This week, Healy answers a reader question about that 'fat-burning' zone on most cardio equipment you see in gyms.
Q. If my goal is weight loss, should I be using the fat burning mode on the cardio machines when I workout?
A. Great question! The fat burning zones that are listed on the cardio machines are a bit misleading. Let me explain why.
When working in this zone, you’re working aerobically, meaning you’re not breathless, and you’re maintaining an effort level that’s sustainable for at least two minutes or more. This is typically a slow or moderate pace for most people. At this intensity, the fuel source that contributes the most to this type of activity is fat, which is why it’s named the fat burning zone.
When you work beyond this intensity, performing activities such as sprints or resistance training, the primary fuel source becomes carbohydrates.
The problem with only training in the fat burning zone is that you burn fewer total calories, from both of these fuel sources.
To maximize overall calorie burn, aim for a higher intensity, which is often listed as the cardio zone on machines, or perform high intensity intervals which will have you burning more calories up to 24 hours after your sweat session!