When it comes to burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight, there is no magic pill or quick fix. It requires a combination of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and lifestyle changes. In this blog post, we will explore the science behind fat burning and provide you with practical tips to help you burn fat and keep it off.
If you are like most of us, you have tried that promising “fat-burning” workout, drink or special diet. Only to find out that most of them are BS. Don't get me wrong, these "systems" can be helpful. Some people even have great success with them. But the problem is that there is no 1-size fits all weight loss solution.
Everybody and every body is different. And what works this month may not work as well the next month as you change. Your health is a journey of ups and down, discovery, and constantly changing variables (stress, age, injury, etc...).
So following a fad, or system, may work for you, but likely it won't.
The real question still stands then, "How do you burn fat and keep it off?"
What is fat and how does it accumulate?
Fat is an essential component of our bodies and serves as a source of energy. Maintaining optimal body fat percentage helps with hormone regulation and overall health. When we consume more calories than we burn, the excess energy is stored as fat. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and an increase in body fat percentage.
Can you get rid of fat cells?
The first thing to understand is that fat cells never disappear or go away. Fat cells store fat. The only thing we can do is shrink them (burn fat) or expand them (store fat).
What does that mean?
Said another way, fat cells can shrink from dieting efforts, and fill back up during weight regain. However, fat cells never disappear; they die and then are replaced by new cells.
This makes permanent fat loss hard work to achieve, and easy to regain fat after we are done dieting. I guess this explains why so many of us yo-yo every time we go off our diet!
How does the body burn fat?
The body primarily burns fat through a process called lipolysis. During lipolysis, stored fat is broken down into fatty acids and glycerol, which are then released into the bloodstream. These fatty acids are then transported to the muscles, where they are used as a source of energy.
What can I do to burn fat?
- Create a calorie deficit: To burn fat, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. This can be achieved through a combination of diet and exercise. Aim to create a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day to lose weight at a healthy rate.
- Include strength training in your workout routine: Strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest.
- Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. This type of training has been shown to be effective in burning fat and improving cardiovascular fitness.
- Eat a balanced diet: Focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats in your diet.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential for overall health and can aid in fat loss. It helps to flush out toxins, supports digestion, and can help control appetite.
Why do I regain fat after I stop dieting?
- We abandon all of our healthy efforts (diet and exercise) efforts and go right back to our "old ways."
- We do not properly reverse diet by slowly increasing calories back up from a deficit.
- Continuous yo-yo dieting and not taking time off from each diet.
- Too aggressive (or too low) of a calorie deficit - starvation mode!
- We do too much cardio and not enough strength training.
The body is a complex environment. Every one is different and starting from a different place. No two paths will be the same - so stop comparing yourself to other people. Compare yourself today to yourself from your past and ask yourself this question, "Am I making progress for me?"
One example I love to share with people is a very common situation. The conversation usually starts with, "I hit 30 (or 40, or 50) and my metabolism fell off a cliff! I gain weight just looking at a brownie."
One thing is true, your metabolism is not what it used to be...but it didn't just fall off a cliff.
Your metabolism has been eroding for years and maybe even decades in some cases. Every time you cut your calories (diet) and do loads of cardio you see the scale go down. Say it goes down by 10 lbs - 5 lbs is fat loss and 5 lbs is muscle loss. So the scale goes down to what you want to see, but then you go back to your old ways and you gain the 10 lbs back, but this time you gain 7 lbs of fat and 3 lbs of muscle. You have a net loss of 2 lbs of muscle from where you started. Do this diet and cardo plan 10 times over 5 years and you have lost 20 lbs of muscle...not what you intended to do! Lean muscle is the engine of our metabolism, and when you lose muscle you lose the ability to burn calories. This means it takes less calories to gain weight!
This is why strength training is so important. Muscle and lean tissue is your metabolic engine and gaining muscle becomes harder and harder as you age. So build the muscle now and maintain it at all cost...because once you lose it it becomes ever harder to get it back.
So what is the solution?
How can I keep the fat off?
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Once you have achieved your weight loss goals, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent weight regain. This includes continuing to eat a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress.
- Practice portion control: Be mindful of your portion sizes and avoid overeating. Use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and fullness, leading to increased appetite and cravings. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating and weight gain. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies.
- Stay consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining weight loss. Stick to your healthy habits and make them a part of your daily routine.
The first step is to have a plan that is right for you. It is important to consult with people you trust and that have experience in what you are looking to achieve. The second step is to get to work, and the third step is to stay accountable and disciplined. And don't rush the process. Building a healthy and resilient body takes time.
Here are a couple of tips to get you started.
- Strength train 1-3 times per week
- 30-45 minutes of light cardio (heart rate between 110-130 beats per minute) 1-2 times per week within 30 minutes of waking in a fasted state (no carbs); bonus: consumer 30 grams of whey protein before your cardio to prevent muscle wasting and promote fat burning
- Limit sugars and processed carbs
- Limit seed oils and fried foods
- Eat lots of veggies
- Eat lots of lean protein (plant or animal based works)
- Sleep 7-8 hours per night for men and 8-10 hours for women
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Remember, burning fat and keeping it off is a long-term commitment. It requires patience, consistency, and a holistic approach to health and wellness. By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, you can achieve your fat loss goals and maintain a healthy weight.
By: Duke Armstrong (CEO of Propello Life) & Catarina Lee (CEO of Catty Lee Fitness)
If you need help with this, Catty Lee Fitness works with women struggling with failed diets and that is our #1 specialty is reversing women’s health to become fit and fueled with food to not sacrifice health, happiness or hormones! Apply to work with one of our coaches at https://cattyleellc.typeform.com/to/xjuQAh.