Can Running Cause Weight Gain

Running is often hailed as one of the best exercises for weight loss. Many people lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement in hopes of shedding those extra pounds. However, there is a common belief that running can actually lead to weight gain. In this article, I will explore the truth behind this claim and provide insights based on personal experience.

First of all, it’s important to understand that weight gain can occur for a variety of reasons, and it is not solely attributed to running. Factors such as diet, genetics, and overall lifestyle play significant roles in weight management. That being said, let’s delve into the potential reasons why running could lead to weight gain.

The Calorie Equation

Weight gain or loss is ultimately determined by the number of calories consumed versus the number of calories burned. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. On the other hand, if you burn more calories than you consume, weight loss will occur. So, how does running fit into this equation?

Running is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that can burn a significant amount of calories. However, it is also important to consider the overall energy balance. If you increase your running routine but simultaneously increase your calorie intake, you may not experience weight loss or even gain weight. This is because you are not creating a calorie deficit.

Muscle Gain

Another factor that can contribute to weight gain when running is muscle gain. Running is a high-impact exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, especially in the lower body. Over time, as you continue to run and challenge yourself, your muscles will adapt and become stronger.

Muscle is denser than fat, so even though you may be losing fat, the scale may not reflect a decrease in weight. Instead, you may notice that your clothes fit better, and you have a more toned appearance. It’s important to remember that muscle gain is a positive thing for overall health and fitness, even if the numbers on the scale don’t change.

Appetite and Food Choices

Running can also increase your appetite, especially if you are running longer distances or at a higher intensity. Your body needs fuel to sustain your running efforts, and it may signal hunger to ensure an adequate energy supply. This can lead to an increased calorie intake if you’re not mindful of your food choices.

Moreover, running may also impact your food choices. After a long run, you may feel justified in indulging in high-calorie foods, thinking that you’ve earned it. While treating yourself occasionally is perfectly fine, consistently making poor food choices can hinder weight loss efforts.

Personal Experience

From my personal experience, running has been instrumental in my weight loss journey. It has allowed me to burn calories, increase my fitness level, and improve my overall health. However, I have also encountered periods where my weight plateaued or even increased despite my running efforts.

During these times, I found that examining my overall lifestyle, including diet and stress levels, was crucial. By adjusting my calorie intake, ensuring a balanced diet, and managing stress, I was able to continue seeing progress in my weight loss goals.


While running can be an effective tool for weight loss, it is not a guarantee. Weight gain may occur if there is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure, or if muscle gain masks fat loss on the scale. Additionally, appetite and food choices play a significant role in weight management.

Ultimately, it’s important to approach running and weight management holistically. Combine running with a balanced diet, strength training, and a healthy lifestyle to achieve your desired weight goals. Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.