Updated: May 19
Losing fat might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re at the beginning of your journey, and even more so if you don’t know where to start. This article will get into the basics of fat loss and how you can burn fat fast to achieve your goal physique. There are a few things that you want to focus on when learning how to lose weight fast:
1) Getting Active
Well obviously, right? The best approach is to do a combination of weights and cardio to see the fastest results. Going for a brisk 30 min walk a day will burn around 200 calories, over time these sessions add up to many calories burned. Weight Training is often overlooked but it may be the most crucial aspect of fat loss. When you lift weights you experience muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth. More muscle means a faster metabolism, and that means that your body has to burn more calories even in a rested state to maintain energy in those muscles. Some estimates equate to up to 3-times more calories burned. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week, or 40 mins of vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week (1).
2) Know your Numbers
When looking to lose fat it is important to know certain numbers and concepts. Often what people mean by “I want to lose fat” is that they want a healthier body composition. Your total body weight is composed of more than just fat, this is why the scale isn’t always the best measure of fat loss. The best method to be able to track changes in body composition is by tracking body fat percentage.
You also want to know how many calories you are consuming on a day to day and make sure you are reaching macronutrient goals. One particular study found that people struggling to lose weight often have a tendency to underestimate the amount of food that they are consuming (2). First, establish your maintenance caloric intake (Find out what this number is here). These are the calories that you currently eat on a regular day-to-day basis. Next, you will track your intake by achieving your macronutrient goals, aka tracking your macros. Now that you know this you want to start by decreasing your caloric intake by 200-300 calories per day.
Why is this important? A simple way of thinking about it is calories in vs. calories out (or burned). You want to be in a caloric deficit, and you want to burn more calories than you are consuming. There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat. A caloric deficit of 300 kcals a day will be equal to losing 1lb of fat every 11 days. So, by decreasing your daily caloric intake and combining that with daily activity, you can quickly lose fat. To make fat loss sustainable, many professionals agree on a maintainable goal of 1-2 lbs of weight loss weekly, this will prevent early plateaus and relapsed weight gain.
3) Meal Prep!
Meal prepping is a cheat code. When you prepare your own at-home meals, you know exactly what you’re putting in your food and exactly what serving size you are eating. To make this process accurate the use of a food scale is best practice. This puts tracking your macros into autopilot. When prepping your meals, you want to focus on nutrient-dense foods. Skip the processed foods and focus on whole foods and fresh produce. Food options should be high in fiber, and protein, and you should stick to unsaturated fats. Watch out for the sneaky calories! These include things like juices or sodas, condiments, alcohol, and calorically dense foods which usually are processed foods. Often the difficult yet above all most important part of fat loss is staying consistent in your food consumption. I would venture to say if you remain accountable to your nutrition 80-90% of the time, you will see the pounds disappear. Learn to love good healthy nutrition.
If you are staying up until 2 or 3 A.M on Tik Tok you are sabotaging your progress. Sleep is an essential regulator for all body functions including weight loss. During sleep, your body regulates hormones like human growth hormone, leptin and ghrelin, and cortisol (the stress hormone). All these hormones are linked to fat loss in some way. One study showed that decreased sleep lowers leptin and elevates ghrelin, explaining increased BMI observed with short sleep cycles, as these are two key hormones in appetite regulation (3). If you are working out consistently and are in a caloric deficit you need to rest your body! Think about it, you are at a constant level of energy expenditure. If you do not rest, your body will put processes in place that will make it hold on to body fat because it will think it needs those fat stores for later use, due to the increased levels of cortisol in your bloodstream.
Putting these steps into practice will result in rapid fat loss and healthier body composition. It comes down to increased caloric expenditure. Remaining in a caloric deficit day to day will put you closer to burning those 3,500 calories found in 1 pound of fat. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water as well, this will keep your system functioning optimally and allow you to excrete fat through various bodily systems. It is recommended that you drink six to eight 8-oz glasses of water a day, but the more you sweat the more you need to replenish.
Before starting any fitness program or making dietary changes, including supplementation, please consult your physician for a thorough examination.
Tian, D., & Meng, J. (2018). Exercise for Prevention and Relief of Cardiovascular Disease: Prognoses, Mechanisms, and Approaches. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/3756750
Lichtman SW, Pisarska K, Berman ER, Pestone M, Dowling H, Offenbacher E, Weisel H, Heshka S, Matthews DE, Heymsfield SB. Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. N Engl J Med. 1992 Dec 31;327(27):1893-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199212313272701. PMID: 1454084.
Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Medicine, 1(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062