11 Ways to Increase Your Fat Burning Potential

Whether you’re looking to improve your overall health or simply Lean up, burning off excess body fat can be quite challenging.

In addition to diet and exercise, numerous other factors can influence weight and fat loss.

Luckily, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to increase your fat burning potential.

Here are 11 of the best ways to increase your fat burning potential

1. Start Strength Training

Strength training is a type of exercise that requires you to contract your muscles against resistance. This helps build muscle while increasing strength.

Research has found strength training to have multiple health benefits, especially when it comes to burning fat.

In one study, strength training reduced visceral fat in 78 people with metabolic syndrome. Visceral fat is a type of dangerous fat that surrounds the vital organs in our belly. (1)

Another study showed that 12 weeks of strength training paired with aerobic exercise was more effective at reducing body fat and belly fat than aerobic exercise alone. (2)

Resistance training also helps preserve and increase lean muscle tissue, which can increase the number of calories your body can burn “automatically” at rest. (3)

According to one review, 10 weeks of resistance training helped increase calories burned at rest by 7 percent and reduce fat weight by 4 pounds. (4)

Doing body-weight exercises, lifting weights or using gym equipment are a few easy ways to get started with strength training.

Overview: Strength training has been shown to increase resting energy expenditure and reduce belly fat, especially when combined with aerobic exercise. 

2. Follow a High-Protein Diet

Including more protein-rich foods in your diet is an effective way to reduce your appetite and burn more fat.

In fact, multiple studies have found that eating more high-quality protein is associated with a lower risk of belly fat. (5, 6)

One study also showed that high-protein diets can help preserve lean muscle and metabolism during weight loss. (7)

Upping your protein intake will also increase the feelings of fullness, decrease appetite and reduce total calorie intake, therefore helping aid in weight loss. (8, 9)

Try incorporating several servings of high-protein foods into your diet each day to help amp up fat burning.

Some good examples of high-protein foods include meat, poultry, pork, fish & seafood, eggs, legumes and full-fat dairy products.

Overview: Eating more protein may be associated with a lower risk of belly fat. Increasing your protein intake can decrease appetite, lower calorie intake and preserve muscle mass.

3. Eat More Healthy Fats

Although it may seem counterintuitive, increasing your intake of healthy fats may actually help prevent weight gain and help you maintain feelings of fullness.

Fat takes a while to digest and can help slow the emptying of the stomach, which can reduce appetite and hunger. (17)

One study found that following a diet rich in healthy fats from olive oil and nuts was associated with a lower risk of weight gain compared to a low-fat diet. (18)

Another small study found that when people on a weight loss journey took two tablespoons of coconut oil daily, they lost more belly fat than those who were given soybean oil. (19)

Meanwhile, unhealthy types of fat like trans fats have been shown to increase body fat, waist circumference and belly fat in human and animal studies. (20, 21)

Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are just a few examples of the healthy types of fat that may have beneficial effects on fat burning.

Overview: Fat is digested slowly, so eating it can help reduce appetite. A higher intake of healthy fats is associated with a lower risk of weight gain and decreased belly fat. 

4. Drink Healthier Beverages

Swapping out empty-calorie drinks for some healthier selections is one of the easiest ways to increase fat burning.

For example, sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and juice are packed with calories and offer little to no nutritional value.

Alcohol is also high in calories and has the added effect of lowering your inhibitions, making you more likely to overeat. (22)

In fact, studies have found that consuming both sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol is associated with a higher risk of belly fat. (23, 24)

Instead, opt for calorie-free beverages like water or green tea.

In one small, 12-week study, drinking 17 ounces of water before meals increased weight loss by 4.4 pounds, compared to a control group. (25)

Green tea is another great option. It contains caffeine and is rich in antioxidants, both of which may help increase fat burning and enhance metabolism. (26, 27)

For instance, one study in 12 adults showed that green tea extract increased fat burning by as much as 12 percent compared to a placebo. (28)

Trading in even just one or two servings of high-calorie beverages for a glass of water or a cup of green tea is a simple way to help promote fat burning.

Overview: Sugar-sweetened beverages and alcoholic drinks may be associated with a higher risk of belly fat. Green tea and water have been shown to increase weight loss and fat burning.

5. Fill up on Fiber

Soluble fiber absorbs water and moves through the digestive tract slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer. (29)

According to some studies, increasing your intake of high-fiber foods can help protect against weight gain and fat accumulation.

One study of 1,114 adults found that for each 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake per day, participants lost 3.7 percent of their belly fat over a five-year period, even without any other changes in diet or exercise. (30)

Another review also found that increasing fiber intake promoted feelings of fullness and decreased hunger. In fact, an increase of 14 grams of fiber per day was associated with a 10 percent decrease in calorie intake.

Not only that, but it was also linked to nearly 4.4 pounds of weight loss over a four-month period. (31)

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are a few examples of high-fiber foods that can help boost your fat burning and speed up your weight loss efforts.

Overview: A higher intake of fiber may be associated with fat loss, decreased calorie intake and greater weight loss.

6. Cut Down on Refined Carbs

Decreasing your refined carbohydrate intake can help you lose extra fat pounds.

During processing, refined grains are stripped of their bran and germ, resulting in a final product that’s low in both fiber and nutrients.

