• Laura Flynn Endres

What Workouts are Best for Losing Weight?

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

First, when we say we want to lose weight, we mostly mean we want to lose fat.

In order to understand what to do to burn fat, we first need to understand how our bodies use and store fat.

NO SERIOUSLY, WE DO. You do too.

You and I both know we’re easily swayed by those click bait headlines that promise we will “torch 1000 calories in one workout!”

But sadly, there is no single workout program, food, or supplement that guarantees fat burning.

(Look, I wish that were true too.)



Yeah, it actually does some important shit.

  • Fat serves a key role in the structure and flexibility of cell membranes, helping to regulate substance movement

  • Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E.

  • Fat helps keep you warm and protect organs

  • Some types of fat (known as eicosanoids) do specialized hormone signaling, affecting many bodily systems, most notably in regards to inflammation and immune function.

As you can see, fat isn’t a bad thing.

It’s “excessive fat” that we are concerned with when it’s at levels that may be unhealthy or unwanted.

There are two kinds of fat:

  • Subcutaneous - just under the skin; the fat you see

  • Visceral - around vital organs; more dangerous

Fat is primarily stored in cells called adipocytes. Depending on supply and demand for energy, these adipocyte storage cells will either

  • take fat FROM the bloodstream and store it, or

  • release fat back INTO the bloodstream to be used as energy ← we want that one!

After you eat a meal, energy is readily available, especially in the form of carbohydrates. When energy supply is high, the hormone insulin keeps the fatty acids inside the adipocyte - meaning fat isn’t readily burned.

But when in a caloric deficit, or after a few hours of fasting, or especially during exercise, a process called lipolysis occurs, which is when the adipocytes can release the fat into your bloodstream and into the muscles to be used as fuel.


When people ask how they can lose weight, what we really want to understand is how to use fat as an efficient energy supply.



Fat holds a lot of energy per gram. Of note, fat yields more than two times the calories (9 calories) per gram than carbohydrates (4 calories/gram).

Fun Fact: One estimation suggests that a lean adult man stores about 131,000 calories in fat in his body (Horowitz & Klein, 2000). That is enough energy to sustain life for the average person for approximately 65 days.

Therefore, we can use it to fuel our workouts!

And that’s why writers can get away with headlines like, “Melt Fat Away with This One Superior Workout Method!”

So let’s break THAT down, shall we?

Exercise intensity has a great impact on fat oxidation.

And here’s something we don’t always realize: Fat oxidation occurs most efficiently during low to moderate-intensity exercise.