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Summary: With billions of dollars being spent annually on weight-loss, there are bound to be some confusing conversations about what works and what doesn’t. Instead of trying to assess each fat-burning option, let’s figure out what we know about fat and see what we can do address it more effectively.

With so much research going into the multibillion-dollar weight loss industry, information is constantly in flux. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, you already know there’s no shortage of tips, tricks, and techniques to help you achieve your dream body. To lose weight successfully, it’s important to understand fat and how it behaves in the human body. Check out our list of 5 things we know for sure about losing fat healthfully.

  1. Fat sticks around forever — sort of. The number of fat cells in the human body remains constant throughout adulthood. When people lose weight, they’re not losing fat cells — the ones they have are simply shrinking. Similarly, you can’t grow new fat cells either, but your existing cells can enlarge and cause weight gain. There is, of course, a way around this. Certain medical procedures that physically remove fat from the body, such as liposuction, are the only way to truly “lose” fat. According to the website of Dr. J. Kevin Duplechain, a liposuction specialist near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, liposuction offers permanent fat reduction in a specific area, which exercise can’t achieve.
  2. Fat-burning foods exist, but they may not be what you think. Weight loss isn’t always about eating less; sometimes it’s simply about eating more of the right foods. High-protein foods such as nuts, eggs, and lean meats require the body to work harder to break them down, thereby burning more calories. There’s also some evidence that spicy foods can actually improve calorie burning and reduce cravings, but more research is needed before this becomes an official guideline.
  3. … But there isn’t one true “fat burning” workout. “Heart rate” is a magic word when it comes to exercise for fat reduction. Weight loss is a numbers game, and it’s important to reach a higher heart rate and sustain it for more than just a few minutes. For most people, this means taking on a longer duration of moderate activities, such as brisk walking, swimming, or even strength training instead of short bursts of intense exercise. Hitting that goal heart rate is different for everyone, though. The key is finding healthy activities that are stimulating, fun, and convenient for you.
  4. It’s not all about calories. True, consistently burning more calories than you consume is the cornerstone of successful weight loss, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Genetics, stress, and even your social network can contribute to weight gain. For people with additional factors working against them, getting in shape is often possible, but it’s difficult.
  5. Fat loss is hard. Of course any significant, deliberate weight loss is seldom easy. It’s wise to be wary of diets, products, or programs that promise an effortless or quick solution. These methods often rely on unhealthy techniques or unsafe, unproven ingredients — if they work at all. Losing weight is uncomfortable. Decreasing your portions will leave you hungry sometimes, and working out will often make you sore and tired. But these are signs that you’re doing something right, and your body will adapt as time goes on. Fat loss is hard, but it’s worth it!

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