I know that many people enjoy running for the competitiveness, achievements, and pure enjoyment, but there are plenty of people that run to stay in shape and lose weight.
That is not the reason I run, I actually have to make sure to eat enough and get enough calories to properly fuel myself. But for those of you who main goal is weight loss and better general fitness here is a post for you.
An important thing to know is that you body burns fuel (that Big Mac you just ate) differently depending on how you exercise. Most trainers and people workout and try and burn as many calories as they can in a given time, so it is recommended that you do high intensity workout, get your heart rate into the fat burning zone (about 65%-80% of your Max heart rate). A good way to get an estimate is by taking 220 minus your age to get your Max Heart rate.
(220)-(my age)=Max Heart Rate
200 - 25 = 195
By being in your "Target Heart Rate" or fat burning zone optimized the amount of calories you are burning the most calories at a given time. This means that if you are below or even above this zone you are not burning the most calories. So make sure if your goal is to burn calories you get in and stay in that target heart rate zone. A good general rule to make sure your in the right zone is if you have to take a breath while talking and speaking a full sentence you should be close.
For example is you are on the treadmill and you can say out loud. "My name is Jordan and I like to exercise because I like to eat pizza." without having to take a breath you need to kick it up a notch, but if you need 3 o r 4 breaths to say that sentence out loud you are probably going a little too hard.
One thing that many people do not know is that when you are in your zone 1 heart rate your body actually burns fat directly. When you are in you THZ you are burning the most calories but they are the energy stores(carbs) in your muscles and liver. So if you burn 600 calories during your workout great, but just make sure you are not eating 800 calories as soon as you are done, otherwise you are just replacing the calories you burned. Be warned though you actually lose more weight by refueling after a workout with carbs and protein, than if you were to not properly refuel.
So why don't people just take it easy and exercise in their zone 1 HR and burn direct body fat? Well, it takes about 30 minutes for your body to "warm up" and start burning fat and then to actually burn any significant amount of body fat you would have to exercise for 2-4 hours in your zone 1 HR to see significant results. Not a problem if you are training for an Ultra marathon where that is all you do 6 days a week is run in your zone 1 and 2 for 3 hours a day. I even managed to lose 3lbs, this was after running 4 marathons earlier in the year.
In conclusion if you have the time and energy and want to burn that body fat all you need to do you go for a few 3 hour jogs 4-5 times a week.