I can say I have never had to lose weight. However, I have always had a problem keeping weight on.
Now before you groan and click away let me ask you ….
Success leaves clues would you like to take money advice from a rich man or a poor man?
And would you like to take advice from a runner that is very good at keeping weight off?
It’s reverse engineering of sorts 🙂
In this article, I share many of the routines and tips I use to keep in shape at 57 and can help you lose belly fat and get all the benefits of running too.
The question of losing weight by running or, more specifically, losing belly fat by running seems to be a key motivator for many people to take up running.
So the question is, will doing running help you shift unwanted weight?
Yes, it is the short answer followed by some ifs and buts.
Sorry if you are looking for an easy, quick fix to losing belly fat.
However, I would advise running if you want to run and have all its benefits, including losing some weight if you follow some common-sense principles, then read on.
First, Let’s Look At Why Belly Fat Is Hard To Lose…
Before we get into how you can lose belly fat when running, I just wanted to quickly touch on why belly fat is so stubborn to lose in the first place.
Even when people lose weight, it is often one of the last places to lose those unwanted pounds.
Diet And Lifestyle.
Eating lots of processed foods and high levels of alcohol will, of course, put unwanted weight into your stomach area.
How old we impact too, our metabolisms slow and hormonal changes in males and females can enable easier weight gain.
Stress comes into play because when we are stressed, we tend to make more poor diet choices and often consume more alcohol.
However, stress also triggers the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase fat cells and enlarge them. Research has shown that higher levels of cortisol have been shown to heighten levels of visceral fat.
Basically, if you live modern-day life and not move much, this, of course, combined with a high processed food diet, is more than likely to add unwanted weight.
Lack Of Sleep.
The sleep foundation says…
Over the past several decades, the amount of time that Americans spend sleeping has steadily decreased1, as has the self-reported quality of that sleep. For much of the same time period, the average body mass index (BMI) of Americans increased.
This could be coincidental, however unlikely; add to this that a lack of sleep will make you less inclined to exercise. You can see why sleep and a good amount of it are key if you wish to lose belly fat.
What Is Visceral Fat And Why It Matters If You Want To Lose Belly Fat?
You have subcutaneous fat just below the skin; however, we are looking at Visceral fat that wraps around your abdominal organs for this article.
Dangers of Visceral Fat
When someone talks about losing belly fat, then in effect, they are talking about losing mainly visceral fat because though you have subcutaneous fat that lies just under the skin, Visceral fat is wrapped around your abdominal organs.
Visceral fat has been linked to an increased likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and high cholesterol.
So even if your goal for losing weight might be more aesthetically motivated, it’s worth looking at the potential health benefits of losing unwanted weight.
Move More Than You Eat To Lose Belly Fat By Running.
Let’s get the simple but vital information out the way.
The diet industry has complicated simple principles; however oversimplified how to achieve the results you desire…
It’s called marketing.
The simple truth is if you eat less than you move or move more than you eat, you will lose weight.
Will this mean the weight you lose is immediately in the stomach area? It’s probably not due to diet and hormonal issues; quite often, it’s a well-known stubborn area to lose unwanted body fat.
The average person needs to be in a calorie deficit of 3500-7000 calories per week to lose 1-2x pounds a week.
With excepting the principle of working on a calorie deficit, running does deliver an opportunity to lose belly fat so let’s take a closer look at what you need to do.
Here’s the outline.
- Build to running at least 30 minutes a day initially-4 to 5 days a week
- Look to eat real foods. Avoid processed foods
- Track activity with Strava and calories with My fitness pal
- Build-in some strength training
- Add in high-intensity training sessions (only when capable)
- The build-up to at least one 60 minutes plus run a week.
- Commit and don’t believe in motivation.
If the above looks like too much effort, ask yourself how many fad diets have come and gone?
The above-incorporated key factors for success.
- Control of calories.
- Increase activity.
- Quality Fuel/food.
- Consistency of effort.
So let’s look at how you can begin losing some belly fat.
How Much Should I Run A Day To Lose Belly Fat?
Like I mentioned above, you should look to run between 30 mins a day to 60 mins a day.
Of course, if you are new to running, a lot will depend on your present state of health. If you are not capable of running for 30 minutes, try walking or the walk-run method.
Here is an article I wrote about the walk-run method
Consistency is a key aspect. Too often, people start and stop running. You don’t have to be perfect. We all miss running days for many reasons; however, consistency is required to get results.
Be Aware Of Intensity And Volume
I look at running as two key main areas, intensity and volume of running.
What I mean is from the perspective of losing weight and using running to achieve that goal, your main ally apart from making sure you control your calories is making sure that when you do high intensity running, it is high enough in intensity but not over a too long a period.
With volume, you want to be out for longer but keep the intensity down.
Both ways will burn fat and calories but in different ways.
What Exercise Burns The Most Belly Fat?
The Type Of Running Matters Too.
A tip I would look at is varying the types of runs. Perhaps one to two runs a week at a high intensity. HIIT training has proven to be a great way to lose weight, as you get your heart rate up and use carbohydrate stores as the body easily accesses them for fast and higher intensity exercise.
