Running to a Flat Stomach: The Ultimate Guide to Belly Fat Loss For Runners

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David Dack

Ready to dive into the exciting world of running and its magical fat-burning powers? Well, you’re in for a treat because we’re about to uncover the truth about one of your most burning questions (pun intended): Does running burn belly fat?

Spoiler alert: Heck yeah, it does!

In fact, running is like that trusty sidekick many beginners recruit on their quest for a flat stomach. It’s the ultimate weight loss superhero, helping you shed those extra pounds and reveal your inner runner’s physique.

But here’s the kicker: while running is a fantastic weapon in your fat-burning arsenal, it’s not a one-person show.

Nope, it needs a supporting cast of the right diet and lifestyle changes to truly work its magic.

So, in today’s post, we’re serving up a plateful of wisdom on how to banish that stubborn belly fat and unveil the coveted flat stomach.

But before we dig into the juicy details, let’s kick things off with a quick chat about what exactly belly fat is and its impact on your health.

What’s Belly Fat?

Belly fat is like the supervillain of the fat world, and it goes by the ominous name of ‘visceral fat’ in the medical realm. This sneaky villain doesn’t just hang around idly; it’s the most dangerous fat you can find in your body.

Picture this: Visceral fat sets up camp in your abdominal area, almost like an unwelcome guest that overstays its welcome. It’s not just there for the view; it wraps itself around your vital organs like a menacing shroud.

Now, here’s a sobering statistic: surveys have revealed that more than 30 percent of U.S. adults fall into the ‘obese’ category.

That’s a bit over one in every three people, and it’s earned the U.S. the rather unwanted title of one of the ‘fluffiest’ countries globally. If things continue on this trajectory, it’s not far-fetched to predict that by 2040, more than half the U.S. population could be dealing with obesity.

But here’s the real kicker: belly fat isn’t just about how your jeans fit or your beach body goals. It’s a serious troublemaker with a rap sheet that includes being a prime suspect in various life-threatening diseases.

We’re talking about Type II diabetes, heart diseases, coronary artery disease, hypertension, some cancers, sleep apnea, and even shorter life expectancy.

Running To Lose Belly Fat And Get A Flat Stomach

Here is a list of smart habits that will help you get rid of that dad’s bod and enjoy a sexier stomach.

Part 1 – Diet Changes to Get A Flat Stomach

The kitchen is the heart of the house and also where the battle for losing belly fat is won or lost.

Make the following changes to your nutrition plan and see your belly-slimming down as a result.

  1. Remove The Sugars

If you’re on a quest for that coveted flat stomach and want to reach your goal as swiftly as a superhero in flight, here’s a game-changer for you: reduce your daily sugar intake.

And guess what? Science isn’t just cheering from the sidelines; it’s on the frontlines of this sugary battle, waving a victory flag. Here’s the evidence:

Study 1:

Ever wondered about the impact of white bread on your belly? Research has shown that subjects who indulged in four to five servings of white bread daily ended up with more belly fat compared to those who opted for just one serving, despite consuming the same number of calories. It’s a clear signal that sugar-packed foods can wreak havoc on your midsection.

Study 2:

Low-carb diets have been found to be appetite tamers, paving the way for weight loss. It’s like having a secret weapon to fend off those pesky cravings.

Study 3:

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dropped a bombshell – the average American now consumes a whopping 80 more calories per day than they did in 1977, largely due to increased sugar intake. It’s time to reverse this trend and take back control of our health.

Your Action Plan:

Now, here’s the part where you become the hero of your story. Cut back (or bid farewell forever) to all forms of refined and processed sugars. That includes waving goodbye to white bread, cookies, waffles, muffins, candy, chips, bagels, pastries, cakes, donuts, pasta, crackers, junk, and fried foods – basically, anything that comes in a bag or a box.

  1. Banish Liquid Calories

Liquid calories are like stealthy ninjas infiltrating your diet, and they come in all shapes and sizes – soda, coffee, energy drinks, fruit juice, beer, and a bunch of sugar-loaded beverages.

