Body fat is excess energy. When you consume more energy than you burn over a long period of time, you gain weight. This calorie surplus, when combined with physical inactivity, leads to unwanted weight gain, most likely in the form of body fat. The only way to rid yourself of body fat is to reverse the conditions which created the mess in the first place: moderate reduction in calorie intake mixed with an increase in physical activity.
1. Exercise More. There are two sides to the energy balance equation: calories consumed and energy expended. Exercising more increases the amount of energy the body burns, making fat loss possible. There are a few specific ways to increase physical activity in order to burn calories and burn fat.
More Intense Workouts. Do you feel spent after a workout? If not, there's room to increase intensity:
- Take fewer and smaller breaks between sets. Rather than resting for a few minutes between each set, try 20-30 seconds or none at all.
- Keep a workout journal and attempt to outdo yourself during each successive workout. There's no reason to continue with the same workload week after week.
- Don't waste time. If you find yourself texting, tweeting or talking too much, stop! Leave your cell phone in the car and avoid doing any non-exercise activities while exercising.
Two-a-days. If you have the time, consider exercising twice per day; strength training in the morning, cardio at night. Splitting a routine into two sessions allows you to spend more time working out, burning more calories.
Different Activities. If you exercise the same way everyday, consider increasing variety; free weights, dumbbells, barbells, machines, body weight exercises, sprints, biking, long distance running (the options are overwhelming).
Enjoyable Activities. Exercise has to be fun. Even the most effective forms of exercise are useless if you feel the activity is tedious, boring or chore-like. Enjoyment makes a routine effective.
2. Eat Less. Body fat is persistent when you consume more than you burn. If you like food too much, consider exercising more. Use caution when reducing calorie intake; the body's natural response to eating less is burning less.
3. No More Junk Food. An easy way to reduce calorie intake is ditching the junk. Foods such as soda, cookies, fruit juice, sweetened beverages, potato chips and fast food are extremely high in calories but void of nutrients. These foods provide an abundance of energy without addressing satiety; they don't fill you up. No satiety means you'll eat more.
4. Healthier Foods. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds are much lower in calories than the junk listed above and also high in key nutrients such as fiber. Fiber keeps you full for longer, lowering calorie intake throughout the day.
5. Track Progress. Tracking progress ensures the steps you take are moving you in the right direction. Track progress in a wide variety of ways to get a full picture of what's going on: body weight, body fat percentage, body measurements, strength and progress pictures. If the metrics aren't moving in the right direction, consider changing the approach. Avoid placing too much emphasis on only one measurement. Instead, take a wider approach and monitor multiple measurements of progress.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line requirements to burning body fat are moderate calorie restriction and increased physical activity. While many differentiate between weight loss and body fat reductions, the process is essentially identical. When you burn more energy than you consume, the body begins to use fat stores for energy causing weight loss in the form of reduced body fat.