Fact: exercising longer at a lower heart rate burns more calories from fat. You’ve read of this fat-burning zone in every fitness magazine, but you’re only getting a half-truth. When it comes to losing weight, slow and steady does not win the race.
The fantastical fat-burning zone is often misinterpreted. While we do burn more calories from fat at lower levels of exertion, we aren’t actually burning as many total calories. Here’s an example:
Lucy runs for 30 minutes at a max heart rate of 65-75% (aka the “fat-burning zone”). Lucy will burn about 300 calories with 33% coming from fat, or 100 fat calories.
Meanwhile, Jessica does 30 minutes of interval running (see workout here) with her heart rate ranging from 65-95% of her max. Jessica will burn about 500 calories with 25% coming from fat, which comes to 125 fat calories.
By spiking her heart rate with interval training, Jessica is using her half hour much more efficiently and pushing her metabolism to full throttle, so she’s actually burning more calories overall — and more from fat — in the same amount of time. If you’re trying to lose weight or even just lean out, the key is to work out smarter — not longer. Good news, right? It gets better. You can ramp up your fat-burning ability even more when you:
2. Snack between meals to fuel your metabolism as much as your energy. Healthy foods rich in protein and fiber can help prevent afternoon brain fog and steady your energy levels so you aren’t crashing into the office candy bowls.
3. Strength train at least twice a week not only for a sculpted bod but to create muscular balance that will ward off injury — which could set you way back from your end goal.
Liz Lotts is a personal -trainer-turned-triathlete who is admittedly addicted to long distances and wants to share her real-life lessons as an endurance athlete. Tweet her @Lottsomiles if you have questions, quirky comments or inspirational quotes to share.