The Best Ways to Burn Body Fat Fast, According to Weight Loss Doctors

In an effort to lose weight or
become more fit, we throw around terms like “body fat,” but what exactly
are we talking about? The more you understand about how your body
works, the easier it is to get the results you want. Here, weight loss
doctors explain how body fat works and the best ways to reduce it for
your long-term well-being.

What is body fat, exactly?

individual’s body fat is a collection of adipose tissue that functions
as a complex, metabolically active organ,” explains Wickham B. Simonds,
MD, fellow of the Obesity Medicine Association and president of Dr.
Simonds Metabolics and Weight Loss in Durham, North Carolina. “It is so
much more than ‘cushioning’ or ‘insulation.’ Like any organ, adipose
tissue can become diseased and dysfunctional if the organ becomes too
large.” In fact, a 2019 study in the European Heart Journal found that
excess body fat can lead to at least nine different cardiovascular
problems, including aortic valve stenosis, a condition in which the
valve leading out of the heart to the rest of the body is no longer able
to open properly.

Most of the time when we say “body fat,” we’re
referring to subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. “Subcutaneous fat is
located under the skin, such as in the arm, thigh, and abdomen—what you
feel when you pinch the skin,” says Peter Jian, MD, diplomate of the
American Board of Obesity Medicine, and assistant professor at Baylor
College of Medicine. “Visceral fat is located inside the abdominal
cavity and around organs such as the gut and liver.” While both types of
fat contribute to the size of your waist, Dr. Jian notes that visceral
fat carries a higher risk of developing various health conditions such
as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. “A healthy range of body
percentage for adult women should be below 32 percent, and for men below
25 percent,” says Dr. Jian.


What’s the best way to get rid of body fat?

Eat healthier. Both diet and
exercise play a role in the amount of body fat you have, but diet has a
bigger impact. “The most effective way to reduce body fat is calorie
reduction paired with reduced carbohydrate intake,” says Dr. Simonds.
When you eat a simple carbohydrate that gets digested quickly (like
white bread, rice, or pasta), it causes a spike in insulin that puts the
body in a “fat storage” mode, he explains. However, everyone’s body is
unique so the same exact eating plan won’t work for everyone. Before
risking a fad diet, talk to a physician who is certified in weight loss
management so they can help you choose an eating plan that’s safe and

Prioritize your mental health. Don’t underestimate the
power of being in a solid mental state. “We tend to make less healthy
decisions about food when we are under stress or feel down,” says Dr.
Jian. “Our emotional well-being also affects hormones that regulate
hunger, satiety, and whether our bodies utilize or store fat.” Not only
that, eating high-calorie foods when we’re stressed results in more
weight gain than eating those same comfort foods when we’re not
overwhelmed, according to a 2019 study in the journal Cell Metabolism.

more. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of
moderate-intensity exercise per week for the average adult, or 75
minutes of vigorous exercise. “While this may not be possible for
everybody due to various constraints, you can always start by ‘getting
moving,’” says Dr. Jian. You’ve heard it all before: Park your car
farther away from your destination, use stairs instead of elevators,
take a lunchtime walk, do sit-ups during commercial breaks. It sounds
repetitive, but “all of these physical activities add up, and really
help your body reduce body fat percentage,” says Dr. Jian.

How do you know if you’re actually losing body fat?

Use a measuring tape.
“Measure your abdominal circumference at the belly button,” suggests
Dr. Simonds. “When your body fat is decreasing, this measurement always
decreases and it is indicative of the fact that you are decreasing the
worst kind of fat—deep abdominal fat.”

Step on a scale.
Many scales today, especially smart ones like the Fitbit Aria 2, measure
body fat using a principle called bioelectrical impedance. While the
body fat measurements on these types of home scales aren’t super
accurate, they can give you a good estimate of your body fat percentage
and there are things you can do to make the measurements more precise.
“Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before doing any exercise,
in a well-hydrated state, without clothing or jewelry, and with your
stomach, bowels, and bladder as empty as possible,” says Dr. Simonds.

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