I remember looking in the mirror when I was in my early twenties and being upset at the tire of fat wrapped around my belly. I didn’t have access to a gym and that made me think about running. But, I had one question in mind, will running burn belly fat?
Yes, running is one of the most effective and fastest ways to burn belly fat. But, to be more precise, running burns fat from the entire body much faster than most forms of cardio. It is considered a high-intensity exercise that has been shown to burn high amounts of calories.
From doing much research, I learned that burning fat boils down to one simple equation – calories in must be less than calories out.
Put simply, to burn fat, your body must use more calories in a day compared to the number of calories you consume from food and beverages. This is referred to as being in a caloric deficit.
The average pound of fat can be converted to 3500 calories. So, if you can burn 3500 calories above the amount your body requires to maintain its current weight, you will lose fat.
There are two ways to be in a caloric deficit.
- Eat fewer calories.
- Burn more calories through physical activity.
If you do a quick search on Google for the best exercises to burn belly fat, running is at the top of that list and for good reason.
It’s a complete body workout that burns a ton of calories. Much like skipping, running regularly will improve your endurance, stamina and cardiovascular health which is of significant importance when dealing with belly fat, also known as visceral fat.
What is visceral fat and is it dangerous?
According to Healthline, visceral fat is located around your abdomen and surrounds many vital organs like the liver and intestines.
What’s truly concerning is that visceral fat can clog up your arteries. Why is this dangerous? Clogged arteries can lead to cardiovascular issues.
However, not all belly fat is classified as visceral fat. There is another form of fat called subcutaneous fat which is located just under the skin.
It’s not considered as harmful as visceral fat but usually, a large amount of subcutaneous fat is often accompanied by visceral fat.
The key takeaway from this section is that belly fat can be a sign of unhealthy amounts of visceral fat that could have the potential of affecting vital organs if left untreated.
Which begs the question, how does someone become fat?
You develop fat by eating too much and/or living a sedentary lifestyle. Your body at a specific weight and size requires only a certain amount of calories per day to maintain itself. When you start consuming more calories than it needs to function on a daily basis, those extra calories get stored in your body as fat.
So, the solution is quite simple – eat healthier, eat less and start exercising.
And what’s the best exercise for burning fat? Running!
Will running burn belly fat?
Absolutely! Any cardiovascular exercise that burns a significant amount of calories will help you lose belly fat.
On average, it is estimated that the average person can burn upto 100 calories running for 10 minutes.
That number will obviously vary depending on a number of factors such as:
- Your weight.
- Your age.
- The speed at which you run.
- Whether you’re running on an incline or decline.
Based on the above average estimate, if you are able to run for an hour, you should be in a caloric deficit of 600 calories.
That would amount to 1 pound of fat loss/weight loss per week! Over time, that could significantly reduce and burn belly fat.
If you are short on time and want to burn the same amount of calories in a shorter space of time, use high intensity interval training.
For example, if you normally run a 6 mile pace continuously, change this up by running at a 6 mile pace for a minute followed by the fastest sprint you can do for as long as you can.
Then, return back to a 6 mile pace while you recover for a minute before sprinting again.
Each round is called an interval. And because it utilizes high-intensity exercise, each interval maximizes the amount of effort you put into running. This will help you burn more calories due to your maxed out effort during an interval.
Additionally, high intensity interval training has been shown to increase the body’s metabolism which will help you to burn more calories than you have before.
Here’s something to consider – have you ever seen a professional or consistent runner struggle with belly fat? Do a quick search on Google images for marathon runners and most of them are insanely skinny. That’s how effective running can be for burning fat.
You don’t need to be a marathon runner to reap the rewards of exercising. And you definitely don’t need a treadmill or gym membership to run. If that isn’t enough to convince you, I’m not sure what will.
Can I spot reduce belly fat by running?
Unfortunately, you can’t. The human body is designed to burn fat from the entire body and not a specific body part.
Genetics play a role in which parts of your body is first targeted for fat loss before the others.
However, if your body mostly holds onto fat around your waist whereas the rest of your body is relatively lean, there’s a strong chance that you’ll notice a significant decrease in belly fat once you start running consistently.
How long should I run per day?
Based on your goals, you can determine the amount of exercise required for fat loss.
On average, it is recommended to exercise 3 – 5 times per week for about an hour.
I try to get an hour of exercise into my day on a regular basis.
This allows me to maintain my current weight and stay lean. But, when I’m trying to lose weight and get exceptionally lean, I choose to workout for upto 2 hours per day whilst keeping my food intake the same.
I prefer exercising longer and keeping my food intake/calorie consumption the same because I have a big appetite and struggle with mood swings when I’m hungry.
However, running for hours is not an easy feat. I actually wouldn’t encourage it, especially if you’re quite overweight or struggle from joint issues.
I break up my cardio sessions into 25 minutes of running and 25 minutes of jump rope followed by 10 minutes boxing.
The variation prevents me from over taxing my joints, particularly my knees and ankles. Also, my workouts don’t get monotonous because of the different forms of exercise at my disposal.
If you have little experience with running, I recommend starting slow. Try to get in 15 minutes of running per day for the first week.
Escalate this by 5 minutes each week until you get to your desired duration.
By then, your body will be well accustomed to running and weight distribution and the momentum from consistency will push you to stick to running for the long haul.
Before long, it will become a habit and the results will be so significant that your belly will be as lean as a washboard.
The only time running won’t help you burn fat
From personal experience, I can tell you with certainty that there are two common scenarios when running doesn’t help you burn much fat.
- When you run inconsistently, lazily and not for a significant duration of time.
- When your diet is horrible.
At the end of the day, effort and consistency are the two metrics that determine how much of calories you burn from running and whether it will amount to significant fat loss.
You have to be willing to put in the work or else the results will always be miniscule.
Alternatively, if your diet is putrid and you are unable to regulate the number of calories you consume per day or the quality of food, no amount of running will help you burn belly fat.
Fat loss depends heavily on your calorie consumption. It’s not about starving yourself at all. I don’t encourage crash diets or low-calorie meals. That’s not a healthy solution. You’ll end up destroying your metabolism. Instead, focus on replacing unhealthy foods with healthier alternatives.
An 1000 calorie meal consisting of just a burger and fries from a take out place can be substituted with two home made burgers with over baked fries.
Why such a disparity?
Well, because the ingredients you can use at home will be far healthier and less calorie-dense than the cheap, unhealthy and deep-fried junk foods you are served elsewhere.
Trust me when I tell you that dieting can be absolutely satiating when the foods you eat are carefully selected.
It just starts by being more conscious of what you eat rather than how much you eat.
Find healthier replacements for your favorite meals and you’ll actually enjoy the process of burning fat and getting into amazing shape.
Will running burn belly fat? Yes! Running does burn belly fat but to be more specific, running burns fat from the entire body. There’s no such thing as spot reduction but if your belly is the only fat left to go, you can achieve great results from running in a short space of time.
Running is the kind of exercise that requires consistency and a good effort to achieve great results. But, once you get into it, the benefits it can have on your health and life are profound.
Try to fix your diet as well so that you can truly burn fat from running as quickly as possible. Eat healthily and make sure you satisfy all your nutrient needs per day.
I hope you found this article on will running burn belly fat to be informative and motivating. Feel free to leave your questions or thoughts in the comment section below.