Table of Contents
- Fat Burning vs Weight Loss
- What Metabolism Does
- What Are Some High Intensity Cardio Workouts
- Can Strength Training Burn Fat?
- Fats Your Body Needs
- Fiber Questions and Answers
- Moderate Intensity Cardio For Fat Loss
- How Protein Helps You Lose Weight
- How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight
- Stop Weighing Yourself So Often
- Working Out Regularly Burns More Fat
- Getting Enough Sleep and Weight Loss
- Refined Carbohydrates To Avoid
- Beverages To Avoid
- Eat Breakfast Everyday
- Can Gut Health Affect Weight Loss?
- Don’t Forget Low Intensity Physical Activities
- Not Enough Iron Symptoms
Fat Burning vs Weight Loss
For anyone trying to lose weight, it can be frustrating to see the scale refuse to budge or to feel weak and tired all the time because of your diet. If you want to rev up your weight loss efforts, though, you should focus on burning more fat, which is excess weigh your body does not need. By getting rid of fat, you will feel better, your clothes will fit more loosely, and you will finally start to see a different number on that scale.
While your body normally burns fat as an energy source, there are ways that you can improve its capacity to do so, turning your body into a fat-burning machine that can help you lose weight. Below, we explore the sixteen best strategies for improving your ability to burn fat, including ways you can change your exercise routine and diet as well as other parts of your lifestyle to boost your ability to get rid of that extra fat.
Before we get into the ways to boost your ability to burn fat, it is vital that you understand the role of fat for your health and how your body actually burns the stored fat you are carting around. Knowing how you use the food you eat to fuel your body can help you make better choices about what you put in your mouth as well as how you move your body.
You get the energy your body needs from the fat, carbohydrates, and proteins, which are in the foods you eat. Your body draws from various sources depending on its energy needs and what is available to it. You may think that eating less fat, for example, will cause your body to burn your stored fat instead. In reality, that is not always true.
When your body needs quick energy, such as while you are doing intense exercise or while you are actively working, it will go first to carbohydrates as its source of fuel. Carbs are easy to break down, provide a quick burst of fuel, and can give you energy at consistent rates.
Protein is only used for energy when you are using your muscles in powerful ways, as the amino acids that make up these foods are used to repair muscle damages. Fat is burned when your body needs longer, slower stores of energy. This is because fat takes longer to process, and it consumes more energy in the process of creating energy.
What Metabolism Does
You have probably heard about metabolism and that it is essential for losing weight and burning fat. Your metabolism is not just one thing; it is a complex process that involves many parts of the body that govern the chemical processes and hormones that keep you alive and ensure you have enough energy to perform necessary tasks. There are many bodily functions that contribute to your metabolism.
Your metabolism exists to keep you alive. It is in charge of converting the food you eat into the energy you can use right now as well as storing excesses into reserves that you can use later. The energy from your diet is used to allow you to pump blood throughout your body, to move and think, to breathe, and to do all the things necessary to keep you alive and healthy.
Your metabolism, as most people refer to it, is actually your resting metabolic rate, which is how well you burn calories to support your basic bodily needs while at rest.
This rate does not consider other activities, such as exercise, performing daily tasks, digesting your food, or anything else. It is basically the energy you need to breathe, pump blood, and for your cells to perform their functions.
This resting rate accounts for about 70 percent of your overall caloric needs. When you alter this rate, you increase your ability to lose weight, burn excess fat, and improve your overall health.
Because a higher total weight means more calories needed to maintain normal function, so the heavier you are, the higher your resting metabolic rate is. That is why, when you lose weight, your metabolic rate decreases because you need fewer calories to live.
Now that we have explored the basics of how you gain and lose weight, we will dive right into our best strategies for boosting fat loss and improving your health!
What Are Some High Intensity Cardio Workouts
When it comes to revving up your body for fat burning, high-intensity workouts are crucial. Getting your heart rate up to within 80 to 90 percent of its maximum can help you to burn more calories in a short amount of time. If you do not wear a heart monitor while working out, you can measure your exertion by how hard you are breathing. If your workout feels challenging and you struggle to talk in complete sentences, then you are probably close to that high-intensity target.
