ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Fatburning Myth!

Updated on January 19, 2018
Source

The fat burning zone is a myth. Like all myths though, it has its roots in fact. The fact that it is based on is this:

  • Lower intensity workouts burn a higher percentage of your calories from fat.
  • Higher intensity workouts burn a lower percentage of your calories from fat.

On this fact, the proponents and opponents of the fat burning zone agree. However, the proponents fail to recognize that just because you burn a higher percentage of your calories from fat, does not mean that you burn more fat.

For example, a person burns the highest percentage of fat when they are at rest. Yet in terms of absolute calories burned from fat, a person at rest is burning very few. An estimate for 150 lb. person is that they burn about 60 calories per hour at rest. Of those, 40 calories are burned from fat for a percentage of 66%.

At the other end of the scale, a person exercising at high intensity is burning a low percentage of their calories from fat. Yet even with a low percentage of calories being burned from fat, in terms of total calories from fat being burned it can be quite substantial. An estimate for 150 lb. person is that they burn about 350 calories walking at 4 mph. Of those, 140 calories are burned from fat for a percentage of 40%.

Now, a proponent may say that this falls into their fat burning zone.

Indeed, this example may be within what they call the fat burning zone. However, the example is used to show that talking about percentage of calories burned from fat is not really useful. In terms of weight loss, the absolute amount of calories burned from fat should be used by proponents of the fat burning zone, instead of percentage of calories burned from fat.

Now, by high intensity, I mean a person exercising at a high level of intensity that can be sustained over a period of time. I am not talking about a level of exertion that cannot be sustained. Exercising till you drop risks injury and burnout. For someone just beginning, they should stay at a comfortable level of exertion.

Unfortunately, proponents of the fat burning zone tend to equate high intensity exercise with anaerobic exercise. This is not the case. Longer sprint activities, say running a sub 5 minute mile, are partially aerobic in nature. However, the definition of high intensity is for something sustained over a period of time, for example, 15 minutes or more.

Having dispelled one tenet used by proponents of the fat burning zone, let us look at another. Proponents will say that calories burned from carbohydrates do not contribute to weight loss. It seems a reasonable tenet. After all, we are interested in losing body fat.

What proponents of this myth fail to address is that the glycogen that is burned during exercise must be replaced. The body does this using the food you eat. Therefore, calories that would possibly be going to body fat are used to replenish those that were burned.

Finally, the nail in the coffin are the many studies that show that what really counts in weight loss is the caloric deficit that is created, not the intensity of the exercise.

In a study that appeared in the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition', two groups of women exercised. One group exercised at high intensity while the other at low intensity. Both groups burned equal amounts of calories. However, for the low intensity group this meant that they had to exercise for a longer period of time in order to equal the caloric burn of the high intensity group. Both groups lost the same amount of body fat. This in spite of one group burning more calories from fat, the other from carbohydrates. Therefore, the absolute amount of calories burned from fat during exercise is not important, but the overall caloric burn is important.

In short, body fat gained or lost represents the long term balance between caloric intake and caloric burn.

This balance can be affected in two ways. The first is to reduce the number of calories that one eats. The second is to burn off the calories through exercise. One common mentioned way to lose body fat is to utilize both. For example, a reduction of 500 calories eaten per day combined with an expenditure of 500 calories yields an approximate 2 pound loss of body fat over a week. INDIVIDUAL RESULTS MAY VARY.

Why should someone exercise at high intensity? The answer is that it takes less time to burn a given amount of calories. An estimate for a 150 pound person to burn 500 calories by walking 4 mph is that it would take 1 hour, 26 minutes. Walking at 5 mph would reduce the time to 52 minutes. Running at 6 mph would reduce the time to burn the same 500 calories to approximately 45 minutes.

Why should someone not exercise at high intensity? Possible injury, lack of enjoyment, burnout, and lack of fitness are just four reasons.

As an example, the former American Olympic Race Walking coach, Bohdan Bulakowski has his athletes train at four different levels. Low intensity days are called Walk 1 days and are performed at 60% to 75% MHR. Walk 2 days are higher intensity and are in the range of 75% to 85% MHR. The two other levels are rhythm (or fartlek) workouts and sprints. Higher intensity days (walk 2, rhythm, and speedwork) are interspersed with low intensity days to prevent overtraining and injury.

To summarize then:

1) The fat burning zone is a myth with some roots in truth.

2) Body fat loss is dependent on calories burned, not the type of fuel that supplied those calories.

3) Mix up intensities to avoid overtraining and injuries.

4) Whatever exercise a person does, let it be enjoyable at a level of intensity that is safe.

Personally, I lost 60 pounds of body fat over the course of a year. I accomplished this through reducing the amount of calories I ate as well as increasing my exercise, which happens to be race walking. Race walking at 6 mph (my training pace) means that it takes me only 35 minutes to burn off 500 calories, though I do weigh more than the 150 pounds I used in the examples above.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)