Just about any discussion on health and fitness will eventually include some mention of the word “calorie” and a reference to burning them. And, really, this makes sense. Excess calories are, after all, stored in the body as fat. The best way to measure our progress toward losing body fat and preventing any further fat gain, then, is to have some grasp of how many calories we burn.
This connection between calories and body fat also means that the more calories you burn during a workout, the more fat you stand to lose. The question then becomes how can you do this better? Let’s consider a few ways to burn calories more efficiently.
Weight Training – Maybe it’s because of the connection between weightlifting and building muscle, but many people – especially women – tend to avoid resistance training when trying to losing weight. The assumption is that lifting will make you gain weight, albeit in the form of muscle. The truth, though, is that weightlifting burns more calories in less time than that weight loss old standard, steady-state cardio. In large part this is because weight training activates more muscle fibers than cardio which then need fuel to power both the current activity and the resultant recovery. And by fuel, I mean calories. Now, you might have noticed that those calories are needed for recovery as well. This is probably one of the most exciting parts of using weightlifting for weight loss – called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). For hours, or even days, after the activity you continue to burn excess calories. Plus, the more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism becomes. Just to demonstrate, consider the fact that 10 pounds of muscle would burn about 50 calories in a day of rest, while 10 pounds of fat would only burn about 20 calories in the same time.
High Intensity Interval Training – Usually referred to as HIIT, this exercise strategy has actually become a sort of umbrella term that can encompass many different types of exercise. Essentially, HIIT is characterized by brief bouts of extremely intense exercise, broken up by short periods of active rest. At the most basic level, HIIT might look like this: jog for 1 minute, sprint for 30 seconds, repeat over and over. Of course, things like Crossfit, Tabata and Insanity have taken entirely difficult approaches to HIIT. Still, they all fall under this classification. HIIT has been shown to have a large impact on EPOC while drastically improving athletic performance.
Keep Rest Periods Short – Probably one of the easiest things you can do to burn more calories during your workouts is simply to keep your rests between sets short. This requires your body to recover more quickly while also creating a cardiovascular element – both of which contribute to a powerful and long-lasting EPOC.
Drink More Water – This might seem a little ridiculous since water doesn’t actually have any calories and, logically, shouldn’t have any impact on our metabolisms but the science is pretty solid. Specifically, research shows that drinking two glasses of water (about 16oz) before each meal can significantly contribute to weight loss efforts.