fat burning zone/cardio zone?

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mooguru1
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fat burning zone/cardio zone?

#1 Postby mooguru1 » Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:50 pm

I heard someone yesterday saying that if you stay within the "fat burning" heart rate zone, then you are actually burning you body fat........and when you are in the "cardio training" heart rate zone, you are burning up your blood fat, or fat that you may have eaten before you worked out.........what I don't understand is the your heart rate is lower in the "fat burning" zone then the "cardio training" zone.........in the cardio, wouldn't you be doing both? Is this whole heart rate thing accurate? Anyone able to explain this? Thanks!!!!

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#2 Postby 9nines » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:30 am

First, I am not educated in this field, so below is based on my studies born from personal interest only. Also, teh analysis below might be a little superficial but I am fairly certain the outcome is correct. Oxygen intake has an impact on the different fuel mixture but I have gained no understanding or knowledge in that area.

You can think of it as a fuel mixture (blood sugar, stored fat and muscle.) Your body burns all as fuel but at different percentages depending on activity.

For example, you always burn blood sugar and stored fat during cardiovascular exercise. The percentage of each changes at different hear rate levels. From studies I have read the so-called 'fat burning zone' is burning around 50% of sugar and 50% of stored fat (below and above that hear rate the percentage of sugar is higher than the percentage of stored fat.)

At lower rates, the body is not using much fuel and utilizes more sugar in blood, as that is the normal energy sources and the body is in normal mode at these lower hear rate exercises. The 'fat burning zone' plateaus that to utilize both fairly equally. As you exceed the 'fat burning' heart rate range, the fuel need demands of your body increase rapidly (everything is accelerated) and the percentage of sugar burning goes up fairly high, as that is the most efficient fuel (I assume burning stored fat goes down because it is inefficient and can not keep up with body needs at this point - this is only my guess.)

Warning on muscle building: This (much higher heart rate exercising - above 'fat burning zone') is also shown to be detrimental to muscle growth because high heart rate exercises deplete carbohydrate stores (most dense pool in your liver and smaller amounts around all muscles) more quickly. Once depleted, the body will increase the burning of its own muscle for fuel (lose muscle mass.)

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#3 Postby 9nines » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:29 am

Added: you will burn more stored fat at higher intensity (higher hear rate) but will burn much more sugar. This risk of burning much more sugar is depleting your sugar store, in which case you will burn muscle. A likely solution to mitigate muscle burning is consuming simple sugars (sports drink, fruit juice) while exercising.

For example, say you are going to exercise at a fairly high heart rate (150+) for 30 minutes. Using estimates on most machines, you might find you are burning 1000 to 1200 calories an hour. So you might burn 600 calories during that thirty minutes. 400 might be sugar (and muscle if you deplete sugar stores.) So drink maybe 200 calories of fruit juice or sports drink as you exercise for the first 15 minutes (sip it during those minutes.) That should give your body enough sugar so you do not burn muscle and you still burn a net 400 calories. That will likely lead to more fat burned during that thirty minutes than if you stayed in the fat zone with no sugar drink.

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#4 Postby mooguru1 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:05 pm

Wow, thanks for all the info! This is exactly what I was looking for! So, if I plan on burning the max amount of stored fat durning my cardio session, I must keep a decent sugar supply to energize my body so it won't burn my muscle. Now, when you do run out of blood sugar, does your body start burning stored bf or does it go for the muscle?

I was just reading that your body does burn more calories when you are doing a less intense workout, aka. fat burning zone........but when you go above that to the cardio zone then you beging to burn more calories, which, I guess is the ultimate goal. I do like the idea of sipping a light sugar drink during cardio so that my energy suppyly doesn't run dry! So Thanks for the info 9nines!!

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#5 Postby 9nines » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:56 pm

mooguru1 wrote:
I was just reading that your body does burn more calories when you are doing a less intense workout, aka. fat burning zone........but when you go above that to the cardio zone then you beging to burn more calories, which, I guess is the ultimate goal. I do like the idea of sipping a light sugar drink during cardio so that my energy suppyly doesn't run dry! So Thanks for the info 9nines!!

