Does Running Burn Fat? Optimizing Your Runs For Weight Loss
The short answer is yes, running burns fat. Running can be very effective at burning fat, as long as your body is receiving an adequate amount of oxygen. For this reason, low-intensity running can be more effective at burning fat.
Many new runners decide to start running to get in shape. Yet, they might be curious whether running is the best form of exercise to aid them in fat loss or weight loss.
This article will share more information with you about how running burns fat and how to optimize your runs for weight loss.
Does Running Burn Fat?
You might be surprised to learn that your body is almost constantly burning fat. Even as you sit in your chair and breathe, your body is burning fat.
Fat is a fuel that your body uses to generate energy to make your body function and work properly. Burning fat is how your body causes the energy to allow you to think, talk, walk, digest food, and just about everything else.
When you do strenuous activities, your body needs more fuel to create energy because it depletes energy more quickly.
Your body creates energy by using two sources: glycogen stores (carbohydrates) and fat. Low-intensity exercise is more likely to burn fat because your body uses oxygen to burn it.
When you begin to do high-intensity exercise, you get out of breath, and your body is taking in less oxygen. When this happens, your body will turn to glycogen stores to create energy rather than fat.
What Type of Running Burns The Most Fat?
To burn fat, your body needs to have an adequate amount of oxygen. Therefore, your body burns the most fat during low-intensity exercises like a brisk walk or fast jog.
High-intensity running or sprinting will burn carbohydrates rather than fat so that you will be burning less fat in those types of exercises.
A highly effective running technique that burns the most fat is known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
Rotating between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise is highly effective in burning fat.
Can I Just Run To Lose Fat?
You can certainly run to lose body fat if that is what your goal is.
Suppose your main goal of running is to lose fat. In that case, I recommend focusing on long runs at a moderate, easy pace because this will allow your body to maximize its fat-burning capability rather than burning carbs.
It is also important to incorporate cross-training into your exercise routine rather than just running.
I recommend mixing in some strength training to build muscle and other aerobic exercises such as biking/cycling.
A few other aerobic exercises are swimming, brisk walking, using an elliptical trainer, or rowing.
Does Running Burn Belly Fat?
Many studies have shown that running does help to reduce belly fat.
NCBI completed an analysis of 15 studies that revealed a positive correlation between moderate to high-intensity physical activity and burning and decreasing belly fat. (1)
Working out at a moderate intensity for about 30 minutes per day will certainly aid in burning belly fat.
If you want to really focus on burning belly fat specifically, you can focus on aerobic cardio or strength training. You can also try HIIT training (high-intensity interval training).
HIIT training involves rotating between high intensity and rest, and it is a highly effective fat-burning workout type.
Interval running burns more calories than steady-state training.
Does Running Burn Thigh Fat?
Running can help to tone your legs in general since you are using the muscles in your legs to support you as you run. Running can strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and calves.
As mentioned above, it can also aid in burning fat.
If you’re looking to burn thigh fat, running is a great exercise to incorporate into your life.
To aid in burning thigh fat, you can also try some other strength training exercises such as squats.
Squats will help to tone your thighs and engage your core.
How Long Until You See Results From Running?
Running can be an excellent way to improve your health and fitness, but don’t expect to see instant results. It can be easy to get started with running and then expect to see results right away.
In reality, it takes consistent and ongoing effort to see and experience real results from running. It can take approximately 4-6 weeks before you notice a change in your aerobic ability.
You should also be sure to be consistent and run several times per week to notice results.
When it comes to running, be sure not to take on too much too fast because that could lead to burnout or injury.
It’s important to start slowly and increase your mileage/speed over time to reduce injury risk.
Is Running The Fastest Way To Lose Weight?
It’s easy to assume that it is the fastest and easiest way to lose weight because running has such fat-burning potential. Unfortunately, this is a tricky misconception.
Running can definitely aid in losing weight as it is an activity that burns calories quickly. But the answer to whether running is the fastest way to lose weight is not quite so straightforward.
To lose weight, your body needs to have a calorie deficit. The good news is that running is an extremely effective calorie-burning exercise; to effectively lose weight, you need to be burning a higher number of calories than you’re taking in.
To lose weight from running, the biggest factor to consider isn’t whether your body is burning fat vs. carbs but rather whether your body is burning enough calories to create a calorie deficit.
When your body needs more energy than the amount of food you’re eating, it will use stored fat cells, which will result in weight loss and looking leaner.
What Are Some Of The Other Benefits of Running?
Running can be very beneficial in many ways that have nothing to do with burning fat or weight loss.
Running is very good for your heart health, and it has been shown to improve your mood and sleep.
So if you’ve ever gone for a run and realized that your mood is much better afterward and you slept like a baby that night, it probably wasn’t just in your head.
Running has even been found to reduce your risk of cancer!
There are so many benefits that it’s hard to list them all.
But don’t take my word for it; give it a try yourself!
*About the Author:
Lauren Sheu, RunnerClick Pro member, is an RRCA Certified Running Coach and the Owner and Founder of Running for Wellness.
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