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  • West London PT

Running To Lose Belly Fat: How Long, How Fast & How Far

Updated: Jun 10

Woman running on a trail by a river with hills in the background.

When Does Your Body Burn Fat From Exercise?

There are a lot of misnomers when it comes to fat loss. Most people think of death on a treadmill to achieve anything meaningful, and this is far from the truth.

Your body mainly derives energy from two sources: carbohydrates and fat.

Here's the interesting part: fat contains almost 4X the energy per gram compared to carbohydrates. So why don't we just use fat?

Put simply, it's much easier for your body to break down the energy from carbohydrates, even though it's less energy dense. Therefore, carbohydrates are your body's first choice for any running above medium intensity.

Lower intensity exercises for a longer duration are the key to using existing fat stores.

Meanwhile, your body will burn fat during lower-intensity activities, such as walking and gentle jogging.

Can You Lose Belly Fat From Running?

With that in mind, there are two ways you can burn fat through running:

1) Burn through all of your carbohydrate-based glycogen (energy) stores, until your body resorts to burning fat for energy.

2) Keep the intensity at no more than a '6/10' with a more gentle pace or incline, so that your body is more likely to rely on your fat stores for energy.

Surprisingly, lowering the intensity is often where you're more likely to burn fat from the start!

How Long Should You Run To Lose Belly Fat?

Speed itself isn't the most crucial factor, strain on the body is. You need to keep your heart rate in a comfortable range so that your body doesn't immediately resort to the readily available glycogen from carbohydrate stores. That might mean 10km/h for one person, and 5km/h for another. The point is, whatever the speed, it should feel easy!

How Long Should You Run To Lose Belly Fat?

If you're running at a lower intensity to burn fat, make the run longer. Half an hour is a great starting point! Once you're relying on fat stores for energy, more time spent expending that energy will bring greater rewards.

What Distance Should You Run To Lose The Most Fat?

The exact distance to lose fat will vary from person to person - what's most important is the duration of the run. The further you run, the more fat you'll burn as long as you're maintaining a low intensity suitable for fat burning. If that means you cover 3km in 40 minutes, then that's absolutely fine!

Do Intense Workouts Burn Body Fat?

Fat loss will come ultimately from a calorie deficit. You may, in the end, lose more fat by upping the intensity. This is due to the higher deficit that may result from tougher workouts. If you're running at a lower intensity to burn fat, make the run longer. Half an hour is a great starting point!


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