Get in The Real Zone
Get a little How To to stay in the ZONE
Are you in the Zone
Your metabolism is a function of the amount of muscle that you have. The only tissue in the body that burns fat is muscle tissue. Unfortunately, aerobic exercise does not help you to build or maintain the muscle tissue required to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Your metabolic rate stays elevated following exercise and the majority of the calories expended while your body recovers, come from fat. Following light aerobic exercise, it may take minutes for your metabolic rate to recover but following more intense anaerobic exercise it may take several hours. This is known as exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC accounts for a substantial amount of caloric expenditure and fat burning.
You have probably heard that doing low-intensity, long duration cardio exercise in your fat-burning zone is good for losing weight and raising your metabolism. However, the idea of the fat burning zone is widely misunderstood. What needs to be understood about the fat burning zone is that when you engage in low-intensity, long duration cardio exercise, a high percentage of calories expended comes from fat. Fat loss is about overall caloric expenditure. Therefore, just because a greater percentage of fat calories has been expended doing endurance activities does not mean you burn more calories. In fact, you will burn more total calories and quite possibly more total fat calories by doing short, intense bouts of cardio exercise.
A 132-pound woman jogging for 30 minutes at 60-65% of her max heart rate (fat burning zone) can burn 390 calories. One hundred and ninety-five of those calories would come from fat. However, that same 132-pound woman doing sprints for 30 minutes at 80-85% of her max heart rate could burn 570 calories and 228 of those calories would come from fat. Granted when the woman stays in her fat burning zone, 50% of her caloric expenditure comes from fat, but when she works out at the higher intensity levels her overall caloric expenditure is greater and so is the number of fat calories burned.
If you really want to turn up the heat of your fat-burning furnace, increase the intensity of your cardio workouts. Instead of doing so much endurance training, try more interval training. Interval training with more short, intense bouts of cardio exercise will challenge your muscles to not only maintain their strength, but increase their fat-burning capacity which will only help you shed pounds of weight, and keep it off.