Bianca


Clarification: A higher intensity will burn more calories but a lower percentage will be from stored fat - you still will probably burn more stored fat.

For example:

At moderate intensity and a heart rate of 125, you might be burning 600 calories an hour and 50% are from stored fat and 50% from sugar. At around 150 heart beats per minute, you might be burning 70% sugar and 30% fat but burning a total of 1200 calories per hour. In the latter case, your percentage of total calories burned as fat is lower but you are still burning more fat. The risk now is you are depleting your sugar faster and if you deplete it, you will probably burn muscle for fuel. Drinking some quickly digested sugar (fruit juice, sports drink) during the exercise will help mitigate running out of sugar.

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#6 Postby sionkali » Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:09 pm

Hmmmm...now I'm totally confused; I shouldn't be keeping my heart rate so high while doing cardio (usually between 157-177; I have a high resting heart rate)? Does that mean my projected range is not correct? I've also been told not to drink sugary sports drinks while working out because of the number of calories it adds, so I've always just stuck to water - is this idea wrong too?

I'm sorry if there's an obvious answer to these questions - gym stuff has me all flustered and confused lately, so I'm probably more likely to ask the "stupid/obvious" questions.

Any help would really be appreciated; I have no idea what I should be doing when it comes to the gym anymore.

Thanks in advance.

Jen :?

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#7 Postby mooguru1 » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:45 am

sionkali wrote:Hmmmm...now I'm totally confused; I shouldn't be keeping my heart rate so high while doing cardio (usually between 157-177; I have a high resting heart rate)? Does that mean my projected range is not correct? I've also been told not to drink sugary sports drinks while working out because of the number of calories it adds, so I've always just stuck to water - is this idea wrong too?

I'm sorry if there's an obvious answer to these questions - gym stuff has me all flustered and confused lately, so I'm probably more likely to ask the "stupid/obvious" questions.

Any help would really be appreciated; I have no idea what I should be doing when it comes to the gym anymore.

Thanks in advance.

Jen :?




I would like to know about this stuff too...good question!
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#8 Postby 9nines » Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:53 am

sionkali wrote:Hmmmm...now I'm totally confused; I shouldn't be keeping my heart rate so high while doing cardio (usually between 157-177; I have a high resting heart rate)? Does that mean my projected range is not correct? I've also been told not to drink sugary sports drinks while working out because of the number of calories it adds, so I've always just stuck to water - is this idea wrong too?

I'm sorry if there's an obvious answer to these questions - gym stuff has me all flustered and confused lately, so I'm probably more likely to ask the "stupid/obvious" questions.

Any help would really be appreciated; I have no idea what I should be doing when it comes to the gym anymore.

Thanks in advance.

Jen :?


There are different schools of thought. One, keep in "fat burning phase" of 120-130 or the other, HIIT (high intensity interval training) where you go from low rates to high rate intervals. Many swear by HIIT and it is growing in practice. I am trying it but not sure if I can describe the routine well (I do intervals on an elliptical from 130 to 152 to 170 but the 170 is not that tiring so not sure if that is HIIT.) You can search for HIIT to find many sources, on it.

On drinking sugary sports drink: that is my own practice to mitigate muscle burning. I also like to exercise at high heart rates and since the science indicates that exercise burns a higher percentage of total fuel as carbohydrates (then muscle if your body depletes the sugar), I want to make sure that I do not run out. I have no weight problem, so I might be over looking weight gain as a concern but even someone wanting to lose stored fat mass, would likely not want to lose muscle mass. Also, I have read numerous reports that advise that highly active people should be more concerned with having enough carbohydrates rather than restricting them. Also, most distance runners take sugary foods, while running.

