Body Fat-Burning Zone Described


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The fat burning zone

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Greg Doucette. Fat Burning Heart Rate Zone Myth? What HR is best to burn fat or get ripped EXPLAINED

Video taken from the channel: Greg Doucette

The fat burning zone is a concept that when exercising at lower intensities for longer periods of time, you will burn more fat than glycogen at higher intensities. To further explain, during exercise your body uses energy from two places: fat and glycogen stores. Glycogen is stored carbohydrates (converted sugars) in your muscles and liver. The “fat-burning zone” is a sustained period where your heart rate is moderately elevated, says William P. Kelley, DP, certified strength and conditioning specialist,and physical therapist at U.S.A.

Sports Therapy in Miami, Florida. At this intensity, you can easily carry on a conversation. However, the fat burning zone theory says that you shouldn’t push your body all the way to 100. Instead, you’ll burn the most fat when you working at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Basically, what this means, is that fat burning occurs when you limit the intensity of your workouts to a specific heart rate zone. One theory even suggests that exercising at around 60% of your maximum heart rate will bring our bodies into a so-called “fat burning zone”, optimal for losing weight. But does this “fat burning. The fat-burning zone is legit. At 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, the calories that your body burns are mostly calories from fat.

If you go on a brisk walk for one hour, you’ll likely burn between 225 and 300 calories depending on your biometrics and fitness level. One of those zones is labeled the “fat-burning zone,” which is supposed to tell you the intensity at which you’d need to exercise for your body to burn more fat than carbs. It’s a little more.

Yes, we know. If you look at the wall charts or cardio equipment in a gym, or listen to many personal trainers, you’ll be indoctrinated about the “fat-burning zone.” The standard advice for getting. The “fat-burning zone” and “cardio zone” became popular buzz phrases when equipment manufacturers began displaying the red and yellow graph on the consoles of treadmills, ellipticals and bikes.This phenomenon has led to the theory that you must exercise at low intensities in order to burn fat. As with many myths, there is some truth in this concept. To exercise in the “fat burning zone”, means to exercise at lower intensity for better fat burning.

How does it work? When you exercise some of the calories you burn are carbs and some fat. As exercise intensity changes (i.e. how hard you exercise), there is a shift in how much fat versus carbs your body burns to fuel your workout.

So, though training in this fat burning zone will help with fat loss, this might also help explain why it takes some people longer to lose fat through exercise. But there is evidence that following certain diets (such as intermittent fasting or a ketogenic, high fat diet ) and longer exercise can increase the actual amount of fat we burn.

List of related literature:

That’s not to say that there is no such thing as a fat burning zone.

“Bending the Aging Curve: The Complete Exercise Guide for Older Adults” by Joseph F. Signorile
from Bending the Aging Curve: The Complete Exercise Guide for Older Adults
by Joseph F. Signorile
Human Kinetics, 2011

There really is a fat-burning zone.

“Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple” by Pete McCall
from Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple
by Pete McCall
Human Kinetics, Incorporated, 2018

Sticking with the fat burn zone is fine if you’re just getting started on the road to fitness, but the problem with the fat burn zone is that it doesn’t burn all that much fat (or expend all that many calories) because the level of intensity is on the low side.

“Fitbit For Dummies” by Paul McFedries
from Fitbit For Dummies
by Paul McFedries
Wiley, 2019

However, recent research as well as anecdotal experience draws into question the idea of the fat burning zone, a topic discussed in greater detail below.

“The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner” by Lyle McDonald, Elzi Volk
from The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner
by Lyle McDonald, Elzi Volk
Lyle McDonald, 1998

The bottom line is that high-intensity training is much more likely to result in the loss of excess flab than is long, slow distance done in the mythical “fat-burning zone.”

“Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life” by Joe Friel
from Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life
by Joe Friel
VeloPress, 2015

The fat-burning zone is a lower-intensity aerobic workout that keeps your heart rate between about 60 and 69% of maximum.

“Visualizing Nutrition: Everyday Choices” by Mary B. Grosvenor, Lori A. Smolin
from Visualizing Nutrition: Everyday Choices
by Mary B. Grosvenor, Lori A. Smolin
Wiley, 2017

To trigger fat burning, your body releases catecholamines into your blood, which then “attach” to receptors on fat cells.

“Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body” by Michael Matthews
from Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body
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Waterbury Publishers, Incorporated, 2019

The Zone diet is a low-energy diet and does not increase the body’s ability to burn fat.

