HR for Peak Fat-Burn?
The most frequent question I was asked daily when walking the gym floor ‘what is the best exercise for weight loss?’. The answer to this question is there isn’t one specific exercise that’s best, its all about your energy systems… let me explain. When demand is placed on the body, certain chemical and biochemical reactions take place to keep the body fuelled, working and able to cope with the stress put upon it. The energy required comes from either Carbohydrate stored in the muscles and liver, Fat stored around the body, Alcohol if in the blood stream, and Protein if your body is not adapted to fat-burn mode (this will downregulate when the body becomes more fat-adapted). To picture how the body uses these energy sources imagine a fire. The alcohol is the firelighter and will always burn first if in the system (hence why alcohol consumption can limit fat burn). Carbs are the kindling, helping to quickly spark and ramp up the fire used quickly when there is demand for them. Fat Is the long-term burner for the fire, the long-term fuel. Stable and steady providing constant heat and long-lasting fuel. The natural state of the body loves to run on fat … your brain is one big ball of fat! I haven’t included protein in this picture, as we want protein to be spared and used only for building and growth around the body. When your body is truly fat-adapted protein will not be prioritised as a fuel.
Now the optimal point to reach your highest fat-burning state lands within a heart rate equation. Heart rate is an easy and quantifiable tool to measure the demand placed on the body. To calculate the optimal heart rate for fat burn take your age away from 180, or 180 – (age) = Target heart rate. This is known as your aerobic threshold. Above this number and the body likes to burn away carbs instead of stored fat. This is a sliding scale… it doesn’t mean the minute we go above this heart rate the body stops burning body-fat, it just means that carbs will be the preferred choice of fuel. So if you’re looking for the exercise to burn the most body-fat during your session, aim for your aerobic threshold. This could be when out for a brisk walk, cycling, on CV equipment in the gym, or for some it may be some light running at moderate intensity. But remember, high intensity exercises also offer fat-burning benefits way beyond just that within the session, but I’ll cover that another day! Move a lot at a slow pace, and occasionally at max effort!
Struggling with your fat-loss goals? Book in a free kick-start call and I’ll help you find your biggest fat-loss stumbling block!
In health, Joe