How does exercise burn fat?

During exercise the body needs extra energy, which it gets from burning fat. Fat is released into the bloodstream, where it travels to the muscles to give them the energy they need. This makes the muscles work better and helps shrink fat cells, so people keep a healthy weight.

Your body needs fuel in order to function and perform work (such as exercise). Your body gets this fuel from the foods you eat. Foods can be divided into three macronutrients; carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Your body’s primary source of energy comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are extremely important to give you the energy you need to exercise and perform activities of daily living. The body’s next source of energy is fat. Like carbohydrates, fat can be easily converted into fuel the body needs. And sometimes protein can be used as fuel; but its primary function is to build and repair tissues.

When you exercise your body will primarily “burn” carbohydrates and fat; much like a car uses gasoline. Exercise helps someone burn fat because exercise requires more fuel than being sedentary (like a speeding race car needs more gasoline). As you exercise your body will convert fat to be used as fuel for working muscles. In addition, as someone becomes fit their body becomes more efficient at using fat as a fuel source.

Jonathan Penney
Fitness Specialist

Exercise will burn calories.  Every 3,500 calories is 1 pound of fat. By exercising you are increasing your heart rate, increasing your heart rate will require your body to work to keep itself cool which will result in calories burned. 

Most everyone has some excess fat that they can burn. Exercising correctly by incorporating strength and cardiovascular training then you will be successful in burning fat and losing weight. Be sure to complete more than just cardiovascular exercise to keep strong muscles and bones.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.