If you’re trying to lose weight, knowing how your body uses calories for fuel can make a difference in approaching your weight loss program. You get your energy from fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Which one your body draws from depends on the kind of activity you’re doing.
Most people want to use fat for energy, which makes sense. You figure that the more fat you can use as fuel, the less fat you will have in your body. But, using more fat doesn’t automatically lead to losing more fat. Understanding the best way to burn fat starts with basic facts about how your body gets its energy.1
The body primarily uses fat and carbohydrates for fuel. A small amount of protein is used during exercise, but it’s mainly used to repair the muscles. The ratio of these fuels will shift depending on the activity you’re doing.
For higher-intensity exercises, such as fast-paced running, the body will rely more on carbs for fuel than fat. That’s because the metabolic pathways available to break down carbs for energy are more efficient than the pathways available for fat breakdown. For long, slower exercise, fat is used more for power than carbs.
When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.
This is a very simplified look at energy with a solid take-home message. Regarding weight loss, what matters is burning more calories, not necessarily using more fat for energy. The harder you work, the more calories you’ll burn overall.
Think about it this way—when you sit or sleep, you’re in your prime fat-burning mode. But, you’ve probably never contemplated the idea of sleeping more to lose weight, as lovely as that thought is. The bottom line is that just because you’re using more fat as energy doesn’t mean you’re burning more calories.
The myth of the Fat Burning Zone
Exercising at lower intensities will use more fat for energy.2 This basic premise is what started the theory of the fat-burning zone, which is the idea that working in a specific heart rate zone (around 55 to 65% of your maximum heart rate) will allow your body to burn more fat.
Over the years, this theory has become so ingrained in our exercise experience that we see it touted in books, charts, websites, magazines, and even on cardio machines at the gym. The trouble is that it’s misleading.
Working at lower intensities isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t burn more fat off your body unless you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. One way to increase your calorie burn is to exercise at higher intensities.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid low-intensity exercise if you want to burn more fat. You can do some specific things to burn fatter, and it all starts with how and how much you exercise.
Eat more good foods
There is no limit to fruits and vegetables; you can eat as many as you need to stay whole. One tip is to always carry several pieces of fruit with you for when hunger strikes and start the meal with a salad to fill yourself up earlier. If you are complete, you will not need to resort to other foods that divert you from your path.
They should be a fundamental part of your training routine. Do not put on weights that are easy for you; the goal is to burn fat, and you will only achieve this if you lift a weight that is a challenge for you.
The key is in the intervals
Many studies have shown that doing interval exercise is much more effective for burning fat. We refer, for example, to HIIT, in which 45 minutes of work make a result similar to that of more than an hour of conventional training. Intersperse your days of strength exercises with activities such as CrossFit, boxing, or spinning; you will see results faster.
Don’t focus your exercises on a specific area
Not by doing 200 sit-ups a day will you burn the fat accumulated in that area. You have to work your entire body for calorie burning to be effective. And, one piece of advice, if it costs you more to go to the gym after work, maybe you should try doing it in the morning, everyone has to find their moment.
Many applications can help you with this and, it is clear that seeing all the calories you eat per day gives you a new perspective of what you are putting into your body and how many you should burn in the gym. Because to lose weight, there is only one rule: the caloric deficit.
Don’t skip breakfast
And before you ask, coffee with cookies can’t be called breakfast. You have to start the day full of energy; otherwise, you will not perform as you should. What is recommended for breakfast? If you are in the process of losing weight, we recommend that you try yogurt.