What Really Triggers Fat Loss?

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People talk a lot about fat loss when it comes to exercise.

There are plenty of exercise types that have a reputation of being good at burning fat, like HIIT, sprinting, spinning classes, skipping rope, etc.

And while high intensity exercise is generally more efficient at burning fat and calories than steady state exercise like walking, jogging, or using the elliptical machine, the truth is that it matters a lot less than you think.

I plan efficient, individualized weight training workouts for my Online Coaching clients, based on their goals and lifestyles and I give them advice on what type of additional cardio (in some cases, NONE!) that they should do.

So while certainly advocate exercise, most days of the week in some form (with 3-4 sessions of focused weight training workouts being the priority), when it comes to fat loss it’s relatively unimportant.

“What?!”, you’re probably thinking.

Yup, the fat/calories you burn at the gym are a relatively small part of your overall fat loss.

What matters the most?

What you eat on a daily basis.

For most of my Online Coaching clients, eating the right foods in the right amounts (for them!) is what we talk about A LOT.

Because what you eat (or don’t eat) is the most important trigger for fat loss.

This should be good news to anyone who sometimes finds it hard to squeeze in a workout or anyone who gets ill/injured and has to take time off.

Don’t panic!

Be especially vigilant about what you’re eating and missing a few workouts won’t massively impact your fat loss.

That’s not to say that exercise is a waste of time.

Regular exercise gives you energy and makes you feel strong and mobile.

Weight-bearing exercise strengthens your bones and getting your heart rate up regularly (either with traditional cardio, circuit training, or just weight training with short rest periods) makes your ticker function better.

When you’re working out 4-6 days a week for an hour or so, there is definitely some caloric output required.

Exercising often gives you the motivation (and enthusiasm!) to eat better anyway because you don’t want to spoil your efforts at the gym.

In your mind, you may also become “that person who exercises and eats well” and that’s a powerful mental support for a sensible nutrition plan.

So yes, that old cliche is true.

“You can’t out-train a bad diet”.

Unless you’re an athlete working out strenuously for two or three hours a day or go from sitting on the couch to training several days a week, you won’t see a massive increase in fat burning occasional workouts.

But again, remember that there are other benefits to exercise when it comes to your health and quality of life.

So exercise, PLEASE, but also pay attention to what you’re eating.

Because that’s where most of your fat loss is really going to come from.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 5-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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