How to lose fat

Whether you’re looking to improve your overall health or simply slim down for summer, burning off excess fat can be quite challenging.

In addition to diet and exercise, numerous other factors can influence weight and fat loss.

how to lose fat

Luckily, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to increase fat burning, quickly and easily.

Here are 14 of the best ways to burn fat quickly and promote weight loss.

  1. Start Strength Training

Strength training is a type of exercise that requires you to contract your muscles against resistance. It builds muscle mass and increases strength.

Most commonly, strength training involves lifting weights to gain muscle over time.

Research has found strength training to have multiple health benefits, especially when it comes to burning fat.

In one study, strength training reduced visceral fat in 78 people with metabolic syndrome. Visceral fat is a type of dangerous fat that surrounds the organs in the belly (1Trusted Source).

Another study showed that 12 weeks of strength training paired with aerobic exercise was more effective at reducing body fat and belly fat than aerobic exercise alone (2Trusted Source).

Resistance training may also help preserve fat-free mass, which can increase the number of calories your body burns at rest (3Trusted Source).

According to one review, 10 weeks of resistance training could help increase calories burned at rest by 7% and may reduce fat weight by 4 pounds (1.8 kg) (4Trusted Source).

Doing body-weight exercises, lifting weights or using gym equipment are a few easy ways to get started with strength training.

Summary Strength
training has been shown to increase resting energy expenditure and reduce belly fat,
especially when combined with aerobic exercise.
  1. Follow a High-Protein Diet

Including more protein-rich foods in your diet is an effective way to reduce your appetite and burn more fat.

In fact, multiple studies have found that eating more high-quality protein is associated with a lower risk of belly fat (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

One study also showed that a high-protein diet can help preserve muscle mass and metabolism during weight loss (7Trusted Source).

Upping your protein intake may also increase feelings of fullness, decrease appetite and reduce calorie intake to aid in weight loss (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

Try incorporating a few servings of high-protein foods into your diet each day to help amp up fat burning.

Some examples of protein-rich foods include meat, seafood, eggs, legumes and dairy products.

Summary Eating
more protein may be associated with a lower risk of belly fat. Increasing your
protein intake can decrease appetite, lower calorie intake and preserve muscle
mass.
  1. Squeeze in More Sleep

Going to bed a bit earlier or setting your alarm clock a little later can help boost fat burning and prevent weight gain.

Several studies have found an association between getting enough sleep and weight loss.

One study of 68,183 women showed that those who slept five or fewer hours per night over a period of 16 years were more likely to gain weight than those who slept for longer than seven hours per night (10Trusted Source).

Another study showed that better sleep quality and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night increased the likelihood of successful weight loss by 33% in 245 women enrolled in a six-month weight loss program (11Trusted Source).

Other research shows that a lack of sleep may contribute to alterations in hunger hormones, increased appetite and a higher risk of obesity (12Trusted Source).

Although everyone needs a different amount of sleep, most studies have found that getting at least seven hours of sleep per night is associated with the most benefits when it comes to body weight.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule, limit your intake of caffeine and minimize your use of electronic devices before bed to help support a healthy sleep cycle.

Summary Getting
enough sleep may be associated with decreased appetite and hunger, as well as a
lower risk of weight gain.

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  1. Add Vinegar to Your Diet

Vinegar is well known for its health-promoting properties.

In addition to its potential effects on heart health and blood sugar control, increasing your intake of vinegar may help bump up fat burning, according to some research (13Trusted Source).

One study found that consuming 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of vinegar daily reduced people’s body weight, belly fat and average waist circumference over a 12-week period (14Trusted Source).

Consuming vinegar has also been shown to enhance feelings of fullness and reduce appetite (15Trusted Source).

Another small study of 11 people showed that adding vinegar to the diet reduced daily calorie intake by up to 275 calories (16Trusted Source).

It’s easy to incorporate vinegar into your diet. For example, many people dilute apple cider vinegar with water and drink it as a beverage a few times per day with meals.

However, if drinking vinegar straight doesn’t sound appealing, you can also use it to make dressings, sauces and marinades.

Summary Vinegar may
help increase feelings of fullness, decrease calorie intake and lower body fat.
  1. Eat More Healthy Fats

Although it may seem counterintuitive, increasing your intake of healthy fats may actually help prevent weight gain and help you maintain feelings of fullness.

