What determines how much fat you burn during a workout?

Jerry Brainum breaks down optimizing fat oxidation during a workout in this week’s Straight Facts.

Diet is the most important factor to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help improve your fat-burning capabilities through workouts and aerobic exercise. Yes, exercising can help you add a little more fat loss to your goals, but it’s not always easy. Basic exercises do not guarantee fat loss. This is a fact that has frustrated many around the world as they try to shed pounds. In our latest episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum outlines the key factors that help increase fat oxidation and improve fat loss during a workout.

Jerry Brainum kicks off today’s episode with a very important reminder. What you eat is the main determinant of how much fat you burn or gain. While exercise can help burn fat, even the most perfectly executed aerobic exercise routine will only result in minimal fat loss. If you really want to transform your body and weight, a lifestyle change in your diet is necessary.

That said, fat loss through exercise can also be very beneficial in addition to a proper diet. That’s why Jerry Brainum uses research studies to help break down the key determinants of fat burning during a workout. Let’s jump to the main points.

Carbohydrates, workouts and fat loss

The key to losing fat during exercise is fat oxidation. So for the entire episode, Jerry Brainum outlines the best ways to boost fat oxidation during your workout routine. One of the most important factors to consider is how many carbohydrates you consume before a workout. Carbohydrates provide fuel and energy for your body. So if you train while loaded with carbs, your body will choose carbs over fat to fuel your workout.

Basically this means that if you train while you are full of carbohydrates, you burn less fat. In practice, however, this seems to make little difference. Studies have shown that fasting cardio does not help increase fat loss.

HIIT training and fat loss

Almost everyone knows that aerobic exercise is the key to burning fat through exercise. But there are several ways to exercise aerobically. Which training style or strategy is best for burning the most fat? Typically, studies have shown that your body really begins to oxidize fat over carbohydrates after exercising for more than 60-90 minutes. However, Jerry Brainum would not recommend that people exercise more than 90 minutes every day.

Instead, High Intensity Interval Training (aka HIIT) has been shown to provide the best weight loss benefits. HIIT training is so intense, your body wants quick fuel. This would come from carbohydrates. That sounds bad, right? However, studies have shown that HIIT training increases your metabolism for hours after you finish exercising. This leads to fat oxidation and fat loss for a few hours during the day.

The key here, however, is to make sure you’re actually doing the HIIT workout correctly. The goal of HIIT is to raise your heart rate to 90% of its maximum. If you don’t push hard enough to get to that point, you won’t see those same fat burning increases.

An extra note for those focusing on aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that standing exercises burn fat better than sitting. So it’s best to switch from cycling to running if possible.

How Your Environment Helps You Lose Fat

Studies have shown that if you train in very high temperatures, your body will oxidize less fat. This is just a little bit – but something important. On the other hand, Jerry Brainum explains that some studies have shown that extremely cold environments promote fat loss. This is because your body uses fat and converts it into heat for your body.

Supplements and Workouts for Fat Burners

Fat Burner supplements are everywhere these days. But do they really work? Jerry Brainum warns that fat burners are not miracle pills. They don’t burn fat at all. Instead, they help mobilize fat. So for a fat burner to work, you definitely need to exercise. Taking a fat burner but not exercising will do absolutely nothing for your fat loss journey.

In addition to fat burner supplements, caffeine is also a great substance for mobilizing fat. This is good news for all those coffee drinkers out there. Studies have shown that about 3-4 cups of coffee per day can help improve fat loss during exercise.

Packing up

Jerry Brainum goes into much more detail on the best factors to help improve fat loss during a workout. However, as he points out at the very top, exercise is the least effective way to lose weight. Proper diet and lifestyle changes are most important to achieve your weight loss goals.

However, if you’re looking to give yourself an extra edge in addition to your diet, Jerry Brainum’s guide to past research studies will help you optimize your fat loss during a workout. Make sure to watch the entire episode of Straight Facts for the full details above. And don’t forget to visit Generation Iron every Wednesday for new episodes every week!

What determines how much fat you burn during a workout?

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