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Is there really a "fat-burning" zone for cardiovascular exercise, or is this a myth?

John McGuire (Brooklyn, NY) on Oct 20, 2011
1 user found this answer helpful
This is a huge misconception. Yes, you are burning fat at lower intensities, but your concern should be burning calories, and you burn a lot more calories at higher intensities. Plus high intensity training will increase the amount of calories you burn post-workout. They say that tough, high intensity workouts can increase the amount of calories you burn for up to 48 hours. Look up the exercise term "epoc" to find a more detailed scientific explanation about this process. Good Luck! - John McGuire, CSCS
James Weaver (Milford, CT) on Oct 20, 2011
1 user found this answer helpful
Yes there is a fat burning zone. It is true that the body burns fat during low to medium intensity exercises. During high intensity exercises you are strengthening your heart and lungs. You will burn some fat in high intensity exercises, but not a significant amount. The average person will not burn muscle at high intensity levels.
Frank Baptiste (New York, NY) on Oct 20, 2011
1 user found this answer helpful
Yes and No. The PERCENTAGE of calories from fat is highest during low intensity (aerobic) exercise, however, total caloric expenditure is lowest, making the "fat-burning" zone a poor choice for any fat loss program. As workload increases during higher intensity exercise oxygen is no longer a sufficient fuel source and glycogen, (the stored form of sugar in our muscles, liver and blood stream,) is metabolized to meet energy demands. As a result a lower percentage of calories used are from fat but the total calories (and total fat calories) will be much higher. Additionally, intense bouts of cardiovascular training create what is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, EPOC. In essence, the anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise creates an "oxygen debt" that must be repaid, so you continue to to consume more energy (keep burning more calories,) for hours beyond your workout. In short, if your goal is fat loss, ignore the sticker on the machine and do high intensity intervals for cardio.
Dan Kritsonis (Bellevue, WA) on Oct 20, 2011
1 user found this answer helpful
The answer is Yes, the fat burn zone exists, but it has been misinterpreted. The fat-burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower-intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. Actually, the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. At lower intensities the body may burn 50 percent of the calories from fat, while at higher intensities it may only burn 35 percent.But at higher intensities you burn way more total calories-and more fat calories overall-than you do at lower intensities.
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Dec 10, 2011
1 user found this answer helpful
There are conflicting reports regarding a "fat-burning" zone for cardiovascular exercise. Here is a heart rate zone calculator that you may find helpful.