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


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/8/2012 12:00 AM   :  5 comments   :  31,526 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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  • 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
    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
    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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