Does Running Burn Belly Fat?

Does Running Burn Belly Fat?

7 min read


29 Jun 2023

Belly fat. It just seems to creep up out of nowhere, doesn’t it?

One day you’re walking around with a flat, toned stomach, then suddenly: BAM! It’s a belly.

And from there, it all begins to spiral. You notice that your clothes don’t fit like they used to… You feel tired all the time… You lose your confidence…

So many of us find ourselves in this situation and feel guilty or ashamed. But sometimes, life just gets in the way. Family, kids, career, social life – it’s hard to balance it all and then find the time to stay healthy and in good shape.

But that’s OK. In fact, just recognizing this and wanting to do something about it puts you way ahead of most other people. And that’s why you’re here.

You want to get lean, regain your mojo, and look and feel great. And we want to help.

It doesn't matter whether you have a history of exercising to lose weight or if you’re brand new to the idea – either way, we’ve got you covered.

The first thing we’ll look at en route to getting you into your desired shape is running.

Now, if the very idea of running immediately sets you on edge: don’t worry! We’re going to look at lots of different ways you can incorporate putting one leg in front of the other into your daily routine. We’ll also break down what belly fat is, see if running can help you lose belly fat (spoiler alert: it can), and help you determine what your next steps should be. (Yes, that was a pun. We regret nothing.)

Ready? Set? Let’s go!

Why Do We Get Belly Fat?

Before we get into how to lose belly fat, we first need to take a look at what it actually is and why fat piles up in such a specific area.

The first thing to know is that there are actually two different types of body fat.

This isn’t something we tend to hear too much about, but we should because it’s important to understand the difference between the two if we want to lose weight effectively.

The first type of fat is called subcutaneous fat. Everyone has this spread across their body parts in varying amounts. This type of fat is located just below the skin and plays a key role in storing energy, protecting your muscles and bones, and insulating your body. Whilst this is clearly important to your overall health, too much can be a bad thing – particularly if you also have an abundance of the other type of fat.

This second type is known as visceral fat, which surrounds your internal organs and tends to show up around your abdomen. It’s mostly this deep visceral fat that leads to ill health (including serious issues like diabetes and heart disease) as well as that protruding belly that we are all so keen to shrink down.

Once upon a time, our ancestors needed to be able to store this abundance of fat for the times when food was scarce; a trait that we have maintained over the years, despite most of us now having access to an almost unlimited amount of food. These days we want to avoid this sort of additional storage of body fat – particularly around the belly.

Whilst there is a clear difference between the two types of fat, both of them play by the same rules when it comes to weight loss – after all, when you lose weight, you typically lose it across your whole body.

Fat, of either type, is essentially adipose tissue stored as energy from calories taken in. So if you regularly consume more calories than you burn off in a day, you will gain weight.

However, the flip side of this is that to lose weight, you simply need to burn more calories than you consume. 

This brings us to a great way to do just that: running.

Does Running Help Burn Belly Fat?

The simple answer is yes, running can help you burn belly fat. Running burns calories, so if you combine regularly going for a run with a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Brilliant!

What sort of running should you do? This will depend on your goals, as different approaches to running will lead to different results.

Just compare the physique of a typical Olympic sprinter to that of a marathon runner and you’ll see exactly what we mean. Both types of athletes run in distinct ways that lead to contrasting outcomes for their bodies.

Short-distance specialists have to build strong leg muscles for explosive power and speed, whereas long-distance runners are all about working on their stamina and longevity.

The good news is that you don’t have to stick to just one form of running – and there are plenty of types to consider. As well as going for a short jog or a distance run, you could also try:

  • Trail running: This will test your body in different ways. As you run across varied terrain, you’ll have to adapt your speed as well as your approach, so you’ll also be getting a bit of a mental workout and a test of your concentration too.
  • Interval running: To really get your blood pumping, head down to your local park and sprint flat out from one end to the other (or between two notable points if the park is huge), then slowly walk back to the start. Then do it again. And again. Four or five intervals like this feel absolutely brutal, but you’ll soon notice the fat dripping off you.
  • Hill sprints: Oh boy, these ones are a killer. They’re basically intervals on an incline. Sprint up a hill, then walk back down and repeat however many times you can. (This really is a next-level approach, so don’t throw yourself in at the deep end and try these on day one.)
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): Combining short bursts of running with other exercises will freshen up your workouts and help you avoid boredom or stagnation. You could also do sprint/jog intervals on a treadmill for an intense indoor HIIT workout.

The best thing about running for weight loss is that you can constantly change what you do. There are so many options. You can vary the pace, the location, the length of time, the distance… You’re free to mix it up however you see fit.

It doesn’t matter if you run outdoors, on a treadmill, do laps in the garden, or even just go for a nice long walk – it all adds up, and anything is better than nothing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Running

Let’s finish up with the answers to a few frequently asked questions that might help you decide how to get started with running.

Does running on a treadmill burn belly fat?

It sure does. Running on a treadmill is still running. Sure, you might not be out in the sunshine with nice scenery to take in, but you’ll be burning calories the same as you would if you were running outdoors. If you are planning to get on the treadmill, make sure to run on a slight incline, as this will mimic the outdoor terrain a bit more and take some of the impacts off of your knees (just a couple of percent will be fine, you don’t need to go crazy and pretend you’re climbing a mountain).

Does running in place burn belly fat?

As with running on a treadmill or outside, jogging on the spot will burn calories. The main downside to this approach (besides being a bit boring) is that you can’t really get into a rhythm that you can keep up for very long. We suggest incorporating running on the spot into a HIIT workout, going all out for bursts of 20 or 30 seconds before a quick rest, then going again – either with another round of running or of a different exercise.

Does running or cycling burn more belly fat?

Running and cycling are both great aerobic activities that get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Any form of cardiovascular exercise will burn calories and help you lose belly fat, so it’s really down to your own personal preference which you do. Running tends to be more of an intense calorie burner (we recommend using a calorie calculator to get an accurate figure), but cycling is a lower impact (making it easier on your joints and muscles). Plus, you can always switch up what you do, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.

What Else Can I Do To Lose Belly Fat?

Running is a great place to start when it comes to losing belly fat, and it can provide the perfect motivation to take your weight loss to the next level.

Hopefully, we have inspired you to lace up your running shoes and hit the asphalt, but we don’t want to stop there. We want to help you step it up another gear so you can shed the fat and keep it off for good.

If you want to really change your life and be in better shape than ever before, sign up to our email series on how to lose weight and burn belly fat fast. We provide lots of helpful information and top tips that can get you exactly where you want to be with your health and fitness. So what are you waiting for? Join us there and let’s blast that fat!