How do I burn off extra calories?

April 5, 2014

Q: I once heard that it takes one hour of cardio to burn off six ounces of ice cream because of the large amount of calories. Is this true? Are there any other ways to keep my body burning calories on days when I give in to my guilty pleasures?

A: Most people don’t understand there’s no magic exercise, miracle foods or special supplements that will whip your body into shape in short periods of time. Instead, apply a combination of scientifically proven rules and guidelines, and teach your body to burn fat like a wood stove on a cold winter night. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Eat several small meals a day

Japanese sumo wrestlers - the world’s fattest athletes - figured out long ago how to gain extreme amounts of weight in short periods of time. All they had to do was eat two very large meals a day, convincing their bodies that food was in short supply, and their metabolism slowed to a snail's pace. To boost your metabolism, resist the urge to gorge yourself with infrequent, large meals and instead eat five to six small meals a day. Your metabolism will increase, and your body will burn fat at a much faster rate.

Include weight training

It’s a scientific fact that weight training will raise your metabolism more than cardio. The average weight lifter burns 30-50 more calories a day even on days they choose to skip workouts and lie on the couch. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that weight training makes good sense if burning fat is your ultimate goal.

Drink plenty of water

Failure to drink enough water can cause a host of problems including low energy levels, decreased performance, injury and strength loss. Dehydration can also cause you to retain more fluid in order to compensate, causing you to feel bloated. More importantly, water is a key ingredient in fat loss, and without drinking enough, you’ll never reach your fat-burning potential.

Pick the most effective cardio

To get in shape, you will need to include some type of cardiovascular training. Why not choose the ones that burn the most calories?

Any activity that forces your whole body to work at the same time is optimal, because it will obviously burn more calories. My favorites are the elliptical, arc trainer, treadmill, rowing machine, jump rope and running outdoors.

Substitute good carbs for bad

All carbohydrates are not equal. In fact, some promote weight gain by spiking insulin levels. Instead of white rice, white bread and sugary drinks, eat sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice and 100 percent whole wheat products.

Do cardio after weight training

Studies have proven that doing cardio directly after weight training burns significantly more fat because your body is already low on glycogen and must use an alternate energy source - fat - to fuel you through your workout.

In my opinion, the quickest way to sabotage your fitness plan is to become a dreaded calorie counter. Instead, learn to incorporate rules and guidelines that are scientifically proven to help you burn more fat.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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