Health Crush Contributor
How to burn the most calories in the least amount of time
If you’re looking to burn more calories when you work out, you need to do more than just work out. You need to learn how to break a sweat more efficiently. We have some tips on how to burn the most calories and to make the most of your effort in the least amount of time. Doing the right exercises with the correct form and the proper fuel will help you get the most bang for your fitness buck.
What Does it Mean to Burn Calories vs Fat?
When you workout, your body does not use the calories that are in your stored fat as energy. Instead your body uses carbohydrates already in your system. Essentially, carbohydrates can only be stored in limited quantities.
Therefore, the body is eager to use them as energy, and that’s why they are the first to go as opposed to the stored fat. Carbohydrates, along with fat and protein, are macro-nutrients, and eating ‘macros’ is how the body obtains energy or calories.
For your body to burn stored fat, you need oxygen, and to get that oxygen you need to keep your heart rate in your target zone. The target zone for hitting fat burn varies by individual. You can determine your target zone by using this calculator.
The burning question for people on a weight-loss or get-fit mission is always “how do I burn calories fast?” And while we can’t snap our fingers and make five pounds magically disappear, we can help you make the most of your workouts.
Key Tips on How to Burn the Most Calories
It all starts with how you prepare. Your body is like a machine — without fuel or power, it will not work. And with the wrong fuel, it will only function at a fraction of its performance potential. With the right fuel, fuel that provides energy and nutrients, your body will be more powerful and will be able to burn more calories with less effort and less time. According to most fitness experts, when we get hungry, our body goes into a certain kind of survival mode, using protein from our muscles rather than from your kidneysand liver, which is where the body normally gets its protein. This causes us to lose muscle mass, which makes our metabolism more sluggish and weight loss becomes more of a challenge. In other words, if you don’t fuel up, you’ll end up losing muscles and burning FEWER calories, not more.
So, what are the Right Foods to Fuel a More Efficient Workout?
Stick to foods that are high in lean protein, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and foods that are low in sugars and fat. Think nuts, fresh fruit, almond butter, brown rice, black beans, egg whites, hummus, multi-grain crackers etc.
And the best drink to wash down that pre-workout goodness? It’s all about the H2O. Skip the energy drinks and shakes, which can be loaded with excess calories that you don’t realize you are consuming, and which will derail your calorie-burning efforts. Water is the absolute BEST beverage to keep you hydrated, to quench your thirst, and to keep your body running so you can workout out better.
In addition, the kinds of workouts you do matter. It’s important to not only dedicate time to exercise, but also be strategic about the types of exercise you choose.
Cardio is always important because it gets your heart rate up and forces your body to use all your muscles as well as your cardiovascular system to sustain activity. The more cardio you do, the more calories you will burn. And try to incorporate interval training into your routine to really torch calories.
High impact interval training (HIIT) uses short segments of intense cardio activity with short periods of low-intensity recovery, and can help keep your muscles guessing and keep your body working to burn calories for longer. According to Jason R. Karp, Phd., fitness expert, author and personal trainer, “research shows that interval training — workouts in which you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods — increases fitness and burns more calories over a short period of time than steady-state cardio (doing the same thing for your whole workout time).”
If you’re the type of fitness fanatic who can push yourself hard even when you’re exhausted and alone, kudus to you. But most of us need a little help in the motivation department.
Try a group fitness class where there are trained professionals to help coach you, keep you moving and push you past your comfort zone. While we don’t subscribe to the “no pain no gain” mindset (pain never seems to be a good thing with workouts) we do believe that discomfort and consistent hard work can lead to change. Indoor cycling classes, boot camps, interval training classes, barre and Pilates sessions will all push you to burn as many calories as possible, and you’ll get it done in a short period of time — most classes are only 45 minutes to an hour long.
More Ways to Burn Calories Fast
Another way to maximize calorie expenditure is to do weight training and build muscles, which will work to burn more calories even after your workout is done.
And while you’re not working out (you’re at your desk, watching TV, hanging out with your kids etc.) try to move as much as possible. Keep your core engaged constantly, walk as much as you can, take the stairs instead of taking the elevator, do calf lifts while you’re brushing your teeth…you get the point. The more you move, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day, not just while you’re at the gym.
Last but not least, there’s a crucial part of every workout that people often forget or overlook. You need to cool down and you need to stretch. In an effort to save time, many people simply skip the stretching when they are done, assuming it’s not important. But if you don’t stretch you could suffer an injury, which would sideline you for days, weeks or even months.
If you’re unable to move your body, you will not be able to burn calories, and in fact, you might gain back all of the weight you worked so hard to burn. Take care of your body and stretch your muscles before and after every workout. We promise you won’t regret it.