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Running Does Burn Belly Fat and Here's Why

8 mins read
Rashida Ruwa
Written by Rashida Ruwa on November 23, 2022
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Dr. Olena Avdiievska is a nutritional and medical expert at Unimeal. She is an MD and RDN in Dietology and nutrition and a university professor with 76 scientific publications. 

Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.

Have you ever wondered: What exercise burns the most belly fat? You know that jiggly belly fat that you can't seem to get rid of? Yeah, we hate it too.

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If so, you're in luck. We've got answers for you. Running is one of the best exercises for burning belly fat; it speeds up your metabolism and works your core muscles, reducing lower belly fat. It also increases blood flow to your abdominal region, which can also help you burn more fat.

And the best part is running doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming; you don't have to spend an hour at the gym or take up space in an overcrowded class; you can do it anywhere, anytime! Just lace up your sneakers and get moving. Here's what you need to know to kickstart:

How does running burn belly fat

It all comes down to two things: burning more calories and raising your metabolism.

When you run, your body uses energy from fat cells as fuel. As you run, your body produces a hormone called epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) that tells your muscles to release stored glucose into your blood. This helps fuel your muscles to keep working, but it also triggers a reaction in your liver that produces more glucose by breaking down glycogen (the storage form of glucose).

After this initial burst of energy, once all the glycogen has been depleted and glucose is no longer released into your blood by muscle contraction, your body will begin to rely on fat energy stores. When this happens, excess blood sugar gets converted into fatty acids and stored as fat in adipose tissue, also known as body fat.

That's why running is such an effective way of burning belly fat: it keeps your muscles working hard until they've exhausted all their glycogen stores, forcing them to start burning fat instead of storing it for future use.

Types of Running

Running is one of the best things you can do for your body. It's a great way to keep your heart healthy and strong, helps you stay limber, and keeps you looking young. Did you know there are different types of running?

Fartlek

This Swedish word means "speed play." It's an interval training method where you alternate between fast and slow running throughout one session. For example, you might sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 1 minute before repeating the cycle. Fartlek training increases your cardiovascular fitness and helps you burn more fat than traditional steady-state training. If you only have time for one type of run, this should be it.

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Intervals

This means running short, intense repeated runs of varying lengths at different speeds and paces over a given course or set distance followed by rest periods. For example, you can start with a warm-up period that lasts about 10 minutes, then gradually increase your speed until you reach a sprinting pace for 30 seconds or so, depending on how fast of a runner you are. After that, slow down again until you're barely moving. Afterward, cool down with some easy walking and stretching exercises to help loosen up those muscles before heading home. Interval running is a great way to build your fitness and strength.

Hills repeats

These are workouts where you run uphill for a set distance or time, then walk back down or jog back down if it's not too steep. You repeat this cycle until you've reached your goal distance or time. This is great for building strength in the legs and improving coordination between them and your hips, which makes running more efficient.

The progression run

Is when you start at a comfortable speed and gradually increase your pace as you go along. For example, run 5 km at a natural pace, then 1km at a fast pace. This can help build up your endurance and speed, but it's important to remember that you shouldn't push yourself too hard during this run; you should always feel like you can keep going at the end of your session.

Tempo run

You hit a certain pace or "tempo" for a specified distance or an extended period (usually between 30 minutes and an hour), then slow down. You can do this on flat ground, up hills, or even at altitude if you live near mountains. Just make sure to warm up and cool down properly before and after your tempo run.

Long run

This run is done at the same pace but over a longer distance. It is a sustained aerobic activity that helps build endurance and increase your overall fitness level. It's also a great way to improve cardiovascular health and burn fat. So, if you're looking for something that'll help you lose weight while staying strong, this is a great choice.

Base run

Most people will call this run a regular run. Here you run short to moderate-length runs around 10 km at your natural pace. Base runs are good for increasing stamina and strengthening muscles, but they focus less on cardio training than other types of running do. They're also easier on joints than some types of running because they don't require as much impact on the ground as others; however, they're still pretty intense workouts.

