Is It Necessary To Burn Fat To Lose Weight?
When we say we want to lose weight, we really mean fat, right? So in theory, we may be tempted to perform activities that will foster the use of fat as an energy source. Is this the best way to get the desired results? Let’s see.
Burn more calories with high-intensity activities
To perform various activities, the body uses different sources of energy, such as fat, blood glucose, and glycogen, that is, the carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver. During high-intensity exercise, the body uses a higher proportion of glycogen and blood glucose as an energy source, while in low-intensity activities it tends to use fat. Nonetheless, if the goal is to lose weight, we still strongly suggest high-intensity activities. Why? Because this type of exercise burns a lot more calories than low-intensity activities, so you burn more calories in less time. Therefore, although the bulk of the calories burned are not from body fat, the total calorie deficit at the end of the day is greater, and that’s what counts. In other words, to lose weight, it doesn’t matter whether you burn fat or glycogen as long as you burn more calories than you eat.
Another benefit of high-intensity training is that it makes you burn more fat in the hours that follow, thus making you burn more calories long after your training session is over! However, precautions need to be taken to avoid overtraining. Read my article on high-intensity training for further details.
Burn fat by performing low-intensity exercise
Now that you know all of this, why would you want to perform low-intensity activities? Although it is beneficial and effective, high-intensity training is taxing, both physically and psychologically. Remember, to lose weight, your ultimate goal is to burn as many calories as you can throughout the day, day after day. If you are completely exhausted after each training session, you will tend to sit or even lie down, two activities that are not conducive to burning more calories. Therefore, you have to integrate low-intensity sessions, and stay active throughout the day to maximize your calorie expenditure. Get up, walk as often as you can, take the stairs, etc. By doing so, you will burn more calories, on top of reaping all the other health benefits of being physically active!
Eat enough to avoid muscle loss
Eat less, but eat enough to sustain yourself and avoid eating up your muscles as an energy source. You have to preserve as much muscle as you can for two essential reasons: to stop your body from becoming soft and flaccid and to have enough energy to carry out your daily activities without feeling sluggish. To do so, make sure you fuel your body with the calories it needs, especially if you do high-intensity training. To find out the exact proportions of food you should eat to maximize fat loss without losing muscle, start by making an appointment with a nutritionist to determine your needs!
In conclusion, don’t rely only on fat-burning exercises. Integrate high-intensity training into your planning, and make sure you eat enough food. By following these rules, you will put all the odds in your favour to burn as much fat as possible while improving your health and fitness!
Karine Larose, M.Sc.