Myth #2: You Need to Workout in the “Fat Burning Zone” to Lose Weight
Last week I promised that I would bust 5 of the most common myths that I find are keeping my clients stuck. Not only have my clients found that these myths are not true, but as I was on my own weight loss journey I discovered that these myths were actually helping me keep the weight on.
They are based upon great research, but the problem is that each myth only relies on one aspect of the research rather than the whole synopsis. If you haven’t read the first myth I busted which was “Morning is the Best Time of Day to Workout,” then go read it now and then come back.
Let’s dig into the second most common question I get – “Why am I not losing any weight? I’m exercising in the “fat burning” zone.”
Myth: Working out in the “fat burning” zone helps you lose more weight.
Fact: The “fat burning” zone that is acquired during lower intensity workouts is great for burning the most amount of fat at one time, but working out at the higher intensity levels burns more calories at one time.
I know that you are probably thinking, “I need to lose weight because I’m fat, so isn’t burning more fat better for weight loss?” No, it is not. I thought the same thing when I started my weight loss journey. I tried my hardest to stay at 50-60% of my maximum heart rate (which is considered the “fat burning” zone) during all my workouts. What I found was that I was able to get through the exercises easier, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted.
I had to find out why, so I researched why. Here is what I found:
When you workout in the “fat burning” zone a little more than half the calories you burn will come from fat and the rest will come from sugar and carbs stored in your muscles and blood stream. This sounded pretty good; it meant that about 60% of the burned calories were coming from fat.
Based upon this information, when you workout at higher intensities of 70-80% of your maximum heart rate more of your calories will come from those carbs and sugars in your bloodstream than they will from fat.
This was great news! It meant that I would burn more fat if I stuck it out at the lower intensities…I just had to wait a little more, right? Nope, the math genius in me wanted to crunch those numbers.
Two things I knew for sure were that
- I wanted to lose weight and
- I only had so much time during the day to complete my workouts.
If I wanted to lose 2 pounds a week, I had to burn 7000 calories a week.
Since I only had about hour a day to work out, working out at a low intensity 7 days a week would still only allow me to burn about half of the calories I needed to burn.
On the other hand if I worked out at a higher intensity level I was able to burn what I needed in 6 days a week.
During those low intensity workouts I would burn a higher percentage of body fat compared to the total number of calories, but I burned more overall body fat with the higher intensity workouts.
Simply put, you want to focus on burning more calories rather than burning higher percentages of fat with each workout. You need to burn 3500 calories for every pound you want to lose. Using low intensity workouts are great, but keep in mind that it will take you longer.
If you are a busy person, then including higher intensity workouts will help you use your time more efficiently.
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