weight loss vs fat loss

The 5 Best Forms of Exercise for Fat Loss

Engaging in physical activity can help you shed pounds by burning extra calories. However, the weight you lose can depend on various factors such as your age, dietary habits, and your weight when you begin.

For numerous individuals seeking to shed excess weight, exercise is often the first choice. Its ability to effectively burn calories makes it an essential tool in achieving weight loss.

However, exercise offers more than just weight loss benefits. It can also fortify your bones and decrease the likelihood of developing chronic diseases while improving your overall mood. So without further ado, let’s delve into 5 top-notch exercises that are highly effective for shedding pounds.

The 5 Best Forms of Exercise For Fat Loss

Resistance training

Lifting weights isn’t just about getting stronger or building muscle. It also helps your body burn more calories even when you’re just sitting around, thanks to a boost in your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Think of it this way: a person weighing 140 pounds can burn around 7.6 calories per minute just by weight training, while someone at 180 pounds burns about 9.8 calories per minute doing the same thing.

There was this study where people did strength exercises for just 11 minutes, three times a week, and after six months, their metabolism sped up by 7.4%. This meant they were burning an extra 125 calories every day without doing anything extra.

Another study showed that after 24 weeks of weight training, men saw their metabolism increase by 9%, which is about 140 extra calories burned each day. Women saw a near 4% increase, burning 50 more calories daily.

Plus, weight training has a bonus effect: your body keeps burning calories for hours after you’ve finished working out, unlike with cardio exercises.


High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, involves quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. This type of workout is efficient; you can get it done in just 10–30 minutes, and it’s fantastic for burning calories.

A study involving 9 active men showed that HIIT could burn 25–30% more calories per minute than other exercises like weight lifting, riding a bicycle, or running on a treadmill. This means you can burn more calories in less time with HIIT.

What’s more, interval training is particularly good at targeting belly fat, which is linked to various chronic diseases.

Getting started is simple. Pick an activity you like, such as running, jumping, or cycling. Then decide on how long you’ll push hard and your rest periods. For instance, you might go all out on a bike for 30 seconds, then take it easy for 1–2 minutes. Keep this up for 10–20 minutes, which means you’ll do 10-15 sprints.


Research indicates that both jogging and running are excellent for burning off visceral fat, which is the stubborn fat that sits around your internal organs and is linked to several chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

Jogging and running might look similar, but the main difference lies in the pace. Jogging usually happens at a speed between 4–6 mph (6.4–9.7 km/h), whereas running kicks in at speeds over 6 mph (9.7 km/h).

According to the American Council on Exercise, a person weighing 140 pounds (about 65 kg) will burn around 10.8 calories per minute jogging and 13.2 calories per minute running. For someone who’s 180 pounds (about 81 kg), they’d burn about 13.9 calories per minute jogging and 17 calories per minute running.

If you’re looking to get into it, try aiming for 20–30 minutes of jogging 3–4 times a week.

For those worried about the impact on joints, running outdoors on softer surfaces like grass can help, and many treadmills offer built-in cushioning to ease the strain on your joints.


Walking is an easy and accessible form of exercise for beginners who might feel intimidated by more intense workouts or don’t want to invest in equipment. Plus, it’s a low-impact activity, so it’s gentler on your joints.

A recent study featured in “Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology” reveals that walking regularly might be healthier than running. It found that those who walk regularly have a lower risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease compared to those who run regularly.

Experts like O’Keefe and Astorino suggest dedicating 30 minutes to brisk walking on most days of the week. They also recommend adding a few days of strength training to the mix for a well-rounded fitness routine.

Riding a bicycle

Choosing to ride a bicycle could be one of the best decisions you ever make, whether you’re looking to improve your fitness and shed some pounds, enhance your overall health, save money, or make a positive impact on the environment.

Cycling is gentle on your body since it’s a low-impact and non-weight-bearing form of exercise, meaning it doesn’t put a lot of stress on your joints.

According to the American Council on Exercise, someone who weighs 140 pounds (around 65 kg) can burn approximately 6.4 calories per minute when cycling at a leisurely pace of 10 miles per hour. For a person weighing 180 pounds (about 81 kg), they’d burn around 8.2 calories per minute at the same speed.

How much weight can you lose with exercise

Setting realistic goals is a cornerstone of any successful fitness journey. How much weight you can expect to lose isn’t just a simple number—it’s influenced by a whole host of factors that play unique roles in your journey. Let’s unpack these factors to give you a well-rounded view.

Starting Weight: Your journey’s starting point matters a lot. If you begin at a heavier weight, you likely have a higher Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), meaning your body burns more calories just keeping you alive. This can lead to shedding pounds a bit more quickly since you’ll burn more calories during activities and even while resting.

Age: It’s no secret that as we age, our bodies change. Older individuals usually have more body fat and less muscle, which slows down the BMR, making weight loss a bit more of a challenge.

Gender: Men and women are built differently, with women generally having a higher body fat percentage than men. This difference affects how quickly you can lose weight, with men often seeing faster results under similar conditions.

Diet: At its core, weight loss is about calories in versus calories out. If you burn more than you consume, you’ll lose weight. That’s why focusing on a diet where you consume fewer calories than you burn is key.

Sleep: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can slow down your weight loss and even make you crave junk food. So, catching those Zs is crucial.

Medical Conditions: Some health issues, like depression and hypothyroidism, can make losing weight harder, affecting the speed of your progress.

Genetics: Yes, your genes play a role in your weight loss journey. For some, especially those dealing with obesity, genetics can make losing weight a bit more complex.

While we all might wish for quick results, a slow and steady approach is healthier, aiming to lose about 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) or about 1% of your body weight each week. Losing weight too quickly can lead to muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies, and a bunch of other unpleasant side effects, not to mention a higher chance of gaining the weight back.

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