One popular form of this type of workout is known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT. HIIT workouts combine short periods of highly intense activity followed by even shorter periods of recovery.
Your heart rate stays elevated, but you have time to start to catch your breath. HIIT and other forms of high-intensity activities can burn more calories than other types of exercise and even keep your metabolism rate slightly elevated long after your workout, which means you are burning fat for more extended periods.
Examples of high-intensity activities including jogging, walking, using an elliptical machine, rowing, cycling, and swimming. For HIIT workouts, you can alternate these with squats, burpees, resistance exercises, or push-ups.
For those working up to more highly intense exercises, you can try increasing the speed of your walk or jog for 30-60 seconds at a time. Tabata is another form of interval training that incorporates 20 seconds of demanding work with 10 seconds of rest repeated for several minutes.
Can Strength Training Burn Fat?
Building muscle can help your body become more efficient at burning fat and using the calories you eat for fuel. Strength training involves using resistance while contracting your muscles. You do this to become stronger. Most people use weights for strength training, but you can also use resistance bands and other types of exercise to improve your overall muscle power.
When you combine strength training with other forms of exercise, such as cardio, it can enhance the effects of that effort and help boost the outcome of your activity.
While losing weight, you can actually lose muscle mass in addition to fat, so working out with weights or resistance can help ensure you preserve the mass you have, too.
As you lose weight and your metabolic rate slows, strength training can help to keep it revved up because muscles burn more calories at rest than fat cells. Incorporating strength training into your daily routine also ensures that you have enough power to handle your other activities, including HIIT and other high-intensity workouts.
You can lift weights to gain muscle strength, or you can combine resistance and other activities to help improve the effects of your workout. Exercises like lunges, squats, and dips use your body weight as natural resistance but require you to use many muscle groups at once, which makes your activity more efficient when your goal is building muscle. You can even combine strength training with intervals or HIIT workouts and use your “rest” periods to incorporate resistance movements.
Fats Your Body Needs
Some people think that you should stop eating fat altogether when you are trying to lose weight, but that is simply not true. Your body needs dietary fat for many essential functions. Plus, eating fat slows the speed with which your stomach empties so that you will feel full longer and less hungry later.
Most of us have low amounts of healthy fats in our diets, too, so eating sources that are rich in omega-3s and other good fats can improve your “good” cholesterol and boost your heart health.
Those who eat healthy fats in moderation are much more likely to lose weight, to avoid binge eating, and to feel more satisfied with their reduced-calorie diet than those who skip fat altogether. Look for whole-food and plant-based sources of these fats, including avocados, seeds, nuts, oily fishes, and coconut oil.
Fiber Questions and Answers
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and both are essential parts of the weight loss process. Both types of fiber are great for helping you feel fuller longer, which can help you eat less and resist snacking between meals. Soluble fiber has also been linked to decreases in belly fat, even when no other changes in the diet are made. Those who eat foods high in fiber are less likely to have belly fat and to be overweight.
Because fiber-rich foods also digest slower, they provide a steadier release of energy, which means your blood sugar does not spike and force your metabolism to fluctuate. You get a steady burn of energy, which means you can maintain your weight loss efforts more smoothly and consistently over time.
Moderate Intensity Cardio For Fat Loss
Moderately strenuous exercise has many benefits, not the least of which is that it can help improve your weight loss efforts. On days when you are not engaged in high-intensity or strength training workouts, you should do some sort of moderate-intensity cardio exercise.
Moderate intensity means you can still talk while engaged in it, but your breathing may be a little harder than at rest. If you wear a heart rate monitor, it should stay between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum rate.
Moderate exercises are great for those who have not quite worked their way up physically to the more demanding activities. They are great for helping you develop stamina and increase your comfort level with exercise, too.
These types of exercises help increase your lung capacity and improve your heart rate, which is excellent news for those with conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
There are many things you can do that are moderately-intense, including brisk walking, swimming, riding a bike, playing many sports, and dancing. Even everyday chores like vacuuming and raking leaves can become a workout when you add a little extra effort into them. There are lots of choices in this category that are also easy on joints, which means it is an excellent option for those with mobility issues.
