In this article I want to tell you about the fat burning zone and why it actually isn’t the best way to lose body fat. Obviously any exercise is better than no exercise for this, but however long you choose to spend doing it, you might as well optimise your workout to get the most from it.
This is where the Fat Burning Zone comes in.
I have a question for you: When you’re doing your aerobic/CV exercise, whatever that might be, how hard do you work?
Is it just hard enough that you can still read the paper or watch TV?
Is it just enough to get you out of breath as long as you can still talk to your friend?
Is it as hard as you think you can, which varies from workout to workout?
Is it as hard as you actually can, in which case well done.
Or have you read or been told to work at whatever intensity keeps your heart rate in the fat burning zone? The zone that is about 60% – 70% of your maximum heart rate.
In other words, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age, so in this case that’s 190 beats per minute. And 60% – 70% of that is 114 – 133 beats per minute.
Work at that intensity, which is actually relatively easy, and that’s the best thing for fat burning. Work any harder and you’re actually decreasing the amount of fat you burn. This is because more of the calories used to supply the energy you’re using will come from other energy stores (glycogen) and not fat.
Most people in the fitness industry will tell you this, and most of the machines you use at the gym will agree, and they’ll have the figures printed on them for you to see.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
Whether you’re sitting at your desk, driving a car, or even sleeping in bed, the majority of the energy you’re using is coming from fat burning. More than if you were exercising intensely. But before you decide that watching TV is the best way to get rid body fat and commit to doing it for at least a couple of hours a day, remember that the total amount of calories used could be 4 or 5 times less than if you exercised intensely for the same period.
For example, let’s say watching TV uses about 70 calories an hour. Of this, about 10% (7 calories) of these will come from stored energy known as glycogen, so the other 90% (63 calories) will come from fat burning.
Compare this with an exercise or activity where you’re working at 60% – 70%. The Fat Burning Zone. This could use about 200 calories, of which, 75% (150 calories) would come from fat burning and 25% (50 calories) would come from glycogen.
Finally, intense exercise that uses 300 calories an hour would be made up of about 50% (150 calories) from fat burning and 50% (150 calories) from glycogen.
After hearing that you might decide that you still think the fat burning zone is the best. It burns the same amount of fat calories as exercising intensely, only with far less effort. Remember however, that all the energy coming from other sources, whatever the exercise intensity, has to be replaced by something. This can either be from the carbohydrates in your next meal. Or it could be from the energy your body gets from other sources, such as protein, which is done by the liver and is a fat burning process!
Hopefully now you can see that the harder you work when you’re exercising, the better it is for fat burning, plus you’ll get the increased health and fitness benefits that come from not just being in the so-called fat burning zone.
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