It has long been considered that the best way to burn fat is not by doing the hardest exercise, but by exercising at 65% of your maximum heart rate. This is referred to as the ‘fat burning zone’. In fact you will see this labelled on many exercise bikes, running machines, cross training machines and other similar equipment. But staying in the fat burning zone for hours on end doesn’t necessarily mean working out longer will burn more fat.
Stay fit to burn more fat
The fitter you get the longer you will be able to exercise for, but you must also understand that you need to compliment your length of exercise with the appropriate calorie intake and nutrition outside of exercise. If you are eating too little then after approximately 45 minutes of exercise the body will start to release cortisol which will cause your body to start eating your muscle, not fat. Therefore, if you want to exercise longer, say for 90 minutes or more, then you must ensure the body is fuelled properly by eating a diet of lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
The importance of protein
Protein helps to sustain muscle and complex carbohydrates provide the body with a slow energy release for long endurance. But in truth, it isn’t necessary to wear yourself down exercising for hours on end in a bid to lose weight. A better solution is to introduce weights into your exercise regime and split your workouts into cardio and weights sections. Lifting weights provokes a high calorific consumption and scientific studies have shown that lifting heavier weights at lower rep thresholds stimulates calorie loss for 1-2 days following a workout. It is also worth noting that when you build muscle you naturally burn more calories, in fact you will be burning calories just sitting down with more muscle mass. Not to mention the fact that it is far more time-efficient to use short high-intensity training methods, rather than slow, long, steady-pace cardio sessions.
Without meaning to be contradictory – this subject tends to look that way when you read all the seemingly conflicting information out there – no one can argue with the incline walking technique used by bodybuilders all over the world to burn fat. When bodybuilders are cutting down on body fat for a competition, they put a treadmill at maximum incline and walk or jog intensely for up to an hour at a time at 65% of their maximum heart rate. Many fitness gurus also swear by a similar method but instead of such intense fat burning sessions they jog or row at the end of every weights session for around 20 minutes. It is said that cardio after a weights session promotes further fat loss. Therefore, on analysis, it would seem that the best way to achieve good calorie loss is to combine the 65% rule with a weights program by splitting each session into perhaps 40 minutes of running and 20 minutes of weight training.