IS EXERCISE THE ONLY WAY TO BURN FAT FAST?
Guys, I’ve got a question for you:
Let’s say that you want to improve your body composition and boost your metabolism. Which of the following types of exercise do you think requires the most energy and burns the most calories per minute?
Burpees, Jump Rope, Battle Rope, or Split Squat Jumps?
Assuming you were able to perform 100 jumps per minute, the Jump Rope would be the winner followed closely by Burpees. But there’s a problem with this train of thought.
How long can you realistically do Burpees for? How long can you actually maintain perfect form AND a constant rate of execution?
Think about it.
If you’re like most people, you’re getting a few minutes of consecutive Burpees… tops. And herein lies the problem that so many people run into when they are learning how to lose body fat and gain muscle mass:
Mistakenly, people look to exercise as the BEST and only way to drop body fat and achieve sustainable weight loss.
While you need to train, achieving the optimal fat-burning effect is and always will be better accomplished with the right healthy meal plan. It doesn’t matter if you want to know how to lose upper body fat or lower body fat – Nutrition, not fat-burning supplements, is key.
Let’s look more into the issue of relying solely on physical activity as a way to lose fat, and why you can’t train your way out of a bad diet. I’ll also give you the simple fix that can help you increase your fat metabolism and quickly reach a healthy body fat percentage and long-term weight loss!
EXERCISE ISN’T THE BEST WAY TO LOSE FAT
Almost every day, someone asks me about the best way to lose five pounds.
Specifically, the best aerobic exercises (cardio workouts) or physical activities for fat burning.
They want to know if Burpees are the best form of aerobic activity for maximizing energy expenditure.
Others want to know if Battle Ropes or even Jump Rope are better at burning calories while they build muscle mass and sculpt their belly.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment here and take a closer look at how many extra calories these exercises can burn.
Don’t be afraid to verify these for yourself with a calorie counting app or food diary tracker.
One of the best exercises you can do to burn the most calories on a minute-by-minute basis is a Burpee.
Studies suggest that doing burpees burns about 12 calories per minute, but you can burn up to 14 extra calories a minute if you’re really getting at it.
No matter what your goal weight is, Burpees are a welcome addition to any program.
Then we have Battle Ropes, which is one of the better caloric burning exercises out there.
If you want to learn how to lose body fat (women, this goes for you too!), I’d definitely consider using Battle Ropes as a part of your exercise routine.
Studies show that you can expect to burn about 13 to 14 additional calories per minute.
I love Battle Ropes. They are the perfect type of exercise for improving your maximum heart rate and optimizing fat breakdown.
But if you have shoulder mobility issues, I’d have a chat with your doctor or physical therapist before using them.
SPLIT SQUAT JUMP
Next up, we have the Split Squat Jump. There’s no doubt that this is one of the harder intensity exercises that you can do but the energy expenditure makes it worthwhile.
If you’re focusing on the Split Squat Jump, studies show that you will be burning around 11 calories a minute.
I would recommend the Split Squat Jumps as a part of any well-developed strength training program. Personally, I would use it as a part of my dynamic warm-up before my weight lifting workouts.
Just like the Battle Ropes, I want you to be mindful of your mobility, especially if you have previous injuries or surgeries on your knees.
Finally, there’s the king of conditioning exercises and one of my personal favorite forms of cardio: the Jump Rope.
Studies show that the Jump Rope burns more calories per minute than the rest of these exercises. Assuming you’re able to do 100 jumps per minute, you could burn 15 calories per minute.
Now, if you were to do that for ten straight minutes, you’ll burn 150 calories.
Not too shabby, right? Not so fast.
While these numbers might look good on paper, you can’t ignore the MOST important question:
How long can you actually do these exercises for?
REALISTIC CALORIE BURNING: HOW LONG CAN YOU GO?
As I already mentioned above, the average guy or girl isn’t going to be able to perform Burpees for TEN straight minutes.
Even if you are feeling like you can crush it with super high energy levels, it’s going to be tough. Superstar athletes? Sure. But it takes a lot of time to build up to that level of athleticism.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that you were able to maintain a consistent pace for each exercise, ensuring you burned 12 calories per minute for ten minutes straight.
At 12 calories a minute, you’re looking at 120 calories burned after ten minutes.
If you did this every day for ten days, that’s 1,200 calories.
