The Truth About The “Fat Burning Zone”

We’ve heard the hype about the “Fat Burning Zone,” but is it for real?

The Fat burning zone is the theory that you burn more fat with lower intensity training and a lower heart rate. Your heart rate is meant to be maintained at 70% – 80% of your maximum heart rate for optimal fat burn. So is it true? Will walking burn more fat than running?

Well … it's complicated.

Let me start by explaining how our body utilizes energy (calories).

Your body primarily fuels itself by burning both stored fat and carbohydrates. The less active you are, the higher the percentage of your fuel comes from stored fat. So when you are resting, up to 85% of the calories you are burning can be from fat!

So does that mean taking a nap burns more fat than a jog? Yes, and no. Like I said, it's complicated!

Key point – The more effort you put into an activity and the higher your heart rate goes, the more your body depends on carbohydrates for fuel. But remember you are also burning more total calories.

Here are some examples of what your calorie burn ratios might look like:

Walking – 70% fat, 30% carbohydrates
Jogging – 50% fat, 50% carbohydrates
High-intensity training – 30% fat and 70% carbohydrate

Still with me? Time to get geeky.

Let's add the factor of time and calories burned into the mix because most of us are short on time and want to maximize our calorie burn (and if weight loss is your goal, it is still about calories in vs. calories out).

Let's say you have 30 minutes to work out.

walking = 200 calories (140 from fat, 60 from carbohydrates)
Jogging = 400 calories (200 from fat, 200 from carbohydrates)
High-intensity training = 800 calories (240 from fat, 660 from carbohydrates)

Your high-intensity workout burned the most calories AND the most fat.

So, in conclusion. If you have a lot of time on your hands or want to use your workouts to keep your body active and clear your mind, low-intensity is terrific.

If your looking to get the biggest bang for your buck and your goal is to shed weight, gain muscle, or change your body composition, your best bet is a more strenuous workout.

For me, I like to mix it up. Yoga, Interval strength training, and light cardio are all in my routine cause you know I am all about balance!

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