For optimal fat loss you need to train in your “fat burning zone”
This is a pretty common myth these days. I’m always hearing people go on about their fat burning zone.
“you’ve to stay in your fat burning zone when you train in order to lose fat”
Not so much!
So what is the fat burning zone? The idea is that when we train at a lower intensity our bodies oxidize a higher percentage of fat in relation to carbohydrates. As our training intensity increases our bodies start to use more carbohydrates as it’s fuel source. It works on a sliding scale. The higher the intensity goes, the more carbs are used. It is commonly thought that in order to burn fat then you need to be training at that lower intensity. It’s a huge reason why cardio is so commonly thought of as the king for fat loss. Cardio equipment companies plaster the “fat burning zone” on the treadmills and people inevitably go for it spending 2 hours slogging away on a moving strip of rubber with some fancy dials and a TV screen in front of them. Mind Boggling!
The concept of fasted cardio also ties in with this idea. Fasted cardio is all the rage these days. Don’t eat and then go train so your body oxidizes more fat. I get it the logic but it doesn’t really work like that. Fasted cardio is ultimately just another “short cut” to fat loss which isn’t sustainable because it sucks to be starving all the time. Even worse than that…training when you’re starving. Not exactly the best state to be in when you’re exerting your body is it!
When it comes to optimal fat loss training at a higher intensity will lead to better results. That’s because as your intensity goes up so does your calorie burn. It’s your total calorie burn that counts for more rather than what percentage of calories burnt is derived from fat. When we talk about resistance training it follows a similar pattern. You need to be lifting weights that are heavy enough to stimulate muscle tissue in order to achieve optimal adaptions including fat loss and muscle preservation.
Another factor to consider when looking at the “fat burning zone” is that the fat that is oxidized comes mostly from intramuscular triglycerides which are droplets of fat within your muscle tissue. Adipose fat which is your body fat is burned throughout the day and not necessarily in the gym.
Don’t forget, the most important thing for fat loss is your calorie intake vs calorie expenditure.