How To Lose Fat: 5 Best Ways To Burn Fat In 2024

mitchelle morgan

Reviewed by Maya Frankfurt, PhD
how to lose fat
You can lose fat in five easy ways. Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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Are you tired of fad diets and endless workout routines that promise the world but deliver little? Well, you’re not alone.

Even if you’re watching your carbs per day, your target weight and physique can still seem far away. Fear not: in this guide, we will show you how to lose fat like a pro.

Excess body fat affects both your appearance and overall health. This surplus fat, particularly around vital organs, disrupts their function. This puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease.

Get ready to dive into five killer methods that will transform how you think about losing weight. From nailing your diet to crushing it in workouts, let’s unpack everything you need for a total body makeover.

How To Lose Fat: 5 Ways To Reduce Body Fat Sustainably

Here are the five effective ways to burn fat with long-term results:

  1. Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Keep stress levels low.
  5. Treat underlying medical conditions.

5 Healthy Ways To Lose Body Fat For Good

how to lose fat
A holistic approach will ensure long-term benefits. Photo: Boontoom Sae-Kor/Shutterstock

Crash diets and extreme measures may provide quick fixes, but for sustainable fat loss and overall well-being, it’s best to adopt a holistic approach that prioritizes long-term benefits. 

Eat A Healthy And Balanced Diet

Research[1] tells us that eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to burn fat. It’s an effective strategy to provide your body with the proper nutrients and burn fat for energy.

How To Maintain A Balanced Diet To Burn Fat

Here are a few steps to maintain a balanced diet to burn fat:

  • Plan and prep ahead.
  • Low-calorie intake.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes.
  • Adequate water intake.
  • Practice mindful eating.
  • Moderate yourself but be flexible.

If you’re trying to burn fat, incorporate the following foods in your weight loss diet:

  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, and melon.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, leafy green vegetables, and tomatoes.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, and pasta are good sources for your fiber needs.
  • Lean protein such as chicken, fish, seafood, beans, and lentils.
  • Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Whether you opt for a carbohydrate-restricted diet, fat-restricted diet, high-protein diet, Mediterranean diet, or intermittent fasting, adhering to your regimen is vital for managing your caloric intake.

Get Regular Exercise

If you’re wondering how to lose fat and gain muscle, getting regular exercise[2] is the answer. High muscle mass promotes basal metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn more calories during physical activity and even at rest.

A combination of cardio exercises like running, swimming, biking, and Zumba, strength training, and flexibility workouts are recommended exercises for fast weight loss.[3] Strength training builds and tones muscles, while cardiovascular workouts enhance heart health and overall fitness. This dual approach not only assists in fat loss but also supports the development of a leaner, more defined physique.

Follow these tips to get regular exercise to help in losing body fat:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity exercise most days of the week.
  • Include a variety of exercises in your routine to avoid monotony.
  • Set realistic goals. Start with small goals and gradually increase them over time.
  • Make exercise a part of your routine. If you are new to this, start with cardio or yoga.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.
  • Find a workout buddy. Having someone to exercise with helps you stay motivated and accountable.

If you have health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Get Enough Sleep

Adequate sleep is an often overlooked factor in effective fat loss. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep[4] per night. Here’s how sleep deprivation leads to weight gain:[5]

It Disrupts Your Hormones

Sleep is involved in regulating several hormones, including ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry, and leptin makes you feel full. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more ghrelin and less leptin, increasing hunger and food intake.

Lack of sleep also increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol promotes[6] fat storage, especially around the abdomen.

Increases Cravings For Unhealthy Foods

Disrupted sleep patterns make you crave sugary and processed foods. These unhealthy foods are high in calories and low in nutrients, which increases weight gain.

Promotes Physical Inactivity

Inadequate sleep may reduce your physical activity levels. This is because when you don’t get enough shuteye, you feel tired and have less energy. As a result, you are less likely to work out and more likely to sit around and snack.

A recent randomized controlled trial[7] showed that preventing weight gain enhances sleep quality and vice versa.

The following tips will help you get enough sleep:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends. This regulates your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Follow a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin,[8] a hormone that helps to regulate sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine interfere with sleep.[9]
  • Do not exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise can help to improve sleep quality, but it can also make it difficult to fall asleep.

Keep Stress Levels Low

High stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone linked to increased visceral fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region. The effects of elevated stress levels[10] result in unhealthy eating habits, such as overeating and cravings for sugary foods. Stress also interferes with sleep. 

To keep stress levels low:

  • Identify your stress triggers.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Take breaks.
  • Spend time with loved ones.

If you are struggling to manage stress on your own, it’s best to talk to a registered therapist or counselor. They can teach you additional coping skills and help you develop a stress management plan.

Treat Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions make it difficult to lose weight, even with diet and exercise. If you are struggling to lose weight, it is important to talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

One common medical condition that affects weight is thyroid dysfunction.[11] The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that produces hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate, and other important bodily functions. An underactive thyroid causes hypothyroidism which results in weight gain and fatigue. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid results in hyperthyroidism and promotes weight loss.

If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medication to help regulate your metabolism and promote weight loss.

