How "Fat Burning" Works

By Mike Hazle, Oct 12, 2021

Priming the body for Fat Loss

Fat Metabolism

“Fat burning”, also known as fat oxidization or fat utilization, is a 3-part process. You can’t burn fat, but you can oxidize it.

  • Part 1: Fat mobilization – Also known as Lipolysis, it helps move fat cells out of our tissues. Stored fat has 2 parts, the fatty acid and glycerol, linked together by a backbone. You need to “break that backbone” to mobilize fat out of the stored location so that it can be used as energy.
  • Part 2 & 3: Fat transport and oxidation - Fatty acids (potential fuel) need to go into cells to be used for energy, but then those cells must be oxidized so that fatty acids can move to the mitochondria to become ATP.

If you only mobilize the fat cells but do not oxidize them, they will be returned to stored fat. The oxidizing of fat helps with the increase of glucagon (GLP1) and decrease of insulin.

The Role of Carbon

  • Carbon is the building block of life, the essential element to all organic matter. Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins are all made up of carbon chains.
  • Losing fat or weight is accomplished simply by releasing more carbon than you take in, essentially a caloric deficit.
  • Essentially, Fat Oxidation is the breaking of Carbon bonds which results in energy (used to produce ATP) and a leftover Carbon atom. Carbon combines with oxygen to form Carbon Dioxide released during respiration.
  • Fat is not lost through sweat, urine, or stool. FAT IS LOST ONE CARBON ATOM AT A TIME AND ONE BREATH AT A TIME!

The Types of Fat

  • White Fat – The subcutaneous fat under the skin.
  • Brown Fat – Primarily found between shoulder blades and the back of neck, brown fat is filled with tons of mitochondria. It can take food and break it down into energy within the cells. White fat cannot do that. It can use energy directly, but it skips the mobilization process.
  • Beige fat – This is the adipose tissue that we are trying to lose.

Training for Fat Loss

  • High intensity exercises such as sprint interval training (SIT) and high intensity interval training (HIIT) burn more glycogen during the exercise and more fat after the exercise.
  • The opposite is true for moderate intensity training (MICT) for time over 90min of work. More fat is burned during the exercise.

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About the author

Mike Hazle

Human Performance & Education Specialist

Articles by Mike Hazle >

After a 10-year career on the World Athletics Tour and the Olympics, competing in 23 countries, winning 5 National Championships medals, working with the world's elite Special Operators as a U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Combat Controller (CCT)...Mike was left injured, exhausted, and empty inside even after achieving what most would call "The American Dream." A dream full of glamour, lights, material wealth and superficial possessions.

Over the years, the lights and fireworks of the Olympic stadium have faded and the wounds of Special Operations Training have healed. Mike has learned lessons from a life in the arena of the world's most stressful environments. These lessons will carry him farther than any athletic accomplishment or experience he has ever had. Now, his unwavering mission is to help people across the world learn the tools and techniques he has mastered and help them recover from high impact, high stress careers.

In his expansive 20-year career, on top of the highest level of athletics on the World's largest stages and Military Special Operations, Mike has been educated from the best sports physiologists, nutritionists and strength & conditioning coaches across the globe. Not only that, Mike has picked up along the way a master’s degree in Sports Management, a Bachelors in Kinesiology, a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Cross Fit certifications. Mike has also spent 6 years on the resident athlete advisory board at the US Olympic Committee's (USOC) Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.