However long slower runs of 60 minutes or more are really great as your body starts burning fat as fuel, helping losing calories.
So it makes sense to combine both types of running.
You might think one type of running is better than the other. It would be more beneficial to look at it from the point of view they take different routes but arrive at the same destination, helping you lose unwanted weight and belly fat.
You will be doing shorter runs of less duration for beginners, making sense to incorporate some higher intensity within those runs.
Some Examples Of High-Intensity Running
The examples I will give here are more based on the goal of losing tummy fat.
That’s a key factor for me when I run.
Always know your WHY… The purpose of the run.
Please also check in with a registered professional to make sure you are fit enough to do more high-intensity exercise.
So first and foremost, keep the workouts to no more than 30 minutes. Over this, you are more than likely not going to be working at the right intensity.
If your fitness initially does not allow for 30minutes, drop down to 20 minutes.
Or begin with a month or two of easy runs (see below) to make sure you build up enough endurance before doing high-intensity training.
- Begin by gently running at an effortless pace so that you could hold an easy conversation with someone if you had to. Do this for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Then run for a minute at what would be 85/90% of your capacity; this should feel hard but have some control level. Do this for a minute.
- Return to an easy run, or walk for a while to regain breath but then begin easy run pace. Repat initially 4 times though this can be increased over time.
- Total workout time 30 minutes
I love hill sprints or hill reps. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. I love the results. The actual workout is tough but has many benefits.
Find a hill in your area. It does not have to be a mountain, just an incline of at least 200 meters or so.
After a 4-minute easy run warm-up.
Run up the hill at 80% effort.
Jog back down to recover.
Repeat 4 to 5 times. This part of the training only needs to be 15 mins initially or.
Then warm down with some easy running for 10 to 15 minutes to recover.
The great factor about hill repeats ais as you are going against gravity though, at high intensity, there is less impact on your body.
I always found this rather counterintuitive, but it’s true.
Using A Weighted Vest.
If you are up to a bit more resistance, use a resistance vest. I tend not to use mine when running, however, more when I am doing strength training.
My weighted vest is only 5K, but you can get weighted vests of many weights.
The main factor is to put enough resistance into your workout but not too much, especially early on.
I like the weighted vest because it increases intensity more quickly while at the same time building up muscle resistance and endurance.
Running To Lose Belly Fat. The Long Run.
For me, a long run can be anything from 60 minutes to two hours plus.
To lose belly fat, I will suggest building to run for 40 to 6o minutes.
The whole point is to make the run steady and fairly easy from an exertion point of view. You burn calories with consistent movement.
The longer you go, your body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fat stores.
However, that pace has to be easy to the point of slow. You should be able to hold a conversation with someone at this pace.
Physical activity like this will burn more calories and fat stores.
Canadian Journal of Sport Sciences, runners who trained for an hour saw a 500% increase in post-run calorie burn when compared to their half hour sessions.
The big caveat here is what you eat pre and post-run. Pre-run do not over fuel for these types of runs. Some research shows that it’s better for fat burning to run first thing in the morning fasted.
However, their also research that it makes no difference!!!
What is true is not to overcompensate a long run with eating too much pre-run.
Post-run, this is where many runners who are looking to lose belly fat make a big error.
Post-run, you will need to refuel; however, if the calories expended in your run are less than when you return, then weight loss is going to be an uphill struggle.
The challenge here is running can make you hungry, and as I have said, I really do not want to discourage people from eating post-run as it helps with
However, just be aware of the amount of food and the quality of food you are consuming and do not use running as an excuse to eat more highly processed food or more alcohol.
Using Strength Training To Lose Belly Fat
Integrating some strength training into your running can have dual benefits of making you fitter as an individual, particularly if you are getting older as muscle mass begins to reduce as you age.
Sarcopenia (muscle loss) is a part of ageing as you get to 30 years old and beyond to can lose up to 5% per decade.
By doing strength, training can slow the process of Sarcopenia down.
Plus, if you integrate certain exercises into your workouts, this can help reduce belly fat as it can assist in the fat-burning process.
Let’s be clear no one exercise can laser-target one area of the body; however, some exercises can help with the correct diet and sleep assist you in losing belly fat.
So let’s look at some simple but effective strength training you could do.
I do planks most mornings. I like the challenge of trying to improve my length of time with a plank.
The benefits of planks are that the exercise engages many muscles within your core area.
The best way to do a plank is to lay on the floor, place your elbows under your shoulders. Hands-on the floor. Elbows on the floor, lift your body so that between your elbows and feet you are off the floor, draw in your core, you should feel a shaking sensation. See how long you can hold the position.
Get into a position like a plank but higher up, make sure wrists are under shoulders suck in the core. Drive your knee towards your chest, then back and then with the other leg.
This one move is something personally I have been trying to master for some time. I found initially I did the movements just holding a shoe or slipper, then when I was more fluid with the movements, I added in a kettlebell, initially quite light and built from there.
I can’t tell you this is an easy movement, but its benefits have been known for well over 200 years.
Of course, there are many more examples of strength workouts. My main goal in this article is to make you aware of the opportunity to combine both for maximum results.
Resources Used in This Article
Why Sleep Is Important- Sleep Foundation