Are you ashamed of all the extra body fat you’ve put on? The arm fat, the face fat, the thigh fat—and maybe even worst of all—the belly fat you’ve accumulated around your midsection? You're not alone!
Most Americans have struggled to maintain their desired body weight during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the American Psychological Association’s latest “Stress in America” report more than 40% of adults surveyed reported that they gained more weight than intended. On average they put on a whopping 29 pounds in the past 12 months.
If you are unhappy with your weight or the waistline of the person looking back at you from the mirror, it’s time for a positive transformation. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel stuck and unhappy with your body. So, if you’re looking for some fast ways to burn fat, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve compiled a list of 12 proven and time-tested ways to help you slim down and tone up ASAP.
Let’s dive in.
1. Start a Strength Training Program
First on the list of fast ways to burn fat is starting a strength training routine. Strength training is what gives your body shape and that athletic-looking physique we all crave. It’s how you turn those love handles into a toned and well-defined set of abs.
You burn fat by building more muscle, and lifting weights is the best way to do that. By building muscle, you’ll boost your metabolism, which means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not working out.
If you’re new to strength training, start with bodyweight exercises like push-ups or air squats at home and gradually work your way up to lifting weights at the gym.
2. Eat a High-Protein Diet
If you sort through all the crazy diets out there—one strategy for fat loss remains tried and true—and that’s eating a high-protein diet.
Research shows that eating protein reduces ghrelin (a hunger hormone) and increases satiety hormones (like peptide YY). In theory, if you’re feeling full, then you’ll eat less and be able to burn more fat. Not only that, but a high-protein diet boosts your metabolism, helps you build muscle, and can even elevate your mood.
Here are a few tips for getting more protein in your diet:
- Find high-protein, lower-fat substitutes of foods you already eat. Greek yogurt for sour cream, chicken meatballs for fatty beef, and turkey sausage instead of pork are some good ones.
- Consider adding whey protein to your diet to make protein shakes.
- Increase the amount of protein you’re already eating. For example, instead of eating 4 ounces of chicken for lunch, go for 6.
- Eat protein rich snacks like jerky or meat sticks instead of high carb snacks like chips, pretzels, or popcorn.
3. Prioritize Sleep
Does sleep really belong on a list of fast ways to burn fat? Without a doubt. In one study, getting just two hours of sleep less per night reduced fat loss by 55%.
Better sleep comes down to practicing good sleep hygiene, aka having good sleep habits. This means setting your bedroom up for a good night’s sleep. Comfy bed, sheets, pillows, and making sure your room is at a comfortable temperature.
Also, be mindful of watching tv or being on your phone right before bed. The blue light from electronic devices can mess with your sleep hormones and throw your sleep cycle out of whack.
Getting some exercise can also help too, as physical activity during the day can make falling asleep at night easier.
4. Do More Cardio
Increasing your cardio isn’t just a way to shed stubborn belly fat, but it improves your cardiovascular health, helps you manage your blood sugar, and lowers your blood pressure, among other things. Getting more aerobic exercise could be walking, running, swimming, cycling, or playing a game of pick-up basketball with some friends. Just anything that gets your body moving and your heart rate up.
Research shows that 150-300 minutes of moderate to intense cardio per week (20-40 minutes per day) is a general guide for burning visceral fat.
Keep in mind that you can’t out-train a poor diet. The only way to put your body in “fat-burning mode” is by being in a calorie deficit. That means you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. If you’re not sure about how to create a calorie deficit, calorie-counting apps like MyFitnessPal or Noom can help.
5. Get Some Healthy Fats in Your Diet
It might sound a little crazy, but one of the fast ways to burn fat is actually to eat fat. Healthy fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats) give you energy and help your body absorb the nutrients and minerals it needs to function effectively. They also help your body produce more HDL (aka “good cholesterol”). HDL helps your body produce growth hormone, which is key to building muscle.
