Is The Fat Burning Zone True or False?

For years, dieters have been told that in order to lose weight, they should do aerobic exercise with their heart rate in the “fat burning zone”. But, is that really the best way to burn fat for losing weight?

What is Meant by the Fat Burning Zone?

The so called fat burning zone is one of the target heart rate zones used to measure aerobic conditioning. This fat burning zone is a lower intensity training zone, where you’re working at about 60-65% of your maximum heart rate.

When training in this lower intensity zone, you burn a higher percentage of calories from fat than when training in a higher intensity zone.

The higher intensity zone has traditionally been thought of as the best zone for conditioning the heart.


The Truth About The Fat Burning Zone

Measure your heart rate

Though it’s true that a larger percentage of the calories burned come from fat during low intensity aerobic workouts, it’s not true that this so called fat burning zone is the best zone for exercising if you’re trying to lose weight.

That’s right; the best way to lose weight is to train at the higher intensity zone, where you’re working at 80-85% of your maximum heart rate.

Here’s why. When working at a higher intensity, your body will burn an overall higher number of calories. Whether those calories come from fat or food you’ve recently eaten is of no relevance. When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to burn as many calories as possible when exercising.

Here’s an example:

A 130 pound woman who works out for 30 minutes in the fat burning zone will burn 146 calories. About 72 of those calories, or roughly half, will come from fat.

That same woman, working out for 30 minutes at a higher intensity, will burn 206 calories. 82 of those calories, or about 40%, will come from fat.

High Intensity Exercise Will Always Burn More Calories During and After The Activity

So, as you can see, working at a higher intensity definitely gives you more “bang for your buck”, because you’ll burn more calories from fat by working harder.

So, you can ditch those old school methods of thinking you need to monitor your aerobic intensity to keep it in the fat burning zone in order to burn fat. Working harder will maximize your fat loss.

The real fat burning zone is roughly 80-85% of your maximum heart rate.

To determine the number of beats per minute this equates to for you, perform the following equation:

First, determine your resting heart rate

Do this by taking your pulse for 60 seconds when you first wake up in the morning.

  1. Take 200 – your age.
  2. Take this number and then subtract your resting heart rate.
  3. 65% of this number is your low intensity heart rate target
  4. 85% is your high intensity target heart rate
  5. Take your low intensity heart rate and add your resting heart rate to it.
  6. Take your high intensity heart rate and add your resting heart rate to that.
  7. Your target heart rate is the range between those two numbers.

So, if you’re a 40 year old with a resting heart rate of 65 beats per minute.

  • 220 – 40=180
  • 180 – 65=115
  • 65% of 115=75
  • 85% of 115=98
  • 75% + 65=140
  • 98% + 65=163

Your target heart rate for being in the real fat burning zone would be between 140 and 163.

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