Liquid sugars are the sneakiest of them all. They don’t register the same way in your brain as solid food does. So, you end up consuming a boatload of extra calories without even realizing it.

And yes, even diet coke gets a bad rap here.

In a jaw-dropping revelation, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society uncovered that folks who regularly sipped on diet soda gained triple the fat over nine years compared to those who abstained from it. That’s right – even artificial sugars can throw a wrench in your flat-stomach plans.

Your Battle Plan:

So, what’s the game plan, you ask? It’s all about mindful eating.

Focus on what truly fuels your body and promotes your well-being.

Here’s the battle cry: limit your intake of all liquid calorie sources, be it coke, sports drinks, beer, alcohol, juice, coffee concoctions, or any other sugar-laden beverages. Instead, raise your glass to water.

  1. Eat More Healthy Fats

Are you guilty of giving fats the cold shoulder because you’re on a mission to shed some pounds? Well, hold that thought because here’s a truth bomb: not all fats are created equal, and you’re about to discover a game-changing secret.

In reality, fats are like the unsung heroes of your diet, right up there with carbs and proteins. They play a crucial role in your nutrition game, and neglecting them is a big no-no.

Don’t take my word for it.

Here’s some solid evidence to back it up: research published in the journal Diabetic Care spilled the beans that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats can outperform a high-carb diet in regulating blood sugar levels. That’s right, fats are taking the lead in the race to better health!

And if that’s not impressive enough, another study published in the medical journal Appetite unveiled the power of long-chain omega-3 fats in taming your hunger pangs.

So, where do you find these mighty healthy fats? They’re hiding in plain sight in foods like olives and olive oil, canola oil, flax oil, seeds, peanuts, cashews, almonds, peanut butter, avocados, sesame seeds, tahini, and even pesto sauce.

  1. Count Your Calories

Let’s face it – we’re not exactly human calculators when it comes to estimating calories in our meals or the ones we burn during a sweat-inducing workout.

Research straight from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center backs up this reality check. It revealed that even when people make an effort to keep tabs on calories consumed, they still miss the mark by around 18 percent. It’s a bit like searching for treasure but coming up short on the chest of gold.

And if you thought it was just you, think again! People, whether on a weight-loss journey or comfortably nestled in a healthy weight range, tend to overestimate the calories they torch during exercise, surveys show. It’s like running a marathon in your mind while taking a leisurely stroll in reality.

Your Game Plan:

It’s time to sharpen our calorie-counting skills, but let’s do it smarter, not harder. There’s a world of apps and online resources waiting to simplify the process, provided you’re willing to embrace them.

Here’s a handy list of apps and websites to get you started:

  • SparkPeople
  • Lose it!
  • MyPlate
  • FitDay
  • MyFitnessPal
  • Cron-o-meter

To figure out how many calories you should eat each day, use this calculator

  • Training intensity
  • Fitness level
  • Age
  • Bodyweight
  • Gender
  1. Eat A High-Protein Diet

In a fascinating experiment detailed in The FASEB Journal, a group of female subjects embarked on a two-month dietary adventure.

One team followed a plan with approximately 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat, and 40 percent carbs, while the control group opted for a diet with 16 percent protein, 26 percent fat, and a whopping 55 percent carbs.

Now, here’s where it gets exciting: the first group, the protein warriors, emerged as the clear winners. They bid farewell to a significantly higher amount of fat, including the notorious belly fat, all without sacrificing their precious muscle mass.

Your Road to Success:

Make protein your trusty sidekick in the battle for a flat stomach. Aim for roughly 30 to 35 percent of your daily calories to come from lean sources of high-quality protein.

We’re talking about protein-packed goodies like lean meats, whole eggs, fish, nuts, and dairy..