Also, refined carbs tend to have a higher glycemic response, which cause rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, resulting in increased hunger and cravings. (32)

Studies show diets high in refined carbs are associated with increased belly fat. (33, 34)

Conversely, a diet high in whole grains has been associated with a lower body mass index and body weight, plus a smaller waist circumference. (35)

One study in 2,834 people also showed that those with higher intakes of refined grains tended to have a higher amount of disease-promoting belly fat, while those who ate more whole grains tended to have a lower amount. (36)

For the best results, reduce your intake of refined carbs from pastries, processed foods, pastas, white breads and breakfast cereals. Replace them with whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and oats.

Overview: Refined carbs are low in fiber and nutrients. They may increase hunger and cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Consuming refined carbs has also been associated with increased belly fat.

7. Increase Your Cardio

Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most common forms of exercise and is defined as any type of activity that increases your heart rate.

Therefore, adding cardio to your training routine may be one of the most effective ways to enhance fat burning.

For example, several studies have found that aerobic exercise can help decrease belly fat, waist circumference and over-all body fat. (37, 38, 39, 40)

Most research recommends between 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly, or roughly 20 to 40 minutes of cardio each day. (41)

Running, walking, cycling and swimming are just a few examples of some cardio exercises that can help burn fat and kick-start weight loss.

Overview: Studies show that the more aerobic exercise people get, the more belly fat they tend to lose. Cardio may also help reduce waist circumference and lower over-all body fat.

8. Drink Coffee

Caffeine is a primary ingredient in just about every fat-burning supplement, and for good reason.

The caffeine found in coffee acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increases metabolism while helping boosts the breakdown of fatty acids. (42)

Studies show that caffeine intake can temporarily increase energy expenditure and enhance metabolism by as much as 11 percent. (43, 44)

In fact, one large study with over 58,000 people found that increased caffeine intake was associated with less weight gain over a 12-year period. (45)

Another study found that higher caffeine intake was linked to a higher rate of success with weight loss maintenance among 2,623 people. (46)

To maximize the health benefits of coffee, skip the creamers and sugar. Instead, enjoy it black or with a small amount of heavy cream or coconut oil to help prevent irregular blood sugar spikes.

Overview: Coffee contains caffeine, which can increase the breakdown of fat and raise metabolism. Studies show that higher caffeine intake may be associated with greater weight loss.

9. Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a form of exercise that pairs quick bursts of activity with short recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated.

Studies show that HIIT can be incredibly effective at ramping up fat burning and promoting weight loss.

One study found that young men performing HIIT for 20 minutes three times weekly lost an average of 4.4 pounds of body fat over a 12-week period, even with no other changes to their diet or lifestyle.

They also experienced a 17 percent reduction in belly fat as well as a significant decrease in waist circumference. (47)

HIIT may also help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other forms of cardio.

According to one study, performing HIIT helped people burn up to 30 percent more calories than other types of exercise, such as cycling or jogging, in the same amount of time. (48)

Overview: HIIT can help increase fat burning and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other forms of exercise.

10. Add Probiotics to Your Diet

Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract that have been shown to improve many aspects of health.

In fact, the bacteria in your gut have been shown to play a crucial role in everything from immunity to mental health. (49)

Increasing your intake of probiotics through either food or supplements may also help rev up fat burning potential and help keep your weight in check.

One review of 15 studies showed that people who took probiotics experienced significantly larger reductions in body weight, fat percentage and body mass index compared to those who took a placebo. (50)

Another small study showed that taking probiotic supplements helped people who were following a high-fat, high-calorie diet, prevent weight gain. (51)

Certain strains of probiotics in the class Lactobacillus may be especially effective at aiding weight and fat loss.

One study in 28 people showed that eating yogurt containing either Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus bacteria reduced body fat by up to 4 percent. (52)

Taking supplements is a quick and easy way to get in a concentrated dose of probiotics every day.

Also, you can try adding some probiotic-rich foods to your diet, such as kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut.

Overview: Taking probiotic supplements or increasing your intake of probiotics through food sources may help reduce body weight and fat percentage.

11. Increase Your Iron Intake

Iron is an important mineral that has many vital functions in the body.

As with other nutrients such as iodine, a deficiency in iron may impact the health of your thyroid gland.

This small gland in your neck secretes hormones that regulate your metabolism. (53)

Multiple studies have found that low levels of iron in the body may be associated with impaired thyroid function and a disruption in the production of thyroid hormones. (54, 55, 56)

Common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism, or decreased thyroid function, include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and weight gain. (57)

Similarly, a deficiency in iron can cause symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath. (58)

Treating iron deficiency can allow your metabolism to work more efficiently and can fight off fatigue, therefore helping to increase your energy and activity level.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough iron in their diets.

Women, infants, children, vegans and vegetarians are all at a higher risk of iron deficiency.

Be sure to incorporate plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet to help meet your iron needs and maintain your metabolism and energy levels.

You can find iron in meat, poultry, seafood, leafy green vegetables and beans.

Overview: A deficiency in iron may be associated with impaired thyroid function and can cause symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath and weight gain. 

Bottom Line:

There are plenty of options available to help you shed excess body fat and help improve your health.

Incorporating some healthy habits into your routine and switching up your diet can make a big difference.

Even minor changes to your lifestyle can have a powerful impact on fat burning.

Be sure to pair these simple tips outlined to simultaneously boost your fat burning potential and improve your over-all health.