Fat takes a while to digest and can help slow the emptying of the stomach, which can reduce appetite and hunger (17Trusted Source).

One study found that following a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats from olive oil and nuts was associated with a lower risk of weight gain compared to a low-fat diet (18Trusted Source).

Another small study found that when people on a weight loss diet took two tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil daily, they lost more belly fat than those who were given soybean oil (19Trusted Source).

Meanwhile, unhealthy types of fat like trans fats have been shown to increase body fat, waist circumference and belly fat in human and animal studies (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).

Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are just a few examples of healthy types of fat that may have beneficial effects on fat burning.

However, keep in mind that healthy fat is still high in calories, so moderate how much you consume. Instead of eating more fat overall, try swapping the unhealthy fats in your diet for these healthy fat varieties.

Summary Fat is
digested slowly, so eating it can help reduce appetite. A higher intake of
healthy fats is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and decreased belly
fat.
  1. Drink Healthier Beverages

Swapping out sugar-sweetened drinks for some healthier selections is one of the easiest ways to increase fat burning.

For example, sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and juice are packed with calories and offer little nutritional value.

Alcohol is also high in calories and has the added effect of lowering your inhibitions, making you more likely to overeat (22Trusted Source).

Studies have found that consuming both sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol is associated with a higher risk of belly fat (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).

Limiting your intake of these beverages can help reduce your calorie intake and keep your waistline in check.

Instead, opt for calorie-free beverages like water or green tea.

In one small, 12-week study, drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water before meals increased weight loss by 4.4 pounds (2 kg), compared to a control group (25Trusted Source).

Green tea is another great option. It contains caffeine and is rich in antioxidants, both of which may help increase fat burning and enhance metabolism (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

For instance, one study in 12 adults showed that green tea extract increased fat burning by 12% compared to a placebo (28Trusted Source).

Trading in even just one or two servings of high-calorie beverages for a glass of water or a cup of green tea is a simple way to promote fat burning.

Summary
Sugar-sweetened beverages and alcoholic drinks may be associated with a higher
risk of belly fat. Green tea and water have been shown to increase weight loss
and fat burning.
  1. Fill up on Fiber

Soluble fiber absorbs water and moves through the digestive tract slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer (29Trusted Source).

According to some studies, increasing your intake of high-fiber foods may protect against weight gain and fat accumulation.

One study of 1,114 adults found that for each 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake per day, participants lost 3.7% of their belly fat over a five-year period, even without any other changes in diet or exercise (30Trusted Source).

Another review also found that increasing fiber intake promoted feelings of fullness and decreased hunger. In fact, an increase of 14 grams of fiber per day was associated with a 10% decrease in calorie intake.

Not only that, but it was also linked to nearly 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of weight loss over a four-month period (31Trusted Source).

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are a few examples of high-fiber foods that can boost fat burning and weight loss.

Summary A higher
intake of fiber may be associated with fat loss, decreased calorie intake and
greater weight loss.

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  1. Cut Down on Refined Carbs

Decreasing your intake of refined carbohydrates may help you lose extra fat.

During processing, refined grains are stripped of their bran and germ, resulting in a final product that’s low in fiber and nutrients.

Refined carbs also tend to have a higher glycemic index, which can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, resulting in increased hunger (32Trusted Source).

Studies show that a diet high in refined carbs may be associated with increased belly fat (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

Conversely, a diet high in whole grains has been associated with a lower body mass index and body weight, plus a smaller waist circumference (35Trusted Source).

One study in 2,834 people also showed that those with higher intakes of refined grains tended to have a higher amount of disease-promoting belly fat, while those who ate more whole grains tended to have a lower amount (36Trusted Source).

For the best results, reduce your intake of refined carbs from pastries, processed foods, pastas, white breads and breakfast cereals. Replace them with whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and oats.

Summary Refined
carbs are low in fiber and nutrients. They may increase hunger and cause spikes
and crashes in blood sugar levels. Consuming refined carbs has also been
associated with increased belly fat.

How to Lose Weight Fast in 3 Simple Steps

  1. Increase Your Cardio

Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most common forms of exercise and is defined as any type of exercise that specifically trains the heart and lungs.

Adding cardio to your routine may be one of the most effective ways to enhance fat burning.

