Exercise! - question about the "fat loss" program on my treadmill and elliptical

I Heart Diet Coke
07-29-2008, 02:11 PM
So at my gym on both my elliptical and treadmill they have a program for "fat loss" or "weight loss" I usually pick this program because that's what I'm looking for... the fastest way to lose actual fat.

The thing is as with all programs like this it is based on heart rate. Now being a erm large girl my heart rate goes high fast and stays there. and I end up going very very slow on the treadmill because of that.

So my question is... is that program really the best way to go. Should I focus on hitting my target heart rate or should I just go as fast as I can handle and trust that even if I'm in the "cardio" zone I'll still lose the most fat the quickest.

Fat Chick B Gone
07-29-2008, 02:33 PM
If you're in the cardio zone (be careful not to go too high) you're going to burn more calories total therefore creating more weight loss. There are several that believe intervals are the way to go - in cardio for xx amount of time then "fat burn" zone for xx amount of time and switching back and forth. I find this works well for me but I definitely don't hover around the fat zone only or like you said it's crazy slow.

07-29-2008, 02:39 PM
Well there are a couple issues
1) Heart rate monitors on machines are notoriously bad unless you wear a chest strap instead of it being taking via your hands. Your heart rate is probably actually a bit lower than the machine is reporting.

2) There is some scientific evidence that your body burns a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities.

Now with #2, it would actually seem that it is better to work out at a low intensity but the reality is that also means you are burning a higher percentage of fat sitting on your couch versus walking. So even though at lower intensities, your calorie burn is a higher percentage of fat, you burn more total fat at higher intensity.

There is also evidence that you burn even more fat by varying your intensity through HIIT (High intensity interval training). So if your goal is to burn more fat, go for HIIT.

07-29-2008, 02:42 PM
In my experience and opinion, all that "fat burning zone" stuff does nothing.

Moving faster/working harder = burning more calories. Even if the calories you're burning aren't coming instantly from fat, as they do in low intensity exercise, they're still calories you're burning.

Basically, the idea behind the "Fat burning" zone is that, when working at lower intensities, the fuel used to move your body forward is coming from your fat cells. Only at low intensities can your body convert fat cells to energy usable by your body fast enough. For purposes of making this discussion easier, lets assume that your body can only convert 100 calories worth of energy from fat an hour. If you're only burning 100 calories per hour with your exercise (ie, you're in the "fat burning" zone), all of your calories being burned are coming from fat.

So what happens when you are working at a higher intensity, say, burning 400 calories per hour? You'll still have the 100 calories per hour you can convert from fat, but you're burning an additional 300 calories on top of that. Those calories can't come directly from fat...they'll come from foods you've eaten, fuel stored in your muscles, etc. WHILE YOU EXERCISE, only 25% of what you burn is coming from your body fat.

HOWEVER, that means that later, your body is going to have to replenish your non-fat fuel (the fuel in your muscles, your blood sugar, etc) from somewhere. And it will pull from your fat stores and what you're eating that day to do that. So even if you're not pulling from your fat stores during the actual exercise, you're still either burning the food you're eating (thus preventing it from being placed into your fat stores) or fuel stored in your muscles (which is then being replenished from the food you're eating and your fat stores).

So your choices are - burn 100 calories, all from fat all at once, or burn 400 calories, 100 of which from fat immediately, and 300 of which will be pulled from your food or fat stores later. I'll pick the 400 calories every time.

I Heart Diet Coke
07-29-2008, 07:30 PM
awesome.... thank you :)