Get Your 6 Week Arm Shaping Program!
Say bye bye to your batwings
Click here to find out more

Does Running Reduce Belly Fat?

The short answer to whether or not running reduces belly fat is a conditional yes. Under the right conditions and circumstances running will burn fat and plenty of it however, it’s important you understand what those circumstances are. Running will burn belly fat because of one thing – it allows your body to process oxygen more efficiently. The number one rule when it comes to burning fat is this:
The more efficient you are at processing oxygen, the more belly fat you are going to burn.

Fat Burning 101

We burn fat via the oxygen energy cycle. The more oxygen our bodies process via oxygen usage and expenditure (when we breathe in and out), the more fat our bodies will use for energy. The more consistent and more intense our breathing becomes when exercising the more fat we are going to burn. The thing you have to remember is that contrary to popular belief, we don’t sweat fat out. Although there is a small amount of fat when we sweat, that’s not how our bodies get rid of fat.

We burn fat via carbon dioxide. In other words, when we breathe out, we breathe out fat.

This is why running is so effective at burning belly fat. Running will increase our bodies uptake of oxygen which will metabolizes for fat for energy. The by-product of our bodies metabolizing fat for energy is how we breathe it out via carbon dioxide.

Make sense?

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen an overweight long distance runner? Have you ever seen an overweight long distance cyclist? Neither have I. You want to know why? It’s because they have conditioned their bodies to become so efficient at processing oxygen that whatever foods they consume gets burned up immediately. I know runners who consume 6000 calories a day and they don’t put on an ounce of fat simply because of one thing. Their bodies are oxygen processing machines!

The Belly Fat Burning Machine!

Let me give you an example. When I was growing up, I used to do cross country running. I think we had a team of 6 people. There was one guy on the team that was an exceptional cross country running. He was powerfully built (legs like tree trunks) and had these long, forceful running strides. In most of our races, he usually came in the top 3 (first most of the time). These were 10 K runs so they were very challenging. I mean, this guy was built like a body builder.

Here’s the thing that I didn’t understand at the time. Every time I saw this guy, he was always eating. It seemed like he constantly had a sandwich or banana, or apple in his hand munching. Mind you, he wasn’t eating chicken wings or burgers, he was eating whole food. Does sodium make you fat?

If I had to guess, he was consuming at least 5000 calories a day but come race time, he was a running machine! Here’s the thing that I didn’t understand. It’s how he conditioned his body to become an ultra-efficient oxygen processing machine. Today, I get it. I know the why and it’s because of this that running is an efficient fat burning exercise.

Does that mean it’s possible to eat 5000 calories a day (eating everything in sight), do the odd run here and there and burn gobs of belly fat? No, probably not and the main reason is because of how you balance your daily calorie allowance.

How Cardiovascular Conditioned You Are VS Daily Calorie Intake

You will never out train poor nutritional habits. You can’t expect to keep eating an over-abundance of bad food and expect to burn fat while doing the odd run here and there. If you want to burn belly fat and lose weight, you will have to make sure you keep your daily calorie allowance slightly under your daily basal metabolic rate WHILE introducing running.

Here’s the thing.

If create a slight calorie deficit each day your body will lose weight. A calorie deficit is nothing more taking in fewer calories (energy) than what your body is expending - This action alone will burn belly fat. By introducing a cardiovascular exercise such as running, you will allow your body to increase its ability to process oxygen. As you build up your oxygen processing efficiency your body will consistently burn more and more fat.

By combining a slight daily calorie deficit and running, you will absolutely burn gobs of belly fat but just remember, this process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get into shape but as you start running longer and increasing the distance, your body will start to increase its ability to process oxygen and use more fat for energy.

How Long Does this Process Take?

You can start burning fat immediately. You can go outside now, take a brisk walk for an hour and your body will burn fat a certain amount of fat. However, just remember that your body will use its stores of glycogen (carbohydrates) first before using fat. Once your body is depleted of glycogen your body will draw on its sources of fat to use as energy.