But I would not drink more sugar than you plan to burn. For example, if you use a machine that calculates your calorie burn, drink a sports drink giving you 25 to 30% of that total, maybe. That is what I tend to do. For example, I will drink 130 calories of Gatorade, while doing an exercise, that the machine has estimated is burning 500 to 600 calories.

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#9 Postby Matt » Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:56 am

9nines is essentially correct in all he says, with the possible exception of "taking in no more sugar than you plan to burn". From personal experience as an endurance cyclist, this never worked for me and it's very hard to tell how much you really need. It's always good to go over, IMO. Fat also burns in the fire of carbohydrate, and you also need it to recover.

The only other thing I'd like to add (if it hasn't been said before) is that burning fat only (in the 60-70% max heart rate range) has advantages because you aren't breaking down the muscles as much as you are when you get closer to your anaerobic threshold (about 85-90% max heart rate). What this means is that you are burning fat only and your body isn't inclined to have to rebuild which means faster recovery (which makes sense anyway as the intensity is lower). Additionally, going at a higher heart rate will burn more calories, but it cannot be sustained nearly as long, so you can go hours burning fat whereas you can only do minutes at higher intensities.

Additionally (and probably most importantly to endurance athletes), training longer at lower, fat-burning heart rates consistently over time creates more mitochondria in your cells and trains the muscles to burn fat rather than carbohydrate which means longer efforts at lower heart rates and overall sustained endurance.
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#10 Postby sionkali » Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:00 pm

Matt wrote:9nines is essentially correct in all he says, with the possible exception of "taking in no more sugar than you plan to burn". From personal experience as an endurance cyclist, this never worked for me and it's very hard to tell how much you really need. It's always good to go over, IMO. Fat also burns in the fire of carbohydrate, and you also need it to recover.

The only other thing I'd like to add (if it hasn't been said before) is that burning fat only (in the 60-70% max heart rate range) has advantages because you aren't breaking down the muscles as much as you are when you get closer to your anaerobic threshold (about 85-90% max heart rate). What this means is that you are burning fat only and your body isn't inclined to have to rebuild which means faster recovery (which makes sense anyway as the intensity is lower). Additionally, going at a higher heart rate will burn more calories, but it cannot be sustained nearly as long, so you can go hours burning fat whereas you can only do minutes at higher intensities.

Additionally (and probably most importantly to endurance athletes), training longer at lower, fat-burning heart rates consistently over time creates more mitochondria in your cells and trains the muscles to burn fat rather than carbohydrate which means longer efforts at lower heart rates and overall sustained endurance.


Interesting...I'm beginning to think that most everything I've learned in the past about cardio excercise has been either a bit misunderstood or a bit off entirely.

Just to make sure I understand correctly, I'll ask - what exactly should I be doing if I'm going to do cardio to burn fat more efficiently? I like doing the elliptical trainer (good on my toe, which I broke recently), so let's use that as an example of what I would be doing regularly - instead of getting my heart rate relatively high for a given period of time (like they told me to do) I should be excercising at 60%-70% of my maximum heart rate (is that the maximum they told me when they gave me a range I should be shooting for?) for a specified amount of time (let's say 30-45 minutes) at least every day.

I would guess that this would still give me the cardiovascular benefit as well as the fat burning benefit (my resting heart rate is higher than I would like, so I need to work on getting it down).

If anything is confusing let me know and I'll be more than happy to clarify. Excercise has gotten me so frustrated lately, I have no clue what I should or shouldn't be doing. After 12+ weeks of going to the gym at least 3 times a week I have yet to lose a single pound and I think my measurements have actually gone up a smidge; I think I've gained about 4 or 5 pounds total (which isn't a lot, I guess, but it's still a gain instead of a loss).

Also, about the sugary drink to use during the first part of a workout (which is something I've never heard of, but might consider trying) - what would be recommended to use?

Thanks to anyone who offers information!! Anything at all is greatly appreciated!!

