When it comes to losing weight, many people find themselves questioning what the best way to burn fat is. From particular workouts to fad diets and products, we often hear of different fat-burning strategies, but what’s fact and what’s fiction? It’s time to explore this topic and discuss what you need to know to help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Let’s begin with the basics. While there are a number of different ways to approach a weight management program, there are three core components that are essential to success:
- A behavior modification strategy that focuses on the implementation of both regular exercise and wholesome nutrition;
- A dietary approach that emphasizes balanced nutrition with decreased calorie intake;
- An exercise plan that increases caloric expenditure through both aerobic exercise and resistance training.
When it comes to exercise, the body mainly utilizes fats and carbohydrates for fuel. While it is true that these fuel sources are utilized in different proportions, depending on the intensity of the activity chosen, the reality is when it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter what kind of fuel you use. What it boils down to is the number of calories you burn vs. the number of calories you consume.
What about exercising in the “fat burning zone”?
This flawed notion was derived from the fact that the body uses fat as a primary source of fuel during lower-intensity exercise, which is true. However, the idea that there is a “fat burning zone” one should exercise in is misleading, as ultimately you can exercise at a higher intensity and burn just as many calories from fat, if not more, even though the body uses carbohydrates as a primary source of fuel during higher-intensity efforts.
Can I burn more fat with cardio?
Now that we’ve debunked the myth of the fat-burning zone, you may find yourself thinking that exercising at a higher intensity is best, as it burns the most calories. However, incorporating a mix of low, moderate, and high-intensity exercise may be the best way to go, as it provides a number of benefits, including added variety to your program and helping to avoid overuse injuries. It will also enable you to consistently engage in, and adhere to, a regular aerobic exercise routine.
So, what does this mean to you in terms of making your body a lean, mean fat-burning machine?
Research has shown that a number of physiological and metabolic adaptations occur with cardiovascular exercise that ultimately help to enhance metabolism. This includes an increase in the amount of fatty acids able to enter the muscle, thereby making more fat available for fuel; increased oxygen delivery and extraction system, which helps cells oxidize, or burn, fat more efficiently; increase in the number and size of mitochondrion, which is the place within a cell where fat is oxidized, or burned. The bottom line is consistent and progressively challenging aerobic exercise will ultimately help your body in becoming a more-efficient fat-burner.
Is resistance training important for fat burning?
The answer to this question is yes. Resistance training is an essential component of a weight management program, as it helps to maintain or increase the amount of muscle in the body, which, in turn, decreases body fat percentage and improves overall body composition. Increasing the amount of lean body mass also positively affects resting metabolic rate, which is the energy expended to maintain all bodily functions at rest.
So, what does this mean for you?
Essentially, with regular resistance training, your body will become more efficient at burning fat throughout the entire day, as muscle tissue is highly active, even at rest.
All in all, the best way to burn fat is with a well-rounded, consistent approach to exercise. So, include a variety of cardio and strength training strategies in your program, and be sure to incorporate activities that you enjoy, as then you’ll be more likely to adhere to your regimen on a regular basis.