Want to know how to burn more fat from your workouts so you can lose more weight? Experts say that boosting your metabolic rate is the key, and one way to do this to incorporate high-intensity exercise into your fitness program.
High-intensity means exercising at the maximum level of your exertion (at about 70-90% of your maximum heart rate—think sprinting) vs. low-intensity exercise (at about 60-70% of your maximum heart rate—think walking).
You can burn more total fat and more calories by doing high-intensity bursts in your exercise routine. Plus, high-intensity aerobic exercise revs up your metabolism so you will continue to burn calories and fat well after your workout and all day long.
“When you exercise vigorously, you get a robust hormonal change, which causes your body to burn more fat during your recovery time,” says Janet Walberg Rankin, PhD, professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. Your metabolism continues to burn calories up to five times longer after a high-intensity workout than after a low-intensity one. All totaled, these extra burned calories can add up to 100 to 200-plus extra calories burned per day.
The problem with high-intensity workouts is it’s difficult to sustain that level of physical exertion for any length of time. So the best way to develop a successful fitness routine—one that you will enjoy and stick with—is to include many different types of exercises and to alternate between intervals of high- and low-intensity.
You’ll not only get the most results from a varied workout, but you’ll also avoid boredom and you’ll have more fun by mixing it up. And the more fun you have working out, the better chance you’ll have of sticking with your program and reaching your weight loss goals.
Hormones Regulate Your Metabolism and Your Metabolism Regulates How to Burn More Fat
The reason so many people aren’t efficiently burning stored body fat has more to do with the hormones that regulate metabolism than with the amount of calories they eat or burn.
Different hormones tell the body to burn fat, store fat, or burn carbs or protein. So you can’t assume that the 300 calories you burned during your workout came from your stored body fat. You may have burned lean muscle mass instead, which is exactly what you do not want to do.
The hormones that regulate metabolism include cortisol, adrenaline, insulin, and glucagon, which are stimulated by stress and diet. Excess stress in your life will cause the over-production of cortisol and adrenaline, which can trigger your body to burn carbs and proteins instead of stored fat.
The same is true about insulin and glucagon. If you eat too many carbs, you will produce more insulin, which will make your body store fat. However, if you eat more protein, you’ll produce more glucagon, which will trigger your body to burn more stored fat. This is exactly what you do want to do.
The More Muscle Mass You Have, the More Calories You Burn
Your metabolic rate controls how many calories you burn each day and how to burn more fat. Regulated by the thyroid gland, your metabolism plays a big role in building and maintaining muscle mass. This is important because the more muscles you have, the more calories you’ll expend while exercising and while at rest.
Each pound of muscle requires about 50 calories per day just to sustain it while you are at rest. This doesn’t include the calories expended to produce the muscle, or the calories burned while exercising. So in one year, one-pound of muscle burns 18,250 calories just to sustain it, which is equivalent to about five pounds of fat.
Building and maintaining just five pounds of muscle through vigorous exercise, which causes hormonal changes and raises your metabolic rate, can help you burn off more than 26 pounds of fat in one year.
As you can see, boosting your metabolism, building muscle mass and reducing stress are key ways to maximize your fitness and weight loss results.
Try this 15-minute High-/Low-Intensity Interval Workout
Instead of only doing low-intensity workouts that are long, slow and steady and actually make your body store more fat, try adding some high-intensity exercises to your fitness routine.
For instance, do five sets of alternating between one-minute high-intensity intervals and two-minute low-intensity recovery intervals. Do one-minute bursts where you do as many push-ups, sit ups, or lunges, etc. as you can in a minute. Really push yourself to the point that you can’t talk while exercising. Then, do two minutes of low-intensity exercises at a slow enough pace that you are able to carry on a conversation while exercising. This short, 15-minute workout will shift your metabolism into overdrive so your body will continue to burn calories and fat all day long and even while you sleep.
It’s also a good idea to include some muscle-building exercises such as weight training in your exercise program. The more muscles you have, the more your metabolism will be revved up and the more calories and fat you will burn.
Tips on How to Burn More Fat All Day Long
Here are some tips to help you burn fat all day long, well after you finish your workouts and even while you sleep:
- Eliminate stress in your life. If you have constant stress, you could be producing too much cortisol and adrenaline, which is throwing your metabolism off. You may want to have your cortisol and DHEA levels measured through a saliva test to determine if stress is impacting your metabolism. But note that not everyone who is stressed-out produces too much cortisol. Stress affects people differently, and many people with long-term stress produce too little cortisol and adrenaline, which is called adrenal exhaustion. Either way, stress is bad for you and should be reduced or eliminated from your life as much as possible.
- Don’t skip meals or eat junk food. It’s unhealthy to skip meals or eat refined, processed junk food. It causes your blood sugar to drop and stimulates your adrenals to make additional cortisol and adrenaline, which will hinder your fat-burning ability.
- Eat a healthy breakfast and include good protein and fats in your meals. Eating a high carb breakfast, such as cereal or bagels, can throw your blood sugar out of whack for most of the day. Your meals should include good protein and fats to help reduce surges of insulin and to stimulate the glucagon production, which helps breakdown your stored fat.
- Assess your digestion for any problems like bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn, or other irritable bowel issues that may be causing irritation and inflammation. These problems can increase cortisol production. You may be sensitive to certain foods or have possible “hidden” food allergies. Consider supplementing with digestive enzymes such as Healthy Choice Naturals Ultra-zymes, which contains an all-natural formula of 18 key digestive enzymes to aid your digestive health and help eliminate uncomfortable gas, bloating and other bothersome digestive symptoms.
- Practice deep breathing exercises for a couple of minutes at several times each day to lower your cortisol and adrenaline levels. This is important because stress increases cortisol and adrenaline production, and this increased insulin production. Too much insulin can make you resistant to insulin, and then your body will produce even more insulin in an attempt to steady your blood sugar. Then the unhealthy cycle continues. Deep breathing will help to calm your immediate stress level and help normalize your cortisol and adrenaline levels.