When you are interested in losing weight and you’ve informed yourself about losing weight exercises in the past you most likely have heard about the “fat burning” heart rate zone you should maintain while doing cardio exercises. Well let’s be clear about this right from the start; This is completely false and never proven to be true to begin with. You do NOT need to maintain a certain heart rate to lose more weight compared to a higher heart rate. In fact, you can lose weight fast when maintaining a higher heart rate while exercising. If you go for a lower heart rate you may risk losing less weight as you potentially could, so don’t buy into the myth!
Low vs. High Heart Rate
The fat burning heart rate myth basically consists out of a theory that maintaining a lower heart rate while doing cardio exercising will result in a higher percentage of fat burned. While in theory this is true, the difference in fat calories burned between Low Intensity Training(LIT) and High Intensity Training (HIT) is only about 10%. The total burned calories however (learn here how many calories to lose weight), is much higher when doing a high intensity training. And that is much more important for people who are looking to lose weight. When you burn a lot of calories your body will have a higher maintenance when it comes to how much calories it needs to function every day. And when your body is in need of calories and doesn’t get it from food, it will look for another energy source. This energy that the body uses is…. fat. So simply put, this means that when you burn a lot of calories, you will burn fat in the end. See below for a comparison between low intensity and high intensity training in total of calories burned when doing cardio exercising:
|65% Max. Heart Rate (LIT)*||85% Max. Heart Rate (HIT)*|
|Fat Calories Burned Per Minute||2.43||2.7|
|Fat Calories Burned 30 Minutes||73||82|
|% Fat Calories Burned||50%||40%|
|Calories Burned Per Minute||4.86||6.86|
|Calories Burned 30 Minutes||146||206|
* LIT: Low Intensity Training | * HIT: High Intensity Training | Source: 24 Hour Fitness
High Intensity exercising Burns More Calories
As you can see in the above table, high intensity cardio burns a lot more calories per 30 minutes as low intensity cardio. Therefore the HIT is more effective when it comes to losing weight. That is how simple it is. The small
advantage of LIT in the percentage of fat calories burned versus HIT can’t compete with the total of calories burned when doing HIT. Swimming for weight loss is one of the best high-intensity cardio exercising.
So Should I Disregard How Much Fat Calories I Burn?
No, you shouldn’t. But the small 10% difference of burning more fat calories when doing LIT is almost insignificant when you look at how much more calories you burn when doing HIT. When you do HIT you still burn a lot of fat calories on top of burning a lot more total calories. The total number of calories that you burn are much more important as that will give you the best weight loss results.