Belly fat can be a stubborn and unsightly problem for many people. While diet and exercise are important factors in reducing belly fat, it’s natural to wonder which specific exercises are most effective.
One question that often comes up is whether running can help burn belly fat. Below, we examine the link between running and losing belly fat.
Does running burn belly fat?
The answer is yes, running burns belly fat. However, it is also important to remember that spot reduction (trying to lose fat in just one specific area of your body) is extremely difficult.
In order to lose fat, including belly fat, you need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume through a combination of diet and exercise.
When you run, you use energy from the calories you consume, including stored fat. As you run, your body will burn calories, and this can help you lose weight and reduce fat, including belly fat.
Listed below are three major ways in which running burns belly fat:
Running burns more calories than most exercises
Running indeed burns more calories than most exercises. It targets every part of your body and helps with overall weight loss and belly fat. If you are getting started with burning belly fat, consider running at least 3 times a week.
High-Intensity running burns calories even after exercise
Combining running with high-intensity interval training can help you burn more calories even after exercise.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense exercise. This increases your metabolism, which helps in burning more calories and belly fat.
Incorporating this into your running routine ensures that you burn calories even after you have finished running.
Activities like running suppress appetite
Excessive food intake, especially of highly processed carbs and sugars, leads to belly fat. Exercising has been proven to suppress appetite PubMed: Review and analysis of physical exercise at hormonal and brain level, and its influence on appetite.
By implication, regular running can help to curb hunger pangs and bouts of binge eating. This automatically translates into better weight management and reduction of visceral fat.
How much should you run to burn belly fat?
There is no specific amount of running that will specifically target belly fat. Nevertheless, a good overall calorie burn is an achievable target for anyone who runs regularly.
The number of calories you burn while running will depend on your weight, intensity level, and duration of your run.
For instance, the data put together by the American Council of Exercise indicates that an average 160-pound individual burns 15.1 calories per minute while running at a moderate pace. At this rate, the same person can expect a calorie burn of nearly 500 calories during a 30-minute run.
Walking vs. running to reduce belly fat
Walking and running are two popular forms of exercise that can help you reduce belly fat. Both activities burn calories and help you lose weight, but there are differences between them that may make one more appealing than the other for you.
A study by the National Library Of Medicine (NCBI) shows that walking helps in reducing abdominal fat PubMed: Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women. Walking is great for burning belly fat and weight loss, especially in obese women. For significant results, walk 50-70 mins PubMed: Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women three times a week.
Walking can be great for beginners or for people with joint issues that may be exacerbated by high-impact activities like running. Since it is a low-impact activity, it is suited to older adults at risk for osteoporosis (weak bones).
Additionally, it tones your muscles and improves balance, which can help prevent falls. It also improves overall health and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
Running is a high-impact cardiovascular activity that can help raise your heart rate and boost your metabolism.
It is a weight-bearing exercise that can help strengthen your bones and muscles.
If your goal is to lose or burn belly fat, it is recommended that you go for longer endurance runs.
Other ways to reduce belly fat
Cutting the fat around your belly is especially important for the reduction of cholesterol and for diabetes management. Here are some other ways to reduce belly fat even more:
1. Eat more protein
Protein boosts metabolism. Some studies have found that a high-protein diet can increase metabolism, which means your body burns more calories leading to weight loss PubMed: The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance.
2. Eat foods rich in fiber
Fiber-rich foods help fill you up faster and keep you feeling full for longer, which helps prevent overeating. Overeating causes belly fat, and fiber helps to prevent gaining belly fat. It also improves gut health, which can help prevent constipation and other digestive issues.
3. Drink water
Studies have shown that drinking water is associated with weight loss PubMed: Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity and fat loss by lowering total energy intake and/or positively altering metabolism.
4. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE: Perils of Skipping Meals lowers metabolism leading to lower calorie burn and consequent weight gain, including belly fat. It also causes other problems like low energy and headaches.
5. Avoid high-fat foods at all costs
Certain foods high in sugars and refined carbs, tend to be high in empty calories and fat. These foods generally promote the accumulation of fat around the waist. Therefore, it is best to avoid these foods to reduce or prevent belly fat.
Additionally, high-fat foods can contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat, which has been linked to an increased risk of various health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Running is a great exercise to burn belly fat. Moreover, including high-intensity interval training along with running in your weight loss journey burns more fat.
If you are getting started, start with low-intensity runs for a longer duration. Later, you can increase the duration, days, and miles you have in your training schedule.