The Truth about the 'Fat-Burning Zone' and Weight Loss

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  20 comments   :  53,120 Views

The information on cardio machines can be deceiving. The "fat burning zone" is a myth that is based on a fact, but taken out of context. 

It's true that higher intensity exercise uses more glucose and glycogen (the form of energy your body gets from foods) in proportion to fat, but remember that "high intensity" in this context means exercise that you can only maintain for a couple of minutes before becoming exhausted (i.e. anaerobic exercise). It’s also true that low intensity exercise uses more fat as fuel; moderate intensity exercise that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more is aerobic exercise, and will burn both fat and glucose. 

You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories. The "fat burning zone" business is very misleading. You will burn a larger percentage of fat in relation to glucose when you are working at a lower intensity, but you will also burn fewer total calories and less total fat. 

Bottom line: The relative percentage of fat burned has nothing to do with weight loss—it's the total amount calories burned that counts. So just ignore the machine and continue to exercise aerobically. As a bonus, aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels


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Comments

  • 20
    A little confusing but the bottom line is whatever exercise burns the most calories is best? I think that's the gist - 8/21/2017   11:33:05 AM
  • ROCKS8ROX
    19
    Good advice! - 8/21/2017   4:47:28 AM
  • 18
    Good points - 7/28/2017   10:25:29 AM
  • CHERYLHURT
    17
    Thanks - 6/29/2017   6:26:21 AM
  • 16
    Thank you. - 5/27/2017   12:09:01 PM
  • ELRIDDICK
    15
    Thanks for sharing - 5/8/2017   6:21:25 AM
  • 14
    This isn't clearly worded. - 4/11/2017   4:50:21 AM
  • 13
    Good ideas - 3/27/2017   6:18:52 PM
  • 12
    I had to read that second to last paragraph about 5 times. I was so confused. I'm assuming they made a mistake, or I'm really not....that bright of a person. Glad to see someone else mentioned it. lol - 3/26/2017   11:38:02 PM
  • 11
    I think that they got it confused at the end. Maybe do some editing? - 3/26/2017   9:33:54 PM
  • 10
    Good ideas - 3/26/2017   7:32:39 PM
  • 9
    good! - 3/26/2017   2:25:01 PM
  • DMEYER4
    8
    I like this article - 3/26/2017   10:13:04 AM
  • 7
    I find this article confusing. - 3/19/2017   10:10:05 PM
  • 6
    I think the confusion is that this is a sliding scale. When you exercise at extremely high intensity for short bursts, your body does not have time to get oxygen to your muscles, so whatever fuel is there must be broken down without it. This is "anaerobic" metabolism, meaning "without oxygen". The longer you can sustain an activity, the more time you have to get oxygen to your muscles and break down fuel with oxygen. This "aerobic" fuel consumption starts off with breaking down glycogen (carbohydrate). If you use that up, your body can start breaking down fat as well. Certain exercises are much more anaerobic (sprinting) and others are much more aerobic (long-distance running), but regardless of what you do, the more time you can put in, the more energy you will use up doing the activity, burning up first your carbohydrate stores, and then your fat stores. - 2/27/2017   6:29:33 PM
  • 5
    Great article. I get it. I can't do high intensity workouts, they leave me winded and exhausted. Staying in the aerobic zone is the new healthy! - 10/22/2015   9:26:40 AM
  • 4
    I take this to mean better to do some of all types of exercises and activate all muscles for 20 min. then to do 30 min of aerobic and burn that will not stay the burn. so if u exercise a little bit with all types in there u should burn fat and maintain or loose weight . Right???
    - 3/18/2015   1:27:32 PM
  • 3
    I understood the article with no problem. - 1/17/2015   6:29:55 AM
  • SHUCHID
    2
    it says aerobic is moderate intensity workout not low intensity.
    low intensity:fat
    moderate:fat + glucose
    high intensity:glucose - 9/19/2014   4:31:43 PM
  • CARAMELIA
    1
    This article is COMPLETELY confusing and doesn't help at all.
    a) high intensity workout is called anaerobic (seems ok)
    b) lower intensity workout is called aerobic (ok too)
    c) "You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories."
    Either it should say "anaerobic zone" - which means I can just do some short burst workouts till exhausted and be done with it, OR it should say "exercising at lower intensities" ... and those burn more calories, because you can do them for a longer time!

    Does no one check over the articles you put on your page? - 4/2/2014   7:04:01 AM

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