If it wasn’t for ‘Fat Burning’ most health and fitness magazines, books and DVDs would be a bit thin and some might not exist at all. We could say the same thing about fitness professionals! It’s a massive subject, but what is fat burning? What do you really know about it?

Fat burning is the aim of millions, usually with the goal of weight loss being the uppermost aim. But there are good ways of achieving this, less efficient ways and methods that really don’t work so well at all. The secret of effective fat burning is a proper overall understanding.

So what is fat burning? 

Unfortunately, despite the ‘fitness boom’ it seems to be something we are getting less good at. The USA leads the world in chronic obesity and all its related conditions and diseases, but other countries – the UK included – don’t lie too far behind.

How has this happened? The simple answer is, eating too much (and way too much of the wrong things) and moving too little. A simplistic overview maybe, but one rooted in absolute fact.

Being active burns calories and therefore being very active burns very many calories. Sitting at a desk all day, or going goggle-eyed in front of computer games for hours on end has the absolute opposite effect.

So moving about, being active, expends energy chews up calories and therefore burns fat.

These are indisputable facts. What is less well understood with absolute precision is how best to move about to maximise the process of fat burning.

Group of male and female athletes exercising in gym

Best method of fat burning 

There are two fundamental choices and they are: Constant Pace Training and Interval Training. CPT is all about maintaining a continuous pace such as when you are running, cycling, having a brisk walk etc. Interval Training (which you will also come across as HIT or HIIT) are short bursts of exercise split between high intensity and low-intensity activities.

Both work in terms of fat burning, but it’s the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) that is shown to consistently work best for most people. This is because an HIIT workout routine raises the metabolic rate so effectively.

This is important because the Basel Metabolic Rate is the rate at which we burn calories each day when at rest. Basically it’s the calories we burn each day just to survive. Increase this and, needless to say, we become better calorie burning units.

How much fat can we burn?

To give you an indication, it takes about 3,500 calories of energy burning to strip away one pound of fat. And it obviously works the other way too – taking 3,500 calories on board without moving around very much will add one pound of fat.

These figures are estimates but they give you a sound impression of the facts.

So if we can ensure that our bodies become better calorie burners by raising our Basel Metabolic Rate by just 200-300 calories, then it is possible to shift one pound of fat every two weeks. That might not sound too dramatic, but it does equate to two stone (28 pounds/12.7kg) in a year.

And that is just by raising your metabolic rate. More calories will be burned off during your actual workouts. If you exercise three or four times a week, the above figures could very easily be doubled.


When it comes to the question, what is fat burning? I hope this helps clear up a subject that is meat and drink to the fitness industry – in a manner of speaking!

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