What is your Perfect Heart Rate to Burn Fat?

March 22, 2011 · 2 comments

This is a guest post by Melissa Cameron.

The theory behind the infamous fat burning zone is not what it was once believed to be. Nearly anyone starting an exercise program usually wonders at some point what their heart rate should ideally be at in order to lose fat. After all, cardio equipment, sports watches and even some pedometers come equipped with heart rate monitors so they must offer some significance, right?

Previous Theory vs. New Discovery

For many years the population was taught that they needed to work at 65 percent of their maximum heart rate for their body to dip into stored fat to use for energy. This is why walking became such a craze because it’s an exercise that is easily done for 30 to 40 minutes, giving your body enough time to start burning fat.

However, a few flaws have been discovered in this theory. It has now been proven that interval training is the way to go because you work at a high intensity, yet you are granted rest periods so you can still workout longer.

This can be compared to the discovery that eating five to six small meals per day is better for you than the three square meals you were always taught to eat in the past. Not to mention, eating more frequently feeds your muscles for faster recovery and you are granted more energy. If you are looking for a program to help you with this new healthier way of eating, there are Medifast diet coupons available online.

Why Interval Training?

65 percent was the magic number for so long because when you start exercising, glycogen and sugars are what your body initially uses for fuel. Once this starts running low, your body fat and oxygen work together to keep feeding your muscles.

Research now suggests that if you are at the 75 percent mark, you actually double your fat burning, even if you slow down to a recovery phase and then pick it back up again. This results in greater weight loss.

Now, you may be thinking it would be smarter to remain at 75 percent then for your whole workout but that is actually not at all beneficial to you. If you remain at a higher intensity for too long, your body shifts into an anaerobic zone which means it starts relying on carbohydrates for energy. Interestingly, this is why you hear about runners carb-loading for a few days before running a marathon.

Point being, you need to give your body a slower recovery phase to have the chance to break down fat to use for fuel. This is how you maximize fat burning.

So, what does this mean? You need variety in your workout. Aim to be at 65 percent of your maximum heart rate but then add in spurts of high intensity so that this jumps up to 75 percent sometimes too.

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exercise bike reviews March 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi John, I always advocate high intensity training for the exact reasons you have laid out and I think this spells it out very well - “research now suggests that if you are at the 75 percent mark, you actually double your fat burning, even if you slow down to a recovery phase and then pick it back up again. This results in greater weight loss.”
Great information everybody, if you’re looking to get fit and lose weight take note!

Steven B. March 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I would like to add that if you work out on a treadmill doing a workout that monitors your heart rate that it’s a huge advantage to use a wireless heart rate monitor. This means if you’re looking for a treadmill and you monitor your heart while working out, to get a treadmill with a wireless heart rate monitoring option.

The reason for this is that if you use the pulse grip monitors, you must sustain your grip throughout your workout. I don’t like this because it reduces energy expended and I love pumping my arms whether walking or running.

Of course, if you do your fitness outdoors, then you can get a simple heart rate monitoring device (perhaps a watch) and then problem is solved. The nice thing about doing heart rate-based workouts on a treadmill or elliptical is the incline / speed (for treadmills) and resistance (ellipticals) adjust to maintain your target heart rate.

Thanks for setting the record straight about target heart rates and weight loss.

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