You've worked hard and lost some weight, but you can't get rid of that last bit of stubborn belly fat. It can be frustrating, and you might think that short of wearing flowy tops for life, there isn't much you can do. Not so, however: Running is a good way to burn that last bit of flab hanging over your jeans. A low-calorie diet combined with running is your best bet.
No matter how much weight you have to lose, burning more calories than you consume is the best way to do it. If you still have a few pounds around your middle, you still have to create a calorie deficit each day to get rid of it. To lose one pound per week, you must eliminate 3,500 calories through diet changes and exercise. A 160-pound woman who runs at five miles per hour for one hour burns just over 600 calories. This makes it great for burning that last bit of pudge on your belly. Remember: You can't target belly fat with running, but it will burn fat and firm up the muscles all over your body.
MayoClinic.com recommends at least 150 minutes of cardio each week to burn off belly fat and keep it off. This might sound like more than you can manage, but you don't have to do it in large chunks. Even a 10- or 15-minute run around your neighborhood offers benefits. Running may require less exercise time since it is a vigorous form of exercise. Monitor your progress by weighing yourself each week. If you don't see results in a week or two, add some time to your running schedule.
Interval training offers a bonus when it comes to burning fat with a running routine. This type of workout boosts your calorie burn and may even reduce the time you need to exercise to get rid of belly fat. Intervals involve running at a moderate pace for several minutes, interspersed with shorter bouts in which you give it everything you have. For example, run at your normal pace for five minutes, then bust it out for two minutes. Alternate back and forth throughout your run for maximum calorie burn.
Yes, running can burn that last bit of belly fat -- unless you undo all your hard work by going crazy chowing down when you're done. Say you burn 500 calories on a run, then eat a huge plate of food that contains 750 calories. This doesn't contribute to a calorie deficit, and can be a setback to your fat-burning efforts. Choose a low-calorie meal plan that includes each food group. You'll be getting the calories you need to fuel your run, but won't be overdoing it.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.