The issue with such a wide zone is that the person exercising wouldn’t necessarily be optimizing their ability to metabolize fat, because as the exercise intensity increases there’s a gradual change in the balance of fat and carbohydrates your body uses for energy. The rate of fat being burned starts to decline at higher intensities as the body requires energy more rapidly.
Even in studies with athletes, at FAT max, participants only burned on average a mere 0.5 grams of fat per minute. Perhaps it’s time to no longer consider “burning fat to have a zone ”, but rather an individualized “sweet spot” which can be used to optimize our exercise regimes to lose weight.
Instead, you’ll burn the most fat when you're working at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Basically, what this means, is that fat burning occurs when you limit the intensity of your workouts to a specific heart rate zone.
The ratio that your body uses carbs versus fat is going to depend on several things, including your activity level. In most situations, they are using a combination of fat and carbohydrates stored in our body to make energy and help us function.
When you’re doing low to moderate-intensity exercise, you’re able to breathe easier and your body gets more oxygen than when you’re pushing hard in a HIIT or other intense workout. The most efficient thing your body can do during lower and moderate forms of exercise is to turn to your stored fat into energy.
But when you’re working out hard, and you’re struggling to breathe, your body doesn’t have enough oxygen to burn fat. So instead, it turns to glycogen (or your body’s stored carbs) in order to get energy fast.
When you do a high-intensity workout, your body burns through your glycogen stores and may eventually turn back to fat burning depending on the length of the workout, and your body’s amount of stored carbs. For example, if you’re power walking for an hour, your heart is not going to pump as hard as it does when you’re doing something more intense like sprinting.
Knowing which zone you’re in will help you understand how your body is making energy and whether you’re burning mainly fat or carbs. The calories you burn here split evenly between your fat stores and glycogen (carbs).
However, the fitter you are, the more your body will be able to rely on fat for energy, and not carbs (this is known as the anaerobic threshold). Over time, working out in this zone should help you to push harder or go faster.
Your body’s respiratory and blood system will be working as hard as possible, and you’ll be panting and unable to talk. Doing interval training in this zone (such as during a HIIT workout or sprinting) will make it easier for your body to burn both carbs and fat.
You’ll also continue to burn calories after the workout is over, and your metabolism will temporarily increase. So for example, if you are 25 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220 – 25 = 195 beats per minute (bpm).
To calculate your fat burning zone of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, follow these equations: So for a 25-year-old person, the fat burning zone is when your heart rate is between 117 – 137 bpm.
In the fat burning zone, you should be able to talk and continue at the pace you’re going for at least an hour. Let’s imagine that after work, you decide to power through an intense HIIT workout or some resistance training.
But since you have eaten throughout the day, the carbs stored in your muscles are readily available, and your body doesn’t need oxygen to turn them into energy. This intense workout burns a ton of calories which is great for weight loss, helps boost your metabolism, and helps build some muscle that’s great for toning up.
Your body is low on carbs, and you decide to go for a power walk to start your day. Fat is more abundant and is a great source of slow-burning energy which makes it perfect for the times like these.
I believe the fat burning theory is based on scientific facts, but I still encourage you to do more than just low-intensity cardio. The best way to lose weight is to combine low and high-intensity cardio with resistance training.
This is why I designed my own workout program that combines fat burning exercises and resistance training. Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.
After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.
To enter the fat -burning zone, she’d want her heart rate to be 70 percent of 185, which is about 130 beats per minute. Experts recommend working at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate during vigorous activity.
When using the following chart, keep in mind that the older you are, the lower your fat -burning heart rate. A variety of tools are available on the market today that can help you measure your heart rate during exercise, and even while doing everyday tasks.
You’ll first need to stop exercising and place your finger over a pulse point on your neck, wrist, or chest. Wristband heart rate monitors have become popular in recent years because they strap onto the body just like a normal watch.
For example, the Fitbit Charge 2 records your pulse all day and determines if you’re in your fat -burning, resting, moderate, or maximum zone during different activities. The advantage over traditional tracking is that your heart rate is continuously monitored and there’s no need to stop activity to record it.
Often, these types of devices also measure your daily steps, distance of workouts, calories burned, and floors climbed, all while giving you the time like a regular watch. These straps are made of a soft fabric and are adjustable to fit a variety of body sizes.
You can wear chest strap monitors during most activities, including swimming. Some athletes prefer chest strap monitors because they feel they’re more accurate.
In a recent study, however, researchers discovered that wrist monitors may be just as accurate. As a result, the monitor you choose may come down to personal preferences, your exercise of choice, budget, and any features the specific device has.
If you’re slightly out of breath, but can maintain a conversation, you’re likely working at moderate levels and may be in your fat -burning zone. Working harder strengthens your cardiovascular system and burns more calories than moderate activity.
Besides exercise, there are other healthy habits you can start that may help you lose fat and reduce your overall weight. Whole grains, lean protein, and low- fat dairy are other good choices.
Try shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, and avoiding added sugar and saturated fat that’s found in packaged foods. If you don’t like plain water, consider flavoring it with artificial sweetener or a squeeze of lemon.
Restaurants tend to give overly generous portions, so consider asking to have half your meal packaged up before you dig in. Your doctor can help you determine your own weight loss goal and refer you to a dietitian for help.
You’ll be able to up the intensity of your exercise in time and see even more cardiovascular and fat -burning benefits.