Here are some healthy fats to include in your diet:
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout)
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Olive or coconut oil
6. Drink More Water and Low-Calorie Beverages
A 12 oz can of Pepsi contains 150 calories. Have one of those a day and you’re looking at 54,750 calories a year. That’s a little over 15 pounds of body weight gain just from drinking pop!
Now, you don’t have to cut out your favorite sugary beverages completely but being more mindful—and reaching for water or low-calorie drinks instead—can save you a ton of calories and is an easy way to burn fat fast.
That’s because sugary drinks are pretty much just empty calories, meaning they’re high in calories, don’t provide any nutritional value, and aren’t very filling.
7. Go Low-Carb
You’ve probably heard of it but maybe the most famous low-carb diet out there is the keto diet. With the keto diet, you’re going to limit your carb intake to about 20-50 grams per day. This can help your body enter ketosis, which is when your body burns fat for energy as opposed to carbs.
There are many benefits to going keto, such as weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improved heart health. In one weight loss study, participants on a keto diet lost a little over twice the amount of weight compared to those who followed a low fat, low-calorie diet. Learn more about the benefits of a Keto diet and Keto Fantastic!
8. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Hunger can make even the most disciplined and committed person cave on their diet. So, anything that keeps you feeling full belongs on the list of fast ways to burn fat. Similar to upping your protein, another trick to burn fat faster is eating more fiber (soluble fiber in particular).
Soluble fiber promotes a healthy gut and keeps you feeling full so you can burn more fat. One study found that eating more fiber can have just as much of a positive impact on fat loss as any other dietary measure.
Add these high-fiber foods to your grocery list for your next trip to the store:
- Black beans
- Lima beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Oats and whole grains
- Sweet potatoes
If you want a quick workout that shreds body fat and burns a ton of calories, then HIIT is for you. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s a workout that will really get your heart rate up. The whole premise behind the workout is doing short, intense bursts of exercise, followed by periods of rest or recovery.
The high-intensity nature of HIIT workouts supercharges fat loss by boosting your metabolism so you can continue burning calories for hours after the workout is done. In one study, HIIT was found to burn 25-30% more calories than alternate forms of exercise.
10. Find Ways to Relax Your Mind
Your stress levels could be impacting your waistline. When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which can increase your appetite and lead to overeating. In one study, being more stressed caused participants to burn 104 fewer calories over a 24 hour period.
Whether it’s your job, family and friends, or finances that gets you all worked up, give some of these strategies a try to de-stress:
- Get active
- Start a new creative project
- Write in a journal
- Read a book that interests you
- Treat yourself to a massage
- Take a nice, hot bath
11. Give Intermittent Fasting a Try
Intermittent fasting is when you only eat during certain windows. Here are a few of the more popular intermittent fasting methods out there:
- 16/8 intermittent fasting: You have an 8-hour eating window and fast for the other 16 hours of the day.
- 5:2 intermittent fasting: Eat normal 5 days out of the week and decrease your calories by about 500 or 600 the other 2 days.
- Alternate-day intermittent fasting: You fast every other day.
But does it actually work? A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition saw participants lose an average of 12 pounds while intermittent fasting over 8 weeks.
12. Limit Refined Carbs
Refined carbs (or simple carbohydrates) are highly processed. They’re foods that have been stripped of bran, fiber, and essentially, all their nutrients—the end result being “empty calories.” Refined carbs include sugary food, soda, pasta, white bread, etc.
If a food is high in refined carbs, your body absorbs it quickly. It can provide a jolt of energy in the short term. But long term—it can just lead to blood sugar spikes and hunger. If you want to avoid overeating and preserve your midsection, choose nutritious, calorie-dense foods.
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. He enjoys creating content that helps people get in shape and live healthier lives. When he’s not behind his computer, you can find Chad at the gym, out with friends, or being a homebody binging on Netflix. You can learn more about Chad on his business website here.