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TOPIC: Heart Rate Vs Fat Burning Zone? Is Lower the Better?

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March 16, 2011 7:56 PM
Today I was reading an article about heart rates. I know the formula 220-Age and I have pretty much been exercising trying to keep my heart rate as close to my max heart rate as possible , because I do high interval training on the treadmill atleast 2-3 times a week. But the article said, at such high heart rates, one will burn glycogen from muscles rather than fat. Is this true?

For me to be working out at the fat burning zone (151 bpm per the calculator), I may just have to run at a constant speed of 5 or 5.5 mph, which gets very boring.

Also maintaining my heart rates > 160 bpm (which the site deems as glycogen burning zone), I am seeing results , but hopefully i am not losing muscle. Please note that I am also doing strength training 2-3 times a week.

Any thoughts?
March 16, 2011 8:09 PM
I've heard this from numerous fitness coaches - a lower heart rate is really supposed to be better for burning fat specifically. But I think it is more important that you get out and exercise regularly and enjoy it, so if you would have to run at a pace that is too slow to be comfortable or enjoyable, that may be demotivating and self-defeating if you don't want to keep it up. The new thing that I've been reading a lot about is interval training (alternating short bursts of intense cardio activity with a cooling off period) - this is supposed to really rev your metabolism, not just during exercise but for hours afterwards, and is supposed to be much more effective at burning fat. You might try that some days and see how you feel.
March 16, 2011 8:09 PM
The article is true... once you burn your carbs, your body will take from your muscle... it is important to do strength training, not just cardio!

Here is what Zuzana of writes:

Your body burns fat or carbs depending on the intensity of your activity. You burn fat even if your body is at rest. Actually you are burning fat right now as you are reading my post. If you are an average person sitting in front of your computer reading this, your body is burning about one or two calories per minute of which about 70 % comes from fat and about 30% comes from carbs.

When you exercise, as the intensity increases, your body starts using more and more carbohydrates for energy instead of fat. At the higher limits of aerobic exercise, 100 percent of the energy is coming from carbs. When carbs are no longer available, the body will break down your muscle and use it for energy. When carbohydrate stores are depleted, the rate at which fat is used as energy is reduced and that’s why carbs are essential in order to metabolize fat.

You lose fat only if you burn more calories than you eat on a daily basis, not because you burn fat (or something else) when you are exercising.

When you eat after your workout (including the workouts that burn more fat than carbohydrates), you will rapidly replenish both carbs and fats that you have used up during the workout. As soon as an excess of calories (from either fats or carbohydrates) exists, your body will begin to store them as fat. This means that your body’s fat stores will be virtually unchanged.

The key to fat loss is to boost your metabolism so that your body is continuously burning calories at a higher rate 24/7. People with muscle mass are automatically burning more calories and fat. Every 5 pounds of muscle that you build on your body will burn up to 15,000 extra calories a month which equals roughly 2 pounds of fat. Building this extra muscle will give you one hell of an advantage and it shows that muscles are the best engine for burning fat.
March 16, 2011 8:15 PM
I say mix it up. Do high cardio one day, then fat burning zone the next time. you do burn muscle after 40 minutes of intensive cardio, so maybe stay under 40 minutes. Have fun, mix it up.

Michael Thurmond, fitness guru, say low and slow, meaning flat treadmill and stay in fat burning zone for weight loss. I like his ideas a lot. Check out a book from the library. I do! : )


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