Why exercising in the fat burning zone is not the best way to lose fat


How many times have you heard that if you want to lose fat, you should do cardio exercises inHeart rate zone fat burningTo maximize your results?

This idea has stayed afloat ever since, basically, forever, but it really took root after the running boom of the 1970s. And while other exercise trends have been gaining ground lately (see high-intensity interval training), many people are still convinced that fat-burning zone workouts are the ticket.

Here’s the deal, though: The fat burning zone is pretty much a myth, at least in the way most people imagine it to be.

In other words, doing all of your cardio exercises at a low to moderate intensity isn’t necessarily better than training at a higher intensity to lose fat.

In this article, you will learn about the fat burning zone, why it is overrated, and what is the best type of cardio for fat loss.

What is the fat burning zone?

Fat burning zone is the intensity of exercise at which your body mostly burns fat, and many people claim that by training at this intensity, you can lose fat faster.

Also referred to as Heart rate zone fat burning, because exercise intensity is often expressed as a percentage of maximum heart rate.

In order to understand how the idea of ​​a fat burning zone came about, you need to understand how your metabolism works during exercise.

Your body uses several different sources of energy to survive and strengthen physical activity, the most important of which are carbohydrates and fats. It also uses various physiological processes, known as energy systemsTo convert said carbohydrates and fats into usable energy for your cells.

At rest (when your heart rate is low), your body gets nearly all of its energy from fat, which is a highly effective and abundant fuel source. Of course, you also don’t burn a lot of calories, so the absolute amount of fat you burn is minimal.

You can burn more calories (and thus fat) by increasing the intensity of your exercise, but this has a side effect: Your energy systems aren’t able to process fat fast enough to keep up with the demand from your muscles, so you start to metabolize more. And more carbohydrates.

Once you exercise around 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate, your body Obtains Around Half of its energy comes from carbohydrate stores and half from fat stores (a point that scientists refer to as Maximum fat oxidation rateor MFO). Push the envelope even further, and at nearly maximum intensity, like jogging, your muscles get most of their energy from carbs and very little fat.

Once you connect the dots, you can see how the idea of ​​a fat burning zone came about – it’s the intensity at which your body burns the most calories while still getting the majority of those calories from fat.

This sounds nice in theory, but there are three reasons why it turned out to be all hat and no cattle.

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Why you should forget about the fat burning zone

The first and biggest problem with the idea of ​​a fat burning zone, is that the amount of fat you burn during exercise is not that important when it comes to long-term fat loss.

When you burn more fat and reduce carbs during exercise, you burn less fat and carbs later in the day, and vice versa. This is because your body calibration How much body fat and carbohydrates you burn in a 24-hour period so that you burn the same amount of each over time regardless of what you burn during exercise.

For example, whether you burn 400 calories during 30 minutes of intense running, where most of those calories come from carbohydrates, or 400 calories from a 90-minute walk, where most of those calories come from fat, you’ll burn about the same amount of fat body at the end of the day.

In other words, how much fat you lose in response Cardio Workout It depends on how much it contributes to a calorie deficit, not how much fat you burn during exercise.

The second problem with the idea of ​​a fat burning zone is the way most people apply this concept.

Specifically, they often stop themselves in their training, believing that relatively easy workouts are superior to moderate or high intensity workouts because it keeps them in their fat burning zone. As I learned a moment ago, you’re still mostly burning fat at around 60-80% of your maximum heart rate, which is what most people consider moderate to fairly high intensity exercise.

For example, if you take out, say, 100 calories, 85 of which come from fat stores, it’s not nearly as effective as spending that time running at a moderate pace and burning 400 calories with 250 from fat. Or better yet, burn 600 calories riding a slightly more intense bike with 300 fat.

Finally, the final problem with this idea is that it suggests that the fat burning zone is a constant intensity that occurs at a very specific heart rate. Cardio machines reinforce this idea by displaying beautiful graphs that indicate exactly where your heart rate should be in order to “burn fat” versus “cardiovascular training.”

In reality, though, your fat burning area (or more accurately, your maximum rate of fat oxidation) can vary greatly depending on your fitness level and gender. Specifically, people who are in better shape burn a higher percentage of fat at a higher intensity than people who are less fit, due to exercise. Improves Your ability to metabolize fats for energy at a higher intensity.

Specifically, some obese people extreme outside Their fat-burning abilities when working out are only 24% of their VO2max (the maximum oxygen you can metabolize during exercise – another measure of exercise intensity), while some endurance athletes don’t reach that point until they are Close 80% of VO2max. women too burn A higher percentage of calories are from fat than men at most intensity.

The bottom line is that the fat burning zone is a fluid moving target that you will never set.

Fortunately, you don’t have to, because it’s not necessary or helpful to do so.

The best type of cardio to burn fat

So, if your fat burning area is mostly lean, what type of cardio is best for burning fat?

Whatever burns the most calories over time. . . Which will be all you can commit to. . . Which will be what you enjoy the most.

If you enjoy slow, steady running in your fat-burning zone (whatever that is for you), go for it. If you enjoy a leisurely walk, that’s okay too. And if you enjoy High intensity intermittent races On an exercise bike, that’s fine too.

Just make sure you follow a cardio program that you can maintain, and better yet, do it Completes your strength training routine.

+ Scientific references

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