Other Medical Conditions That Affect Fat Burning Include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS: PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes weight gain. PCOS and insulin resistance[12] often occur together, resulting in high blood sugar.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: Cushing’s[13] disease occurs when the body has too much of the hormone cortisol. People with this condition are prone to fat accumulation, particularly truncal obesity.
  • Type 2 diabetes: This condition affects the body’s ability to use insulin, which is needed for the body’s cells to take up glucose for energy. When too little insulin is released or there is insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood,[14] prompting weight gain.

Facts About Fat

Body fat is the total amount of fat stored in the body. Fat tissue is made up of fat cells or adipocytes.

Body fat is essential for various physiological functions,[15] including insulation, protection of organs, and energy storage. There are two main types of body fat: Subcutaneous fat under the skin and visceral fat found around organs in the abdominal cavity and act as energy stores in the form of triglycerides.

The amount of body fat[16] depends on age, gender, and genetics. Body fat distribution varies[17] between individuals, with some storing fat predominantly in the abdomen and others in the hips and thighs. Men typically have a lower body fat percentage than women. Men store more fat in the abdominal area, while women tend to bulk it in the hips and thighs.

As people age, they develop sarcopenia,[18] where they lose muscle mass, making exercise harder, which can lead to weight gain. Fat tissue secretes hormones and chemicals that regulate various bodily functions, influencing metabolism, appetite, and immunity.

Additionally, adipocytes influence the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins[19] A, D, E, and K. Too much body fat increases susceptibility to health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

As you are losing fat, it is essential to know that spot reduction, which is losing fat in only one particular part of your body, is a myth. You can’t lose face fat or lose arm fat specifically. As your weight decreases, fat is lost throughout the body. The order and way in which the body loses fat is very individualized.

Benefits Of Lower Body Fat

how to lose fat
Lower body fat has many benefits. Photo: Kmpzzz/Shutterstock

Did you know that having low body fat has benefits that go deeper than improving your physical appearance? Here’s how:

Minimizes Risk Of Chronic Diseases

Having lower body fat reduces your risk of developing obesity-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Improves Joint Health

Having lower body fat can help to reduce inflammation and improve joint function as tissue produces hormones that promote inflammation.[20] Because excess body fat puts stress on joints, inflammation occurs. This results in pain and stiffness.

Builds Confidence

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body fat level improves your appearance, boosting self-esteem while reducing body image issues. Eating the right foods and engaging in physical activity burns adipose tissue, leading to a more favorable muscle-to-fat ratio, which promotes a lean and toned physique.

Balances Hormonal Levels

Leptin, insulin, estrogen, androgens, and growth hormones influence our appetite, metabolism, and body fat distribution. Studies[17] show that people who are obese have hormone levels that encourage the accumulation of body fat. 

So, maintaining a healthy body fat percentage balances your hormones to support normal body functions.

Enhances Mental Health

Maintaining lower body fat improves your mood. This is because fat tissue produces hormones that affect your mental health. A clinical review[21] correlates obesity and depression. Having lower fat can improve your mood, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being.

Tips To Prevent Fat Accumulation

We now know that preventing body fat buildup is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. Check out these tips to help prevent fat accumulation:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay active.
  • Make small changes to your diet and lifestyle.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Manage stress.
  • Have consistent meal times.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Take supplements.
  • Track progress.
  • Consult a nutritionist or healthcare professional. 

You don’t have to do everything to successfully lose weight. Think about your current lifestyle as you read the list and decide which tips make sense to focus on. You can also change tips every few weeks to keep your weight loss journey interesting. Overall, implementing these tips as part of a healthy lifestyle helps prevent the accumulation of excess body fat by promoting a calorie deficit for better weight management.


Achieving fat loss involves a holistic approach that incorporates regular exercise, a balanced diet, and long-term changes to your lifestyle. The five strategies mentioned above are the core pillars of any successful fat loss regimen.

It’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before taking on any weight loss program. This ensures it’s safe and appropriate for your specific needs and goals.

Remember, what works best for one person may not work for you. Individual factors like metabolism, genetics, and underlying health conditions influence the effectiveness of different fat-burning methods.

All in all, embrace these solutions, make them your own, and enjoy the journey to a healthier, fitter you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to lose fat?

Losing fat varies due to factors like starting weight, diet choices, rate of exercise, and overall health. However, with the right changes to diet and exercise habits, you can lose up to 1-2 pounds each week.

What burns the most fat?

Eating a diet that’s high in fruit, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains creates a calorie deficit necessary for fat loss. Combining this with exercise burns calories, builds muscle, and boosts metabolism, enabling you to lose fat even at rest.

Which workouts burn the most fat?

Cardio workouts like running, swimming, biking, and dancing are very effective for burning calories and fat. Incorporating high-intensity interval training and strength training helps build muscle which burns more calories at rest.

Where should I lose fat first?

Unfortunately, spot reduction isn’t feasible, meaning you cannot choose where you want to lose fat first. However, you can focus on exercises that target specific muscle groups, like crunches and sit-ups, to target belly fat.

How to lose fat and gain muscle?

To lose fat and gain muscle, you need to eat a high-protein, low-fat diet that’s rich in complex carbohydrates. Also, exercise regularly, including strength training, at least thrice weekly.

Do I burn fat while sleeping?

Yes, you do burn fat while sleeping. The body’s metabolism converts stored energy, including fat, to maintain essential bodily functions. However, during sleep, the rate of fat burn is generally lower.

+ 21 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All… See More