Recovery run

It's a run that's meant to help your body recover from running. It should be slow and easy, for example, a 3-minute run at a comfortable pace after a harder run. The goal of this run is not to get you in shape but to help your body recover from the beating of the previous workout by giving it time to rest and rejuvenate. You can do this run any day, but it's best to do it after a hard workout or race so that you don't get injured by pushing too hard during your recovery period. 

How to lose belly fat by running (tips)

Here are some tips to help you start running and get into shape quickly.

How to start

Start slow. It's tempting to think that if you run three miles at top speed right out of the gate, you'll get more benefits than if you start with one mile at a slower pace. But this isn't true, and it's more likely to lead to injury than anything else. Start walking briskly for five minutes, then gradually increase your speed until you're running comfortably.

Warm up. Before you start running, you must warm up. This helps to get blood flowing and muscles moving, ensuring your body is prepared for the workout ahead. In addition, it can help prevent injury. So, If you're feeling stiff or tight, starting slow with some gentle stretching can ease those aches. You can also try jogging in place or doing knee lifts before taking off on a full-out run.

Don't skimp on shoes. Running shoes can be costly, but they're essential for keeping your feet comfortable and healthy as you work out. Look for shoes that fit properly and should feel snug but not tight when you first try them on. Wear them gradually over time, so they conform to the shape of your foot.

Cool down.These are light exercises done at the end of a workout session that allows your body to adjust its temperature and prepare for rest slowly. It's also an opportunity to stretch out any tight areas in your muscles before they stiffen up and start hurting later. There are lots of ways to cool down after a run. You can walk around slowly or jog slower than average; you can go through some stretches if you're feeling up for it, or even take a shower right after your run.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Pain isn't just something that happens when we run. It happens when we do anything new or challenging, which is normal and often helpful. The more often we do the thing that hurts us, like running, the less pain we'll feel.

Find a running buddy. If you're unsure where to begin, find someone who is already a runner who can answer questions and help motivate you as you train together. If there aren't any friends who fit this description, or maybe even if there are, there are plenty of other ways to find people who share your interests and goals.

Schedule time each week. It's easy to get distracted by life with kids, work, or other obligations. But if you don't schedule time each week specifically for running, then it won't happen, and your weight loss goals will not happen. You should aim for at least 30 mins for the run, including warm-up and cool-down exercises.  

Choose type of running

  • One of the first things to do when choosing a type of running is to figure out what suits your personality best. Do you like being alone or with other people? Do you prefer working out indoors or outdoors? Are there specific activities you enjoy doing outside?
  • Once you've figured out what kind of runner you want to be, it's time to start exploring different types of running. Whether it's trail running or road running, there are many options, and they all have unique benefits. If this seems overwhelming at first, try starting with something simple like walking or jogging around a local park before moving on to more advanced workouts like trail runs.
  • Decide what's best for you: Are you looking for something challenging and exciting? Do you want to get fit? Or do you want a nice way to exercise in your day? These are great reasons to run, but they'll lead you down different paths. You might need to try a few different types before finding the one that fits your needs.
  • Ask around; maybe someone else has tried something similar before: This is also a great way to learn about new things without having to try them yourself, which could be unsafe. Your friends may have tried something similar in the past, and they'll be able to tell you their experiences with it so that maybe they can help guide your decision.
  • Listen to your body. This will help guide your decision-making. When in doubt, always ask yourself: "Does this feel good?" If the answer is "no," try something else! It might take some time to figure out what works best for your body, but it'll be worth it once you do. 

Diet tips

Reduce sugar intake

We know this sounds super obvious, but people often forget about sugar intake when trying to lose belly fat. Sugar is incredibly high in calories and can lead to weight gain if consumed in large amounts, so it's important to keep track of how much sugar you consume daily.

Drink more water

Water helps flush toxins from your body and keeps everything moving smoothly through your digestive tract. Consider drinking at least eight glasses of water daily or more.

Don't skip breakfast

Skipping breakfast can cause a big spike in hunger later in the day and lead to overeating at lunch and dinner, leading to weight gain, not weight loss. 

