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13 Things You Should Know About Burning Calories When You Work Out

Science-approved ways to actually increase your calorie burn regardless of your fitness level.

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BUT, there are a bunch of easy ways to significantly increase your calorie burn if that's what you're looking for.

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BuzzFeed Life spoke with Luke Corey, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist for high level athletes with EXOS Performance Training. Corey explains that the amount of calories you burn during exercise involves a combination of your fitness level, how intense your workout is, and your body composition. So keep that in mind with the below tips. ALSO keep in mind that the way your body burns calories is very individualized to you, and that these tips are general suggestions.

Okay, let's get into it.


1. In order to burn a lot of calories you have to get your heart rate really going.


It's a little more complicated than this, but the main thing you need to know is that for every one liter of oxygen you breathe in, you burn five calories. And the higher your heart rate, the more oxygen you'll need to breathe in. You can go here for more information on that.

2. To get your heart rate up, make sure your level of effort is around an eight on a scale of one to 10 throughout your exercises.

In order to burn a lot of calories, the intensity of your exercise needs to be demanding for your specific fitness level. That means you're going to have to work harder to get your heart rate and metabolism up as you start to get in better shape. If you're noticing that your favorite exercises are getting easier, try setting higher goals for yourself, whether it's lifting heavier dumbbells or increasing the amount of time you can hold a plank. Whatever it takes to keep the intensity up.

The general rule is: If you can carry on a conversation, you're not pushing yourself hard enough, and if you can't even get out one or two words, you're going too hard.

Here's a crazy intense workout that will leave you feeling like a beast.

3. Be sure to do high-intensity interval training for cardio!

High-intensity interval training will get your heart rate up and basically keep it up. "High-intensity interval training is great because it gets your heart rate up as high as it can go during a circuit [forcing you to breathe in your max amount of oxygen] and then allows you to take a short rest, which drops your heart rate down," Corey says. "Then it requires you to do it all over again. Whereas on a nice slow jog, your heart rate will increase at first, but slowly decrease over time because of the low level of intensity, ultimately burning less calories."

If you're looking for high-intensity exercises, here are nine that will definitely kick your butt.

4. Or if high-intensity just isn't for you, try to work out at a lower intensity for at least 45 minutes.

To create energy, your body first uses the the sugar in your bloodstream and your carbohydrate storage. Then it starts to break down your body fat to replenish the glycogen levels your exercise drained, which starts around 45 minutes into your workout depending on how hard you're working and how 'carby' your diet is. Corey says the goal is to burn through your carbohydrate supply quickly so that your metabolism is forced to work over-time – possibly four to eight hours post-workout – to replenish your body's glycogen levels, burning extra calories the entire time [called the after-burn effect].

Again this all depends on your specific body composition and diet – but most people will burn through their carbohydrate supply in much less than 45 minutes doing high-intensity cardio. But HIIT is not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're going to workout at a lower intensity (around a 5, on a scale of one to 10), Corey just recommends exercising for at least 45 minutes to tap into your fat storage and increase the after-burn effect.

Here are 25 workout moves you can incorporate into an exercise routine that goes at your pace.


5. Incorporate as many total-body moves as possible.

Corey recommends doing exercises that have more compound movements (or multiple joint movements) – exercises that use multiple muscle groups, such as squats, pull-ups, and burpees – because total-body exercises burn many more calories than single muscle group exercises – such as bicep curls. They also give your body the opportunity to build more lean muscle.

Here are two awesome exercises that will give you a total-body burn.

6. And work your way up to lifting heavier weights. / Via

You should always aim to build lean muscle mass, because the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn daily, whether you're working out or not.

"Your muscles absolutely need energy, and your metabolism burns a lot of extra calories working overtime to break down carbohydrates and fat to provide that energy," Corey says. "Putting on lean muscle is the best way to increase your metabolism and overall calorie burn."

Here are 11 dumbbell moves you should know to start lifting weights.

7. Don't be afraid to take short breaks in between sets and exercises.

Taking breaks during your workout is actually great because it allows your muscles to recuperate (basically, to catch up on oxygen) – slowing your heart rate – so that when you go into the next exercise you will be able to work at the same intensity as you did with the first exercise and getting your heart rate up high again, burning many more calories than if you were to take no breaks and do the rest of your workout at a lower intensity level.

Here is a 20-minute fat-burning workout that incorporates breaks in-between each circuit.

8. And remember to switch up your daily routine.

"You want to make sure you're doing different workouts not just because you'll eventually plateau if you do – but also because you don't want to neglect certain muscle groups," Corey says. "Targeting all your muscle groups will lead to building more total muscle and that will lead to a faster metabolism and more calories being burned."

If you're trying to find new exercises, here are nine cardio workouts that will target different muscle groups.


9. And speaking of recovery, make sure you take your rest days seriously.

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You will not see results if you're not resting adequately. Everyone needs some time off, even high performance athletes, and that's because your body requires time to repair the muscles, joints, and tendons, you strained during your workout. Taking time to recover will not only decrease your risk of injury, but it will also allow your body to build fitness and make even further progress in future workouts.

10. Continue to keep as active as you can throughout the rest of the day.

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If your job requires you to sit all day, try to find a few minutes to get up and walk around every hour or two, or work standing up when you can.

"Keeping active after a workout and not just sitting at your desk will help keep your metabolism up throughout the day," Corey says. "Sitting all day is also bad for your body in general, it makes your muscles stiff and tight and is horrible for your posture."

11. And drink tons of water.

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You've probably noticed that when you workout hard your body craves good quality H2O. That's because water not only helps regulate your body temperature, but it also helps your body better metabolize carbs and fats by providing it with more oxygen, and therefore more energy. Try to keep a water bottle on you throughout the day, especially when you work out.

12. Fuel up on simple carbs before starting a workout.

Snacks high in simple carbs are great pre-workout snacks because simple carbs are absorbed and digested quickly, providing the body with a boost of energy right away. Try to eat your snack around 30 minutes before starting your exercise, for the best results.

Here are some great options you can try the next time you workout.

13. And eat a consistent diet filled with enough complex carbs and protein.

Every day you want to try to take in around 30 percent protein, 30 percent carbs, and 40 percent fat. While it may seem like you want to eat less carbs in order to reach your fat storage sooner (and burn more calories post-workout), remember that without enough carbs your body won't have enough energy to get you through your exercises.

So if you're doing a lot of high-intensity workouts you may need to up your carb intake. Corey recommends eating less carbs on days you don't work out and more carbs on the days that you do. Also the amount of protein you get before and after you workout is vital for your fitness progress. Here's more info on that.

All that being said, remember to be proud of your hard work, regardless of how many calories you're burning.

Everyone's body is different and sometimes it can take a while to get a routine down that works for you. Make sure you take the time to celebrate little victories and enjoy the progress you've made! 💪💪💪