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How Much Fat Do You Burn When Running One Mile?

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
How Much Fat Do You Burn When Running One Mile?
Woman running on side of the road Photo Credit: fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images

Depending on the intensity of your running session, you could be burning primarily fat or carbohydrates. However, when looking for the best exercises for losing fat, you want to check out how effective an activity is at burning overall calories. Running is among the best at burning calories and by regularly going for one mile runs, you can see noticeable fat loss in a matter of months. In order for your one mile runs to help you lower your body fat percentage, you’ve got to simultaneously follow a healthy eating plan.

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First Consider Calories

Running is an effective way to lose fat because of the high number of calories it burns. To lower your body fat, you’ve got to burn a greater number of calories than you consume. By increasing the numbers of calories you burn with regular bouts of running one mile, you contribute to this creation of a caloric deficit. Every 3,500 caloric deficit you create will result in a single pound of fat loss.

Types of Calories Burned

When you're running at a lower intensity, your body is running on a greater percentage of fat calories. According to Dr. John A Hawley's 1998 journal article in The Physician and Sportsmedicine, the greatest rate of fat oxidation occurs when you're running at an intensity of 65% of your VO2 max, which is a measure of the amount of oxygen your body is able to transport and use during physical activity. A 65% VO2 max corresponds to about a 75% maximum heart rate. At this lower intensity run, about 85% of the calories you'll be burning will be fat calories. If you kick up the intensity and run between 65 to 85% of your VO2 max, or a 75 to 90% maximum heart rate, your body turns to glucose, or calories from carbohydrates, for fuel and the calories you'll be burning will be just 15 to 50% fat calories. While lower intensity running will burn a greater percentage of fat calories, it's your overall calories burned during your training session that counts when you're trying to lose weight.

Calories Burned

The number of overall calories you’ll burn during your one mile runs will depend on a few factors, including how long it takes you to complete the run and your current body weight. According to the American Council on Exercise, a 120-pound person will burn about 11.4 calories per minute, while a 180-pound person will burn about 17.0 calories every minute. The more you weigh, the more challenging it is for your body to propel you forward, so you’ll burn a greater number of calories. If it takes you 10-minutes to complete a mile, you’ll burn a total of about 110.4 during your run if you weigh 120-pounds. If you weigh 180-pounds, you’ll burn about 170 calories from your run.

Impact on Fat Loss

Separate from the amount of fat calories burned during the run is the amount of total calories burned. If these calories are not replaced by caloric intake, then they can contribute to fat loss from a caloric deficit perspective. If you’re burning about 110.4 calories for every mile you run, this means each run gives you the potential for losing about three percent of a pound of fat through caloric deficit. If you weigh 180-pounds and thus burn about 170 calories for every mile you run, you have the potential of losing about five percent of a pound of fat. It’ll take you about 20 one-mile runs to lose a pound of fat by caloric deficit.

Increasing Workout Intensity

To increase the number of calories you burn during your one mile runs, try incorporating short bouts of sprints or strides throughout your workout. For example, you could run for one minute and your normal pace and then kick it up to a sprint or fast pace run for about 30 seconds, before returning to your normal pace again. In addition, running up inclines will also increase the intensity of your workouts and result in more calories burned. This higher workout intensity will mean that you're deriving most of your fuel from carbohydrates, but will equate to an overall greater number of calories burned.

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