T Nation

Fat Burning Article


Fat Burning/Loss


Recently I have been asked many times daily, ?how can I lose a little weight?? or ?I want to tone up, could you help me out?? So I decided to write an article on fat loss, notice I don?t say weight loss. Weight loss could refer to fasting, where you would lose muscle and fat (an option but not one that I recommend here.) Too many folks concentrate on just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle needed to burn fat. I will discuss the importance of diet, cardio, sleep, and supplements in this article.

Thermogenesis: is the process where the body generates heat, or energy, by increasing the metabolic rate above normal. This rise in metabolic rate is referred to as the thermogenic effect.

*You will want to raise your metabolic rate to burn calories at a faster rate, and hence burn more fat.


To start off I would like to say that a principle of weight loss is to create a caloric deficit, meaning you will want to burn more calories than you are taking in. A good ballpark figure I use is to create at least a 500 calorie deficit.

People will ask me ?Strider, tell me what I should eat to lose weight?? It?s a complicated answer; more than listing down some healthy foods. It is also what you should try to stay away from as well. I also tell people to eat clean. They look at me like I?m crazy and ask ?What do you mean, eat clean?? Eating clean is mostly staying away from most fast foods, sodas, overloads of beer, sweets, desserts, pre processed foods such as many artificial and nutrient empty snacks.

Foods I do recommend are fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheeses, nuts, salads, teas, egg whites, whole grains, beans fish , etc. One tip I give to people who have a hard time giving up junk food and fast food is to include cleaner foods into your meals, and if you do include desserts or less healthy foods save them for the end of the meal. So this way you will eat them only if you have room after you eat the cleaner foods.

The type of foods aren?t the only thing that matters here; the timing and amount of your meals throughout the day are just as important. What you will want to do is raise your metabolism in order to burn calories even when you are resting. A way you can modify your diet is by spreading out your meals throughout the day. Meaning if you eat 3 meals daily, adding up to 2000 calories, then you could split your meals up into having 4 or 5 meals daily eating around 400 calories per meal. This is just an example to explain how you spread out your meals to add up to your daily calorie amount, keep in mind you aren?t eating anymore this way just simply breaking up your large meals into smaller ones eaten evenly throughout the day. In a real life example you would want to create a caloric deficit, meaning lowering the amount of calories you eat daily, so maybe you would eat 1500 calories per day, it just depends.

*water is also a great fat burner. Drinking cold water actually causes your stomach to heat it up to body temperature, which in the process burns calories, not as much as cardio, but it helps nevertheless.

Cardiovascular Training

Cardio is another pillar of fat burning. People ask me ?how much cardio should I do a week?? It really depends on your metabolism and body. I will start off saying that a general recommendation for fat loss and toning is to perform cardio 3 to 4 times a week, and later on depending on body type and the amount of fat you wish to lose, 4 to 5 times a week for about 30-45 minutes per session.

There are two different rates at which you can perform cardio. You can perform a slower paced workout or you can perform a faster paced exercise, such as interval training(I.e. running for 5 minutes then walking for 5 minutes and repeating for 30 - 45 minutes.) Slower extended pace exercise burns calories during the time you are exercising, whereas faster paced cardio including interval training burns calories during the exercise and afterwards later on when you are resting.

There are many different types of cardio. Some ask ?are machines better or is it better to run outside?? I say use whatever you can and what works best for you. Some people have injuries and can?t run for instance, maybe a knee injury for example; Instead they may swim, use a treadmill, or elliptical for example to take stress off the injured body part.


When I tell people about lifting as a way to burn calories and lose fat it sometimes surprises them. Usually the focus is on diet and cardio. Lifting can help tremendously in the fight against fat because lifting done correctly helps you gain muscle and muscle burns more calories than fat does. This means that the more muscle you have the more calories you are burning in your everyday activities, even resting. This doesn?t mean you have to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in order to burn extra fat.(For the ladies: You can still look feminine and have muscle) If you think about it that is what is what toning is for a large part. You are building up some muscle and burning fat off at the same time, not simply one or he other. I have talked to women and men who include lifting in their regime and it has helped them lose a large amount of body fat.


Sleep is just as important when trying to lose body fat as anything else which I have stated above. When you sleep you are actually burning fat. This is the point in time where you build muscle as well so why not maximize on this time and try to get in your sleep? I would recommend at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Some people need more sleep, once you get older you need less, but as far as fat loss would go I would recommend getting in a solid 8 hours.