Keep at it every day for twenty days and you’ve burned 2,400 calories.
After one month, you’ve burned 3,600 calories.
After thirty days straight, you would have lost one pound of fat. To lose five pounds of fat, you would have to keep this up for FIVE months!
Five months just to lose five pounds!
And guys, keep this in mind too: Every day you keep doing your Burpees or Battle Ropes, you’re going to become better at them, and more efficient at them. This means that you’re not going to burn the same number of calories you were burning in the beginning. The more efficient your body becomes at these aerobic exercises, the less fuel (calories) it needs to perform the exercise.
Best case scenario, if you’re burning 15 calories per minute with the Jump Rope now, after a month or two, you might only burn 12 calories per minute. To hit that same level of energy expenditure, you’ll have to perform the Jump Rope closer to 13 minutes instead of 10.
Again, the more efficient you get at these cardio exercises, the slower your progress when it comes to fat burning.
Slow progress is better than not taking action at all but come on – I know we can do better.
While all of these exercises are at the top of the list for the most calories burned on a minute-by-minute basis, they still are not the best way to lose five pounds of body fat in the shortest amount of time.
Could there be a better way? Absolutely.
But if you’re looking for rapid weight loss, buckle up. You’ll need to adjust your strategy toward steady weight loss instead of crash diets… healthy eating instead of focusing entirely on calorie deficit.
HOW TO LOSE BODY FAT PERCENTAGE (WITHOUT EXERCISE)
The truth is that resistance training such as body weight workouts and lifting weights isn’t the best way to lose belly fat.
I don’t care how many changes you make to your weight lifting workout, or what exercises you start doing that are “guaranteed” to skyrocket fat burning. None of them will ever help you overcome a bad nutrition plan. But neither will these so-called miraculous fat-burning supplements.
Don’t get me wrong; weight training and fat burning cardio exercise is important but it’s not the ONLY thing you should focus on.
If you refuse to pay attention to the quality of your food intake, you are never going to have the low levels of body fat that you desire for successful weight loss.
Sure, anyone can follow a short-term reduced calorie intake diet that allows them to lose fat for a few weeks; however, these crash diets never work long term to improve body mass, and they are terrible for weight loss maintenance. The main reason behind that has to do with sustainability.
For example, it’s easy to cut carbohydrates completely out of your diet for a month, but how long can you keep up up those low carb diets?
How long can you sustain a weight loss diet limited to only two macronutrients?
You hear it all the time: Someone cuts a macronutrient from their diet; they usually cut their carb intake. They lose a ton of weight, and then a month later, they give in to cravings and binge on refined carbs.
Another example is a carbohydrate diet where fat is usually on the chopping block. The result? Weight gain and belly fat gain.
What’s more, people tend to gain MORE weight from their original starting weight.
The key is to develop a healthy mindset around food, follow a healthy diet plan and NOT look for the fastest way to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.
The short-term mindset will ensure you’ll never be satisfied with your body fat levels over the course of the year and beyond. Instead, you’ll just end up hating your diet and you’ll never reach and maintain your weight loss goals.
If you clean up your diet, if you get better at eliminating the garbage that you know you shouldn’t be eating, you’ll be amazed at how fast the excess belly fat will come off.
BEST diet for quick weight loss
Just a quick heads up, I’m not going to throw a nutrition course at you (not yet anyway).
I want to cover some basic nutritional tips outside of the usual energy balance through keeping a close eye on energy input vs. energy output. That’ll be for another time.
If your focus is on weight loss and scorching belly fat, you can easily start to incorporate some of the following fat burning foods into your current diet:
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar isn’t the tastiest but it’s a great way to start your day. You can place one or two tablespoons of vinegar in a glass of water first thing in the morning. This will help get things moving.
Coconut oil is one of the best ways to use fat as a source of energy. But make no mistake about it, not all oil is created equal.
Soybean oil, for example, would NOT be a substitute fat source for coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains a good amount of healthy fats; you’re looking at 9 calories from fat per gram.
I use this for cooking on the stovetop, but you can also incorporate it into baked goods, salads, or straight up take a spoonful.
An easier way to get the health benefits of coconut oil would be to opt for MCT oil, which is made from coconuts.
Complex carbs are a type of food that seem to get a bad rap with weight loss. There’s a lot of misinformation out there saying that you can’t burn belly fat if you’re eating carbs.