For example, one review of 16 studies found that the more aerobic exercise people got, the more belly fat they lost (37Trusted Source).

Other studies have found that aerobic exercise can increase muscle mass and decrease belly fat, waist circumference and body fat (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

Most research recommends between 150–300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly, or roughly 20–40 minutes of cardio each day (41Trusted Source).

Running, walking, cycling and swimming are just a few examples of some cardio exercises that can help burn fat and kick-start weight loss.

Summary Studies
show that the more aerobic exercise people get, the more belly fat they tend to
lose. Cardio may also help reduce waist circumference, lower body fat and
increase muscle mass.
  1. Drink Coffee

Caffeine is a primary ingredient in just about every fat-burning supplement, and for good reason.

The caffeine found in coffee acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increases metabolism and boosts the breakdown of fatty acids (42Trusted Source).

In fact, studies show that caffeine intake can temporarily increase energy expenditure and enhance metabolism by 3–11% (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).

One large study with over 58,000 people found that increased caffeine intake was associated with less weight gain over a 12-year period (45Trusted Source).

Another study found that higher caffeine intake was linked to a higher rate of success with weight loss maintenance among 2,623 people (46Trusted Source).

To maximize the health benefits of coffee, skip the cream and sugar. Instead, enjoy it black or with a small amount of milk to prevent the extra calories from stacking up.

Summary Coffee
contains caffeine, which can increase the breakdown of fat and raise
metabolism. Studies show that higher caffeine intake may be associated with
greater weight loss.
  1. Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a form of exercise that pairs quick bursts of activity with short recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated.

Studies show that HIIT can be incredibly effective at ramping up fat burning and promoting weight loss.

One study found that young men performing HIIT for 20 minutes three times weekly lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body fat over a 12-week period, even with no other changes to their diet or lifestyle.

They also experienced a 17% reduction in belly fat as well as a significant decrease in waist circumference (47Trusted Source).

HIIT may also help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other forms of cardio.

According to one study, performing HIIT helped people burn up to 30% more calories than other types of exercise, such as cycling or jogging, in the same amount of time (48Trusted Source).

For an easy way to get started with HIIT, try alternating between walking and jogging or sprinting for 30 seconds at a time.

You can also cycle between exercises like burpees, push-ups or squats with a short rest period in between.

Summary HIIT can
help increase fat burning and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time
than other forms of exercise.
  1. Add Probiotics to Your Diet

Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract that have been shown to improve many aspects of health.

In fact, the bacteria in your gut have been shown to play a role in everything from immunity to mental health (49Trusted Source).

Increasing your intake of probiotics through either food or supplements may also help rev up fat burning and keep your weight under control.

One review of 15 studies showed that people who took probiotics experienced significantly larger reductions in body weight, fat percentage and body mass index compared to those who took a placebo (50Trusted Source).

Another small study showed that taking probiotic supplements helped people following a high-fat, high-calorie diet prevent fat and weight gain (51Trusted Source).

Certain strains of probiotics in the genus Lactobacillus may be especially effective at aiding weight and fat loss.

One study in 28 people showed that eating yogurt containing either Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus bacteria reduced body fat by 3–4% (52).

Taking supplements is a quick and easy way to get in a concentrated dose of probiotics every day.

Alternatively, you can try adding some probiotic-rich foods to your diet, such as kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut.

Summary Taking
probiotic supplements or increasing your intake of probiotics through food
sources may help reduce body weight and fat percentage.
  1. Increase Your Iron Intake

Iron is an important mineral that has many vital functions in the body.

As with other nutrients such as iodine, a deficiency in iron may impact the health of your thyroid gland. This small gland in your neck secretes hormones that regulate your metabolism (53Trusted Source).

Multiple studies have found that low levels of iron in the body may be associated with impaired thyroid function and a disruption in the production of thyroid hormones (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism, or decreased thyroid function, include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and weight gain (57Trusted Source).

Similarly, a deficiency in iron can cause symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath (58Trusted Source).

Treating iron deficiency can allow your metabolism to work more efficiently and can fight off fatigue to help increase your activity level.

One study even found that when 21 women were treated for iron deficiency, they experienced reductions in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index (59Trusted Source).

Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough iron in their diets.

Women, infants, children, vegans and vegetarians are all at a higher risk of iron deficiency.