  1. Eat Probiotics

Let’s dive into the world of probiotics – those friendly little bacteria that hang out in foods and supplements, doing wonders for your gut health. But here’s the plot twist: they’re not just gut heroes; they’re also your allies in the war against tummy fat. It’s like getting a bonus prize in a treasure hunt!

In a scientific revelation published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, brave subjects embarked on a journey of probiotic exploration. They sipped on two cups a day of fermented milk loaded with Lactobacillus Gasseri, a probiotic strain, for a solid three months.

And what did they discover? A reduction in abdominal visceral fat by around 4.6 percent and subcutaneous fat shrinking by just over 3 percent.

But that’s not all – other research piles on the support, highlighting that probiotics aren’t just handy for overall weight loss; they’re specialists in tackling belly fat, too.

Your Journey to a Healthier Gut:

So, how do you keep these helpful probiotic buddies thriving? It’s all about the prebiotics – foods that are like the VIP invite for probiotics to flourish. These prebiotic-rich wonders are packed with soluble fiber and include asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, and leeks.

  1. Try Intermittent Fasting

A deep dive into research reveals that subjects who practiced intermittent fasting witnessed a remarkable 4 to 7 percent reduction in abdominal fat in as little as two to six months. It’s like discovering a secret passage to a flatter stomach.

In another eye-opening study published in the journal Cell Research, even mice got in on the action. They followed a diet where they feasted for two days, then fasted for a full 24 hours. The result? Drastic weight loss in just weeks.

But how does this magic trick work? It’s a combination of powerful mechanisms:

  • It lowers insulin levels, the key player in fat storage.
  • It reigns in ghrelin, the pesky “hunger hormone” that makes you reach for those snacks.
  • IF unleashes human growth hormone, your body’s fat-burning ally.
  • It revs up blood flow to your belly’s subcutaneous fat, saying goodbye to excess baggage.
  • IF recruits anti-inflammatory cells, calming the storm of inflammation.

You Action Plan

Here’s my personal favorite – the 16/8 method. It’s a breeze once your body adjusts. You fast for 16 hours, then enjoy all your meals in an 8-hour window.

For instance, your eating hours could be from 1 pm to 9 pm. Coffee is allowed in the morning, but skip the sugar or sweets to avoid those pesky hunger pangs.

  1. Drink Green Tea

When it comes to healthy beverages, there’s a superstar in town – green tea! No fancy lattes or frappes, just pure, classic green tea à la Japan. And the science is crystal clear – this brew is your secret weapon for a metabolism boost that’s as refreshing as it is effective.

Research spills the tea (pun intended) on this wonder drink. Drinking green tea can rev up your metabolism by up to 4 percent. It might not sound like a lot, but trust me, it adds up, turning your body into a fat-burning furnace.

But wait, there’s more! According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who sipped on green tea with caffeine witnessed the pounds melt away, especially that stubborn belly fat.

Your Green Tea Ritual:

So, how can you tap into these green tea benefits? Aim for around 600 mg of green tea per day, which roughly translates to two to three cups.

But here’s a pro tip for those who wrestle with insomnia – sip it gradually so it won’t disrupt your precious sleep.

Additional resource – Here’s how to lose body fat.

  1. Eat Plenty of Soluble Fiber

Imagine this: for every extra ten grams of soluble fiber you add to your daily intake, you could be bidding farewell to 3.7 percent of that pesky tummy fat over five years.

Let’s back this up with some science.

In a groundbreaking experiment published in the journal Obesity, subjects who upped their soluble fiber game experienced this astonishing reduction in belly fat. And guess what?

It’s easier than you think – ten grams of soluble fiber can be as simple as two servings of black beans, two small apples, or two cups of asparagus.

But that’s not all – another study, this time from the Journal of Nutrition, unveiled even more fiber-related wonders. Subjects who embraced fiber from whole grains and cereals found themselves sporting less body fat and, you guessed it, less belly fat.