But that’s simply not true, especially if you’re eating the right carbs. Eating large amounts of vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet, will help control hunger levels and make it easier to control caloric intake.
Instead of going straight for the baked potato, a huge pile of white rice or other refined carbohydrates, switch up your carbohydrate intake with high-fiber foods like cruciferous vegetables.
Examples include cauliflower, green vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens like spinach.
These types of green vegetables contain the carbs you want but they won’t result in crashes in blood sugar. Eating lots of vegetables will also give you lots of nutrients and are excellent sources of satiating fiber. Instead of following the more strict low carb diets, focus on eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables in larger quantities.
Adopting a nutrition plan with plenty of lean proteins can support a healthy body weight. This is because protein is such an important source of fuel for muscle growth, and the more lean muscle mass we have, the more quickly we’ll burn fat. The most effective diets for losing weight are diets that include a good amount of protein-rich foods.
There are 4 calories from protein per gram, and these calories help to balance blood sugar levels without the crash.
Examples of lean meat protein sources include chicken breasts, tuna, grass-fed beef, and salmon. There are also plenty of dairy products and plant-based food sources of protein such as Greek yogurt, cheese, tofu, beans, nuts and nut butters.
Adequate protein intake is also important for building muscle mass, so make sure a significant portion of your caloric intake is protein.
Not exactly a nutrient, water intake is a vital part of fat burning as much as weight maintenance.
It’s important to listen to your body and drink a glass of water whenever you feel thirsty. In fact, water is one of the best beverages for fat loss there is! This is definitely your best choice for beverage and should be chosen in lieu of sugary drinks or juice.
With that said, there’s no universal amount of water you should be drinking but if you’re active, you should be drinking plenty of water.
EXERCISE AND NUTRITION: STRIKING A BALANCE
Now, after everything I just said, does that mean that conditioning exercises like Burpees, Jump Rope, Battle Ropes, and Split Squat Jumps don’t have a place in your exercise regimen if you need to lose fat?
Not at all.
In fact, these exercises become even more effective when your nutrition game is on point. This is because these exercises complement the weight loss that you are already making with your improved diet.
These HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts also offer an insane number of benefits:
- They improve your cardiovascular health.
- They strengthen your heart and reduce your risk for heart disease.
- Your stamina is going to improve.
- They increase your work capacity.
- Your endurance will skyrocket.
And let’s not forget about your power endurance. Because of exercises like this, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in how explosive your movements become; these fitness routines will make you more athletic.
But at the end of the day, those are just pieces in a big puzzle. Make no mistake about it: For as important as exercise habits are in reaching your fitness goals, everything begins and ends with your nutrition.
On par with nutrition is quality sleep, especially for recovering after an intense workout. This is hands down one of the most neglected areas of health and fitness.
What’s more, studies show a direct correlation between poor sleep habits and weight gain. You NEED sleep. Experts are still saying that you should aim for no less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
And it’s not just the hours of sleep you get, but the sleep quality. Get yourself on a regular sleep schedule. Power down about two hours before bed. Above all, be consistent.
No amount of calorie and fat burning – even with the best and most intense forms of aerobic training – will overcome bad food choices.
If you want to learn how to lose excess body fat, men and women both need the same thing: a strong focus on nutrition and a balanced diet.
A regular exercise regimen is an important part of the bigger picture but whether you are looking to burn five or fifty pounds of fat, you need to be sure that you are paying attention to what really matters: nutrition.
If you are looking for a way to improve your nutrition AND get it locked in almost effortlessly 365 days a year, then get yourself set up with one of the ATHLEAN-X programs that best fits your goals.
- Many people mistakenly think that exercise alone is what can boost your metabolic rate and help you to lose weight.
- The truth is that you CANNOT train your way out of a bad diet. At the same time relying on a restrictive diet or low calorie diets is not sustainable and won’t help you achieve long term fat loss.
- If you want to reduce levels of body fat, focus on cleaning up your diet, choosing more nutritious foods and choosing healthy habits like drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep.
- But don’t forget about exercise since it complements your diet to ensure optimal weight loss.
- Jump Rope and Burpees can both burn up to 15 calories per minute while Battle Ropes and Split Squat Jumps can burn around 12 calories per minute.
- Be sure to sleep no less than 7 hours each night to support both a healthy weight and muscle recovery.
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.