“Nutrition” by Paul M. Insel, R. Elaine Turner, Don Ross
from Nutrition
by Paul M. Insel, R. Elaine Turner, Don Ross
Jones and Bartlett, 2004

A slight problem with this zone is that the intensity is too high for maximal stimulation of the slow-twitch muscle fibers and for fat burning.

“Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life” by Ben Greenfield
from Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life
by Ben Greenfield
Victory Belt Publishing, 2017

The total caloric requirement per unit of time is much greater in high-intensity activity than in low-intensity activity, and the volume of fat burned is greater in high-intensity activity (despite a lower proportion of fat meeting total energy requirements).

“Advanced Sports Nutrition” by Dan Benardot
from Advanced Sports Nutrition
by Dan Benardot
Human Kinetics, Incorporated, 2011

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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  • Not correct. There is a fat burning zone and you can measure it. You might want to look at the FATmax concept.

  • Your content is fantastic. Nobody else I’ve found actually thinks this stuff through and engages their brain. I’m over 60, female, fairly new to running and run outdoors in the tropics where the temp is up to 90degrees f and the humidity is horrible. The usual advice for running heart rate zones are completely irrelevant to me. I also have a very high max heart rate and low resting. I learned to just do what feels hard enough some days, take it slow on others and be patient. After two years my fitness finally kicked in. Top 15% VO2Max and can run a 5k without dying.

    I know all about cardiac drift. Heat is a monster for pushing your heart rates, especially for women and plus extra for packing Ten pounds too much fat.. On a cool day after a storm and with a breeze I will be 20 beats lower by the end of my run than on a sunny day.

    You are now my guru.

  • Great video. One thing that isn’t clear to me: you identify zone 2 as the “fat burning zone” because it utilizes your body’s stored fats rather than burning carbohydrates, right? But then you go on to say that burning calories is the priority for losing weight, and zone 4 is most efficient for this purpose because of the high intensity. So which is the best zone to focus on for burning body fat? It sounds like to me that zone 4 and 5 training burn the most calories, but obviously your body can handle much less time spent in these zones. So if I’m recommending a strategy for weight loss, would it be better to suggest longer periods of zone 2 level exercise, or shorter, less frequent zone 4 and 5 exercise?

  • I kind of have to desagree Greg, according to Guyton And Hall (two authors who wrote one of the standard textbooks for human physiology, basically the science that studies why does the human body works the wey it does). Trained athletes are able to produce a much higher cardiac output (volume of blood pumped over time) with less cardiac frecuency because their heart adapts to produce stronger contractions. It means that trained athletes can get away with pumping way much blood with less cardiac frecuency than non trained people.
    Love you Greg ��

  • Wow. These older videos are 100% information. The current ones are 60% information and 40% fun and yelling… I mean motivation.
    I am happy Youtube recommend those to me

  • Great video, thanks Fraser. Renee’s approach makes the most sense to me. A well balanced diet ( i.e. 60%C/25%P/15%F) is critical and it’s the intensity of the workout that’s the function of what zone you’re in. Give your body the proper mix of nutrients and let it determine how to use them. Trying to out guess your body with fad diets is a recipe (no pun intended) for injury or sickness.

  • More bodybuilders need to pick up cycling. I’ve been doing spin class three to four times per week for about eight months now. Night and day difference!

  • What do you think of lost a lot of fat using Fenoboci Diet Plan? I notice lots of people keep on talking about Fenoboci Diet Plan.

  • To get a HRmax just get a good HR monitor and run at about 80% speed for as long as you can. I’m saying nearly, because if you sprint at full speed you might tire yourself out after 100-200m and your HR might not have enough time to catch up. I’m 23 and got mine up to 198, and there was still some more energy left, so I feel it could go above 200, so the both formulas are underestimating for me.