Your Fiber-Rich Feast:

So, where can you find this belly-fat-busting soluble fiber? It’s hiding in plain sight, waiting for you to discover its power. Feast your eyes on foods like flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados, Shirataki noodles, legumes, and blackberries.

  1. Eat Fatty Fish

Let’s dive into the deep blue sea for a game-changer in your battle against belly fat – fatty fish like mackerel. And guess what? Science has your back on this one!

A study fresh from the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that the omega-3 fatty acids found in these oceanic wonders are your ticket to reducing visceral fat.

But here’s the kicker – you don’t have to become a seafood expert to enjoy these benefits. Fish oil supplements are here to save the day if you can’t reel in fresh fish. It’s like a shortcut to a slimmer waistline!

And here’s the real deal: research on subjects with fatty liver disease uncovered the astonishing power of fish oil supplements. They can slash abdominal and liver fat, turning the tide in your favor.

Your Fatty Fish Feast:

Ready to embark on this delicious journey? Aim for a minimum of three servings of fatty fish per week to flood your system with those omega-3 superheroes. Cast your net for options like sardines, halibut, salmon, herring, and mackerel.

  1. Go Easy on The Alcohol

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – alcohol. You’ve probably heard of the infamous “beer belly,” and it’s not just a myth. Those sips of wine, beer, or spirits can quietly sabotage your belly-fat-busting efforts.

Here’s the deal: a single serving of your favorite alcoholic beverage can sneak in a hefty 120 to 150 calories. And let’s be real, who stops at just one? Overindulgence can lead to a calorie overload that spells trouble for your waistline.

But there’s more to the story.

A study published in Obesity uncovered a not-so-fun fact – alcohol makes your brain more sensitive to the tantalizing smell of food, revving up your appetite. It’s like a one-two punch to your dieting efforts!

Sip Smartly:

Now, I’m not here to rain on your parade. I’m all for enjoying a drink now and then. What I’m suggesting is moderation – it’s your secret weapon for a flatter stomach.

Part 2 – Exercise & Running Strategies to Lose Stomach Fat 

The way you run and exercise, in general, also matters when it comes to burning belly fat.

Apply the following strategies to ensure you’re making the most out of your sweat time.

  1. Do Intervals

Alright, we’ve got a secret weapon in the fight against belly fat, and it’s not endless miles of running. It’s time to introduce you to the magic of interval training – the game-changer for a flatter stomach!

Here’s the scoop: instead of monotonous long runs, we’re diving into intervals. Picture this – you alternate between high-intensity bursts of running and gentle jogging or walking for recovery.

And the best part? It’s not just about speed; it’s science-backed too. Studies have spoken, and they confirm that intervals are the ultimate belly-fat-busting tool.

Here’s your action plan:

Start with a proper warm-up – 5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging to get those muscles fired up.

Now, here comes the fun part – go hard for 30 seconds, then take a one-minute breather. It’s all about pushing yourself to about an 8 or 9 on the RPE scale.

Rinse and repeat – keep up this cycle for 15 to 20 minutes.

And don’t forget to cool down to let those hard-working muscles ease into recovery mode.

For more, check my six fat burning workouts.

  1. No More Crunches

Sit-ups and crunches, we’ve all been there, but here’s the scoop – they might not be your best bet for melting away that stubborn belly fat. It’s time to introduce you to a whole new world of ab exercises that are not only efficient but also incredibly effective in helping you lose that spare tire.

So, what’s the secret sauce?

You need exercises that do more than just target your abs; they should engage multiple muscle groups and give your cardiovascular system a run for its money.

It’s like a total body workout that torches calories while sculpting your core, including those upper and lower abs, obliques, and even your glutes!

Meet the Planks:

Let me introduce you to a true core powerhouse – the plank! Picture yourself in a standard push-up position, core engaged, back flat, and forearms firmly grounded.

Planks are the real deal, not only hammering your core but also firing up your legs, chest, and shoulders. It’s like a full-body symphony!

