How To Burn Fat: Part 1

Before you begin hitting the weights and altering your diet to burn off body fat, I need to teach you a few technical things about how the body stores and burns fat.  Additionally, I will be giving some of you a refreshers course on what fat really is.

This article is the first installment in a series of fat-burning articles that will teach you everything needed for a successful reduction in body fat. Once you read these articles, and apply the information to your body, I will expect many heartfelt comments thanking me for your successful transformation. :)

Now, sit up straight and put your thinking caps on.

What Is Metabolism, Really?

Metabolism, simply, is the chemical set of processes that maintains life. The metabolism breaks down organic matter, called catabolism, and uses energy to build cells, called anabolism. The metabolism breaks down ingested food and beverages and, along with oxygen, releases energy needed by the body to function: basic functions like respiration, circulation, growth, cell repair, and hormone production in addition to more obvious movements like standing, walking, working out, and other activities. The metabolism is responsible for fat gain and loss, as well.[1]


Fat, also called adipose tissue, is connective tissue made up of adipocytes, also known as fat cells. Fat’s role is to cushion the body and to store energy. In recent years, fat has been recognized as an organ that produces many hormones, such as leptin, resistin, estrogen.

Fat is stored in various places: subcutaneous is under the skin, yellow bone marrow is  in bone marrow, intramuscular fat is in the muscles, and visceral fat is found around internal organs.  When there is a grouping of fat cells in one place, it is called an adipose deposit.

Subcutaneous Fat

Just below the skin, fat cells are usually stored in females in the buttock, thigh, and hip area, and in males in the abdominal area. These stores are generally not related to disease and is meant to have a protective role. Too much fat in this area makes creates those “stubborn fat” areas we all struggle to get rid of.

Subcutaneous fat secretes resistin and leptin like all other fat organs.

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is that found surrounding and between the abdominal organs inside the abdominal cavity. There are strong links between large amounts of visceral or abdominal fats and cardiovascular disease[2], insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory diseases.

Fat Burning Hormones

The human body manufactures and uses many hormones. These hormones have various responsibilities when it comes to body processes, but some are responsible for burning fat.

The top five fat-burning hormones in the body are

  • Testosterone
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Leptin
  • Thyroxine
  • Epinephrine.[3]


Testosterone helps to build and maintain muscle as well as burn body fat.[4] To increase testosterone levels, one should perform short, intense workouts like weight training.

Saturated fats are required in order to produce testosterone, which is why a high-protein, high-fat, low carb diet often leads to increased testosterone levels (like when following my Muscle Overload Training program).

Human Growth Hormone

Produced by the pituitary gland, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) builds and maintains muscle, controls blood sugar, maintains insulin levels, and burns fat.[5]

Short, intense workouts increase HGH. Lower-carb diets also increase HGH production, because high insulin levels produce somatostatin, which suppresses Human Growth Hormone production (low carb = low somatostatin = higher HGH)


Leptin is produced in the body’s fat cells.[6] Secreted into the blood stream, it travels to the brain and causes a decreased appetite, increases the body’s use of stored body fat for energy instead of food sources, and increases metabolism.

An adequate amount of calories is needed to maintain leptin levels; very low calorie diets makes leptin levels fall. Regular exercise and adequate amounts of deep sleep helps keep leptin levels high.


Produced by the hormone gland, thyroxine is converted to triiodothyronine by the kidneys and liver, which helps regulate the body’s metabolism.[7]  Short, intense exercise increases thyroxine levels and keeps those levels elevated for hours following the workout.


Epinephrine is produced by the adrenal glands during exercise and causes stored body fat to break down to use as energy.[8]

Burning Fat

The fat stored in the muscle and under the surface of the skin are the two types of fat that create the appearance of being “fat” or obese. To lose body fat, the fatty acids within the fat cells must be burned. The best way to do this is through exercise, which increases blood flow to those areas, and increases the oxidation of the fatty acids.

Body fat is used as energy when the energy requirements of the body exceed that of the energy taken in as food. The two ways this happens is through restrictive dieting and exercise. If a person eats fewer calories than what is needed for energy, the body will burn fat for energy. Likewise, if a person exercises excessively and requires more energy than what was provided by food intake, stored fat is converted to energy.

We require energy 24 hours a day: to fuel our activities and to fuel our body processes like breathing and digesting. If a person fails to consume enough food to provide the fuel we require, his or her body will break down fat cells (triglycerides) to create energy.

Triglycerides are broken down into 3 units of fatty acids and one molecule of glycerol in a process called Lipolysis (scientific name for ‘fat burning’).

Glycerol is converted to pyruvic acid, which is then converted to acetyl Coenzyme A. Fatty acids are also converted to Acetyl CoA. Once both the fatty acids and glycerol have been converted, the Acetyl CoA is further broken down and the energy from this reaction forms ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate), which is the energy that is used at the cellular level.

The trick of the whole thing is getting your body to start using your stored fat as energy instead of keeping it around “just in case” it needs it…like if you get stuck on a mountainside in the snow for 3 weeks without food.

So now that I’ve crammed your brain full of this technical stuff, the next article will be all about how to structure your diet to burn fat. I will build off this information in the next article, so don’t disregard today’s lesson!

Train Hard,

Leave A Reply (30 comments so far)

  1. Yusuf
    6 years ago


    I have read many articles on this subject, but no one has put it as lucidly as you.

    Eagerly awaiting next article(s).

    Yusuf, Mumbai India

  2. M. Jamal
    6 years ago

    Great article Rick.

    My question: I understand you can't target 'tummy fat' (or a specific area to remove fat from)… yet I'm wondering
    how to manipulate diet to hit those hard spots. Most advice seems to be around cutting calories or upping
    exercise, yet most calorie cutting (or increasing cardio) seems to waste the little muscle I have gained.

    I'd rather have a 6 week plan that gets me close to six-pack ready… than going for an extreme diet/cardio
    of 2 weeks that gets me six-pack ready while losing so much muscle shape.

    M. Jamal

    • Rick Gray
      6 years ago

      Great question M…the next 2 articles will cover the answer to your question with both diet and exercises to help bring down the fat levels without sacrificing muscle!

  3. Ernie
    5 years ago

    Do you know if whey protein is wheat free of charge?

    I’m allergic to wheat. Difficult to find wheat free of charge goods, specially on an extremely minimal spending budget. Any recommendations?

    BTW, I’m a 38 yo woman, 5’2 & 136 lbs (recent abdominoplasty & breast reduction). Need to lean, tone & cut up.

    • Rick Gray
      5 years ago

      Yes, whey protein has no wheat/gluten in it, at least ours doesn't – so you should be good on that. Check out our IsoFuel for a great tasting and super-clean protein blend. Also, our Shred360 is a fantastic addition to any fat-loss plan, and speaking of, you should look into 14 Day Fat Loss here: <a href="” target=”_blank”> Thanks!

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