Fat Burn

Fat burning explained…

Fire - Pixabay

In the modern world an ever growing percentage of people are overweight.  In a world of cheap fast food and longer working hours, the result is simple, a growing obesity problem.  We also live in a time when the media constantly thrust upon us the image of the “ideal being.”  Rippling muscles and hour glass figures are portrayed daily as desirable, but for many it seems further away than ever.  We are not going to tell you that weight loss and fat burning are going to be easy, but there are things that you can do to make you better at burning fat!

A healthy diet…

What we eat is such an important part of how we look.  If we eat lots of refined carbohydrates we will get a spike in our blood sugar.  When we get this sort of spike we actually stop burning fat as fuel.  Due to the excess in blood sugar, we are unable to burn it all off, and consequently start storing it as fat.  Conversely, lower blood sugar allows us to release fatty acids into the blood.  These fatty acids can then be used by the muscles to create ATP and therefore energy.  This helps us to start burning fat.

Make your muscles better at burning the fat…

Now that fat is being delivered to the muscle, we need to make sure that our muscles are capable of burning it as energy.  This is a simple process, if not an easy one.  Simply put we need to increase the number of mitochondria in our muscles.  Mitochondria are the engines of our muscles and are responsible for transforming carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy.  The more mitochondria we have, the better our muscle will be at burning fat.  Since the work of John Holloszy (physiologist), it has been accepted that endurance training is the most effective way to develop mitochondria in the muscle.  Training for prolonged periods in excess of 90 minutes at an intensity of 60-70% of our maximum heart rate is optimum for mitochondria development.  A study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine states that “Endurance training increases both the size and number of mitochondria.”

Panicking yet?  Does this mean I need to go out regularly for periods in excess of 90 minutes in order to improve my fat burning potential?  Yes and no.  There is no doubt that if you can build long periods of submaximal activity into your training programme, your muscles will not only burn fat, but they will become more efficient at burning fat.  However, this can be done in a variety of ways; long distance endurance activities are one obvious method.  But the answer is that any activity that keeps your heart rate within 60-70% of your max for 90 minutes will work.  This can be done by walking up a hill or a gym based training programme incorporating resistance and cardio training.

Good news…

Long periods of training are good to improve the fat burning function of the muscle.  But, realistically most people do not have time to do regular bouts of exercise lasting 90 minutes or more, and let’s face it, most people don’t want to.  The good news is that HIIT is not just a fad, it is effective.  It enables you to burn maximum calories in short period of time.  So crank up the intensity of your training, get your muscles working hard to burn calories, and your fat burning potential will boom.

See below for a suggested weekly plan to make you a more efficient fat burner:

Day of the Week Type of Exercise


HIIT – incorporating resistance and cardio activities.




HIIT – incorporating resistance and cardio activities.




HIIT – incorporating resistance and cardio activities.


90 minutes aerobic activity at 60-70% of our Maximum Heart Rate – either Saturday or Sunday.



This programme should be completed in conjunction with a healthy calorie controlled diet, with carbohydrates coming from low GI foods.  In short you should avoid cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks and any other foods rich in refined carbohydrates.

In 6 weeks you can expect to see some significant physiological adaptations.

Image from Pixabay.