How To Burn Fat While Running
Who are you? I mean, what kind of runner are you?
Are you usually looking forward to a run and enjoying the movement while out on the road? Or are you glad to hit the shower afterwards, with the feeling of having done your body some good?
Let’s be honest: Many of us don’t (just) lace up because we love running. But rather because of yesterday’s piece of chocolate cake, that half bottle of wine from the birthday party or because we want to “run off” the planned 5-course meal. Does that work? Here’s a few facts about fat burning & running.
Is it better to run on an empty stomach to boost fat burning or to jog at a low heart rate to stay in the right “zone”? Or, should we do short but exhausting intervals to fight off those extra pounds? Today, I want to shed a light on how to best burn fat while running.
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What does fat burning mean?
Fat burning refers to the ability of our bodies to oxidize or burn fat and use fat as a fuel instead of carbohydrates. This is an aerobic process – fat is decomposed with the help of oxygen. In general, more fat is burned during high-oxygen activities like Nordic walking, running or biking.
When do we burn fat?
Most fat is burned during low-intensity physical activities. The better your shape, the higher the percentage of fat implied in the metabolic process. And, the longer the activity, the higher the amount of fat oxidized (burned).
Fat burning & running
As a general rule, fat is burned ideally when running at a pace where you would be able to maintain a full conversation. According to experts, this should be a pace that you would theoretically be able to maintain for up to 8 hours- slow! Plus, you can benefit from fat burning even after your run as your body keeps burning fat for 2 to 3 hours after finishing a run. If you want to shed a few pounds, make sure you only ingest liquids and maybe a little protein during that time frame.
Training on an empty stomach
If you feel fit enough for a slow, pre-breakfast run to improve your fat metabolism, do it:
- In the morning, on an empty stomach – 40 minutes max.
- At a max. oxygen consumption (VO2 max) of 50-60%*
(* These values are estimates. Your can determine your individual, ideal workout intensity through a lactate test.)
What’s better? A longer, yet slower “fat burning run” or a few sprints at a higher heart rate? On the one hand, during a slower run you’re in the ideal fat burning zone. On the other hand, intense interval training challenges your muscles even more. When we’re pushing our heart rate until reaching the anaerobic zone, our bodies resort to our carbohydrate reserves and burn more calories due to the hard muscle work – even AFTER the run. Then, you can benefit from post-workout fat burning (EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).
During high-intensity, anaerobic training sessions the percentage of fat in the metabolic process is lower. However, due to the intense exercise the total calorie consumption is higher. Plus, the body needs more energy for recovery, thereby burning even more fat.
In my opinion, a possible solution would be to combine both slower, relaxed runs in the aerobic zone (where it’s easy to maintain a conversation while running) and short, intense interval runs (which should be done only about once per week anyways).
Bye for now,
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