Are You a Fat or Sugar Burner? – Everything You Need to Know

Do you ever find yourself constantly feeling peckish and craving a snack, regardless of when or what you last ate? Maybe you find yourself constantly craving sweet and sugary foods and beverages that you know are no good for you, despite the fact you might be carrying excess body fat?

If the above scenarios sound familiar to you, the most likely reason for this is down to you being what is known as a ‘sugar burner’. But what does that mean? It simply means that your body is preferentially utilising carbohydrates (sugar) for energy, and you are not metabolic flexible.

Below we will dive a little deeper in the ins and out of sugar vs fat burning, if it’s possible to measure this and key things you can do to become a fat burner.

What is a sugar burner?

If you are a sugar burner, your primary source of energy is carbohydrates. 

When you consume high amounts of carbs your body’s metabolism will convert this as glycogen to be stored in your muscles, any left over will be stored as fat for future use. 

People who consume too many poor quality carbs such as highly refined sweat treats, white bread, pasta or white rice are at risk of a whole manner of potential health risks and complications.

However don’t be mistaken, carbs are not the enemy here!!! 

It is more about the quality and timing of carbs which needs to be addressed and it is important to note that people who consume too little carbs are at risk of a whole manner of potential health risks and complications.

So what’s the sweat spot of carb consumption? Well it depends on a few things, including your total muscle mass, your activity level, MACROs needs, hormonal function and ability to recover from stressors. As you can see it would vary from person to person but getting the right balance means you become metabolically flexible. Bye bye sugar burning, hello fat burning!

Still not convinced you want to be a fat burner? Well it is well know that people who are consistently sugar burners can lead to an accumulation of free radicals triggering inflammation. It can lead insulin resistance which can promote obesity and put you at risk of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Because of this, sugar burners often suffer with obesity, mood swings, headaches, joint pain, diabetes, irregular hormone levels, skin trouble, and other potentially serious health risks. Not ideal right?

Back to body composition… when a sugar burner loses weight, WEIGHT is the keyword here because sugar burners predominantly lose muscle not fat!

What is a fat burner?

Very simply put, fat burners use fat as energy, rather than sugar.

Being a fat burner is much healthier as it enables you to shed excess body fat, it keeps your daily energy levels balanced, it regulates your hormones, it regulates blood sugar levels, reduces disease risk, it promotes cognitive health and function, plus it helps improve satiety levels.

In summary fat burners are metabolically flexible, the ideal state to be in!

How to measure if you are burning fat or sugars?

Aside from listening to your body for the subtle cues and feedback, 

you can use science to ACCURATELY
 measure you metabolism!

 In the Sport Science world it’s known as “Indirect calorimetry”, to everyone else its simply metabolic testing. To do the test, you simply breathe through a tube for 15 mins in a rested state.

Check out this 1 min explainer video to help you understand!


From the test you receive:

  1.         Your accurate resting metabolic rate,
  2.          Know if you have a slow, normal or fast metabolism AND
  3.          Know if you are a fat or sugar burner!

Metabolic test
Real example of RER measured through Metabolic Testing

Here are the numbers you want to interpret:

RER (Respiratory Exchange Ratio) values at rest will range from 7.0 – 1.0 the example above of 0.81 is a great results as this client is predominately utilising fat as a fuel source in a rested state. She will notice fat loss at your next DEXA scan and most likely retain lean muscle.

At this point the experts at Body Measure will not only interpret all the numbers but also give you realistic, recommendations based on your current situation.

Psst our passion and aim is to have EVERYONE walking around as fat burners… for good!

How to become a fat burner

One of the biggest mistakes that people make as sugar burners when trying to make the transition to a fat burner, is cutting carbs completely. This won’t get you far.

Eliminating foods groups or proportions of macronutrients is not sustainable and can affect your long term health, making you feel unwell, low energy and will eventually lead to reduced metabolic function, through muscle loss.

Instead, there are more sustainable ways to transition from sugar to fat burning, looking at timing and type of carbohydrate consumption is a great starting point.

Introducing more complex carbs as a replacement for simple carbs will:

Carb cycling also plays a role in becoming a fat burner and being more metabolically flexible. By eating more carbs on training days and less on day when you are less active, will assist your body to utilise the correct fuel source at the appropriate time.

Being a fat burner is about making sustainable and healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, so be sure to eat healthy and wholesome foods, while getting plenty of exercise, and gradually making the transition.

Feeling motivated but not sure how to start? You might want to first learn what your metabolism is doing, you can do this with Metabolic Testing. Jump online to book an appointment with our experts at Body Measure to start the journey of becoming a fat burner, for good!

Emily Bojko – Sport Scientist 

Body Measure 


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