Jen :)

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#11 Postby Matt » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:18 am

Hi Jen,

Any number of common exercises are good for that lower intensity training. Brisk walking is good, slow running or jogging, cycling without intense effort, stationary bike, and others, including the elliptical training at light to moderate effort. As with any fitness, heart rate training zones are relative and based on your current fitness level. Since maximum heart rates generally increase as one reaches a higher level of fitness (and resting heart rates decrease), this zone can vary per individual. My maximum heart rate right now is about 200 beats per minute, so 60-70% puts me around 120-140 bpm for the optimal fat-burning zone.

The best way to really know you are in that heart rate zone is to purchase a heart rate monitor. You'll need to determine your maximum heart rate by doing a progressively more intense workout in an effort to reach your maximum. (I wouldn't rely on the "220 minus your age" or any other standardized formula; you should determine what your heart rate is yourself.) Heart rate monitors are so inexpensive and prolific now that I recommend them to anyone doing any kind of endurance sports training who wants to improve. The nice thing about them is that you can set alarms and track your progress on a computer for most of them. Polar has a whole mess of HR monitors, and they have been a standard for athletes for a while, though there are many more now on the market:

http://www.polarusa.com/

Personally, I think heart rate monitors are an excellent investment--even the low-end ones. However, if getting a heart rate monitor is out of the question, a loose guideline is that 60-70% of your maximum heart rate is the point at which it becomes difficult to talk with someone (or yourself) because you are putting in enough effort to have to breath a bit more than normal. This is just an anecdotal guideline, and not scientific of course. But it gives an indirect measure that you are in that fat-burning zone when your body is trying to get a little more oxygen.

Also, my background is in endurance sports (cycling and running), so I'm speaking from this viewpoint, though it applies to anyone who wants to train the body to burn fat, including bodybuilders.

As far as the drink, I would pick a general (vegan) electrolyte replacement drink. There are plenty of sports drinks out there, but I'd avoid any that have high-fructose corn syrup as a base, so what I mean here are the general "sports drinks" you find in the supermarket that are advertised as sports drinks or fitness water but are really just a cheap corn syrup base with no real nutritional value. Lack of hydration and loss of electrolytes have been shown to decrease performance, so it's important to maintain the levels during exercise as well as you can. An excellent, vegan-friendly electrolyte drink I recommend is:

http://www.clifbar.com/eat/shot_drink.c ... =shotdrink

(Beware the recovery drink from Clif, though. It contains whey protein and as such cannot be considered vegan.)

Good luck!
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#12 Postby crashnburn » Sat May 13, 2006 6:58 pm

The only other thing I'd like to add (if it hasn't been said before) is that burning fat only (in the 60-70% max heart rate range) has advantages because you aren't breaking down the muscles as much as you are when you get closer to your anaerobic threshold (about 85-90% max heart rate). What this means is that you are burning fat only and your body isn't inclined to have to rebuild which means faster recovery (which makes sense anyway as the intensity is lower). Additionally, going at a higher heart rate will burn more calories, but it cannot be sustained nearly as long, so you can go hours burning fat whereas you can only do minutes at higher intensities.


So whats a good way to determine ones HIGH/MAX point in terms of Heart Rate for calculation of the Fat Burning Zone?

Should we try a few diff things over diff days and average it out?

I'd like to know some good steps I could use.

Also, I am guessing this RANGE will change as one becomes more and more active and the resting as well as Max rate change? Do they change.. and how much?

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#13 Postby crashnburn » Mon May 15, 2006 8:11 pm

I am planning to get one of those Heart Rate meters to check.

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#14 Postby Matt » Wed May 17, 2006 12:19 am

Here's a link with a pretty darn good explanation and detail about finding your max heart rate. I always try to run or bike 30 minutes with at least a couple longer efforts during that time until I reach my max, then take my max rate on the heart rate monitor.

http://www.howtobefit.com/determine-max ... t-rate.htm
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#15 Postby crashnburn » Thu May 18, 2006 6:24 pm

I am buying one of those Polar F6 HRMs. Time to fix me-self.


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