Updated: Aug 22
Running is hands down one of the best forms of exercise for burning fat and losing weight. When done properly running is easy on the body, requires minimal equipment and is so convenient. You don't have to run hard to do it either!
Let's dive into some different types of running and how they affect fat burn in your body.
Note About Weight Loss vs Burning Fat
Weight loss and burning fat are not the same thing. Weight loss refers to your overall body composition while burning fat refers to a fuel source for our body.
You've probably heard someone say that muscle weighs more than fat. That is a little misleading. One pound of fat and one pound of muscle is still one pound. However, muscle is more dense than fat; therefore the same poundage of fat vs muscle does not look the same on the human body.
Fat is a macronutrient that our bodies need to survive. Macronutrients, or macros, are what our bodies use for fuel, to build our muscles and literally give us life; they include proteins, carbohydrates, water, and fats. However, too much of any one macro without a healthy balance of the others can be harmful to our bodies.
Too much fat on the body leads to heart, and other, health issues, for that reason burning fat is better than simply losing weight.
In this article we'll discuss the differences between L.I.S.S. Running, Interval Runs and Sprinting and how each one burns fat in your body.
L.i.s.s. running - Slow & easy running for fat burn
I know what some of y'all are thinking right now... I can't run. Can I burn fat without running? Oh yes, keep reading.
L.I.S.S. stands for Low Intensity Steady State. This is quite possibly the best type of exercise for burning fat in the body because it's easy on your joins and can be done running or walking. Score!
It's all about the amount of time you spend performing the exercise. Our bodies utilize carbohydrates and fats as fuel sources. Carbs are our bodies preferred source of energy but when our body runs out of carbs it turns to fat as a fuel source. When running in a L.I.S.S. state, it takes our body about 30 minutes to burn through its carbohydrate stores and begin burning fat as a fuel source. When walking, it can take 45 minutes to an hour. This is why you see a lot of body builders walking on the treadmill after a lifting session.
L.I.S.S. type workouts are great because they're easy enough on the body that they can be done daily. Burning fat is as easy as adding a 1.5 hour walk to morning!
L.I.S.S. Running Ideas:
1.5 hour walk before or after work; or both!
45 minute jog with a friend
Interval Runs - Alternate speeds to burn fat
An Interval Run is when you alternate between hard fast paces and easy or resting paces without letting your heart rate come all the way down to normal.
An interval run can be a fartlek, a tempo run or a VO2max run. Similar to L.I.S.S. Cardio Interval running will burn fat once the body has burned through its carbohydrate stores, however, with interval running that will happen faster. This is because alternating your speed during a run is a lot harder than staying at the same slow pace. You begin mixing aerobic training with anaerobic training. This increases your heart rate making you work harder and therefore burning more calories faster.
As an added bonus you will also continue to burn fat once the workout is over. There is a lot to talk about in that statement, so to put it simply, the harder and longer you work the more residual burn you'll have.
Interval Run Ideas:
1 minute run 1 minute walk for 30-60 minutes
Walk the curves jog the straights at the track for 2 miles
Jog 1 minute sprint 10 seconds walk 2 minutes
Sprinting - Maximum capacity training for fat burn
Sprinting is when you're running as fast as you can for short distances. There's a lot going on with sprinting but what we're going to focus on here is your heart rate and how that helps burn fat long after a workout.
Before getting into the benefits of sprinting for fat burn, it's worth mentioning that sprinting has the highest risk of injury. Completing a full sprint warm up, about 30 minutes, is key to staying injury free.
Sprinting is an anaerobic activity. Anaerobic simply meaning, without air. From a physiological standpoint, sprints closely mimic maximal effort strength training. So yes, if you sprint you will build muscle mass. This is a reason that sprinters and distance runners have different body types.
When you're working at maximum capacity your heart rate is going to shoot through the roof. Sprinting puts you well past what a lot of people would say is your "Target Heart Rate Zone." The more time you clock in a VO2max heart rate zone (above the typical target) the longer you will burn fat after a workout.
Your body will utilize carbohydrate stores during the warm up/start of the workout and burn fat post workout for sometimes up to 3-5 hours. This is because it takes your body a long time to get back down to normal state. You know how sometimes your face is red and you're still warm for an hour or more after a really tough workout? That's because your body is still working to get back to a normal metabolic state and therefore burning calories.
In short, if you're working above a moderate zone you will burn fat faster and build muscle at the same time.
Sprint Workout Ideas:
On a track, sprint the straights walk the curves for 20+ minutes.
30 second sprint 2.5 minute walk for 20 minutes.
Sprint 100m rest 4 minutes complete 6-10 reps
To Summarize, running is the best exercise for burning fat
No matter what type of running you enjoy doing, L.I.S.S., Interval or Sprints, you'll see the fat burning benefits if you're consistent. For best results, do a combination of all three regularly.
If you're not sure where to start I suggest signing up for Delta Performance. Delta Performance is a progressive running program that covers all of the running discussed above.
I built to give you everything you need to run well and stay injury free. It's perfect for beginners and veterans alike, and includes cross training, recovery work and yoga!
Get out there and Run Like An Athlete!