Spin® Life Blog

Debunking the Myth of the “Fat Burning” Zone

Debunking the Myth of the “Fat Burning” Zone

Posted by Spinning® on Oct 22nd 2020

Are you finding it challenging to maintain a healthy weight these days -- or even lose weight if that’s your goal? Well, it turns out that you might need to approach your weight loss strategy differently because there’s a very specific way to train -- both aerobically AND anaerobically -- for weight loss. Let us tell you about it...

A common myth in the Spinning® community is that working at or below 80% maximum heart rate is the best way to burn fat. While this statement is true, it oversimplifies the issue, leading to confusion about how to exercise properly to achieve fat loss.

Many exercisers are under the mistaken impression that fat is only burned at specific exercise intensities and hence fat loss will only occur if you always exercise at these moderate effort levels. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Losing body fat and keeping it off permanently requires an exercise program that features aerobic and anaerobic intensities.

Fat is used for fuel during exercise at a variety of intensity levels. At rest and at moderate heart rates, your body’s preferred fuel choice is fat. As exercise intensity increases, you burn progressively more glucose.

At anaerobic threshold heart rates, you burn almost entirely glucose and very little fat. Even though you’re not burning much fat during a high intensity ride, these sessions are still crucial to the success of your fat loss exercise goals.

The intensity of anaerobic exercise stimulates an increased demand for calories and an elevated body temperature. These factors generate an increase in your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) that lasts for several hours after a ride.

Since your preferred fuel choice at rest is fat, you will burn more fat around the clock because of your glucose-burning sessions! However wonderful this sounds, many exercisers take shortcuts that sabotage the fat loss benefits of high intensity sessions by exercising at ONLY high intensities. This type of training causes sugar to be the preferred fuel choice instead of fat. Instead of fat loss, you get sugar cravings, fatigue and lack of fitness progress.

Success will be achieved when a rider spends the appropriate time developing the aerobic system before introducing some high intensity sessions. After developing the aerobic base, higher intensity zones should be used sparingly (less than 10% of your total training time) for best results with fat reduction and fitness programs.