There's no such thing as a "Fat Burning Zone"

by Antonio Sini...

I’m sure you’ve seen those little charts on cardio machines that show if you keep your heart rate in the “fat burning zone”, (55% to 65% of max heart rate) you will magically burn more fat during exercise.  Well, this is completely misleading.  One might call it an “alternate fact.”

Yes, it is true that at lower exercise intensities more fat is used for energy relative to glycogen (think carbs).   At higher intensity the ratio switches, meaning your body uses more glycogen for energy and less fat.  I know what you’re thinking, “So I’ll burn more fat with lower intensity exercise, right?”   Well yes, but hear me out because it’s not as simple as it sounds. 

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If you want to lose excess fat then you need to pay attention to calories.  A 45-minute high intensity workout will burn way more calories than a brisk, 45-minute walk.  More calories burned means more fat burned.  But that’s not all.  Immediately after a high intensity workout the body continues to burn calories.  This happens at a much higher rate than with lower intensity exercise.  Studies show up to 95% more!  This means your overall calorie expenditure will be much higher …and you’ll have burned more body fat in the same amount of time.   

Here’ a chart to make it more clear.

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With all that said, I highly recommend not relying mostly on exercise to “burn fat” and get lean.  It’s a scientific fact that you must eat fewer calories than you burn to lose fat.  Nutrition has a much more powerful impact on this equation and consequently, it should be an important focus of any fitness program.  That means, eat right, exercise often and definitely push yourself a little harder than those old “fat burning” charts suggest.   Contact us if you have questions or need  assistance with your exercise and nutrition.