This is why cardiovascular conditioning such as running, is so important to burning body fat. For the first minute or so, your body will be drawing from its stores of glycogen to use as energy. Once depleted, your body will use its stores of body fat. The longer and more consistent the exercise is, the more fat you will burn.

In terms of when you actually start noticing your belly fat reducing, that depends but generally you will start to see inches coming off around 2 to 3 week mark, depending on how heavy you are when you started. All things being equal, you can realistically lose 3 to 5 pounds your first week and 2 pounds every week after (depending on how your structure your nutrition plan).

This number will vary but if you reduce your daily calorie intake below your basal metabolic rate (to create a calorie deficit) and keep active every day (IE: running) you can expect the numbers above to be pretty close.

Here’s a tip to burn even more belly fat

In addition to creating a slight calorie deficit, reduce the amount of carbohydrates your ingest when you are going to perform cardiovascular exercises for that day. Carbohydrates will convert to glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver (for activity usage). The more carbohydrates you ingest, the more glycogen that will be stored and in a worst case scenario, metabolized into body fat (if you are taking in a lot of carbohydrates). If you’re going to be running that day, drop your intake of carbohydrates to less than 50 grams. This will allow you to you to deplete your glycogen stores and make your fat stores more accessible for energy use. 3 Foods You MUST Avoid if You Want To Lose Weight and Belly Fat!

Do you really want to burn belly fat fast? As soon as you wake up, activate your metabolism and perform your run. By this, I mean consume a no calorie, metabolism boosting drink and then perform your run. Have a glass of cold water with a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of ginger, and a pinch of turmeric. This will raise your core temperature and activate your metabolism (to start the fat burning process). Wait a few minutes for full effect and afterwards, go for your run. Get into the habit of doing this and watch the reduction in belly fat

What About Weight Training?

When it comes to burning fat, cardio is the key. However, weight training will strengthen your muscles and once activated (your muscles), they will draw additional calories to sustain new growth levels. This means your lean tissues (muscles) will require more calories (and nutrients) to sustain. Muscles will also use a certain amount of oxygen (via blood flow) to perform more intense exercise and this will help contribute to additional fat loss. However, for now just remember that cardio burns fat and resistance training strengthens muscles (to soak up more calories). Do crunches burn belly fat?

Does Running Reduce Belly Fat - Conclusion

So, does running reduce belly fat? Yes, it is very effective at burning fat BUT only if certain conditions are met.

Firstly, you need to make sure your nutrition is set up properly. This is item number one on your list to make sure your body is primed for fat loss. Without a doubt, you have to create a slight calorie deficit that will allow your body to draw on its own fat stores for energy.

Secondly, you need to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you ingest on the days that you perform your runs (or cardio). Cardio (IE running) uses oxygen to help metabolize fat into energy. What you want to do is make it easier for your body to access your body fat stores (instead of having to use up all of the glycogen). Try reducing your intake of carbohydrates to 50 grams for the day.

Thirdly, you need to be consistent! Performing your cardio (IE: running) every 3rd or 4th day will produce some results but not the kind of results you’re looking for. Remember, you want to condition your body to become more efficient at processing oxygen. The only way to do that is to make sure you do something active every day. You don’t have to run every day but try and do something active that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time (45 minutes plus). This can be hiking, jogging, cycling, swimming, Zumba, or other activities that you enjoy and can do on a daily basis.

There you go, running is great for burning belly fat, losing weight and getting into great shape. 

Remember...Stay safe and Stay strong!

Blake Bissaillion
Owner, Belly Be Gone

Over his 30 plus years of experience, Blake Bissaillion has worked with nationally ranked body builders, power lifters and fitness professionals. In this time he has picked up volumes of applied knowledge that he openly shares with his clients. Mr. Bissaillion’s objective is to help as many beginners to weight training and fitness to achieve their weight loss and fitness goals while getting into their best possible shape. Mr. Bissaillion owns and operates Belly Be Gone, a fitness company that offers fitness and nutritional guidance and products.

Return to Belly Be Gone Home Page