How Protein Helps You Lose Weight
Protein is a macronutrient that can help to curb hunger while also improving your fat-burning efforts. When you eat a diet that includes moderate amounts of high-quality, lean proteins, you are at lower risk for developing new belly fat. Because protein helps you feel full longer and reduces your appetite, it is associated with weight loss in many people.
Protein is released more slowly into the bloodstream than carbohydrates, so you will not find yourself feeling hungry too quickly after a meal. Eating small amounts of lean protein with each meal can improve your energy level and help you eat less and be more satisfied with a reduced-calorie lifestyle, too.
Those who eat more protein are also helping to preserve muscle mass, which is great for getting the most from your weight training workouts.
Plant-based sources of protein are often the healthiest, but they should be as close to the natural source as possible. For example, beans, legumes, and nuts are all excellent sources of clean, high-quality protein, while highly processed meat substitute products are not as good a choice.
Choosing quality sources of animal proteins is also acceptable if they are prepared using minimal amounts of healthy fat and very little salt or added sugar.
How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight
Intermittent fasting has become quite popular in the past few years, and those who are interested in losing body fat would be wise to pay attention to this way of eating. Intermittent fasting is simply not eating for more extended periods between smaller windows of eating. Those who engage in this way of eating are more likely to burn more body fat and experience higher levels of weight loss.
There are many ways you can use intermittent fasting. The most popular methods are 16/8 or 18/6. The first number is the fasting window, and the last is the eating window. Therefore, a 16/8 plan would mean fasting for 16 hours straight, then eating all your food for the day during an 8-hour window.
Some people prefer to use fasting every other day. There are many methods of this type of eating plan, so you can choose one that works best for your lifestyle.
Stop Weighing Yourself So Often
During your journey to less fat and weight, you may also have periods where you gain weight because you are actually building muscle mass. These periods are often temporary but also can make you lose sight of the more important goal, which is to improve your health.
More muscle is better than more fat. Weighing yourself helps track your progress, but rely on how you feel, how you look, how your clothes fit, and other markers of success when you notice the scale moving in the “wrong” direction. Pay attention to all the indicators that tell you if what you are doing is working, not just what the numbers on the scale have to say.
Working Out Regularly Burns More Fat
Those who work out every day are much more likely to burn more fat, even when their workouts are short. Working out for 30 minutes each day has a more positive effect on fat burning than an hour-long workout every other day.
Working out daily have many benefits to your health that can’t be measured by a clock or stopwatch, including that you are giving your body a chance to work the lungs and heart every day, which makes you more efficient overall at delivering oxygen to all the cells of your body. The more your cells are working right, the more fat they will burn.
Those that workout every day are also more likely to stick to this new habit over time than those whose workouts are more intermittent or irregular. Consistency beats everything when it comes to forming new habits. When you work out, you boost circulation, which helps release fat from your stores and into your bloodstream, where they can be used for energy.
If you want to make exercise a daily habit, be sure to include int in your regular schedule, including putting it on your calendar, just like other vital commitments. You can even break your workouts up throughout the day and still get the same benefits. Try doing an activity daily at the same time to help you develop a new habit or change some of your daily routines to make them more active.
Getting Enough Sleep and Weight Loss
Those that get more sleep are also likely to avoid weight gain and actually burn more fat during weight loss. The facts about sleep and weight gain are noticeably clear. Those that regularly get less sleep than they need are much more likely to gain weight. Proper sleep is correlated to hunger, stress levels, appetite, and several other factors that lead to obesity and weight gain.
If you are struggling to lose weight, start examining your sleep patterns. Are you regularly getting less than seven hours of sleep a night? Do you wake up feeling tired? Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? These are all signs that you may not be getting the quality of rest you need to stay healthy.
Proper sleep hygiene habits, creating a conducive environment for sleep, and reducing stress before bedtime are all critical to helping you sleep more soundly and for more extended periods.
If you snore or feel unrested even after eight or more hours of sleep, you may want to talk to a doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea, which means your brain may not be getting enough oxygen while you rest at night.
