Smarter, Not Harder: How To Get Your Body To Burn Fat

Smarter, Not Harder: How To Get Your Body To Burn Fat


With Memorial Day behind us, I think it's safe to say summer is well on it's way! I'm closing in on my annual Brown Family Beach Trip and I could not be more excited! A little upcoming time in the sun and sand always reminds me that I'm glad I try to live my life healthy enough to always feel "ready" for that bikini...


I am NOT immune to the extra dose of motivation a vacation can bring!

Now, it's not that I necessarily want to change so much. I'm pretty happy with my body, and I love what it can do for me every day! But the extra confidence boost that comes along with feeling extra strong and healthy before a vacation is something I love. So with that said I want to tell you how to work smarter, not harder, and get your body to burn fat for fuel.

If you’re reading this I’m operating under the assumption that you read my previous two posts on Fats vs Carbs and know how your body stores energy and how your body burns energy. If you aren’t up to speed on that yet, click those links, check out those quick little knowledge bombs, and head back over here to put it all together.

Ok, so we know that our body has a lot of energy stored as fat, even people with relatively low body fat have a lot of back up fuel. We also know that our body would rather burn glucose (carbs) for fuel than fat. It’s like asking your toddler what he’d rather have for dinner a) a candy bar or b) a cheese stick. Sorry colby jack but you’ll be in the fridge for another night. No kiddo I know is choosing cheese over candy. Not Happening. 

Here's the thing, your body agrees with that toddler! It has a preference for sugar instead of fat. If we constantly keep eating lots of sugar (when I say sugar, I mean glucose, which is what ALL carbohydrates are broken down into once they are digested) our body NEVER has to burn body fat for fuel. It can just keep on taking the easy way out and using that incoming sugar.

So to make sure we burn fat we want to do two things:

  1. Vary the amount of incoming carbohydrate, so that our body switches into burning fat more easily. Don't keep a constant supply of sugar coming in, let your body have time to switch into burning it's stored fat for energy. 

  2. Workout using glucose-driven energy pathways (high intensity!) so that we use as much of our glycogen (glucose) stores as possible and have a place to put new incoming carbohydrates from the food we are eating. Remember: If we don’t use that brand new carbohydrate to replenish our glycogen stores… it will likely get turned into body fat!

If you do those two things, you’ll be stacking the deck in your favor to burn body fat!

Now here’s the other thing to remember… no matter what fuel source you are burning, if you’re taking in more than you’re using, you won’t be losing weight. It really just comes down to simple math. If you burn 2,000 calories per day to stay alive and get through your workout and you eat 2,200 calories, then you’re UP 200 calories for the day. If we want to burn through our stored energy we need to make sure our body has a chance to use that stored energy. Taking in less energy than you need to survive is a surefire way to do just that. Even if you had a really tough workout, or ate all your carbs post workout, or employed any other nutritional strategies, caloric balance plays a major role in weight manipulation. 

I’ll be talking about the ever popular CARB-PHOBIA more soon, but don’t get the wrong idea about carbs here! Carbs are great to help you power through your workout, replenish your tired muscles, and usually taste delicious! There is a time and a place for carbs in a healthy diet, even for those of us looking for flat abs and a tight tush! So don’t go getting all carb-phobic on me. Just be smart about when you decide to take in all that carby goodness.

About Ashley:

Ashley is a Pilates instructor and entrepreneur in NYC who specializes in biomechanics and exercise nutrition for women. She uses the science behind exercise physiology to empower her clients to lead healthy, happy lives. Her passion project is writing “The LEAN Life Newsletter” which goes out every Tuesday and focuses on Lifestyle, Exercise, Active recovery, and Nutrition and serves as the backbone for her L.E.A.N. Life online health and fitness programs. She aims to get this information into the hands of as many women as possible so they can feel stronger and more confident in their bodies. For more information head to or @AshleyBrownPilates on instagram, or click here to get on the L.E.A.N. Life List!