Whether you’re a beginner who’s just starting your fitness journey or a dedicated gym goer who never misses a CrossFit class, you may wonder how you can burn fat faster and make progress toward your fitness goals. While diet and exercise are the cornerstones of a fat loss regimen, there are many other things you can do to boost your body’s fat-burning potential.
This article is your guide to burning fat faster. Keep reading to learn about science-backed ways to burn more fat, even when you’re not even at the gym.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body. Not only can it increase your risk of mental and physical health problems such as depression, headaches, and heart disease, it can be an obstacle when you want to burn fat.
Chronic stress can contribute to hormone imbalances that affect your fat-burning potential, explains the National Academy of Sports Medicine. When you’re chronically stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that promotes fat storage. Elevated cortisol levels can affect the output of thyroid hormones, decreasing your overall metabolic rate—meaning your body burns fewer calories.
To support your fat loss efforts, try to get your stress levels under control. This could mean making time for your favorite hobbies, blowing off steam at the gym, or reducing stress hormones through cold water immersion.
Work to Build Muscle Mass
You may have heard the saying, “muscle burns more calories than fat.” The science backs that up. Recent research published in the American Journal of Human Biology confirmed the familiar claim that 1 kg (2.2 lb) of muscle tissue burns 13 calories per day, compared to just 4.5 for the same mass of fat tissue.
Other research has confirmed that working to build muscle can help boost your fat-burning efforts. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigated the effect of a muscle-building regimen on exercisers’ resting metabolic rates. After nine months of resistance training workouts and protein supplementation, the exercisers’ resting metabolic rates increased by about 5%.
Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training is a type of workout that alternates short bursts of vigorous activity with periods of lower-intensity activity. These short, challenging sessions can help you burn more calories during your workouts, but they can also provide a welcome fat-burning boost once you’ve left the gym.
A recent study in Sports Medicine-Open compared the post-workout calorie burn associated with high-intensity interval running (HIIT), aerobic endurance exercise, and high-intensity resistance training. Researchers discovered that women who performed HIIT enjoyed the largest increase in their post-workout energy expenditure, and this effect lasted for up to 60 minutes after they stopped exercising.
Get More Sleep
Healthy adults generally need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But when you’re trying to burn fat faster, you may wake up early or stay up late to squeeze in a workout. This could be counterproductive: Some research suggests that a lack of sleep could interfere with your fat loss goals.
A recent study published in Sleep compared two groups of dieters: one who followed a calorie restriction diet alone and one who combined calorie restriction with sleep restriction. Both lost similar amounts of weight over the study period, but the latter shed less fat and more lean mass. This shows the importance of proper sleep for people who aim to shed fat.
Take Ice Baths
Ice baths can be an especially effective way to burn fat outside of the gym. When you’re exposed to cold conditions, your body activates a special type of fat, known as brown fat, to help you stay warm. Brown fat uses calories as fuel to produce heat. Interestingly, it may also be able to burn your regular body fat as fuel. This could help you shed fat faster.
Thanks to brown fat activation, cold water immersion can significantly increase your metabolic rate. In a small study published in Cell Reports Medicine, regular winter swimmers’ energy expenditure increased by as much as 1,000 kcal/24 hr in response to cold. And even when they were resting in a warm environment, they still burned more calories than an age and BMI-matched control group.
Ice Bath Weight Loss: How to Get Started
If you’re interested in using cold water immersion to promote fat loss, you may wonder how to get started. While the idea of taking ice baths may seem overwhelming, it’s actually a simple process, especially if you have a purpose-built cold therapy tool like the Ice Barrel.
First, fill the barrel with water and enough ice to reach your desired temperature. The optimum temperature for an ice bath is around 10 to 15°C (50 to 59 °F), but feel free to start with slightly warmer water until you get acclimated. Next, submerge to your shoulders for 5 to 10 minutes and enjoy the invigorating sensation.
To learn more about how ice baths can help you burn fat, check out our post about the science behind ice baths and weight loss.
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