You’ve probably heard the saying of “calories in equals calories out” regarding weight loss. But for many people, burning body fat is more complicated than that. There are various biochemical reactions taking place in our bodies all the time, and they can affect how we gain and lose weight.
Overall, it’s best to take a balanced approach to health. Here are some evidence-based, realistic tips on how to get your body to burn stored fat.
How to Get Your Body to Burn Stored Fat Healthfully
There are different stages of fat metabolism and weight loss.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your body turns to your fat reserves for energy when you’re dieting. Then, your body gets rid of fat byproducts through your breath, sweat, and urine. But starting that process usually requires lifestyle changes.
Here are some simple actions that can help you nourish your body and burn stored fat.
1. Do Cardio at Different Intensities
Your body starts burning fat after about 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity, also known as cardio. That means exercise like:
- Jogging or running
Cardio can also include interval training (such as running for one minute, walking for one minute, and repeating for 20-30 minutes), Tabata training (where you work hard for 20 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes, and repeat), or steady-state at a certain intensity.
It’s best for fat loss to do a mixture of high-intensity and low- to moderate-intensity cardio. Low-intensity cardio targets the “fat-burning zone,” but high-intensity is better for burning calories, which also helps with weight loss.
Moderate intensity cardio is usually ideal with a few days of low- or high-intensity each week. Also, mix it up by working out in different settings, including in a gym, at home, or in the park.
2. Get Used to Lifting Weights and Resistance Training
Cardio helps your body burn stored fat, but that’s only one-half of the puzzle. You also need strength and resistance training. Lifting weight gives you the afterburn effect, meaning you continue burning calories long after your workout.
Aim for at least 2-3 days per week of lifting weights or resistance training (including bands, bodyweight exercises, or free weights). On the other days, do cardio or a mixture of cardio and weight training.
Exercising has so many benefits for your body, including long-term effects like:
- Making you more efficient at burning fat
- Increasing mitochondria in the cells of your body to be more energy-efficient
- Preserving lean muscle mass as you burn fat and lose weight
See these simple exercises for some ideas!
3. Eat Whole Foods-Based Meals (and Don’t Starve Yourself)
Having a healthy body is about more than just exercise. Experts generally say that weight loss is about 75% diet and 25% exercise. You can help your body burn excess fat by prioritizing nutrient-rich foods.
If you’re confused about what to eat, keep it simple with:
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats
- Fruits and veggies (emphasis on the veggies)
Also, make sure you eat enough. Eating too little can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight. Eat when you’re hungry, focus on whole foods as much as possible, and avoid skipping meals.
4. Prioritize Rest and Leisure
Stress and lack of sleep make everything harder, including fat loss. The ideal is at least seven hours of sleep per night and as little stress as possible. But of course, many of us have demanding lives that make perfect bliss impossible.
So, do the best you can. Try going to bed a little earlier each week, cut down on things that might disrupt your sleep (such as having caffeine too late in the day), and incorporate more enjoyable activities into your life. That could mean:
- Making some time for reading
- Having a coffee date with a friend
- Going camping
- Scheduling a mini vacation
Also, remember that fat loss is a little different for everyone, and no one body is the same. Fat metabolism is just one of the many factors of a healthy life. Above all, focus on the idea of being well, which includes getting regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, and making time for yourself.