Exercises come in different shapes and sizes.
If you’re tying up your laces and getting ready to hit the road, you may be planning a high-intensity, 20-minute fast-paced run. Alternatively, you may be planning a slow and steady stroll.
The amount of ground you cover may be similar, but the time it takes will be much different.
Exercising for longer doesn’t always mean you burn more calories. In fact, it could mean you burn less. So how come a low-intensity heart rate is known as the fat burning zone?
Well, this is a period of working out in which fat is being used to fuel the body, and the longer you can stay in this, the more fat is converted into energy.
So, this must be the best way to lose weight, right?
Let’s find out.
What is The Fat Burning Zone?
It is easy to assume that you reach the fat burning zone when you are at your peak physical exertion, but this isn’t the case.
When your body is being pushed to its limits, it reacts by taking energy from glycogen that is stored in your body, and not directly from your fat.
Working out at a lower intensity can be better for burning fat, as your body doesn’t seek energy so desperately and instead of taking it from food, removes it from your fat.
The fat burning zone is often reached when you are at around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.
So, is this the secret to shedding weight and dropping pounds?
Well, not exactly.
How We Lose Fat
If you step onto a treadmill and find it has a heart rate monitor, one of the ‘zones’ may be the fat burning zone.
Most of the time this is the main goal of heading over to the gym and hitting the treadmill.
But will performing a low-intensity exercise that keeps your heart rate in the fat burning zone make you lose more weight than performing normal cardio (when your heart rate hits around 70-85%)?
The answer is probably not.
The body loses fat when it is used as fuel during exercise. Another fuel stored in the body is glycogen.
When needing energy quickly, such as when on a run, your body will immediately look to glycogen. Only when this is gone will it begin to take energy from the fat stored inside the body.
Now, if performing a lower intensity exercise will not tap into your glycogen as much, and instead head straight for the fat, this will start working away at this source immediately.
This is a slow process though.
Imagine the two areas as a run and a walk.
You may burn 300 calories on a 20-minute run. To burn this much on a walk, you would have to do around three times that length of time to achieve this
On the walk, you would be burning away fat, but you would have to walk a long way to replicate the calories burned on a run.
If you want to burn fat and lose weight, there is one thing to remember. You must burn off more calories than you take in.
If you are doing a long but low-intensity exercise, you don’t burn as many calories as a high-intensity one, therefore you probably won’t end up losing as much weight.
3 Key Tips on Burning Fat Fast
If you’re looking to burn fat quickly, here are 3 top tips on how to do this:
1. Take Care of Your Diet
Everyone has to eat.
The average calorie intake per day for women is 2000 and 2500 for men, but to lose weight you can lower this by making portion sizes smaller and eating less calorific foods.
The main thing to remember is it isn’t really about the amount of food you eat (to an extent), but about what you’re eating.
Try to avoid eating food that is packed with sugar and carbohydrates, as well as steering clear of foods containing high amounts of trans fat.
Instead, look for protein and fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and beans.
And of course, alcohol is never good when slimming down. Try and limit what you drink to cut down your belly fat.
Whether low or high-intensity, exercising is a great way of getting rid of excess belly fat.
If you want to stay in the fat burning zone and go for long walks or slow-paced bike rides, as long as you get in around 300 minutes a week, you should begin to see results.
Alternatively, performing high-intensity cardio that gets your heart rate faster for around 150 minutes a week should do the trick.
The thing to remember is to make sure you stay in a calorie deficit, and that may take some organisation.
3. Make a Plan and Keep Track of Your Performance
If you are hoping to reduce fat and lose weight, keeping track of how many calories you are consuming, and burning, is a great way to ensuring your progress is on track.
Plan out your meals and workouts to ensure you have a clear path to follow when on your body transformation journey.
Need help writing a plan?
It is always wise to speak to a professional and gain some guidance into the best ways to reduce fat on your body.
The name ‘fat burning zone’ is sure to create excitement for anyone who is looking to lose some inches from their waistline or bring down their belly size, but it may not be the best way to lose fat.
You need to reach a state in which your body is using your fat to create energy. This can be achieved through long periods of low-intensity workouts but can also be achieved through high-intensity workouts when the glycogen in the body has run low.
What’s key to remember is that it isn’t all about this.
To lose fat, exercise must be teamed with a good diet.
Get yourself in a calorie deficit and you should start seeing results.
How you get there, through the fat burning zone or through cardio exercises, should bear no difference as long as you are burning more calories than you take in.
Need more advice? Get in touch with The Cut Gym today.