Jerry Brainum breaks down optimizing fat oxidation during a workout in this week’s Straight Facts.

Diet is the most important factor to losing weight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help improve your fat burning capabilities via workouts and aerobic exercise. Yes, exercising can help you add a bit more fat loss into your goals – but it’s not always easy. Basic exercise does not guarantee fat loss. This is a fact that has frustrated many across the globe as they try to lose pounds. In an episode of Straight Facts, Jerry Brainum breaks down the key factors that help increase fat oxidation and improve fat loss during a workout.

Jerry Brainum starts the episode with a very important reminder: What you eat is the key determining factor in how much fat you burn or gain, this seems to be something that many people forget. While exercise can help burn fat – even the most perfectly performed aerobic training routine will only bring minimum fat loss, as you cannot out-train a bad diet. If you’re looking to truly transform your body and weight – a lifestyle change in your diet is necessary, you cannot just be eating meals full of straight junk.

With that being said, fat loss via exercise can also be very helpful alongside a proper diet. Which is why Jerry Brainum uses research studies to help break down the key determining factors in burning fat during a workout. Let’s jump into the main points.

Carbohydrates, Workouts, and Fat Loss

carbs and fat burning

The key to losing fat while exercising is fat oxidization, a term that not everyone is all too familiar with, but he explains it. So for the entirety of this episode, Jerry Brainum breaks down the best ways to improve fat oxidization during your training routine. One of the most important factors to consider is how many carbohydrates you consume before a workout. Carbs provide fuel and energy for your body, making certain foods a great pre-workout. So when you exercise while loaded on carbs, your body will chose the carbs over fat to fuel your workout.

On basic terms, this means that if you exercise while loaded up on carbohydrates, you will burn less fat. However, in practice this seems to make little difference. Studies have shown that fasted cardio does not help increase fat loss.

HIIT Training and Fat Loss

Nearly everyone knows that aerobic exercise is the key to burning fat through exercise. But there are various ways to train aerobically. Which training style or strategy is best to burn the most fat? Typically, studies have shown that your body starts truly oxidizing fat over carbs after exercising for more than 60-90 minutes. Jerry Brainum wouldn’t recommend that individuals train every day for over 90 minutes though.

Instead, High Intensity Interval Training (aka HIIT) has shown to bring the best benefit to weight loss. HIIT training is so high intensity, that your body wants fast fuel. This would come from carbs. That sounds bad, right? However, studies have shown that HIIT training increases your metabolism for hours after you finish exercising. This leads to fat oxidation and fat loss for a few hours throughout your day. Take a look at Mike Mentzer, who was in the gym for around 45 minutes a workout but was absolutely massive and shredded when he was competing.

The key with this, though, is to ensure you are truly performing HIIT training correctly. The goal of HIIT is to bring up your heart rate to 90% of its max, really getting that blood pumping and the fat burning. If you aren’t pushing hard enough to hit that point – you won’t see those same fat burning boosts.

An additional note for those focusing on aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that standing exercises burn fat better than sitting ones. So it’s best to move from cycling to running, whether that is outside or on a treadmill, if possible. The stairclimber is also a great option for burning fat.

How Your Environment Helps You Lose Fat

Studies have shown that if you are training under very hot temperatures, that your body will oxidize fat less, so no more dumbbell curls in the sauna. This is only slight – but something of note. On the flip side, Jerry Brainum explains that some studies have shown extremely cold environments help boost fat loss. Those include:

Studies have been shown that both Ice Baths and cold showers help boost fat loss. This is due to your body using fat and turning it into heat for your body.

Fat Burner Supplements and Workouts

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Fat Burner supplements are everywhere these days, you cannot look down any supplement aisle without seeing these. But do the fat burning supplements really work? Jerry Brainum warns that fat burners are not miracle pills, and they do not actually burn fat at all. Instead, they help mobilize fat. So in order for a fat burner to work – you absolutely need to exercise. Taking a fat burner but not exercising will do absolutely nothing for your fat loss journey.

In addition to fat burner supplements, caffeine is also a great substance to help mobilize fat, and this is a common ingredient in energy drinks and pre-workouts. This is good news for all those coffee drinkers out there. Studies have shown that approx. 3-4 cups of coffee per day can help improve fat loss when you exercise.

Fat Burning Wrap Up

Jerry Brainum goes into far more detail about the best factors to help improve fat burning during a workout. However, as he states at the very top – exercise is the least effective way to lose weight. A proper diet and lifestyle change is most important to meeting your weight loss goals.

However, if you want to give yourself an extra edge alongside your diet – Jerry Brainum’s guide using past research studies will help you optimize your fat loss during a workout. Make sure to watch the entire episode of Straight Facts for the full details above. And don’t forget to visit Generation Iron every Wednesday for new episodes each week!

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Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.