Why does it seem as though that any extra calories go straight to your thighs or belly? Unfortunately, this is normal. Thanks to age, genes, hormones, and lifestyle, that’s where your body will naturally store extra calories as fat. Here’s some ways to burn fat through exercise.
How Your Body Burns Fat
It helps to understand how your body uses the food you eat for fuel, and how it stores extra fuel as fat, to also understand how to get rid of that fat. Normally, you’d like to convert extra fat to fuel, thinking you’ll loose that extra fat if you use more of it. But, using fat doesn’t mean you loose more fat.
There are three types of food your body uses – carbohydrates, protein, ad fat. A little bit of protein is used during exercise, but it’s normally used to repair and build muscles after your workout. When you do a lot of cardio or other high-intensity exercise, your body needs fuel – now! So, you’ll burn carbs, as that’s an easy fuel source for your body to utilize quickly. But slow, long exercise workouts cause your body to burn fat first. Think of it like this – if you’ve got a campfire burning, you can get a big flash by pouring gasoline on it. But it’ll go out quickly as gasoline burns quickly. Carbs are like gasoline. But putting extra wood on the fire can keep the fire going for hours – that wood is like fat.
But if the fire is burning a certain amount of fuel, it doesn’t matter what it’s burning if the amount of fuel is the same. And, when you exercise, just because you’re using more fat as energy doesn’t mean you’re burning more calories.
How The Fat Burning Zone Doesn’t Work
You’ve probably seen a setting for fat burning on cardio equipment programs. Well, that doesn’t always work that well. Although working out at a lower intensity will burn more fat than carbs for energy (i.e. working out at 55 to 65% of your max heart rate), just burning calories from fat isn’t the simple answer to fat loss. You still need to burn more carbohydrates than you are taking in per day. And that means working out at higher intensities.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid low-intensity exercise if you want to burn more fat. There are some specific things you can do to burn more fat and it all starts with how and how much you exercise.
Vary Your Workouts
So slow & low intensity isn’t the key, nor is high intensity exercise. But then again, both seem to be. What’s the right answer? The right answer is variety. You need to burn off that fat With a Mix of Low, Medium, and High-Intensity Cardio Exercise.
After all, you can burn more calories and, even better, you don’t have to spend as much time doing it. But having some variety can help you stimulate all of your different energy systems, protect you from overuse injuries, and help you enjoy your workouts more.
So, for your high intensity cardio, you’ll want to work out between 80-90% of your max heart rate. That high-intensity training work can be helpful for weight loss as well as improving endurance and aerobic capacity. And, if you’re doing several days of cardio each week, which is what is recommended for weight loss, you would probably want only one or two workouts to fall into the high-intensity range.
For your medium-intensity workouts, you’ll work out at about 70-80% of your max heart rate. These workouts are a little more comfortable – you could carry on a conversation without too much difficulty. Think of a brisk walk, 30-45 minutes on a cardio machine, or riding a bike at a medium pace. (And, doing different types of workouts here also keep you from getting bored with your workouts).
For your low-intensity workouts, you’ll work out below 70% of your max heart rate. This is a light workout, which is great for those days you’re not really “feeling it” – it keeps you progressing while also keeping your motivation up.
Exercise Consistently to Burn Fat
Regular exercise can help you burn fat and lose weight. It’s not just about the calories you’re burning. Your body makes adaptations when you exercise on a regular basis. Many of those adaptations lead directly to your ability to burn more fat without even trying. So, try mixing up your workouts each week with a bit of variety in your intensity. It not only can make your workouts more enjoyable, but it also helps you to loose extra weight.
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