But here’s the secret sauce – start slow and steady. If you’re new to planks, begin with 3 to 5 sets of 20 to 30 seconds each. As you get stronger, extend those holds and sprinkle in some exciting variations.

  1. Try HIIT Bodyweight Training

Get ready to supercharge your fat loss journey with a game-changer called High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This fitness dynamo involves alternating between heart-pounding, intense exercise intervals and blissful moments of low-intensity recovery.

But don’t just take my word for it; science has your back on this one. Greek researchers have discovered that HIIT can help you shed more belly fat compared to traditional, steady-state cardio workouts. It’s all about maximizing your results in less time – who wouldn’t love that?

HIIT isn’t just about burning calories during your workout; it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. Research published in the Journal of Sports & Physical Fitness reveals that HIIT workouts turbocharge your metabolism. That means your body becomes a calorie-burning furnace, even hours after you’ve left the gym!

Here’s your action plan:

Get started with my bodyweight routine below, aiming for as many reps as you can with perfect form.

Take a quick 20-second breather between each exercise.

After completing a round, rest for a well-deserved one to two minutes.

Aim to conquer six to eight rounds.

The HIIT Routine: Get ready to sweat it out with this body-transforming routine:

  1. Perform Resistance Training

Research has spoken, and it’s clear that resistance training is a game-changer for people dealing with these health challenges. For instance, a study showcased that combining strength training with cardio exercises is the most effective way to bid farewell to that pesky visceral fat, even if you’re a teenager struggling with excess weight.

Your Action Plan:

Let’s get you on the path to success with these guidelines:

  • Get a Personal Trainer: Starting your resistance training journey with a personal trainer is a wise move. They’ll ensure you nail the right form from day one, preventing injuries and maximizing your gains.
  • Combine with Cardio: Take your workouts up a notch by integrating cardio elements. Think kettlebells, battle ropes, and medicine ball exercises to keep things fresh and exciting.
  • Embrace Compound Moves: Forget about the myth of spot reduction; it’s time to focus on multi-joint, full-body exercises. Squats, bench presses, deadlifts, overhead presses, and burpees should become your new best friends.
  • Lift Heavy: Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights with fewer reps. Research proves that this approach is the most effective for shedding body fat, and you won’t end up looking bulky—promise!

Lifestyle Changes To Get a Flat Stomach

Your everyday lifestyle choices can also affect your belly fat loss results.

Don’t worry.

I’m sharing with you below the exact measures you need to take to get your lifestyle up to speed.

The sweat will be for nothing if you neglect your lifestyle.

  1. Sleep Well

When it comes to shedding belly fat and improving your overall health, there’s one thing you should never underestimate: sleep. Here’s what the science says about the vital connection between sleep and visceral fat.

A study featured in the journal Sleep found that those who logged six to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep during the night had the lowest levels of visceral fat. Going above or below that range was linked to higher levels of belly fat, with the worst numbers reported by those who slept less than five hours.

Moreover, in a comprehensive 16-year study, it was revealed that women who consistently slept less than five hours per night were more likely to gain weight compared to those who enjoyed a solid seven hours or more of sleep.

What’s more?

Sleep deprivation is associated with various conditions that contribute to excess visceral fat, including an increase in cortisol and serotonin levels, reduced insulin sensitivity, lower levels of the satiety hormone leptin, and increased secretion of hunger-inducing ghrelin.

Your Action Plan for Quality Sleep:

  • 7-8 Hours of Sleep: Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep during the night.
  • Create a Sleep Sanctuary: Remove distractions like TVs, smartphones, and electronics from your bedroom.
  • Optimal Temperature: Keep your room comfortably cool, around 65 degrees, or at a temperature that suits your preference.
  • Caffeine-Free Zone: Avoid caffeine and other stimulants three to four hours before bedtime.
  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Stick to a regular sleeping schedule, even on weekends.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Sometimes, you can’t do it all. Accept that you can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list.
  • Purpose-Driven Bedroom: Reserve your bedroom for two things only: sleep and intimacy.
  1. Reduce Stress

Did you know that stress could be a silent saboteur when it comes to your weight loss journey? Here’s how stress can pack on the pounds and what you can do about it.

