What is the “Fat Burning Zone”?

What is the “Fat Burning Zone”?

by Posted on: June 6, 2012Categories: LiveWell 24/7   

Have you ever heard someone say, “You need to get into the fat-burning zone to achieve weight loss?” Well, let’s discuss what the Fat Burning Zone is!

Your “fat burning zone” is when your heart rate is between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.

While lower intensity workouts are great for building endurance, they aren’t always the best choice if your goal is to lose weight and burn fat.

The Truth

The body does burn a higher percentage of calories from fat in the fat burning zone or at lower intensities. However, at higher intensities (70-90% of your maximum heart rate), you burn a greater number of overall calories, which is what matters when it comes to losing weight. The chart below details the fat calories expended by a 130-pound woman during cardio exercise:

Low Intensity – 60-65%   MHR

High Intensity – 80-85%   MHR

Total Calories expended   per min.



Fat Calories expended   per min.



Total Calories expended   in 30 min.



Total Fat calories   expended in 30 min.



Percentage of fat   calories burned



Source: From The 24/5 Complete Personal Training Manual, 24 Hour Fitness, 2000

Don’t get me wrong, endurance workouts should be a staple of a complete fitness program along with shorter, higher intensity workouts or interval workouts, which are a great way to burn calories and build endurance. To figure out your own target heart rate, you can use an online calculator to compute it or use the steps below.

How to Find Your Target Heart Rate (THR)

Your first step is to find your resting heart rate (RHR) which is a measure of your basic fitness level.

Before you get out of bed in the morning, take your pulse for 1 full minute, counting each heart beat to find your beats per minute (bpm). To take your pulse, use one of the following methods:

  1. Place your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, then slide your fingers down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly.
  2. Place your index and middle fingers over the outside of your opposite wrist, just below the base of your thumb.

For a more accurate measurement, take your pulse for 3 mornings and take an average. A normal RHR for adults is between 60-100, although exercisers and athletes may have lower RHR (the lower it is, the more fit you are). If your RHR is over 100, you should call your doctor to get checked out.



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