Is burning fat or calories the same thing? What should you know about the difference between these two terms before you start making decisions about what you eat or how you exercise?
Burning Fat or Calories is Not the Same Thing
When your goal is to lose weight, it is easy to think that burning fat or calories will bring you the same benefit. That said, while many people do use these terms interchangeably, they are not referring to the same thing and might not bring about the same impact in your effort to reach your goal.
To burn fat typically means that your body is using its stored fat as energy. Depending on what you eat, the result can lead to a decrease in overall body fat, thereby helping to move forward along your weight loss journey.
To burn calories typically means that your body is using the energy from the food you eat as its fuel. Though this is an important part of your health and maintenance of a healthy bodyweight, the outcome is not fat loss.
Why Does the Difference Matter?
Knowing the difference between the two helps you to make informed choices regarding what you eat and which activities you choose. If your goal is weight loss, when it all comes down to it, a calorie deficit is what will help you to reach your target.
This means that you will work on making sure that – within reason – you’re eating fewer calories than what your body needs for fuel. Since your body won’t be able to use food as its entire food source, it will need to use stored energy – often in the form of your bodyfat – to power through the rest of its functions and activities.
At its most basic level, assuming you’ve created a deficit, your body will use calorie burning until the food energy runs out and will then turn to fat burning for the remainder of its energy needs. Of course, the process is notably more complicated than that, but this explanation helps to create a basic understanding of the difference between the two and why it matters.
Burning Fat or Calories Can Depend on Your Caloric Deficit
All that said, whether you’re burning fat or calories does depend greatly on whether you have a caloric deficit. If you’ve been powering through an intense workout, powered up by a great energy-boosting diet pill but have eaten far more calories than you need that day, the odds are that you won’t experience much bodyfat burn, if any.
Still, you’ll be torching through some of the energy in all that food you ate, so your workout will still be worthwhile. After all, even if you’re not at a deficit, at least you’re bringing yourself closer than if you were sedentary, allowing those unburnt calories to be stored away as added bodyfat instead.