Refined Carbohydrates To Avoid
Your body needs carbs for energy, but certain types of these macronutrients can lead to excess fat gain and eating fewer refined varieties can help you lose weight and fat. Refined carbohydrates are those whose germ or bran has been removed. These are the parts of the grain with the most nutrients and fiber, which leaves you with less of these in your diet, unfortunately.
Whole grains, those that still have their bran or germ, digest much more slowly, while refined versions are digested fast and cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels that can leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after eating them. Whole grains take longer to break down, provide a steadier, slower release to your blood sugar, and keep you from overeating or snacking.
Refined carbs include refined flours, white sugar, white bread, breakfast cereals, baked goods, pasta, and most processed foods. These foods often also contain added sugar and fat as well as salt, all of which can contribute to weight gain. Eating moderate amounts of complex carbs like those found in whole grains is a healthier choice for your weight loss efforts.
Beverages To Avoid
Calories are not just in food, and many people forget to consider what they are drinking when they revise their eating habits. Sugary drinks, drinks with artificial sweeteners, and other low-nutrient beverages are not helping your cause.
Examples of beverages to eliminate or limit to special occasions include sodas, juices, alcohol, diet drinks, sweetened tea, and milk. These are all high in sugar or compounds that act like sugar in the bloodstream. They offer few if any nutrients and are more likely to be stored in the body as belly fat.
Water is the best choice when it comes to beverages. A close second is herbal or green tea. Those who drink more water are more likely to eat less. When you drink plenty of water, the increase in your fiber intake will also be easier to tolerate on your digestive system.
Green tea is a reliable source of antioxidants, and it has also been shown to help boost metabolism, which means it can help you burn a little extra fat each time you drink a cup.
Eat Breakfast Everyday
For many people, skipping the first meal of the day is a sure ticket to weight gain. While some would think that eating fewer calories is a good thing, what you may not consider is that most people who skip breakfast find themselves so hungry later in the morning or by lunchtime that they end up eating more calories in one meal than they might have in two smaller ones.
There is a lot of evidence to show that, for some people, eating 5-6 smaller meals or snacks throughout the day is better for their metabolism and fat burning than just eating two or three larger meals. This varies by person, so you may need to experiment to find what works best for you.
Can Gut Health Affect Weight Loss?
Your digestive system is full of beneficial microbes that assist with the digestive process and help you stay healthy. Without the microbes, you would not be able to break down the foods you eat or absorb nutrients from them.
These bacteria and fungi are also linked to the health of your immune system as well as your mental state, so protecting them is good for your health in many ways.
You can help support your gut microbiome in several ways. First, you can eat foods that “feed” these microbes, including those that are high in fiber. The fiber and gasses generated from digesting fiber are ideally suited for nourishing your gut microflora, so eating those fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts are healthy for multiple reasons.
You can also introduce new, healthy strains of bacteria into your gut by eating foods that contain probiotics. Foods that contain living strains of helpful organisms help maintain the proper levels of good stuff in your gut. Examples of probiotic foods and drinks include yogurt with active cultures and fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kvass.
When your gut microbiome is healthy, you are better able to digest fats, absorb nutrients, and use the energy from your food effectively. That means everything is working correctly and your metabolism can work at its full potential.
Don’t Forget Low Intensity Physical Activities
Anything you can do to build movement into your day will help you to burn more fat. So, even slower and easier activities can help keep your heart rate up and allow you to keep burning fat throughout the day. Walking is perhaps one of the easiest things you can do, and the more steps you take, the more fat you are burning, even when it is at a leisurely pace.
Stretching, yoga, Tai chi, and other activities that focus on flexibility are also great for strengthening muscles without too much exertion.
Find ways to add a little activity here and there into your day, including taking the stairs, walking further distances, and just generally moving more, and you will notice some big differences over time with these small efforts.
Not Enough Iron Symptoms
Your cells need iron to get oxygen to your various tissues, so if you do not have enough iron in your body or diet, you could be slowing your metabolism. If you have been diagnosed with anemia, feel fatigued, or have other signs of low iron counts, you should talk with your doctor.
Eating foods high in iron is also an excellent way to ensure your metabolism stays strong and healthy. Consider eating more spinach, tofu, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and eggs, all good whole-food sources of iron.