The Key to Weight Loss with Exercise


To minimize wasting time, energy and even money in the pursuit of weight loss and or body transformation one must understand how fat is actually utilized for fuel to be “burned” off or lost. At My Fitness Kitchen® we have a term we call “Hierarchy of Fat Loss” to express from the highest to lowest priority the scientific process that will cause the greatest and fastest fat loss in the shortest amount of time safely and effectively.

In this Hierarchy, first and foremost we all must accept that we cannot out-exercise a high caloric crappy diet. With the amount of technology around us continuing to evolve, we are beginning to eat more and move less as a society. This and other factors, such as distortion of portion sizes, are contributing to this overwhelmingly increase in the number of individuals overweight and obese. Until this is addressed, it really doesn’t matter what exercise you select in pursuit of weight loss. Trust me, with my appetite I could challenge any of the so-called “hot” exercise programs (e.g., P90X, Insanity, Cross Fit, etc…) and complete them all while still gain weight if I do not keep a focus on my caloric consumption.

After we accept that the first priority in the Hierarchy of fat loss is calories in versus calories out then we can look at exercise to support the nutritional formula and the targeted weight loss goal. The good news is that all exercise contributes to fat loss when your caloric formula is in-line. However not all types of exercise are created equal. Therefore, the next three levels in the hierarchy priority would be the following with resistance training being the most effective and steady state cardio the least effective. Again, please note the ranking is in order of effectiveness. Just because one is the least effective, doesn’t make it useless.

Exercise priority order when it comes to fat loss

  1. Resistance Training
  2. Interval Cardio Training
  3. Steady State Cardio training.

As an Exercise Physiologist, when designing an exercise program to support a weight (fat) loss program, the thought process is very simple – the more muscle the better. Both in how much muscle we can involve in the exercise as well as how much muscle we can create or secure from the program.

Here is why. Muscle is our metabolism. The only place body fat is utilized for fuel (aka “burned”) is in muscle cells in the presence of oxygen. The more muscle we have, coupled with the more often we move leads to greater ability for our metabolism to burn calories. It is really that simple. With this understanding, there is one area of our bodies, regardless of gender, fitness type, or experience level, which holds the most muscle mass. What is this area?? That’s right, our butt and legs.

So for those who are exercising in the most effective priority pecking order of resistance training first, followed by including some type of cardio (interval or steady state) to send the oxygen to the muscle to burn fat for fuel; how are you doing the resistance training? Are you primarily sitting down all the time, thus not incorporating your largest furnace for fat burning?

Understanding this science of the hierarchy of exercise for fat loss is no different than being a manager/head coach of the professional sports team. The primary purpose of the manager/head coach is to WIN, and the best chance that manager/head coach has at winning is making sure his/her star player is in the game.

Exercise is no different. Each individual’s weight (fat) loss is the difference between winning or losing with a specified weight loss program. When you factor in the time, energy, and money you put into losing weight, wouldn’t you want your best player participating in the game?

If so, as we remind our weight loss clients/members here at My Fitness Kitchen – “Get off your ASSETS”. Meaning if you want to maximize caloric expenditure both during and after the workout, get off your butt and incorporate as much muscle as possible during each exercise. We also tell them no body part gets a FREE ticket to just hang around while other body parts work.

If you are already participating in a weight training program or looking to get started and your goal is weight loss, ask yourself, “do I have my best fat burning player(s) in this game of exercise for weight loss?” If the answer is no, then make the change.

One final note regarding resistance training: Just because you have a weight in your hands, doesn’t necessary mean you are resistance training. This one principle is where we see the most error in one’s resistance training program. Sorry ladies, those 5 lb dumbbells in your aerobic body sculpt class isn’t resistance training considering your purse or other objects in activities of daily living (ADL’s) weigh more than those dumbbells. Bottom line, your body needs to be progressively challenged, just like your mind. We send kids to school for 12 years; however it isn’t 12 years at the first grade. They progress and are challenged each year to grow and develop, and we need to do the same with our body; particular our skeletal muscle tissue.

There is some good news with progression and resistance training. Resistance training is not only defined by increasing the amount of weight moved. It can come from change in tempo of movement, base of support/stability, volume of reps and sets and recovery between sets. This variety in progression is how anyone, regardless of fitness experience, level and/or limitations, can incorporate an effective resistance training program into a weight loss exercise regimen.

Now with this understanding, can you see why people are struggling with weight loss? For many, when they want to start a weight loss program, they think joining a gym and beginning any type of exercise will solve their problem. However for most that do that, they follow the hierarchy in the complete opposite order.

They begin with some steady state (same pace) cardio like walking or jogging on a treadmill or outside with no focus on nutrition – specifically knowing exactly how many calories they need to eat based on their body type, gender, age and how often may move. Very few will have any concern for muscle (progressive resistance training with proper fueling). This ineffective approach leads to increased frustration when people do not see the results they were expecting. This is why we have more gyms and fitness centers than ever before, while the number of overweight, burnt out, and frustrated people continues to grow due to the lack of results – Why Gyms Makes Us Fat!

Fitness centers and gyms are basically for access to exercise, which is great from a health perspective but not technically when it comes to weight loss. Traditional gyms are typically not relevant for those people with the goal of weight loss, particularly when no scientific plan such as the “hierarchy of fat loss” is in place. If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal then you need a program; however any goal without a plan is really only a wish.

For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.

This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.

With ZERO RISK and ZERO OBLIGATION You have nothing to lose by meeting with us other than unwanted body fat!