Training intensity for weight loss

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Will I burn a greater percentage of fat if I exercise longer at a lower exercise intensity?

This is the question a lot of clients are asking their personal trainers every day.

People all over the world have been walking and walking for hours at low exercise intensities, because they believed that that is the way to train if you want to lose weight. So you’ve heard about the “fat burning zone”. In other words, if you want to lose weight, you need to exercise at a low intensity (a low heart rate). What few people realise is that you actually burn the highest proportion of fat while at rest (around 70 percent of your energy comes from fat) and by now we know that being inactive doesn’t make you skinny.

You can’t just sit around and do nothing all day and still lose all your excess fat. The most important focus in exercise and fat weight control is not the percentage of energy coming from fat during exercise, but the total energy cost of exercise, or how many calories are burned during the activity. The faster you walk, step or run, for example, the more calories you use per minute.

170562864Therefore at low exercise intensity, you need to exercise for a very long time (far more than an hour per day) to match the total energy expenditure of a high intensity workout.

There is a growing body of research supporting the use of high-intensity interval training for fat loss. This form of “cardio” takes less than half the time (typically 12 to 20 minutes) of traditional long duration cardio and leads to better results, i.e. faster and greater fat loss, more rapid improvements in fitness and better exercise adherence.

That is why sport scientists are moving towards a faster and more effective approach of training specifically for weight loss. Good news for all the busy moms that don’t have hours to train every day. weight control is not the percentage of energy coming from fat during exercise, but the total energy cost of exercise, or how many calories are burned during the activity. The faster you walk, step or run, for example, the more calories you use per minute. Therefore at low exercise intensity, you need to exercise for a very long time (far more than an hour per day) to match the total energy expenditure of a high intensity workout.

Information compiled by: Sport Physiologist, Marli Greeff