  • Greg Doucette, man, I love your channel, but on this one I have to disagree at some of the details. There ist a fat burning zone. Every athlete has a fat pulse. Thats the heart rate at which he burns the highest amount of fat per hour. Not that this would be important for fatloss, but its important if you are training for aerobic endurance ad max mitochondrial adaptations. Which you need at top notch when you race for longer than an hour. Fat needs more oxygen than glucose to be used to make ATP. Your body will be able to burn fat only up to an individual point. This point is usually also genetically pre determined. Only the amount of fat it can use at certain ventilatory points will depend on your fitness. One exception is when you are in ketosis and train like that, your body will start to waste glycogen and be able to use fat at slightly higher intensities. You have a ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1) and a VT2. Vt1 is where your metabolism starts being not solely aerobic anymore. Usually around 65% of your VO2max. Your VT2 is around 88 to 90% of your VO2max. The fat pulse usually is slightly below VT1. So below 85% of your VO2max you will always burn fat in different quantities. Above VT1 the usage of fat drops quickly and somewhere in the middle between VT1 and VT2 (around 80 to 85% fo your VO2max) your body will stop burning fat completely. It will simply dont have enough time to use enough oxygen to burn fat. Above that point you rely solely on glucose and glycogen. As soon as you reach VT2, even glucose burning wont work anymore and you are left with muscle glycogen. Thats above your anaerobic threshold. Above your VT2. If you dont believe me, or before ranting on me, go and make a spiroergometry. You get a mask and depending on what you exhale, it can exactly be calculated how much fat and carbs you burn and how much calories at which intensities. Last time I checked I burned at my fat pulse 46 grams of fat per hour. At HR135. At 140 is my VT1. Above that it starts dropping. It was always at that point in the last 10 years I made spiros. Same with VT2. Does not change much. In my case around HR 162. You can see at the graphs you will get when your body stops using fat. Not just reducing it, but using ZERO FAT. In my case this happens between HR 146 and 155. A pace I could easily ride for an hour at a high wattage. So your an ride for an hour and use almost zero fat, just deplete glycogen and useing glucose. But you are right, that using heart rate can be unreliable due to clothing, conditions, HR draft, etc… Therefore it makes sense to make a Spiroergometry and use the VO2max and wattages to calculate training zones to know when you are burning the most fat and which power zone not to leave to keep burning fat if thats the purpose. It also makes sense to stay around VT1 if you have a high training volume. Many endurance athletes meanwhile train 90% of their time below VT1! This increases local adaptations in muscle. The other 10% of their training is above VT2. The reward to stress ratio you get in-between VT 1 and VT2 is not as high as above VT2. So modern athletes combine 90% volume at below VT1 and 10% High intensity and intervals above VT2. Its a 3 zone model in which you completely avoid the zone in the middle. Thats the race zone. Race pace itself. it generates high stress but does not lead to the cardio respiratory adaptations that training above VT2 leads ad its too fast for the local adaptations in muscle you get below VT1. Its just for showtime. Staying around or below VT1 makes a lot of sense. I would prefer the mitochondrial local adaptations in muscle and the increased fat burning and the low stress hands down compared to beat up my body in regular 1 hour power rides. Research Professor Seiler Polarised training. He has very good stuff about this 3 zone model. Scandinavian athletes were the first ones to use it systematically and it produces some real VO2max monsters.

  • Can you make a video about what bicycle you have and what’s ur average ride in km, time and average speed over the whole year

    My was 2000km 50 rides 40km average 24.5km/h avg on specialized roll comp x1 not bad for a cruiser!

  • Dr. Yo gets it.

    My story: Smoked 20 cigs daily for 28 years. BP was 145/90. Resting pulse 90-100 bpm. Weighed 210 when I quit smoking fives years ago. Weighed 240 this year in January. Too much beer and trash food. Started running twice weekly. Best 1.35 miles was 14 minutes and change. Was given “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll from my wife. It has changed my life. I too tried to train at 140bpm. I have worked my way down to 155bpm. Resting heart this morning was 59 bpm after two cups of coffee. Best mile yesterday in 35 years was 8:01. I now weigh 210 and am working toward 200#. You all can do this if you can find the sack for it. It tales saying and no to the right and wrong things. I turned 48 this year. This is all after SIX MONTHS of work.

  • So the bottom line is: Don’t focus on heart rate; focus on doing it at a pace where your not too sore at the end and hard enough where you get something out of it.

  • I’ve been using a Fitbit for the past 5 years which show 3 zones of HR (Fat Burn, Cardio & Peak). Although i haven’t given much importance to it and have stuck to measuring the Total Calories burnt to aid my Weight Loss, I would want to ask, wouldn’t it help to just train in the Fat Burn Zone exclusively, if weight loss is my primary goal? Also, am I right in assuming that one needs to spend significantly more time in Zone 2 (Fat Burn Zone) to burn as many calories when compared to a Zone 3 or 4 workout?

