The Best Ways to Burn Fat and Lose Weight
HIIT is going to be your new best friend.
If you’ve been exercising regularly, but you’re not shedding pounds as quickly as you’d like, listen up: You may need to rethink your fitness routine and diet. These fat-blasting tips from experts will rev up your metabolism and give you serious results.
Step up the intensity.
To really blast fat and calories, try a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. “HIIT workouts are fantastic for burning fat,” says Karena Dawn, cofounder of Tone It Up, who recently partnered up with Kohl’s. “The mix of cardio and toning increases your heart rate and keeps the burn going after your work out.”
Switch up your workouts.
Mixing up your routine is key to burning the most fat and calories, says Brad Schoenfeld, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect. Otherwise, your body adapts to the workout and begins to plateau.
Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., coauthor of Get Stronger, Feel Younger, recommends strength training, which he says burns calories even when you’re sitting still (like HIIT). Training with light weights or resistance bands three times a week increases your resting metabolic rate and reduces your body fat percentage in about 10 weeks.
Take 20 minutes every day.
Many struggle to find the time to get a workout in — and prioritize other obligations like cooking, cleaning, or work over fitness. The good news: You don’t have to exercise for hours to lose weight. “Twenty minutes of HIIT a day is best for fat burning,” says Katrina Scott, a cofounder of Tone It Up, who recently partnered up with Kohl’s. “During HIIT, you’ll increase your heart rate and tap into the glycogen in your muscles. Your metabolism will keep running long after your workout, and the rest of the day you’ll continue to burn calories.”
Go for a walk.
It’s not always about breaking a sweat. In addition to doing a high intensity workout or strength training a few times a week, walking is one of the best ways to burn fat. “Low intensity walking taps into fat stores and triglycerides in the body, turning it into energy,” Scott says.
Don’t skimp on protein.
In the wise words of Dawn: Abs are made with HIIT workouts, but revealed in the kitchen. In fact, Wescott says women lose about 5 pounds of muscle every decade and gain an average of 15 pounds of fat. Protein helps build lean muscle to keep you healthy and strong.
Westcott recommends aiming for 50 to 56 grams of protein daily if you’re in your 30s, and 56 to 62 grams daily if you’re in your 40s. Some good sources of protein include tuna and chicken breast (6 oz of either will give you 45 grams of protein).
Avoid mindless eating.
Whether it’s grabbing candy off of a colleague’s desk or finishing your kid’s chips, every bite averages about 25 calories. Have four extra bites a day and you’ll gain a pound a month, says says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet. Stop mindless munching by only eating when hungry.
Pack healthy snacks.
A great way to prevent mindless eating is by preparing healthy snacks, like apple slices, nuts, or hummus. “You shouldn’t be fasting for 10 hours a day,” Dawn says. “Keep healthy, filling snacks like a protein bar on you in case you get hungry in between meals.”
Make sure you’re eating enough calories.
According to Somer, women tend to underestimate their daily intake by about 800 calories. Cutting too few calories can put your body into starvation mode and slows your metabolism, says Kathy McManus, R.D., director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
According to Healthline, the average woman should eat about 2000 calories per day to maintain her current weight and 1500 calories to lose one pound of weight per week. Apps like MyFitnessPal calculate your daily caloric intake and protein, fat, and carbohydrate goals based on your height, age, and weight.
Dawn and Scott suggest avoiding fad diets and anything that tries to trick your metabolism into doing something. “We are huge advocates for eating meals and eating when you’re hungry,” Scott says. “If you want a glass of champagne or a piece of pizza, have it. You should never deprive yourself.” And if you do have a slip-up, just get back into your routine the next day.
Don’t feed your emotions.
Emotional eating can lead to weight gain and prevent you from losing weight whether you’re maintaining a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, according to a recent study published in Journal of Eating Disorders. The study found that physical activity, controlling eating behaviors, and reducing levels of stress can mitigate the effects of emotional eating. Before taking a bite, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Or am I just bored or upset?” If you’re not sure, have a glass of water and see if you’re still hungry after.
Hydration is key for losing weight. According to Scott, chronic dehydration can prevent you from burning more calories throughout the day. Mayo Clinic suggests that women aim for about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day. Try using a water bottle with marked measurements to keep you drinking water all day long.
To just say you’re going to drink 12 cups of water, meal prep, or exercise every day isn’t going to help you lose weight unless you consider how these changes will fit into your lifestyle, says Libby Mills, R.D., a lifestyle coach in Philadelphia. Maybe you’re a mom with kids and a job, and you just don’t have the time to get to a daily workout class. Plan your week out ahead to create a routine that works for you.
Keep a food and exercise journal.
An easy way to plan out your nutrition and fitness goals is by keeping a journal. Writing out your schedule, daily food intake, and exercises can help you track your habits and be consistent. Set realistic short-term and long-term goals for yourself — and then celebrate once your hard work pays off (this is a must).
Build a support system.
Pair up with a friend who has time to meet for walks, share low-cal recipes, and offer advice when you’re tempted to stray. As accountability buddies, you can keep each other motivated to stay on track and encourage one another to meet your goals. Additionally, working out together can increase quality of life, extend your workout time, and reduce levels of stress, according to a recent study published by the American Osteopathic Association.
Has there ever been a time when you felt healthy, happy, and strong? Dig out a photograph of yourself during this time and hang it in your bathroom to keep yourself motivated. You can also print out a photo of someone with a healthy lifestyle who is your fitness inspiration.