Optimal Fat Burning Zone
The optimal fat burning zone is your heart rate range within which you burn the highest percentage of fat. This is typically 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate threshold for a reasonably fit person.
Your maximum heart rate threshold is 220 minus your age for men and 226 minus your age for women. You then work out 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate threshold.
For example, for men, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate threshold is 220 – 30, giving 190. Then workout 65% of 190 which is 124, and 75% of 190 which is 143. During your workout maintain your heart rate within this range and you are in your optimal fat burning zone, and for a given amount of time working out you will burn the highest percentage of fat. When you are in the optimum heart rate zone for weight loss, you maximize the amount of fat burned.
However, if you want to burn the greatest amount of fat for the same given amount of time working out, you need to move out of the optimal fat burning zone by doing interval training.
Interval training combines short intense efforts during your workout with recovery periods. The idea is to get your heart rate up to 85% to 95% of your maximum heart rate threshold for short bursts, then allow your heart rate to drop. This accelerates the fat burning effect, so at the end of the workout you will have burned more fat, even though you have moved out of the optimal fat burning zone.
To better explain the difference between burning a higher percentage of fat in the fat burning zone and maximizing the amount of fat burned during a workout for the same period I will use an example.
Say you workout for and hour within your optimal fat burning range, and burn 250 calories, you may burn 50% of your calories as fat. This is a high percentage of fat being burned. Therefore you will have burned 125 calories of fat.
Now, say you do an interval workout instead, incorporating short bursts of intense effort with recovery periods, you will burn a lower percentage of fat, around 40%, but the overall calories burned will be much higher, say 350 for this example.
With interval training, the percentage of fat being burned is lower than the optimal fat burning zone, but in this case, 140 calories of fat has been burned, so you have actually burned more fat using interval training. For example, in the optimal fat burning zone range, you have burned 125 calories of fat at 50% which is a higher percentage than 40% when interval training, but due to the higher intensity of the workout, you have burned 140 calories of fat, for the same amount of time for the workout. That is the difference between the optimal fat burning zone and interval workouts. That is what we are after.
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