I’m looking at trying to lose weight by using running as my main cardio exercise but I’m struggling to be able to run for long enough distances for it to really start burning fat. I really have a lack of energy and even after weeks of training, I am struggling to improve. I was wondering if there was anything I can do or take, like a supplement, to help increase my energy levels when training to allow me to run extra long distances.
Give yourself a pat on the back for committing to running! Now, I would suggest that if you want to burn fat more efficiently you might want to ease up on your running and throw in some weights instead. This will take less time and you’ll be able to keep your energy levels up since it’s a little easier when compared to running.
Unfortunately, we’ve been programmed to believe that if we want to burn fat we have to keep on going, and going, and going with cardiovascular exercise. When in fact, cardiovascular exercise is the long route to losing fat, and building lean sexy muscle with resistance training is the true shortcut.
To explain this better I’m going to talk a little about muscle, fat, and the difference between muscle building and cardio exercise. I’ll try to keep it basic though because I don’t want you or myself to get confused!
Muscle needs protein to build and it burns more calories than fat does. Muscle also naturally increases your metabolism, so even when you’re snoozing, your body is still burning more fat and calories. Muscle is also more dense than fat (pound for pound), so it’s smaller and more aesthetically appealing than fat is and it leaves you feeling energetic. Harder, firmer and smaller is sexier right?
Muscle cells expand with weight lifting and resistance training. Just two or three sessions per week of just fifteen to twenty minutes per workout is all you need.
Now, fat is something we are always trying to get rid of. It’s softer and “dimplier” than muscle, takes up more space and increases the likelihood of developing chronic diseases. Fat burns fewer calories than muscle does and it de-energizes you, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired.
And when it comes to burning fat, interval training is most effective and efficient. This is a combination of muscle building and cardiovascular exercise. Circuit training and boot camps are fantastic examples of interval training.
In boot camp classes you work in stations with a trainer encouraging you on. You are pushed to surpass your own preset limitations with alternating muscle building and cardiovascular exercises. This keeps your mind and body busy, maximizing your energy expenditure.
And just being in a room full of others doing the exact same thing makes you naturally want to work harder. It taps into your internal drive and gives your body no choice but to step up to the plate and work harder whether you think you can or not. Does that make sense?
Varying your sets and intensity levels while exercising allows you to literally make your body burn more fat. Tapping into your endorphins leaves you feeling energetic and alive during and after your workout.
Yes, you can keep on running and get your energy stores up by fueling your body more efficiently, but you’re not going to be as rewarded when all is said and done. Now drinking lots of water is going to help keep your energy levels up when running long distances. As dehydration is the number one cause of fatigue when training. And making sure you have your energy stores full of protein and complex carbohydrates will also help you go the distance.
Seeing as you’re running extremely long you may need to replace some sugars, vitamins and minerals in your system too, so an energy or sports drink will also help. If you are exercising intensely more than about an hour and a half at a time, an energy drink is in order.
For serious runners, supplements are essential. They’ll supply the fuel to increase your intensity for longer periods of time, which is necessary sometimes to finish the race. The four main categories of supplements are energy gels, multivitamins, sports drinks and various protein drinks.
The gels give your body the energy it requires to go the distance, derived from carbohydrates, potassium and sodium. It’s recommended you use them about 20 minutes before you run and 45 minutes thereafter.
Even when you are eating healthy it doesn’t hurt to include a multivitamin in your diet, just in case you’re missing a few essential vitamins and minerals you need to be your best. A protein drink, which we touched on above, should be used throughout your long and challenging runs. They are composed of carbs, whey protein, fat, minerals and vitamins, electrolytes and amino acids for the most part. Drinking them immediately after your race with also help you recover. The sports drinks mainly have water, carbohydrates and electrolytes, which enables your body to break down the drink easier.
So there are lots of choices out there for supplementation. What you need to do is choose what works best for you, so that you can simply run like the wind. And don’t forget to fuel your body before, during, and after each run. Your legs will thank you for it!