How much running can cause muscle loss?

Running is loved by many, and poses as a mental and physical challenge, as does any kind of competitive type sport, even it you are competing with yourself.

Running improves aerobic endurance, and when instilling proper nutrition and rest periods, it can in fact be very beneficial. As with anything, there is also a down side of losing muscle mass if certain parameters are not kept in mind.

The body is a complex mechanism, striving for homeostasis on a daily basis. This includes balancing the act of building and breaking down of muscle tissue.

Increasing muscle mass requires you to always stay above the protein consumption threshold. Over training and or not allowing enough recovery can counteract the bodies ability to retain and build muscle. As you know, this is key to a strong metabolism and optimal body composition.

The problems arise when you indulge in too much of a good thing without allowing for proper nutritional requirements. This in itself, causes muscle to catabolise. The question should always be, am I consuming the adequate nutritional profile for the activity?

Running using particular strategies, such as interval training sprints can actually increase your muscle mass, and decrease body fat. You may know of this as HIIT. This is intense bouts of all out effort, followed by low impact recovery. Completed in bursts has proven to be very beneficial, only if used for a certain amount of time. It’s recommended between 20–30 minutes for the best results. Any more than this time-frame and increase cortisol, and begin to catabolise muscle mass.

Therefore, we know that any kind of excessive activity, including running, without proper nutrition can in fact dip into your hard earned muscle mass for fuel. To stop this from happening, we must pay close attention to our nutrition, and strive to create a balance. Of course, this will vary from individuals, and a bit of experimentation and perhaps assistance from a coach will be very beneficial.

Also, allow enough recovery time for the body to rest and recover from exercise. Most people are not aware that it’s within the resting period that the body builds, repairs and regenerates. If we continually force ourselves to be active on a high level, we do not allow for this progression. This causes over training, injury and loss of muscle.

I do hope this helps you.

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