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Does Running Burn Belly Fat?

    man running at the road during daytime

    One of the biggest reasons why we may start running (you know, in addition to running to lose weight, get fitter, and to increase our overall health), is to burn off our stomach fat. One trap many runners fall into is thinking the farther they run, the more stomach fat they are going to burn, but this is not always true.

    The amount of stomach fat you will be able to burn from a short run is going to be heavily dependent on the speed, length of run, and body mass. The number of calories you burn when you run will vary depending on your body size, your pace, and your run duration. You may burn as many as 600 to 800 calories during running, depending on factors like your body size, workout intensity, and your level of fitness. You also need to burn many calories that you expend when running on the treadmill in order to get the desired results.

    If you are not, modify the calories, up the exercise intensity, and incorporate strength-training sessions. For fat loss, prioritize some higher-intensity workouts each week over a few lower-intensity ones, and consider adding strength training to your routine to build up your lean body mass. While lower-intensity workouts will enable you to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat, working out higher intensity means that you burn more calories in total.

    Studies show that high-intensity interval training has been linked with lower body fat — especially around your stomach. One study in 27 middle-aged women with obesity found that those involved in high-intensity training lost significantly more stomach fat than those involved in lower-intensity exercise training or did not train at all over the course of 16 weeks.

    A study with middle-aged subjects found that high-intensity running reduced stomach fat substantially more than either no exercise or running/walking at low intensity. An analysis of over 15 studies with more than 852 subjects found that aerobic training reduced fat without changing the diet. A recent study even found out you could lose a decent amount of fat even without dieting or running. The good news is, studies have shown that moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercises like running may be helpful in cutting down on body fat, even without changing diet.

    The good news is that running is one of the best forms of exercising for losing belly fat, and there are even some minor adjustments that you can make to your usual running routine for a lasting boost in fat-burning. Running is fantastic for burning calories and cutting down on belly fat, but in order to reap the full benefits, these long, 45-minute runs at a steady pace are not the best approach. While longer runs are excellent for building endurance and burning calories, they are not necessarily best at burning fat. Walking and running both aid in burning calories throughout your body, but also contribute to lower abdominal fat, depending on how intense your workout is.

    Walking vs. Running for Belly Fat Reduction Research has found that having lots of body fat stored around your midsection is linked with risk for diseases like heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Many studies have found that you can lower belly fat by doing moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercises, like sprinting, without changing your diet. Studies show interval training is an excellent way to burn belly fat, and is much more effective than intense, continuous forms of exercise. Aerobic interval training is an excellent way to boost the amount of calories burned in your workouts and hit that stubborn belly fat.

    Some of the best ways to burn belly fat on the treadmill are by running in intervals as well as trying out different elevation changes. Intervals can help you cut down on belly fat; rather than running at a consistent pace throughout the workout, try to alternate periods where you are pushing your body to its maximum capacity and periods where it is recovering. Instead, perform intervals alternating between periods of high-intensity running and slower running or walking periods to recover. If you started running for two or four hours per day and are not losing weight (or perhaps even gaining), it may be better for you to decrease the running frequency, add in a little resistance training, and see what happens.

    In the case of running, not only does running feel easier to complete when done over and over, training session after training session (even though you are still sweating and squeezing your legs), your metabolism also learns and responds to it, so that less calories are burned from the same amount of exertion. When trained properly, running increases oxygen supply to the muscles, which helps boost your metabolism and burn more calories. The act of exercising itself will boost your appetite, since your body requires more calories to keep running.

    One of the biggest problems with simply running at a steady, moderate-intensity pace is that the calories you burn are limited by how long you sweat. In Normal Weight participants, high-intensity running burned more calories per mile than walking. The study showed that there is a strong link between body mass and energy expenditure, that African-Americans overall consume more energy than Caucasians, and that higher intensity increases calorie burning. The same study went to great lengths to point out that while running is ultimately more efficient, both running and walking have a significant positive effect on body mass over time.

    Two smaller studies conducted in fit men showed fat-burning benefits from running a treadmill while fasted. To burn significant amounts of fat, you need to run at a faster rate, as well as over longer distances. Unsurprisingly, this study found that walking uses less energy than running does (you do not need to be 6.2 years old to know this). Well, studies have shown that running at higher intensities, like hill repeats, etc., continues burning fat for 48 hours after you have finished your workout (5).

    Runners are highly cardiovascular-focused: The more oxygen to your muscles, the better your endurance, and the stronger the muscles, the more fats you burn. One of the reasons behind this is revealed by research published in The Journal of Biomechanics (open in new tab), which summarises how running is a much more efficient way of burning calories than other sports, as it requires multiple muscles working hard in concert. Despite working out a smaller percentage of the time, a single group of runners burned over double their body fat.


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