top of page

Why the Fat-Burning Zone is a Myth

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Have you ever heard the best way to burn fat is to exercise at a slow and steady state in the fat-burning zone?

Or perhaps you’ve seen it on the treadmill or any other aerobic machine at the gym. The little chart that shows heart rate zones for various ages? It uses words like endurance training, performance training, and most popularly the weight loss/fat-burning zone.

In general, the fat-burning zone on a treadmill chart is characterized as lighter exercise, and the heart rate zone you should aim for according to your age. But other than that it doesn’t give you much more information! They’ve kind of left you in the dark about what that exactly entails.

The Fat-Burning Zone

What many people will tell you is that the fat-burning zone is a concept that the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower-intensity aerobic exercise than it does at higher intensities. But guess what? They’re wrong, this is a misinterpretation of the fat-burning zone. But don’t worry, I’m here to fill you in on the truth!

Quick Biology Lesson

The whole idea of the fat-burning zone all comes down to the way your body burns calories as you workout. There are a few ways your body likes to burn calories- one is by burning through carbs. Carbs are quick to burn and provide energy fast which is why a higher percentage of them are burned during high-intensity exercise because you need a mass amount of calories to burn through ASAP.

Another way the body can burn calories is by breaking down fats. This process takes longer than breaking down carbs. But because there’s less demand for quick calories during lower-intensity exercise, you are able to burn off a higher percentage of your calories from fat, than you would during high-intensity exercise.

The Bottom Line

The key here is that the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities! But this doesn’t necessarily mean a larger amount of calories are burned from fat at the lower-intensities.

For example, consider a 20-minute treadmill workout….at a low-intensity your body might burn 50% of the calories from fat, but a 20-minute high-intensity workout might burn 35%. BUT throughout the high-intensity workout, you burn WAY MORE total calories! This means, while you might be burning a lower percentage of calories from fat, your overall fat-burn highly surpasses what it would be at lower-intensities.

So…How Does This Affect My Workout?

It’s not my job to tell you what the right type of cardio is for you. But I hope now that you know the facts, you can fine-tune your workout to help you reach your goals!

For my Low-Intensity Peeps

Do you love low-intensity exercise? Awesome, that’s great. Just understand that when doing low-intensity exercise, you are burning fewer calories per minute (this means fewer cals from fat per minute) than if you were doing high-intensity exercise. All it means is that to get that big calorie burn you’re looking for you may have to spend more time on the treadmill than if you were doing high-intensity exercise.

For my High-Intensity Peeps

Not interested in spending more time doing low-intensity exercise to get the calorie burn you’re looking for? Hey, I get it we’re all busy. Burn a huge amount of calories in a shorter amount of time by amping up your workout and challenging your heart rate in higher-intensity zones!

Burn More Calories Throughout the Day

Get a Faster Metabolism

In regards to your metabolism, it’s important to understand that your bodies fat-burning tools are your muscles! And aerobic exercise alone is relatively ineffective at building and maintaining muscle.

If you’ve been doing aerobics and not seeing the weight loss or maintenance results you’re looking for, adding a basic strength program into your routine can give your metabolism a huge boost. That means burning more calories all day long…even at rest. So ideal right?


EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is just a fancy term for the calorie afterburn that happens after strength training, or high-intensity exercise. This is extra calorie burn 16-24 hours post-workout you won’t experience from participating in low-intensity exercise! If you’re really looking to ride the calorie burn- a HIIT workout or heavy weight lifting will be your best bet for big after burn. For more detail on this check out my blog all about EPOC: The Secret to Faster Fat Loss.

I hope you guys enjoy this information, and it helps you really tailor your workouts to your specific goals! Let’s get after those results!!

73 views0 comments


bottom of page