Episode 26 – Why Fat Burning =/= Fat Loss

Key Topics Covered


  • Fat Loss – Loss of fat on your body.
  • Fat burning – Fat oxidation; the use of fat as a fuel source by the body.

Fat burning explained:

  • The Low Carb Approach – “Eat more fat, burn more fat”
  • When there is more fat available in your system, the body will use it as a fuel source. Because those are the calories (energy) that the body has available.
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will lead to a reduction in fat stores.

Fat loss explained:

  • The only way on can experience fat loss is through a calorie deficit.

Calorie Deficit/ Calorie Surplus

  • If an individual consumed 110% of their energy daily requirements from fat, they would be both burning fat and storing fat.
    • The body needs energy to function.
    • Energy can come from fat, carbs, or protein.
    • Therefore, if the only energy source you consume is fat, the body will only burn fat.
    • If you eat more energy than your body requires, it will store this excess energy as fat.
  • If an individual is in a calorie deficit and consuming a high fat diet, technically they would be burning more fat than if they were on a high carb diet.
    • But if they’re in a calorie deficit, it doesn’t really matter whether the calories are coming from carbs or fat. The individual will still burn stored fat/ lose weight.

Fasted Cardio

  • Does burn more fat at the time of exercise!
    • Due to having less glycogen available, because you haven’t eaten.
    • Therefore, your body will immediately pull from its fat stores for energy.
  • However, there is no further benefit for fat loss.
    • If you were to eat the same amount of calories and burn the same amount of calories in the cardio session, there would be no difference in body composition at the end of the day.
    • The results for fasted cardio and fed cardio are the same from a body composition perspective.
    • It all comes down to the calories in vs out at the end of the day.
  • The physiology might not be very clear, but the research is. Because we are outcome-driven people, the results are all that matters.

Fat-Burning Zone

  • This same logic applies to the whole fat-burning zone concept. 
  • Basically, doing lower intensity exercise means a lower percentage of your calorie expenditure is coming from carbs/glycogen. Therefore, more energy is used from fat.
    • These carbs/ glycogen will then be available for later
  • The goal of exercise in the context of a weight loss goal is to help provide/maintain that calorie deficit  

Basically, we care about overall calories burnt. Not what fuel source they came from. None of the above will have a greater effect at burning fat than the other.

Relevant Links/ Resources

Useful Blog Posts

Useful Studies