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You Asked: Fat Burning Zone vs. Endurance

Dear FitSugar,
I have a question, I am trying to get toned and lose a little weight, but I
have heard a couple of things. I have heard not to run too fast so you
stay in your fat burning zone heart rate, but I have also heard it doesn't
matter if your heart goes into the endurance zone because you are still
burning calories and fat. Which is true? I just want to make sure I am
getting the best bang for my buck when I am running, thanks!
— Fat to Burn

Who of us hasn't been suckered into the notion of the "fat burning" zone? Truth is though, to lose weight you need to burn up calories, and endurance training does that more efficiently and effectively than staying in a lower heart rate zone. While it is true that the body burns a higher percentage of calories from fat during more mellow exercise like walking and easy cycling, when you increase the intensity of your cardio workout, you burn a greater number of overall calories (which should be your focus for weight loss) and subsequently just as much total fat.

So be efficient and do both simultaneously, burn it all up getting your heat rate above the Fat Burning Zone. To add intensity and calorie burning potential to your workout you should try interval training. It not only increases your cardiovascular fitness but it also increases your body's potential to burn fat! If you want a workout in this vein, check out Get IT Up, Your Heart Rate That Is: Interval Training.


Join The Conversation
Arthur Arthur 9 years
I know I am a little late to the party on this post, but I was thinking about it on my run this morning (always with the heart rate monitor), so I figured I'd throw my $.02 in even if no one sees it. If you're goal is to lose weight, then what you should be concentrating on is time in the zone. I'd take 20 min at target heart rate as a bare minimum. That's at least a 30 min run cause you need to warm up and cool down. So what should that target be? More or less as high as you can go for 20 - 40 minutes. What I find that happens is the longer my run, the higher my heart rate keeps inching even if I keep a steady pace. I use 135 - 152 as my pretty wide target zone. I have to be really pushing between 5 - 15 minutes to keep it above 135, but from 25 - 40 min, my heart rate will be in the high 140's and I find myself moderating my pace. I do shorter runs when I go to the gym, but my goal isn't really cardio conditioning as much as just getting my heart rate up for the real workout with weights in the gym. So grab that ipod, skip the gym and head outside! (and if you're in Maine like me, don't forget the bug spray!!)
pixelhaze pixelhaze 10 years
Yeah the key word there is percentage. If you go slower the percentage is higher but the number is lower, etc. Math was never my strong point but even I get that, lol.
bizzybee bizzybee 10 years
Phew! I could never keep a low enough pace for fat burning on the machines. It would always be flashing at me to slow down. But I couldn't help myself. It kind of cracked me up. I prefer intense cardio, with intervals, hills, challenges.
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
I chuckle at these girls who are always on the cardio machines next to me at the university gym who are constantly talking about the "fat burning zone" and go so slow on the machines it can't possible do of the girls actually managed to convince her friend that "going slower was better". I so badly wanted to say something...
Summathis Summathis 10 years
I'm with you ktacce! I started doing the "Get it up" run routine and its really helped my endurance. I feel the progress DAILY.
ktacce ktacce 10 years
good reminder, i need to think about interval training while working out today... maybe i should go on an interval training kick... anyone with me??
muchacha muchacha 10 years
hear hear.. I have been working on my cardio training, forget the fat burning..
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