount of calories without triggering the increased production of cortisol.

How Cortisol Helps You GAIN Weight

While cortisol is a steroid (catabolic) hormone, it does not help you lose weight. Instead, cortisol helps you gain weight along with other side effects such as decreased bone formation and suppressing your immune system (First Aid USMLE Step 1 2009, Tao Le et al.).

Here is how it works, cortisol is released as a response to emotional and physical stress. The primary function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar level through a process called gluconeogenesis; which is the process of generating glucose from non-carbohydrates (fats and proteins). Gluconeogenesis helps you metabolize fats and proteins, but it turns those macro-nutrients into glucose. While glucose is an important carbohydrates, elevated levels of glucose will help you gain weight and make it more difficult for you to lose weight. Cortisol also counteracts insulin and increases insulin resistance (USMLE Step 1 Secrets. 2003. p. 63), which further aids weight gain and makes it more difficult to lose fat.

Insulin is responsible for fat and carbohydrate regulation in your body. Insulin is also a shuttling hormone that stores excess calories into your fat cells. When your insulin resistance increases, your body needs to release more insulin to regulate the same amount of carbohydrates. Increased insulin in your body leads to more of the excess calories being stored in your body. Another problem of increased insulin levels is that it increases your level of hunger; you can check out some studies regarding insulin and hunger: here, here and here.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to increase your levels of cortisol. It is the opposite of what you want in weight loss.

The methods I talk about on my site is aimed towards preventing increased cortisol and increasing insulin sensitivity. Two of these methods are intermittent fasting and HIIT, I will talk HIIT later in this post.

Why Jogging To Lose Weight Is Ineffective

Jogging 7 times a week for 60 minutes a day will maximize your weight loss. This equals to 420 minutes a week. If you can do this, you will undoubtably lose weight IF you don’t eat more. However, it’s just not sustainable. When you stop jogging, you will start gaining weight again if you don’t change your diet.

The key is to have a sustainable method of losing weight. Only this way, can you lose the weight and keep it off.

A Sustainable Method To Lose Weight

There is another way of losing weight that only takes 16 minutes a week. This method produces the same (or better) results than jogging for 420 minutes a week.

It’s called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short. HIIT involves a series of short sprints and rest periods. The beauty of this method is that it can be applied onto any kind of cardio. Even when it’s raining or cold outside, you can perform hit on an exercise bike, elliptical machine, treadmill and etc…

How To Perform HIIT

The method that I’m going to describe is called the Tabata Protocol. This method is the original method and most of the research/studies are based on this method. Each session will only take 8 minutes.

  1. Go all out, sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds
  2. Rest for 10 seconds by walking slowly

Steps 1 and 2 make up an interval. Repeat for 8 intervals for one complete cycle. Perform 2 cycles for a total of 8 minutes.

You just need to do HIIT twice a week, just don’t do 2 sessions back to back. Have at least 1 day of rest in between.

For safety, stretch before your workout. It is important that you do dynamic stretching instead of static stretching.

Dynamic stretching involves movements like high knees, walking lunges and etc to warm up the muscles. I have found that 3 minutes is more than enough for me.

Static stretching stretches out the muscles and leads to a higher rate of injury.

To finish off your workout, cool down for 3 minutes. Do this by jogging or having speed walk.

For other HIIT Routines, check out my article Cardio Routines.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Raymond - ZenMyFitness November 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I agree too much jogging will cause muscle loss and stop you from losing weight not to mention your body looks crappy..but I do jog but so slowly it more like a fast walk but still try to keep it under 40 minutes.
I think Tabata is brutal in the gym but I never used it for running intervals.
How do you recommend to time yourself I can do it easily enough in the gym by watching the wall clock but not sure how while running?


Jeff November 26, 2010 at 9:14 pm

You can use a Gymboss Timer, just set the interval timing and it will beep once the interval is over. Get it at GymBoss


Bloom to Fit March 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I definitely agree that HIIT is a much better strategy for losing weight than jogging. I remember reading a study once where the subject wanted to lose weight. He started jogging every day but maintained the same diet. At first, he could barely run 1km. After 30 days he could run 10km easily. After 30 days of jogging he only lost 1lb.

This shows you 1) jogging alone will not help you lose weight, and 2) how important nutrition is for weight loss.


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