If you think to lose some weight through running probably the first question coming to your mind is, does running burn fat? Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Is the same like asking does running build muscle or does running burn muscle. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this and see what running does to your body and if it can be used as a fitness exercise to lose weight.
First of all, running tones your legs and builds leg muscle. Running can also help lose belly fat and guess what, can also make you poop. Wait, what? This might sound funny but working out your legs do help ultimately with digestion too. It’s one of the reasons I don’t eat much before my runs. That’s why gels and vitamin drinks work very well with people on the run. Literally.
What muscles does running work?
Running strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system and because it’s a repetitive sport it builds endurance and legs muscles. The main groups of muscles engaged in running (the painful ones after your first runs) are the quads, the hamstrings, the calves and the shin.
The glutes are also involved too so if you wonder if running makes your butt bigger, there you go, you know the answer. Or do you? If you look at the female Olympics short distance sprint athletes you might have noticed, they have pretty prominent glutes, very strong legs and a well built physique. Now compare a sprinter (on the left) with a marathoner (on the right):
Longer distances might not be the way to go if your running plan is to build great glutes.
From the time I started running at the beginning of this year, my Achilles tendons started making some cracking noises when I walk. Nothing to worry about but this make me think beside those muscles, running has an impact on the Achilles tendons as well.
How running helps you burn fat?
Running can be a great way to burn some fat but only when you run longer than 90 minutes. Body fat oxidizes (burns) over long runs. After your body depletes the calories it starts using the body fat as a fuel. You don’t need necessarily to run fast, a long run at a steady pace would do it. I don’t know about you but I don’t really like slacking even on long runs but if you can run slower and longer that should help you burn some fat.
Morning runs on an empty stomach can be also good because muscles are forced to rely on fat when glucose in unavailable. However running on low blood sugar will make you feel fatigue easily which will result in less exercise intensity, a shorter running distance and therefore less calories burned. Personally I don’t like morning runs, I’m definitely not a morning runner but for a different reason, I am quite stiff in the morning and it takes me a longer time to adjust to a decent running clip.
Lace on now and go get some of that fat burned 😉