  • Okay question, I do prefatigue my self and it has been working out for me I’ve lost ALOT of fat and I’m in the best show of my life. The reason I do this Is because I absolutely love to train weights, so I do my cardio before because then I wanna do weights because I love it, but if I do weights then cardio I will not do the cardio because I would fatigue my self in weights then get lazy for the cardio and I won’t even be able to physically do it. Is this acceptable?

  • Hi Dr Yo,
    First I have to say excellent vid and nice clear zones info so I’m now a subscriber.

    Now not wanting to put you in the spot light so we all understand it’s just opinions, are there possible issues with exceeding theoretical max heart rates. Is it something I should avoid or possibly not really an issue?

    I used to cycle a couple of times a week relatively easy effort fat burn (60-70% 50 to 80km jaunts, but recently a much younger cycling pal has encouraged me to venture off road, which I am thoroughly enjoying. Although when getting back home and downloading the ride data I have found I am on occasions going over 160 bpm.

    I’m 69 and as I sit watching your vid I am registering a “resting” heart rate of 45/46 bpm

    So a penny for your thoughts.

  • but if I go on a slower pace I can last longer. for example I usually do 45 minutes but if I go at a faster pace I usually can only last 25 minutes.

  • Yeah, people are ridiculous. Every bro in the gym ask me about how I stay lean all year around prepared natural by the way, but whatever.. Anyway, they asked about my cardio and all this crazy stuff about cardio. I’m like, I walk briskly and focused 4 days a week for 45 minutes to an hour. That’s it. They don’t believe me and then I see them on the stairs sweating their ass off and then I see them at like a pizza place eating wings and french fries. again, nothing wrong with that but they are eating extra large fries and 40 wings.

  • What if I have a set distance? I hike a mountain path 5 days a week. It would take me longer to do at a slower pace obviously but wouldn’t I be more effectively burning fat calories?

  • Greg has been preaching ever since he started and now its popping up my recommendation

    Best types of cardio LISS MISS HISS, anything you can do for a while (30min)

  • Heart rate smart rate. I know a guy that cranked out 38 fifteen to 16 hour 120 mile non-stop professional marathon canoe racing contests(finishing those) defeating 20 to 35 year olds, and several of these he did in his 80’s. The guy is a pound/per/pound guy about 135 maybe 140 weight. This sport the AuSalbe River Canoe Marathon is a lifes experience that excells or compares to Tour De France cyclists. This guy Al Widing is a living heart vascular health phenomenon. Plug in AuSalble River Marathon sprints on YouTube to get a view of what this is about. The canoes themselves(2 man) look more like kyacks than canoes. At 18ft.-6inches lenght they can weigh as little as 24lbs. in TexTreme Carbon-Fiber.

  • This is fantastic. I’m currently on the way to losing weight for the military. The Air Force has really cracked down on making sure all members are fit as a fiddle. Thank you Dr. Yo.

  • By looking at the video it recommends high intensity interval training but what if a individual is obese or seriously overweight then what if he can’t do high intensity interval training because they are too physically unfit, may have a heart condition or have joint problems.

  • A dump question of a Morron like me! You allways say just count calories in and out, afiera the day when you are in déficit you loosing Wheight ok. But when the Body makes the cut of calorías in and out? At Níght? Or when the Body decide to loose fat or store fat? O hope you understand me! Help help

  • Great video, thanks. FYI, I’m 69, a cyclist and reasonably fit. I’ve set my heart rate maximum as 155. My resting rate is usually a little below 60. I train using a Garmin watch and bike unit, so I can make sure I’m training in a more structured way. Thanks again for your help.

  • For years, I’ve struggled to lose weight cycling. I ride around 2,700 miles in a good season. My weight only drops at the beginning of the season (when I’m pacing my heart). As soon as the season gets into full swing, it’s gung ho and weight loss comes to a screeching halt. Thanks for posting this! I’m officially going to slow down and just do more rides to get the miles in.

  • I’m going with 120 like the machine says. 1. All people should be cardiovascular fit. So they must watch the CNS hit that 80-90% TRUE max heart rate will take on them. 2. If someone is not cardiovascularly fit. Let’s be real this is most people. Then they should be careful and keep their heart rate at a moderate effort. To cash in on the new-be gains phenomena. Where cracking a sweet will have amazing benefits for an untrained person. IMHO����

  • I’m using a Polar watch with a chest strap. However, when warming up in zone 1&2 I can’t even jog at a normal tempo. My zone 3 warming up is going well, and training in 4&5 is also easy to do during my training. However, do you know why warming up in 1 and 2 is almost impossible for me? My heart rate is always overreaching zone 2 while my endurance is good (I thinks so) and sport a minimum of 5 times to week. Why can’t I warm up in 1 and 2 on a normal warm up pace?

