Updated: Aug 17, 2019
Burning fat is the number one reason why most people want to work out. They are tired of having a belly or those love handles and they want to make a change. There are many different fads that come in and out that promise consumers this is the best way to burn fat. Really though there is only way and that is through hard work and perseverance. If you don’t have those two things, you need to change your mindset, because you will not succeed otherwise. Trust me it will be very hard and it will not happen overnight, it is a process. Many people go to the gym pretty consistently for a few weeks and don’t see the drastic results they were expecting and lose motivation.
Now, when you say burning fat that's not really the correct way of saying it because really you're just burning calories. The science of weight lose and gain is just the difference between calories in and calories out. It gets a little more complicated than that on the nutritional side but I won’t be getting into great detail about that in this post. When you take in calories most peoples default is to use carbohydrates as the main energy source to run their body. If you don’t physically exert yourself the carbs are converted to either complex carbohydrates known as glycogen which is stored in the liver and skeletal muscles or if those storages fill up it is converted to fat through a process called lipogenesis.
This is where a lot of peoples problems start because they are in that constant excess of calories and your body has no where to put it other than in fat. In men this fat usually develops in the belly area and for ladies in the hips and thigh area. Now that you understand that it sounds pretty simple on how people gain weight but how to lose it is easier said than done.
The goal for weight lose is to be in a caloric deficit so that your body essentially eats itself to make it operate. Reading that may concern you because it sounds like you have to starve yourself to lose weight but that is incorrect and actually very dangerous and counter productive. All you have to be in is a deficit of say a few hundred calories per day which will be hard but you will still be able to eat and lose weight at the same time.
Now there are three ways that humans burn calories. Resting metabolic rate (RMR), thermic effect of food (TEF) and energy expended during physical activity. The one that by far accounts for most of the calories burnt is the RMR which might come as a surprise to many because everyone is so focused on burning calories during physical activity.
Now if you don’t know what your resting metabolic rate is it is how many calories your body burns doing the most basic functions while at rest. Lucky for you there are many ways of increasing it and the best part about it is your body is doing the work for you while your resting. Here is a list of a few options, not in any particular order but some might work better for you more than others.
Water-Your body needs water to process calories. If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down. In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four. To increase it even more drink cold water because that requires your body to warm it to body temperature.
HIIT- Also known as high intensity interval training. Now I know this is exercise and it isn’t counted under RMR but it’s the effects after the workout that we are looking for here. When you do any kind of aerobic exercise, especially at higher intensities, you will have excess post-exercise oxygen consumption(EPOC) which increases your metabolic rate after working out for a period time.
Lift heavy- Once again this is exercising but it’s the effects after the workout we are looking for. When you lift heavy weights you build muscle which is more metabolically active than fat. To give you an example have you ever seen a bodybuilder and how they eat about 8 meals a day but are shredded beyond belief and never get fat. That’s because they need to fuel all those muscles from all the calories they are burning just to sustain the muscle mass.
Standing up- Better than sitting
Sleep- There is a a lot of anecdotal evidence correlating the two. However there are many studies that connect a lack of sleep to boosting the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decrease the fullness hormone leptin. Which is a double wamy to make you want to eat more when you don't need to.
Coffee- Caffeine is obviously a stimulant which means it increases your heart rate. Plus it is a ergogenic aid so it is good to take before you workout. Energy drinks even though they have caffeine often come with a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners which can cause problems like high blood pressure, anxiety, and sleep issues for some people.
Coconut oil instead of cooking fats- This is because unlike most unsaturated fats coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride compared to most that are long-chain triglycerides which boost metabolism significantly more.
Avoid highly restrictive caloric diets- You can lose muscle, which in turn slows your metabolism
Thermic effect has the least amount of effect on energy expenditure out of the three. However it is still accounts for about 10% of the total amount so it is important. The different types of macronutrients themselves affect your metabolism in (different ways). Protein requires the most energy to use and store, carbohydrates after that and fats require the least amount. Another important factor is the thermic effect of highly processed foods is far less than compared to non-processed whole-foods. This is a contributing factor to the overweight and obesity epidemic we are experiencing in the US.
The last and most important would be energy expended during physical activity. This is the one that most people neglect because it requires the most effort. Now there are two ways of doing this, directly burning calories and then indirectly doing so. Directly is pretty simple, you burn calories and you lose weight. Important information to note is that 1 pound is about 3,500 calories. With that in mind we will take a pretty common workout such as running and see how many calories you burn while doing it. The formula to find out how many calories you burn per mile of running is 0.75 times your weight in pounds. For example if you are 200 pounds and you run a mile you just burned 150 calories.
This as you might be able to see is not very time efficient considering an average mile time for the average person is anywhere from 8-10 minutes. That’s where high intensity interval training comes in to play. HIIT is fast pace, high intensity, strengthens your heart and is more time efficient. You will be burning loads of calories while your working out plus HIIT is the best way to increase EPOC which we discussed earlier.
Even though I said that RMR accounts for most of calories burned in a day, you can not neglect exercise. There is no substitute for working out for example waist trainers, diet pills or fit tea. You put in the work and stay dedicated and I guarantee you will see the results.
Matthews, Michael. “How to Use the Thermic Effect of Food to Boost Your Metabolism.”Muscle For Life, Muscle For Life,www.muscleforlife.com/thermic-effect-of-food/.
McCall, Pete. “7 Things to Know About Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).”ACE, 28 Aug. 2014, www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5008/7-things-to-know-about-excess-post-exercise-oxygen-consumption-epoc.
West, Helen. “10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.” Healthline, 12 June 2017, www.healthilne.com/nutrition/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism#section2.