It seems that most people either fall into the trap of believing that the more intense your workout is the more fat you will burn or that the closer your heart-rate is to maximum the more calories you will burn. Interestingly enough their have been studies that show exactly the opposite so we are going to shed some light on low intensity workouts and the impact they can have on fat burn.
To understand the truth about fat burn you need to monitor heart rate levels when you are exercising. It can either be done using a monitor or simply stopping for ten seconds and counting how many beats you read and multiplying it by 6. The point is that to know where your optimum level is you need to monitor your heart-rate.
It is vitally important to note that the fat burning zone first was recognized due to the correlation of low intensity workouts and higher fat burn due to the extra glycogen in your system. This does not mean that you can now lay around all day and expect to lose fat. It means that you need to be aware of what gets the best results by counting your pulse rate.
When your heart rate is at 50% of maximum effort, the body burns 65% of fat and 35% of glycolgen. When you increase your heart rate to 75% of full speed the burn percentages decrease to 60% of fat burn and 40% glycogen burn and as you increase your intensity the ratios continue to trend the same way. So you may not burn as many calories but your fat burn will be higher. This will be key in planning your workouts to achieve your fat loss goals.
It is important to understand the fat burn percentages between high and low intensity workouts because High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will burn more calories per workout but less fat if you are pushing yourself more than 50% of your maximum heart-rate. This could actually be good news for some of you who are simply training too hard or with too much intensity.