Burning fat while running is more than just a nice side effect. We explain how you lose weight by jogging and what role nutrition plays.
Fat burning is motivation enough for many to go running regularly! And rightly so, after all, jogging is an effective way to permanently increase energy metabolism.
If you burn more calories through exercise than you consume, i.e. if you create a negative energy balance, you can lose weight in the long term. You can find out how many calories you burn during exercise in our sports calorie calculator.
How does the body burn fat?
Our fat cells have the task of storing energy. The body needs this energy for everything that the heart, lungs, muscles, and the like do – whether during sports or at rest.
Every excess calorie is fed in so that the organism could survive in the event of famine. Thus, fat cells can expand up to 200 times their original size.
In the process of fat burning, the body draws its energy from fat cells.
For a long time, it was believed that fat stores were only attacked during physical exertion when glycogen stores – our second energy supplier, the carbohydrate depots – were empty. However, we now know that both sources are tapped immediately.
However, because the energy in the form of sugar is more readily available, fat burning only runs at peak levels after about 30 minutes.
Fat burning while running
By jogging regularly, you not only improve your basic endurance but also train your fat metabolism. Your body learns to draw faster and more energy from its fat stores.
Tip: The more muscles you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate – that is, your basic energy consumption. Strength training as a supplement to running therefore makes perfect sense!
Fat metabolism training – this is how it works
Our metabolism needs oxygen to burn fat. For runners, this simply means that they should not get out of breath and instead train in the aerobic zone.
The more basic endurance you have, the more efficient you are at running and the more energy your body burns in the form of fat.
In addition to the level of athleticism, according to expert studies, the intensity of the load also has an influence on fat metabolism:
According to these studies, the greatest percentage of fat burned while running occurs in a range of about 50 to 75 percent of the maximum heart rate. The best way to control your frequency while jogging is with a heart rate monitor.
In addition, it is true that the metabolization of fats becomes more important with increasing load duration. “During ultra-endurance competitions, throughput rates in fat metabolism can be as high as 1 g/min,” according to research from the University of Birmingham.
You are a jogging beginner?
For jogging beginners, the first thing to do is to increase the proportion of free fatty acids for energy production and improve your fat metabolism.
This can be achieved through longer, slower endurance runs that train your endurance. This increases the activity of the fat-cleaving enzymes and your body can access the fats more easily and quickly – both during exercise and at rest.
Start with two to three sessions of 30 to 45 minutes each and steadily increase duration and frequency.
You are an advanced runner?
Trained runners can step on the gas once or twice a week. Even if the percentage of fat burned during running is higher in relation to the total metabolic rate at a slower pace, fast running increases absolute consumption.
Instead of frequent endurance runs, you can replace every second to third session with driving games, tempo runs, and interval training.
Because: Intensive training leads to more efficient fat utilization in the hours after the training. So you burn calories not only during exercise but also at rest.
The right nutrition
Nutrition accounts for 70 percent of your training success. Fat burning during running is therefore particularly effective if you also change your diet.
If you want to lose weight, you must aim for a negative energy balance – in other words, you must consume less energy than your body uses. Our basal metabolic rate calculator provides information about your daily energy requirements.
Since glycogen is used up in the muscles and liver during endurance exercise, carbohydrates are extremely important for runners. But they have to be the right ones – for example, whole grains, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and legumes.
In addition, healthy fats such as olive or flax oil, nuts, and avocado, as well as valuable proteins, support your fat burning.
If you go running early in the morning, try to avoid breakfast. Fasting workouts bring benefits if you want to burn fat effectively. Because glycogen stores are nearly depleted overnight, early morning exercise teaches your body to use free fatty acids earlier and more for energy.