‘Fat Burning’ Zones explained

man-running.jpgSpeaking to friends and clients recently it has struck me at how much conflicting and downright misleading information there is out there when it comes to ‘Fat burning’. It is portrayed that this mythical training zone will cure all your fitness and weight issues, make you new friends and get you a pay rise. Well ok that’s maybe a little extreme, but are we expecting miracles from this training zone ?!
Achten et al (2002) found that the maximal fat oxidation, which they called FATMAX occured at around 64% O2 max or 74%Max HR ( /- 3%). Now this doesn’t mean that your body uses only fat at this intensity but it does mean that fat is the preferred fuel of choice. Work at a higher intensity and the fat burning benefits drop markedly!! The common misconseption people make is that they ONLY burn fat in this zone, this simply is not true. So how hard should I be working for weight loss ? Well the key is to mix up your intensities and modes of exercise. Try some long steady exercise of moderate intensity to encourage fat burning. Overall you will burn fewer calories but more will be fat. Marry this up with some short higher intensity interval training which will have a higher calorie yield (lower fat burning though) and you are on to a winner.

Higher intensities also increase your EPOC. That’s your Excess, Post Exercise energy consumption. It basically means your body still burns calories above its resting rate long after exercise has finished…brilliant! Throw in some strength training which will encourage more lean muscle mass and you will create a lean, calorie burning machine in no time.

SO there you go mix up your intensities the duration of exercise and ensure to include both cardiovascular and strength and you will have far more success than striving to stay in the ‘Fat burning Zone’ all the time.

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