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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fat Burning Zone

Many athletes and regular exercisers would love to lose body fat and improve their overall body composition. If we could identify the exercise intensity which evokes the highest rate of fat oxidation, then we could selectively carry out workouts at this intensity and make dramatic improvements to our bodies.

Low intensity sessions to burn off fat

There are two key variables that we need to know:

Fatmax - the exercise intensity at which the highest rate of fat oxidation occurs
Fatmax zone - the range of exercise intensities in which the fat oxidation rates remain within 10% of Fatmax

Researchers from Birmingham University's Human Performance Laboratory attempted to pinpoint the exercise intensities at which fat metabolism is maximised in a study of 18 male endurance cyclists with a training background of at least three years. Their work found that the Fatmax Zone is between 68% and 79% MHR

Alternative research has suggested that when you cycle, swim, row or run at a modest intensity of only 50% VO2max (about 69% MHR), fat provides about 50% of the calories you need to keep going for the first hour or so.

If you keep going after that, fat becomes even more generous, providing around 70% of the total energy after two hours and 80% or more if your work duration exceeds three hours. If you increase the intensity then the Fat contribution decreases - at 75% VO2max fat provides 33% of the energy.

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