A little while ago I wrote about the myth of the fat burning zone – the idea that moderate exercise is the best way to burn fat.
This myth led to every piece of cardio equipment at the gym being given a misleading fat burning program or fat burning zone workout.
You think you’re doing well – 30 minutes “burning fat” – when really you’d be better getting on your treadmill and doing interval training for the same period (and you’d continue burning fat after your workout).
The myth arose because you burn proportionately more fat when you exercise at a moderate pace than you do when your workout is more intense – so a bigger percentage of the calories used come from fat.
You just tend to forget that you use fewer calories overall!
Anyway, I read today in Personal Trainer Cliff Lathams‘ newsletter something even more interesting about fat burning. He says
“I have news for you. You burn a higher ratio of fat to carbohydrate during complete rest. Therefore, sleeping would burn the most fat off your body. And you don’t really think that sleeping in on Saturday morning helps you reach your goals do you?”
Mmmh – think about that next time you step on your treadmill and choose your workout program.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read and heard that you are better to do moderate exercise if you want to burn fat – and exercise for at least 30 minutes to start burning it. I think I even believed it myself at one time I heard it so often.
It’s true of course that all exercise is good for fat burning – a calorie burned is a calorie burned after all (although you are probably not burning as many as you think – so no, you can’t have that Snickers Bar after the gym, no matter how hard you think you worked, without making your visit pretty much a waste of time as far as calorie burning goes).
Anyway I digress.
The truth is that you will burn a lot more calories (and in the end shed more fat) if you vary the intensity of exercise during your session rather than sticking to a moderate pace the whole time.
So for example, you would go at a moderate pace for 3 minutes and then go as fast as you can for 3 minutes before returning to your moderate pace for 3 minutes – essentially alternating moderate and fast pace for the duration of your session a.k.a. interval training
The advantages to this:-
- you are working harder for half your session and so directly burning more calories
- you will be working wonders for your level of cardio fitness – interval training is one of the best ways of getting fit fast
- you get an added calorie-burning boost AFTER your workout. Research shows that you burn 25 per cent as many calories in the hour after your interval training session as you do during it. So, that means if you burn 400 calories during your session – you’ll burn an extra 100 calories in the following hour while you sit with your feet up! Why? It seems the body has to make more effort to get back to normal after intense exercise.
If you feel a bit distraught at the idea of all that intense exercise, don’t let it put you off working out altogether. Remember some exercise is ALWAYS better than none and if you are doing anything at all then good on ya!