Eat something every 3 hours

Your body needs fuel throughout the day, not just in one big meal at night. Eating smaller meals throughout the day will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and curb cravings. It also keeps your metabolism going strong.

Put down the carbs

You know what we're talking about: that sweet potato, the pasta, the bread, all of it. These foods are easy to overeat, and they're loaded with carbs. The best way to minimize your carbs intake is to eat more protein, vegetables, and some fruit.

Eat fiber-rich foods

The fiber in whole grains keeps blood sugar levels steady, which helps prevent spikes that can lead to overeating later in the day. Try adding oats or wheat germ into your diet as a good source of fiber.

How much belly fat does running burn

This depends on how much weight you carry in your midsection and how fast you run.

According to Havard health publishing, a person weighing 57 kg running at a pace of 5 mph (8 km/h) could burn 240 calories, while running at a 10mph (16 km/h) pace for 30 minutes could cause this person to burn 453 calories. On the other hand, an 84 kg person running at a speed of 5mph (8 km/h) pace could burn 336 calories, while running at a 10 mph (16 km/h) pace for 30 minutes could cause this person to burn 671 calories. However, everyone is different, so it can be challenging to calculate the exact number of calories burned from running.

How often should you run to lose belly fat?

The frequency of your runs depends on your goals and your current level of fitness. But if you want to shed some belly fat, you may want to run more frequently, maybe even daily. In general, though, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, including brisk walking.

Weekly running plan to lose stomach fat

Monday 

Start with a warm-up jog for 5 minutes. Then switch over to a brisk walk for 2 minutes. Next, do 20 light sprints for about 15 seconds each. After that, walk for 2 minutes, do 8 hill sprints, and run up the hill as fast as possible. Finish with another 5-minute jog at a moderate pace.

Tuesday

After warming up with a light jog, do 50 burpees (squat thrusts) followed by 100 jumping jacks. Now walk quickly for 5 minutes, then jog at a moderate pace for 10 minutes. Cool down with another 10 minutes of walking.

Wednesday

Warm up with a brisk walk for 5 minutes. Then do 4 sets of 30-second intervals jog 1 minute, run 30 seconds; jog 30 seconds, run 1 minute; jog 45 seconds, run 30 seconds; jog 60 seconds, run 30 seconds; jog 90 seconds, run 30 seconds; jog 120 seconds and repeat! Walk for 2 minutes after each set of intervals.

Thursday

Start with a 5-minute jog to warm up, then switch to an easy pace for 1 minute. Next, do 20 light sprints for about 15 seconds each. After that, take a 3-minute break and then repeat this whole sequence two more times once without taking any breaks between exercises.

Friday

Start with an easy run for 10 minutes or so at an easy pace. Then move into a quick and light jog for about 3 minutes before slowing down again into a brisk walk for 3 minutes more. Next, do 8 sets of hill sprints; each one should last about 30 seconds and finish with another 10 minutes of easy running at an easy pace.

Saturday (optional)

Start with a 5-minute, then switch to an easy pace for 1 minute before doing 20 light sprints, about 15 seconds each. After that, take a 3-minute break and repeat this whole sequence two more times once without taking any breaks between exercises.

Sunday (optional)

Do the same warm-up routine as you did on Monday, but this time add in some high knee raises for 30 seconds after your second round of light sprints.

How fast does running burn belly fat

Well, it depends. The answer is that it’s not just the speed of your run that determines how much you’ll shed. It's also about how much muscle mass you have and what kind of shape you’re in. However, running alone won't help if you're not doing anything else to lose belly fat, such as eating right and exercising regularly.

Conclusion

If you're looking to burn belly fat, running is a great way to do it. Not only does running give you a great cardio workout, but it also helps you improve your cardiovascular health, which is important for losing weight and keeping it off. And the best part? It's so easy! Just lace up your sneakers, head outside, hit the treadmill, and run. You don't need fancy equipment or special training, just a good pair of running shoes and plenty of motivation.

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

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