Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Truth About Burning Fat

There are three main components of an effective weight loss program: Proper diet, effective weight training and a complete cardiovascular program. You can find hundreds of books on diets and weight loss plans in any bookstore, there will also be dozens of books on weight training, and a trip to a health club will reveal how each trainer has their own theory on what is "best for you." However, whether your goal is to lose weight or simply get into better shape, few books in the mainstream media provide information about proper cardiovascular training.

This article will address the myths of those “fat burning zones” and help one design a cardiovascular program for their needs.

• Myths about the “Fat burning zone”
• How to increase your metabolism

What is the "fat burning zone?" It's the time when your body is mainly using fat as fuel. This can be determined using a metabolic cart to measure an individual’s respiratory exchange ratio-RER. This is simply the amount carbon dioxide (CO2 ) you expire divided by the oxygen (O2 ) you inhale while you breathe. Your body uses the highest percent of its fuel from fat when the body has a RER of .71. So, you ask, if your body wants to use a high percent of its fuel from fat when you are at .71 RER, why wouldn’t you want to exercise at this level all the time? Because the only time your body can be at .71 RER is at complete rest. This is where the fat burning zone breaks down because you are not burning very many calories. As you increase your activity level, your RER will rise. In what some fitness professionals call your “fat burning zone” would be somewhere between an RER of .80-.90, and you could still be using some fat as a fuel but you are now doing moderate exercise such as a fast walk or light jog. More importantly, you are now also burning a fair amount of calories. ). This is a great zone to start in and to improve one’s blood’s capability to deliver oxygen throughout the body and remove waste. When you exercise regularly, your body increases its output of blood and your blood volume increases – this allows more blood to get to the cells. The result is a greater flow of oxygen to a greater number of cells throughout the body, thus helping the cells work to their capacity and allowing the heart to become stronger. Even though many people know this as the “fat burning zone,” we will refer to it as zone one, more of a "recovery zone" – which it truly is.

The problem with using only one zone is that you will hit a plateau and not be able to increase your fitness level. As a result, your weight will remain the same.

Many people who exercise or do what they think is a high-intensity workout every time they use a piece of fitness equipment or attend an aerobic class. These people are usually at an RER of around 1.0, which we will refer to this as zone two. This is near your anaerobic threshold – when your body can no longer produce enough energy for the muscles with just your oxygen intake. Unlike zone one which is aerobic training, or the presence of oxygen.

The higher the intensity you train and still stay aerobic will result in more calories burned with a high percent of the calories coming from fat. That is why one of the main goals of cardiovascular training is to increase your anaerobic threshold. Anaerobic threshold is also when your body starts to produce the lactic acid you feel in the muscle and your body can no longer remove all of it. The collection of the extra lactic acid is what you feel at the end of your interval or workout.

Exercising at what would be an RER of 1.0 is utilizing nearly all carbohydrates for fuel. These people are burning more calories during exercise. Because this is the most important issue, these people are on the right track. The bottom line in winning the weight loss game is that you have to burn more calories than you consume. But staying in zone two all the time will also cause you to hit a plateau. We see it all the time – people doing six, seven and eight exercise sessions a week without losing any weight. The reason is simple: To improve your fitness level or increase your metabolism, you must overload the body. If you do the same level of exercise during every workout, your body will never recover enough to do an overload workout and will also never do a true "high intensity" workout. A true high intensity workout would be going to a RER of 1.1, or a sub-max VO2 for short sprints. This is called "overloading," and it means taking someone to their peak (zone three) for 30 to 60 seconds before recovering in zone one and going back to zone three.

Studies show that training at high intensity once a week or three times a week both have the same cardiovascular conditioning benefits. If weight loss is your goal, then you might exercise in zone three more often to help burn more calories and raise your metabolism.

The most important benefit of interval training is an increase in the metabolism. The truth about burning fat is not how much you burn when you exercise, but what your body is doing the rest of the day. Studies have shown that interval type exercising raises your metabolism after a workout, and keeps it up longer than any "steady state" workout. Steady state training or exercise refers to any exercise that stays at the same workload for a long period of time such as an easy run or bike ride.

Benefits of True interval training:

1. Burns more calories
2. The possibility of burning more fats calories
3. Increases motivation
4. Increased energy levels
5. Increases endurance
6. Increases metabolism

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