EXERCISE IN THE “FAT-BURNING” ZONE
When you exercise, your body burns both carbohydrate and fat as fuel. The amount of each fuel burned depends on the intensity of your exercise. If you ever have looked at some of the posters on the wall at the gym – you know, the ones that show you different heart rate zones – then you’ve learned that the “fat-burning zone” lies between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you exercise at this low intensity, your body burns more fat and less carbohydrate. As your intensity (and heart rate) go up, you burn more carbs and less fat. So if you want to lose weight, you should keep your heart rate lower? Wrong.
Working out at higher intensities, such as running, spinning, and interval training may make you burn a lower percentage of fat calories and more carbs, but the total amount of calories burned is greater. That’s the key to losing weight – Burn more calories than you take in. And because you’re burning off more calories, the absolute amount of fat burned actually increases. At the end of a higher intensity workout, you’ve burned more calories and more fat calories than if you worked out at a lower intensity.
Sure, lower intensity workouts have their place in a well-rounded training program. These types of workouts build aerobic fitness and endurance. Besides, you can’t (and shouldn’t) workout at a high-intensity every day – that’s just a recipe for over-training, injuries, and burnout. But, if you are finding that your weight loss has stalled, then it’s time to kick it up a notch (had to borrow that one from Emeril).
The bottom line is this – the best way to lose weight (body fat) is through a program of daily activity that is comprised of a variety of exercises. Alternate days of high-intensity (running, step mill, spinning, intervals, elliptical) with days of lower intensity (walking, steady/flat road biking). Also make sure to incorporate at least 2-3 days of strength training, as this is where most women falter. Strength training will help you create more metabolically active muscle tissue which will increase your metabolism, allowing your body to burn more body fat for fuel 24/7. In addition, consider taking a yoga, pilates, or stretch class 1-2 days a week.