Have you ever been on a treadmill? If so, you’ll have probably noticed the heart rate zones that change depending on your workout. You might have also seen one option called the “fat-burning zone” which tells you just how hard you have to work to prompt your body to burn more fat than carbs. This is misleading, and we’re here to explain why.
How do our bodies burn fat?
Whether we’re exercising or not, our bodies are always at work trying to turn carbs and fat into energy. The dominant energy source will change depending on what we’re doing and what we’ve recently eaten. Generally, our bodies will choose to burn whatever is most abundant. That means that eating a high-carb meal before exercising will prompt your body to rely on them for energy, no matter how hard you work. This can be frustrating for those that are trying to lose weight.
Your body uses fat for fuel, then carbohydrates
Fat and carbohydrates are burned for fuel in a process that involves cells converting nutrients to a usable form of chemical energy. This chemical energy is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the way that our bodies produce this will depend on our level of activity. This is because your cells need oxygen for this process to work, and when we’re breathing normally, fat is metabolised slowly.
High-intensity workouts = more calories burned
The harder you work out, the quicker your body will turn nutrients into ATP. Your body can do this faster with carbohydrates better than it can with fat due to the simple fact that oxygen is not always needed to convert carbs. So, when we’re out of breath during exercise, the proportion of fuel that comes from carbs increases.
Your cardiovascular and respiratory system will be working overtime to keep your body moving and functioning during such a high-intensity workout. Your heart needs to contract quicker to supply enough blood to your muscles, and your respiratory system needs to allow you to work quicker so that you can breathe. Understandably, when your body works harder, you need more calories to keep going.
Conclusion: if your overall goal is to burn fat, burning more calories overall is better than working out at a low-intensity rate and staying in the so-called “fat-burning zone”.
What should you do instead?
Planning a workout regimen that mixes high-intensity workouts with moderate workouts I the best way to lose fat. Fitness experts recommend that you make every third workout the one that’s the most intense, then fill in your other exercise days with moderate-intensity plans. Of course, being active every day is the best way to lead a healthy lifestyle, but if you’re doing this make sure to vary intensities so that your body has time to recover and repair itself while still expending energy.
A lot of high-intensity workouts can lead to injury and burnout, but if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, then you shouldn’t skip it. Establishing a balance in your fitness regimen will make it more sustainable and encourage you to get the best results. Fitness companies such as Prestige Boot Camp can help you to create a fitness plan that works for you, keeping your health and your goals in mind.