Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Myth Buster: Low Intensity Cardio Burns Fat the Best

Pop Quiz: Exercising with your heart rate in the fat-burning zone (i.e. 120 beats per minute) for 30 minutes burns 150 calories. Exercising with a heart rate of 170 for 30 minutes burns 300 calories. Which would you prefer?

In gyms throughout the world, a myth persists that low intensity cardio is the best for burning fat. Under the impression that staying within their "fat-burning zone" will help shed fat fast, millions of gym-goers hop on an elliptical at slow, steady pace for long periods of time.

Busting the Myth: Rather than hoof it out for an hour at a slow pace, experts suggest getting the heart rate up fast. Commonly referred to as HIIT, high intensity interval training alternates bursts of intense exercise and low-intensity rest periods. HIIT takes many forms including Crossfit WODS, Tabata training and sprint interval training (SIT).

What’s more, the benefits of HIIT training go beyond the workout of the day. Training in intense bursts leads to EPOC -- or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption -- commonly referred to as “afterburn.” Exercise at a high intensity to enjoy a heightened metabolism and more calorie burning potential hours after the workout ends.

When you hit the gym for an all-out sweat session, you will burn far more calories than a slow and steady run on the treadmill. Endurance training? Intervals are still great to incorporate and you'll notice an improvement in your overall fitness.

The myth has been busted, but the question remains: does the "fat-burning zone" matter for anyone? Well, bodybuilders and those with very low body fat could risk muscle loss if they take on cardio training that is too intense. While there are ways around the muscle loss, this bodybuilder exception is likely the main reason the myth persists today.

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