First of all, congratulations!
You made it in to
You hop on your elliptical/treadmill/stairmaster, select
the-fat burning zone, time it for 45
minutes, and blast your Beyoncé.
You are going to 'fat burning zone' your way
back into those skinny
But are you really?
A zone that burns the fat?!
That sounds amazing! What is this magical zone and how do I get there? Will
this zone melt the love handles off my hips? Can it get rid of that
weird armpit fat that sticks out of my bra?
The answer is
both yes and no. Weight loss comes down to a number of things, the main one
being caloric intake versus caloric burn. Cardio is amazing for your heart and
lungs, but let's be honest. Most of the people you see on those
machines aren't looking for a stronger heart; it’s six-pack abs and bathing
suits that motivate this battle. The reason cardio aids in weight
loss is its ability to increase your caloric expenditure for the day and
put you in a caloric deficit. However, if you don't pair a healthy diet with the
cardio you do, you’ll be spinning your tires at the gym, no matter what
"zone" you are working in.
Weight loss takes place when the body
is burning more calories than it is taking in, so you want your workout to
help put you in that caloric hole. Think of it as overdrawing your
calorie bank account, except it's your body getting skinny and not your
What exactly is the fat burning zone?
The Fat Burning Zone is a level of intensity (usually 50-60% of your max heart rate) in which your body breaks down fat to create energy. During a workout your body is using both carbohydrates and fats to release energy, and the level of intensity
at which we burn mostly fat cells and fewer carbohydrates is the infamous Fat Burning Zone. Unfortunately, this is a very
Here is the problem: You have to work much longer in the fat burning zone to accomplish the same amount of caloric
burn you get from working in a higher zone (say, 80-90% of your max heart rate). We all want to get the most out of our time, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) is going to make you the more efficient gym go-er. The reason for the intervals is that 90% of your max heart rate is a really hard amount of effort to maintain. If you are really working that hard, you shouldn't be able to stay at that intensity for very long, hence the rests in between the intervals.
Think of it like this: If you want to make a smoothie, it is going to be much more efficient to throw all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse it on high than it would be to mash them up with a potato masher by hand. With the blender you will
have a smoothie in 45 seconds, whereas the potato masher may take 10 minutes to get the same consistency.
I don't know about you, but I would rather work at a high speed for a shorter amount of time than waste
an hour at a medium pace and get the same results. Skip the fat burning zone, and bust out some high intensity intervals and get the most out of your time and energy.
Finally, I will leave you with this: If you can read this article and have a chat about it while doing your workout,
you are NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH.
And a little weight loss tip: No matter how many stairs you climb or hills you
sprint, if you don't put down the cheeseburger and fries you will
be sporting a muffin top until you overhaul your diet.