It happens to the best of us. You’ve put in the time, the hard work, but the weight just isn’t shifting. The question is – what can you do about it? Pavement-junkies claim hitting the streets is the best (and cheapest) weight-loss technique there is, but does it live up to expectations? Can running burn fat?

Let’s find out.

What happens when you run

To understand which is the best running method to burn fat, first, we need to know exactly what is happening behind the scenes in your body. Time for a super-quick biology lesson.

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP is your body’s fuel. Without getting too technical, it’s a chemical structure that powers your body when you run.

But, your body doesn’t have an infinite supply of ATP, it needs to make it. And the way it does determines just how much fat you’ll burn or how many calories you’ll burn.

track runner

ATP is created in three ways:

  1. Prepackaged

For super-short bursts of energy, ATP can be formed from creatine phosphate (CP), a substance natural stored in our muscles. But the supply is limited. So, your body needs to find a new source for its ATP hit.

  1. High-intensity

When you sprint, your body enters the anaerobic energy system. So, when you’re rushing to catch that bus, your body is busy converting its supply of glucose into that tasty ATP fuel.

The downside? The reason you can’t keep dashing around endlessly is the anaerobic system causes the body to create lactic acid, a substance that provokes muscle fatigue. On the other hand, anaerobic exercise is a perfect calorie burner, and can quickly digest any additional calories in your system.

  1. Going the distance

Moving on to the third system. The aerobic (oxygen-using) system is enacted when the body draws on its oxygen supplies to break down glucose, fat, and amino acids to turn them ATP. Commonly associated with endurance exercises, the aerobic system is one heck of a fat-burner.

Of course, it’s not so simple choosing a system, creating ATP and burning fat or calories. Your body does this automatically based on the type of exercise you do. In fact, it’s likely in any only session you’ll be engaging in all three, but if you’re seeking a specific outcome, here are some tricks and tips you can use to boost your efforts.

Tips and tricks for fat-burning

1. Set your pace

While we can’t tell you the precise best running speed to burn fat, what we can say to you is this little secret – it’s important to keep going. The absolute key rule of running to lose body fat is actually running. If you're out of breath in the first minute, your run won’t be very productive, and what’s worse you’re less likely to try it for a second day.

So, set a pace that works for you. Even if you’re moving as slow as a turtle at the start, it doesn’t matter. Keep it up, and soon you’ll get to your weight-loss goal.

girl running on the beach

2. Low-intensity

Said to be one of the best running methods to burn fat. Low-intensity running means endurance, it means running for longer, and it involves using your body’s oxygen to burn fat.

So, choose a speed at which you can hold a conversation while running, and keep it up.

But “how long do you have to run to burn fat?”, this is a little like asking “how long is a piece of string?” The exact amount of fat you burn from your run will vary based on your fitness level, weight, build, and a number of other factors.

The experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes, but remember your body is your best guide, listen to it.

3. High-intensity

Anaerobic exercise, the type that doesn’t use oxygen, eats up the body’s calories supplies and quickly. While aerobic exercise is key to running to reduce fat, high-intensity bursts help your body quickly eat up any excess calories that you may have eaten.

Another added benefit is the aftereffect. If you’ve been doing a high-intensity running workout, once you stop your body will continue to burn calories. This is important if you’re looking to lose weight, as in order to drop those pounds you need a calorie deficit.

4. Mix it up

Take that anaerobic and aerobic combo and mix it up! By combining high-intensity and low-intensity workouts, you maximize your chances of losing weight and may have just found the best way to run to lose fat.

Known as interval training, alternating your workout strategy helps your body burn calories (high-intensity) and fat (low-intensity). If you’ve hit a plateau with your regular exercise regime, this is one effective way to push through it.

5. Stay on track

Running and jogging for fat loss is great, but the essential element of staying atop your fitness goals is consistency. Stick with your exercise plan, but take plenty of rest too. In the modern world, there’s no need to mark your runs on a calendar, all you need to do is download an app on your smartphone and go.

Many runners experience problems by rushing to the finish line too quickly; they overextend themselves causing pain, and injuries that prevent them from continuing running.

But, how to stay on track of your fitness goals? Why not use an app? It is the 21st century after all, and we have this technology readily at hand.

One of the first mistakes runners make when they start is pushing themselves too hard, so using a fat burning running app can help you build your pace and stamina, and reach your ultimate fitness goal.

Written by Maria Isabella Neverovich
Maria is an Irish writer, Health Editor at Verv, lover of forests, mountains and all things nature. She enjoys discovering new vegetarian dishes, creating...
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