How to burn fat


Oxygen uptake is the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to muscle cells. According to Professor of Medicine Jan Helgerud, this capability is linked to how much fat your body is able to burn.

“Our body only releases energy from fat using oxygen, and many overweight people can experience having poor metabolism because the oxygen uptake is poor,” he says.

Teach your body to burn fat

According to the professor, effective fitness training is the key to higher oxygen uptake, and it requires you to breathe

Jan Helgerud

Jan Helgerud


“For controlled weight reduction, you need to teach your body to burn fat by increasing your maximum oxygen uptake. As far as I know, the most effective way of increasing your uptake is interval training,” Helgerud says. He continues:

“A longer and slower jog at low intensity burns more fat there and then. However, it does not improve your ability to burn fat, at least not to a great extent.”

Helgerud says “four times four” (4X4) intensive interval training is one of the most effective ways to increase the ability of fat burning. In addition, interval training improves your health and lowers the risk of lifestyle diseases.

“4X4-intervals is when you work at a high intensity for four minutes followed by a three-minute active break, and repeat this four times. During the active breaks you should be able to hold a conversation and catch your breath in order to implement the next four minutes with the same intensity. You should not experience stiffness in the legs,” he explains.

Even those who are poorly trained manage to do this kind of workout. The professors suggestion is to walk quickly uphill for four minutes, then walk down the hill slowly. Or:

“Go for a walk in the woods. You can alternate between having a faster pace for four minutes and then taking it easy for three minutes – and repeat it four times. The goal is to breathe heavily for a total of 15 to 20 minutes per session.”

Do not skip your strength training

If you want the absolute best results, interval training alone is not enough. You need to combine it with weight training. Increased strength do not only increase the ability to lift heavy boxes, it leads to less energy consumption when you walk or run. Helgerud explains that it also could result in an increased level of activity.

“As such, weightlifting reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases while physical activity can contribute to weight loss, as well as preventing both falls and osteoporosis.”

“There are a number of reports showing that strength training increases metabolism and is therefore slimming. For this reason, strength training is a smart part of any weight loss strategy,” Helgerud points out.

Squat your way to a slimmer body

According to research by Helgerud and his colleague Jan Hoff, squats or leg presses are the most
health enhancing strength exercises.

Why, you may ask.

90 percent of your movements during one day involves your legs, meaning they must be strong to keep you up as long as possible. The professor also recommends some other exercises:

“After squats or leg presses are carried out, I would follow up with bench press or push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, back-lifts and pull-downs.”

All strengthening exercises should be conducted with such heavy resistance that you are unable to do more than four repetitions and four sets.

“With this regime you can go from “fit-fat” to FIT! This should be a lifelong strategy, not just a two or four week programme to prepare for the bikini season,” he points out. 

Instructor on Powel Active, Victoria Schram demonstrates how to do a squat

Instructor on Powel Active, Victoria Schram demonstrates how to do a squat

Calories in, calories out

According to Helgerud, there is one important factor you should take into account when you want to loose weight.

“It is mainly the relationship between how much energy you put into your body and how much you burn that determines whether you see results or not.”

He further explains that all excess food is converted into fat, regardless of whether it is “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

“Everything that you consume that the body does not need for energy will be sent to the fat storage. It does not disappear without being used,” he says.

– And fat that does not move is dangerous: trained fat is harmless. When it smells like bacon you are on the right path.