Research from Ohio State University has uncovered the unsettling connection between stress and weight gain. When stress disrupts your hormonal balance, it can make you hungrier as your body continuously releases cortisol as long as the stress persists.

And things can get worse. The double whammy is that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to reach for high-fat, high-calorie comfort foods. Why? These foods trigger the release of “feel-good” chemicals in your brain, providing temporary relief from tension.

Your Stress-Busting Action Plan:

  • Meditation: Explore meditation techniques like Vipassana, Transcendental Meditation, or vibrational meditation with Tibetan bowls or gong baths.
  • Journaling: Keep a daily journal to identify stressors and find constructive ways to deal with them.
  • Yoga: Consider joining a restorative yoga class to alleviate stress.
  • Prioritize “Me Time”: Learn to be assertive and say no when needed to create time for yourself.
  • Quality Sleep: Aim for 7 to 8 hours of restorative sleep per night.
  • Streamline Your Life: Eliminate sources of friction and uncertainty in your life.
  • Enjoy Your Interests: Make time for activities you love, even if it’s re-watching your favorite show for the umpteenth time.
  1. Set Challenging Goals

Want to know a powerful weight loss strategy? Set challenging goals!

Research from Nottingham University found that goal setting plays a pivotal role in long-term weight loss success.

Here’s what the study revealed:

  • No Clear Goals = Least Success: Participants who didn’t set clear goals were the least successful overall.
  • Modest Goals = Decent Progress: Those with relatively modest goals shed 10% of their body weight, a respectable achievement.
  • Challenging Goals = Impressive Results: The real winners were those who set challenging goals.

They lost a remarkable 19% of their body weight in just one year, nearly twice as much as the “realistic goal” group. Plus, this aligns with expert recommendations for safe weight loss.

Action Step:

Start by setting short-term fat loss goals. These smaller, achievable milestones pave the way to your ultimate objectives. For example, aim to lose one pound per week.

While it may seem slow, it adds up. Maintain this rate for three months, and you’ll reach your longer-term goal of shedding 10 to 12 pounds, which is 10 to 20% of your starting weight. Remember, slow and steady wins the race – instant results are rarely sustainable.

  1. Stay Consistent

Here’s the secret to shedding those extra pounds and ensuring they stay off: consistent, gradual weight loss. Research from Drexel University highlights the importance of this approach.

In a year-long study involving 183 overweight participants, those who consistently lost a small amount of weight over the first two months ultimately achieved more significant weight loss than yo-yo dieters.

Despite the initial appearance of greater results in the yo-yo dieters, steady progress proved to be the winning strategy.

Consistency isn’t just the key to weight loss; it’s a trait shared by highly successful individuals worldwide. They demonstrate unwavering perseverance, refusing to give up before they even begin.

Action Step:

Make exercise a daily priority and eliminate junk foods from your life. Put in the work consistently, and you’ll witness improvements over time, even if the results aren’t immediate. While it’s okay to indulge occasionally, limit recreational foods and cheat days as much as possible.

Losing Belly Fat While Running – The Conclusion

I think that’s it for today. If you’re still asking yourself, “Does running burn belly fat?” then today’s article should get you started on the right path.

Don’t worry; I will be writing more about running to lose belly fat in the near future.

Please do your best to put into action what you just learned so you can lose your belly fat and enjoy a flat stomach.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

David D

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4 thoughts on “Running to a Flat Stomach: The Ultimate Guide to Belly Fat Loss For Runners”

  1. I really enjoyed this article! I’m not a runner, but I know that I can benefit from tools & advice in this article. Thank you for publishing it!

  2. Really this is a great post from runners blueprint. I am pretty sure this article is gonna be very useful for those who wants to lose their belly fat.

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