The Truth About Fat Burning Exercise

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It seems like more and more sports these days claim to be especially good at burning fat. On the surface, this might sound good! After all, while the main goal of exercise should be to improve your overall health and feel good, many people certainly don't mind the effect it has on body composition. But just because something is labeled a "fat burner" doesn't necessarily mean it'll reduce your belly -- or that burning fat should be your goal.

What does it mean to burn fat?
In order to understand all this, you first need to know that your body relies on two main sources of energy: carbohydrates and fat. At any point in time, your body uses both, but as your activity level increases, the ratio changes.

"At rest, 70 to 80 percent of your energy comes from fat," says Chris Brin, a certified exercise physiologist, USA Triathlon coach and founder of Aria Endurance Coaches. "As you start increasing your activity level, more and more energy comes from carbohydrates."

That's why low-intensity exercise is often labeled as fat-burning. But that's not the whole story.

"It's true that periods of low-intensity exercise change your body's ability to metabolize fat," said Dr. Mike Young, performance director of the lab's Center for Athletic Performance Training. "There is also some evidence that you You can train your body to burn fat more efficiently for energy and radically change preferences."

another part of the equation
If losing weight without sweating sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. "It's not black and white," Brin said. "Yes, when you exercise at a lower intensity, you may burn a higher percentage of fat, but you also burn fewer calories. That's also important."

Another thing to keep in mind: It's not just the calories burned during actual exercise that matter. "High-intensity activity creates more oxygen consumption after exercise, which can help you burn a lot of fat," Yang said.

So if one person goes out for an hour of easy walking and the other does 12 minutes of high-intensity interval training, the two people will probably burn the same amount of calories during the actual exercise. But over the next 24 to 48 hours, people who did high-intensity interval exercise experienced a higher calorie-burning effect.

"You can bike for eight hours at a low intensity to burn fat, but most people don't do that," Brin said. "That's why we say the best fat-loss exercise the average person can do is a short-term high-intensity exercise. Train. You'll get the most bang for your buck."

Ready to step up the intensity?
To take advantage of your body's natural desire to burn fat, you need to do some high-intensity exercise throughout the week. Here are a few ways to do this:

Tianwan training
This classic interval workout has you working as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then resting for 10 seconds. Then, repeat eight times so that the entire series takes about four minutes. Do three different movements, like squats, hill climbs, and Bobby, for 12 minutes.

Interval run
Young is advised to run three to five minutes faster than usual (trying to reach 85% of his maximum heart rate) and then rest on his own for two minutes. Repeat four or five times.

Go to the track at your local high school and sprint 50 meters as fast as you can. Give yourself time to fully recover, then repeat five times in total.