If you only run when something’s chasing you, good news -- you’re doing the right kind of running to lose belly fat. However, if you’re not on the African savannah, you’re probably not trying to outrun predators often enough to attain the changes you want. Take the safari to the gym or your favorite running trail by combining distance running with sprints on alternating days of the week. In keeping with the primal theme, improve your belly-flattening results with a reduced-calorie, paleo-style diet.
Increase the distance you run each week to target belly fat specifically. A study published in the October 2005 issue of the “Journal of Applied Physiology” observed 175 overweight men and women divided into a control group and the following three exercise groups: low volume and intensity, equivalent to walking 12 miles per week; low volume, high intensity, equivalent to jogging 12 miles per week; and high volume, high intensity, equivalent to jogging 20 miles per week. the first two groups didn’t gain any abdominal fat; only the final group lost belly fat, a hefty 30 pounds of subcutaneous and visceral fat over the eight-month study. Unfortunately for the control group, they actually got fatter around the middle. So if you can’t run 20 miles per week, at least do 12.
Engage your abdominal muscles while you run. Running naturally works your core muscles to stabilize you throughout the movement. Increase that effect by imagining that you’re running past a store window and pulling in your stomach, but of course, make sure you keep breathing.
Increase the intensity of your running with intermittent sprints. Trending for several years now, interval training is here to stay. Incorporate it into your running program by sprinting for one minute and then walking or jogging at a low intensity for two minutes. Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, followed a group of young women of a healthy weight over 15 weeks engaging in either a high-intensity interval training or steady-state exercise program and a control group. Only the interval training group lost belly fat. Another study, published in the “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” reached similar findings among obese women who exercised five days a week in either a steady-state or high-intensity program of matched calorie expenditure. Again, only the high-intensity group lost abdominal fat.
Run to the grocery store and stock up on plenty of fresh produce, meat, fish and eggs. A study published in the “European Journal of Endocrinology” in 2009 found that diet and exercise combined had a significantly greater effect on abdominal fat when compared to exercise alone. Mark Sisson, author of the book “Primal Blueprint” advocates a diet that he says resembles what our Neolithic ancestors ate: plenty of fresh produce, nuts and seeds, meat, fish and eggs. Even without an abdominal training program, he finds the diet makes for a flat stomach naturally.
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Inactivity, Exercise, and Visceral
- International Journal of Obesity: The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training On Fat Loss And Fasting Insulin Levels of Young Women
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition
- Mark’s Daily Apple: High Fat Diet, No Cardio Washboard Abs
- Always warm up with three to five minutes at a low to moderate pace before beginning the main portion of your workout.
- If you have weak knees or other health conditions, running may not be the best cardio exercise option for you.
Pamela Ellgen began writing in 2000 for "The Asian Reporter" newspaper. She is an award-winning journalist and writes on religion, culture, health and fitness. Ellgen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in writing from Washington State University and is a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.