You may have decided to walk the path of weight loss in order to begin the fat burning process, but you are not sure of how much work you need to put in. You may not be sure whether a daily walk is sufficient to help you through the process or whether you should dive right in with interval training. Embarking on working out can be a confusing affair, especially with all the transformations, training programs, and regimens available. This will cover heart rate training for fat burning and weight loss in order to make sure you have the right information before going about your fitness journey.
Fat Burning and Heart rate
The body is always burning fat for use as an energy source even when you are sitting down reading a book you are using fat as a power source. This happens every minute and every hour so why is it that normal weight loss seems almost impossible this way?
The issue is that when you are at rest, your body is not burning enough to make a significant difference no matter how much of this energy comes from fat. For your body to burn enough amounts to make a difference, then you will need to burn off more energy daily than you put in, also known as a calorie deficit or negative energy balance. It is well known that if you are more active, your body will burn more calories because your body will use up more energy than it would have at rest. This is beneficial in helping to get to your energy deficit. If you are looking to improve your body composition and lose weight, then it is recommended you exercise for roughly 200-300 minutes with the aim of burning roughly 2000 kcal weekly. This is equivalent to exercising or being physically active daily for a minimum of 30 minutes. It is safe to say that if you are looking to burn fat or lose weight then you should be more active and combine this with a controlled diet for the best results. Once you begin hitting a negative energy balance daily, then you will start seeing some progress.
However, does this mean you will need to work extra hard to burn as much energy as you can or do you need to aim for a specific point? To answer this you need to look into fat burning.
The Science of Fat Burning
Most people think that if they work harder, they will burn more amounts of fat but this is far from it. Actually, fat burning occurs at a significantly lower intensity than you would expect meaning that you could be working extra hard at the gym but missing the chance lose fat.
It is quite easy to find the best heart rate where the body starts burning fat during your training session.
Finding the Fat Burning Zone
The fat burning zone is the ideal heart rate zone at which an individual burns the most fat calories. If you remain below this zone then you will not be optimizing the fat burn during your workout. If you go beyond the fat-burning zone, this results in burning of the food in your stomach without necessarily burning any body fat. It is surprising how low the intensity level for this fat burning zone is; your goal should be to workout at this low intensity for slightly longer. You can calculate your fat burning-zone using these three ways.
– Determining your maximum heart rate (220- your age) and then finding out your fat burning range (60% to 70% of max. heart rate)
– Using a fitness app e.g. RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, or Wahoo Fitness to determine your five heart rate zones
– Conducting a home test or field test using the Wahoo Fitness app to help identify one’s Burn and Burst Zones
Burning Fat and Not Just Calories
You may start seeing that the harder you work out, the higher the number of calories you burn. This may make it easier to assume that increasing your workout intensity can make you lose more weight. Unfortunately, not all calories are similar more so pertaining to weight loss. When you get your heart rate closer to the maximum heart rate, this may translate into the increased burning of calories without necessarily burning any fat. Truthfully, when you get to a higher intensity level, chances are your body is burning off the short-term carb and sugar stores taken during your last meal explaining your intense hunger following a heavy workout. If you want to target long-term fat stores in the body, you should aim for low-intensity activities that maintain heart rate in your fat-burning zone for longer.
Selecting the Right Workout
Opting for a workout and intensity level to help you get to your fat burning zone depends on your fitness level. For example, if you are a frequent runner then you will need to ramp up your speeds in order to reach your fat burning zone compared to someone who is just starting out with running.
High Intensity vs. Fat Burning
You can burn fat at moderate and high-intensity during your workout but you simply need to determine your best option. If you are a beginner looking to burn fat then your goal should be a heart rate of 65 to 80% Max heart rate when working out. Starting out slow, and increasing the intensity gradually over time allows your body to adapt slowly. Interval training may be beneficial but if you exercise at a high intensity without a fitness foundation, it can be potentially unsafe and unhealthy. Once the muscles, lungs, and heart adapt to working between 60 and 80% then you can go for interval training to push your fat loss even further.
If you are at an advanced level and looking to burn fat, then you should look at fat burning on a broader spectrum as opposed to an off-switch lying around the 80% maximum heart rate mark. The fact that you are working hard does not mean you will not experience fat burning. In fact, the increased workload and overall calorie burn could translate into an improved body composition as well.