Be sure to incorporate plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet to help meet your iron needs and maintain your metabolism and energy levels.

You can find iron in meat, poultry, seafood, fortified grains and cereals, leafy green vegetables, dried fruits and beans.

Summary A
deficiency in iron may be associated with impaired thyroid function and can
cause symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. One study found that
treating iron deficiency aided in weight loss.
  1. Give Intermittent Fasting a Shot

Intermittent fasting is a diet pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting.

Research shows that intermittent fasting may help enhance both weight loss and fat loss.

One review looked at the effects of intermittent fasting, including alternate-day fasting — a method that involves alternating between days of fasting and eating normally.

They found that alternate-day fasting over a period of 3–12 weeks reduced body weight by up to 7% and decreased body fat by up to 12 pounds (5.5 kg) (60Trusted Source).

Another small study showed that eating only during an eight-hour window each day helped decrease fat mass and maintain muscle mass when combined with resistance training (61Trusted Source).

There are several different types of intermittent fasting, including some where you eat only on certain days of the week and others where eating is restricted to specific hours of the day.

Popular types of intermittent fasting include Eat Stop Eat, the Warrior Diet, the 16/8 method and the 5:2 diet.

Find a variation that fits in with your schedule and lifestyle and don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you.

Summary
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce body weight and body fat and may
help preserve muscle mass when combined with resistance training.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of options available to help you shed excess fat and improve your health.

Incorporating some healthy habits into your routine and switching up your diet can make a big difference. Even minor changes to your lifestyle can have powerful effects on fat burning.

Be sure to pair these simple tips with a nutritious, well-rounded diet and active lifestyle to simultaneously boost fat breakdown and improve your overall health.
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Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD on March 19, 2018
How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science
10 Morning Habits That Help You Lose Weight
29 Healthy Snacks That Can Help You Lose Weight
How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight
The 14 Best Ways to Burn Fat Fast
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Nutrition
How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science

Ways to lose weight
Calories & portions
Tips
Meal ideas
How fast to lose
Bottom line

If your doctor recommends it, there are ways to lose weight safely. A steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is recommended for the most effective long-term weight management.

That said, many eating plans leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied. These are major reasons why you might find it hard to stick to a healthier eating plan.

However, not all diets have this effect. Low carb diets and whole food, lower calorie diets are effective for weight loss and may be easier to stick to than other diets.

Here are some ways to lose weight that employ healthy eating, potentially lower carbs, and that aim to:

reduce your appetite
cause fast weight loss
improve your metabolic health at the same time

How to Lose Weight Fast in 3 Simple Steps

  1. Cut back on refined carbs

One way to lose weight quickly is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates. This could be with a low carb eating plan or by reducing refined carbs and replacing them with whole grains.

When you do that, your hunger levels go down, and you generally end up eating fewer calories (1Trusted Source).

With a low carb eating plan, you’ll utilize burning stored fat for energy instead of carbs.

If you choose to eat more complex carbs like whole grains along with a calorie deficit, you’ll benefit from higher fiber and digest them more slowly. This makes them more filling to keep you satisfied.

A 2020 study confirmed that a very low carbohydrate diet was beneficial for losing weight in older populations (2).

Research also suggests that a low carb diet can reduce appetite, which may lead to eating fewer calories without thinking about it or feeling hungry (3Trusted Source).

Note that the long-term effects of a low carb diet are still being researched. It can also be difficult to adhere to a low carb diet, which may lead to yo-yo dieting and less success in maintaining a healthy weight.

There are potential downsides to a low carb diet that may lead you to a different method. Reduced calorie diets can also lead to weight loss and be easier to maintain for longer periods of time.

If you opt for a diet focusing instead on whole grains over refined carbs, a 2019 study correlated high whole grain with lower body mass index (BMI) (4Trusted Source).

To determine the best way for you to lose weight, consult your doctor for recommendations.

Summary

Reducing sugars and starches, or carbs, from your diet can help curb your appetite, lower your insulin levels, and make you lose weight.