  • Greg another great video thanks again.
    I’d like for you to do a review on s23 in the near future if you havn’t already. Particularly a s23/rad140/ostarine stack

  • hey greg i recently got my bloods done and my doctor told me my test level is 11 witch he consider good, my question is what actually would a score of 11 mean i forgot to ask him but i wasn’t thinking at the time

  • Got another for you… I have hypertension and have to take a BB ( beta blocker) which artificially lowers my heart zones. Doing cardio, doing muscle work, doing inclined climbing at 10%, Max I do is 80-110. I’m 39. Should I go talk to a coach and set up new heart zones? Training for 3 years non stop, 5x week. Used to train from 15-30, then kids…

  • another issue with this… trained athletes like CF athletes have a much higher tolerant level and it takes their body a LOT longer to realize its actually working out. ZONE training is only good for the average person, under running or walking as the RPE from one exercise to the next actually changes, leading to different energy systems utilized. Im surprised for this being a 2019 film/video that you completely missed the different energy systems other than “fat” and “glucose(not carb)” zones. You also failed to mention that HR zone training has been proven false by a TON of new studies since early 2000’s. Expert? Or just biased? hmmmmmm. If you are gonna claim something, cover the entire spectrum.

  • Really enjoyed this topic… and this vid couldn’t have come at a better time for me….
    I’ve been on a LCHF diet for 12 months, I have had digestive issues in the past and struggle to eat grains and sugar…. this diet has been a huge turning point for me, as I’m now, at 51, feeling healthier than I ever have since my 20s…..
    However, even though I’m definitely fat adapted, I really struggle with my more intense workouts…. I can run long and slow at my forever pace, well, forever…�� well, maybe not literally forever, but you know what I mean…. ��
    but when I start increasing the intensity, this is when I crash and burn, or what some call Bonk….lol
    After 3 mile of running hard, or race pace, or about half an hour into hard running, I lose energy…..I have to slow down….
    I’m now experimenting with trying different foods, either, the evening before or sometimes before my runs, but this is trickier, as I like to run early and fasted…… I’m also, thinking I may just need to eat more…. as being fat adapted means that I rarely feel hungry as I no longer have the sugar crashes that most people have 2-3 hours after eating…..
    Any advice would be great…..
    I have a jacket spud in the oven now, as I’m planning a tempo run tomorrow….. I’ve decided that, maybe, healthier more natural carbs would suit me better than sugary unhealthy carbs, although I’m quite partial to dark chocolate….����

  • I use TARGET KETOSIS. When I need explosive power I carbo-load the day before. Otherwise, I eat fat AND burn fat! It works. It does NOT work for EVERYBODY. Some days you go on without eating AND not even realising it.

  • You know i thought the heart rate thing was bunk i used to train with a guy who swore by it he would only walk i would jog stairclimb beavybag training needless to say i was in way better shape and condition thanks for the vids man keep giving real advice

  • For someone who works night shift, one week work en then one week free, i still try to workout, at the moment just cardio. Which zone is the best for the heart health? At the moment i try more zone 2 but i m little affraid for the zone 4 / 5.

  • I’m trying to find an app that notifies you when you switch heart rate zones the polar beat one I use doesn’t seem to do that. I want to know when I switch zones without having to keep looking at my phone. Any suggestions?

  • I want to hear about the actual performance increases with “fat adaptation”. There is a jump from “fat adapted” to performance and no numbers given. Also it seems that all this talk ignores the fact that carbs are taken in during the event and how this effects everything. I believe we have all gotten caught up in this because of marketing. People want to sell books, clinics and coaching and need a hook.
    Look at the real world and you will see incredible performances from people doing it all kinds of ways.

  • Unfortunately this isnt always true. The idea sounds simple. But there are so many other factors other than just calories in calories out. No one know exactly if you are in a deficit or not for certain. And then there is all the medical factors involved from gut to brain.

  • Do fat burning zones exist? (yes, aerobic). Do they make a difference? Not really, if you are not already in ketosis. Why not? how long you stay in zone2 when you run or race?:)