A diet consideration is to stay away from high carbohydrate and high calorie foods before bed, I would say 2-3 hours before bed. This is because insulin will be produced after these types of meals are ingested and if you are not expending energy at this time, then the insulin will take glucose out of the blood and store it into body cells, in this case fat cells; So stay away from the high carbohydrate and caloric foods before bed, rather consume a higher amount of protein and good fats to increase the muscle building effects throughout the night, while you are burning fat.


Here are some supplements that may help with fat burning, keep in mind they are not magic, but can help, hence the name ?supplement?.

Appetite Suppressants: This product suppresses your appetite creating a feeling of satiety/fullness to curb overeating.

Carb Blockers: these products block the breakdown of carbohydrates and simple sugars from being converted into fat.

Cortisol Blockers: This product helps you control excess cortisol production which can result in fat accumulation in certain areas.

Fat Blockers: these products bind to fat and cholesterol and surrounding them before they can be essentially absorbed by the body.

Thermogenic Fat Burners: these products raise your rate of metabolism to a level above normal so that you can burn calories at a faster rate; a popular supplement in this category is ephedra.

Thyroid Hormone Increasers: these products increase the rate of fat loss by increasing thyroid hormone levels.

let me know what you guys think ?



I didn't read it all, but body does not store insulin as body fat.


Half of the supplements you listed don't work; e.g. the cortisol sham pills.

Overall good, basic article.
As far as night-time I think one should eat before bed but choose the proper foods (e.g. cottage cheese or protein powder) just to help your body recover.

You could go into a lot more depth b/c you missed a few key things:
1) The importance of breakfast
2) Ingesting protein 30-60 minutes prior to a workout
3) Ingesting high glycemic CHO's and Protein post workout within the anabolic window. BCAA's are pretty good here.

Also you didn't make a mention of shifting one's diet to include more healthy fats; nor fiber.

And as stated above insulin is not stored as body fat; insulin takes glucose out of the blood and deposite in body cells (liver, adipocytes, muscle).


Thanks for the advice, and yeah just edited the article about the insulin info, lol.


Cortisol blockers and carb blockers are shit. Some good stuff in their otherwise. Don't encourage people to unnecessarily waster their money. You're not a supplement company are you?


Whoops-you beat me to it. Ignore above thread


The bit about Insulin is a bit general. As I understand it, Insulin sensitivity attentuates through the course of the day following the circadian pattern. The ability to process carbohydrates becomes more difficult towards the evening, but this is not always the case and depends on the individual.

An important factor is Neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptide Y or NPY is known to be an extremely potent stimulator of feeding behavior. In Obese people, it is thought that levels of NPY are chronically elevated in the hypothalamus.

The issue is, related to insulin, that NPY induces hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.


Interesting point there.

Is Neuropeptide Y stritcly associated with the obese? I believe Infection and acidosis make the body tissues more resistant to insulin but this is more temporary than say a genetic factor, etc.


Good point, the article's purpose was mainly for college students at my school for a general guideline so I kept it fairly short and general, these are great point on which I could expand the article in the future!



Yes, most of it is sound advice, i'd forget the supplements though. I've currently cutting (just a quick 2 month cut to get into beach shape, upon return i have A LOT of bulking to do :)) and i essentially proceeded like in your article.

Except i didn't remove my pre/post workout Surge doses. I only decreased the amount of food in the other meals until i reached, as you said, a 500 calories deficit.

So, yeah, good article but a few points:

1) remove supplement list (other than the usual protein shakes)

2) include your ore/post workout shakes for recovery

Also, is it just me, or has anyone noticed (first time i cut you see) that during cutting you tend to suffer more muscle pain in the days following workout. I'm guessing it's due to the lack of nutrient and therefore the lack of building blocks to recover quickly. If so, that would be interesting to add to the article.


Thanks for the advice algian, There are soo many suppliments, so instead of choosing certain ones, I simply outlined categories of them.

The extra DOMS may be a nutrient problem. By cutting calories, you've possibley removed some of the nutrients that were keeping you at 100% and recovering well. Dieters need to be careful to cover the body's micronutrient needs. Make sure you get in your amino acids, and L-glutamine especially when dieting.



Is this just for people at work or school? For people that ask "How do I lose a little weight? I want to tone up" Your article is too long.

Eat less, move more, lift.

That's it. For the average person just looking for a little help, that's all they need. Once they commit to that for some time, give them a few more tidbits. Giving them more details than they need is unnecessary.

Or better yet, have them keep a food and activity log. Then give them that. Then show them how to tweak it, but do it in little steps.