But the long-term effects of a low carb diet are not yet known. A reduced calorie diet could be more sustainable.
  1. Eat protein, fat, and vegetables

Each one of your meals should include:

a protein source
fat source
vegetables
a small portion of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains

To see how you can assemble your meals, check out:

this low carb meal plan
this lower calorie meal plan
these lists of 101 healthy low carb recipes and low calorie foods

Protein

Eating a recommended amount of protein is essential to help preserve your health and muscle mass while losing weight (5Trusted Source).

Evidence suggests that eating adequate protein may improve cardiometabolic risk factors, appetite, and body weight, (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Here’s how to determine how much you need to eat without eating too much. Many factors determine your specific needs, but generally, an average person needs (9Trusted Source):

56–91 grams per day for the average male
46–75 grams per day for the average female

Diets with adequate protein can also help:

reduce cravings and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%
reduce the desire to snack late at night by half
make you feel full 

In one study, people on a higher protein diet ate 441 fewer calories per day (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Healthy protein sources include:

meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
fish and seafood: salmon, trout, and shrimp
eggs: whole eggs with the yolk
plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, quinoa, tempeh, and tofu

Low carb and leafy green vegetables

Don’t be afraid to load your plate with leafy green vegetables. They’re packed with nutrients, and you can eat very large amounts without greatly increasing calories and carbs.
Vegetables to include for low carb or low calorie eating plans:

broccoli
cauliflower
spinach
tomatoes
kale
Brussels sprouts
cabbage
Swiss chard
lettuce
cucumber

Healthy fats

Don’t be afraid of eating fats.

Your body still requires healthy fats no matter what eating plan you choose. Olive oil and avocado oil are great choices for including in your eating plan.

Other fats such as butter and coconut oil should be used only in moderation due to their higher saturated fat content (12Trusted Source).

Summary

Assemble each meal out of a protein source, healthy fat source, complex carb, and vegetables.

Leafy green vegetables are a great way to bulk up a meal with low calories and lots of nutrients. 

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  1. Move your body

Exercise, while not required to lose weight, can help you lose weight more quickly. Lifting weights has particularly good benefits.

By lifting weights, you’ll burn lots of calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Try going to the gym three to four times a week to lift weights. If you’re new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice. Make sure your doctor is also aware of any new exercise plans.

If lifting weights is not an option for you, doing some cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming is very beneficial for weight loss and general health.

Both cardio and weightlifting can help with weight loss.

Summary

Resistance training, such as weightlifting, is a great option for losing weight. If that’s not possible, cardio workouts are also effective.

Choose what’s sustainable for you.

What about calories and portion control?

If you opt for a low carb eating plan, it’s not necessary to count calories as long as you keep your carb intake very low and stick to protein, fat, and low carb vegetables.

If you find yourself not losing weight, you may want to keep track of your calories to see if that’s a contributing factor.

If you’re sticking to a calorie deficit to lose weight, you can use a free online calculator like this one.

Enter your sex, weight, height, and activity levels. The calculator will tell you how many calories to eat per day to maintain your weight, lose weight, or lose weight fast.

You can also download free, easy-to-use calorie counters from websites and app stores. Here’s a list of 5 calorie counters to try.

Note that eating too few calories can be dangerous and less effective for losing weight. Aim to reduce your calories by a sustainable and healthy amount based on your doctor’s recommendation.

Summary

Counting calories isn’t usually needed to lose weight on a low carb eating plan. But if you’re not losing weight or on a reduced calorie eating plan, calorie counting may help.

9 weight loss tips

Here are 9 more tips to lose weight faster:

Eat a high protein breakfast. Eating a high protein breakfast could help reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. Empty calories from sugar aren’t useful to your body and can hinder weight loss (18Trusted Source, 19).
Drink water before meals. One study showed that drinking water before meals reduced calorie intake and may be effective in weight management (20Trusted Source).
Choose weight-loss-friendly foods. Some foods are better for weight loss than others. Here is a list of healthy weight-loss-friendly foods.
Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may promote weight loss. Fiber supplements like glucomannan can also help (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23).
Drink coffee or tea. Caffeine consumption can boost your metabolism (24Trusted Source, 25).
Base your diet on whole foods. They’re healthier, more filling, and much less likely to cause overeating than processed foods.
Eat slowly. Eating quickly can lead to weight gain over time, while eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones (26Trusted Source).
Get good quality sleep. Sleep is important for many reasons, and poor sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for weight gain (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29).

For more tips on weight loss, read about natural tips for losing weight here.

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