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Does Running Help You Lose Belly Fat?

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Updated April 03, 2014

Question: Does Running Help You Lose Belly Fat?
"I'm trying to get rid of my stubborn belly fat. Can running help me lose it?"
Answer: I've mentioned this in other articles about running and weight loss, but running is not a sure-fire way to lose weight and, by the same token, it's not a guaranteed way to lose your spare tire, belly, pooch, or whatever else you want to not-so-affectionately call it. And it's also true that you won't lose fat from your abdominal area by targeting your abs with specific exercises. To lose belly fat, you have to reduce your overall body fat. While running can help you lose fat, you'll have a lot more success by combining it with a healthy, low-calorie diet. And, even then, your genetics determine what areas will lose the fat first.

Here are some tips for losing weight with running and a healthy, low-calorie diet:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio in your Target Heart Rate Zone on most days of the week. To avoid burnout and injuries, alternate between running and cross training activities, such as cycling, elliptical trainer, dancing, swimming, or hiking.

  • Use a Daily Caloric Expenditure calculator to figure how many calories you actually need each day. Once you have that number, you need to create a deficit – through a combination of dieting or exercise -- of 3500 calories a week (or 500 per day) to lose a pound a week.

  • Write down everything you eat and drink to keep track of how many calories you're taking in and figure out what bad habits you need to correct.

  • Incorporate entire body strength training into your routine twice a week. You don't even need access to fancy gym equipment – you can do some of these body weight exercises at home.

  • Focus on making small changes to your diet, such as cutting out regular soda and adding more fruits and veggies.

  • Watch your portion sizes, especially after running, when you might feel tempted to eat a little extra because of all the calories you burned during your run.

More Running and Weight Loss FAQs

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