Long and Slow or Short and Quick?

Which method of exercise do you think works best for fat loss?

Conventional wisdom has been telling us for years to get in the “fat burning zone” to lose weight. “The body burns more fat at lower intensity levels.” “Go for long, slow walks to burn fat.”

Well, I’m here to tell you if you go for nice, long, slow walks all you are going to do is see a lot of scenery. You sure won’t burn a lot of fat.

For years we believed that easier exercise, a slow jog, was more effective at burning fat than something harder like running sprints. This all came about because in 1993 a group of researchers from the University of Texas determined that you burn a greater percentage of calories from fat during light to moderate intensity exercise than you do at higher intensity exercise. The rate your body burns fat peaks at about 65 percent of your aerobic capacity.

This is true, but the percentage of calories burned from fat is not the important number. The important number is the total calories burned as a result of your exercise session. You will lose fat faster by exercising in the carb-burning zone. Depleting carbohydrate stores by exercise means that your body will have to burn fat post-exercise to replenish glycogen stores. This is the number one priority for our physiology:  the body must ensure there is enough available energy to sustain biologic functions. This energy is in the form of glycogen. We have an unlimited capacity to store fat, as evidenced by the number of 300, 400 and 500+ pound individuals we encounter. Our bodies, however, have a limited storage capacity for glycogen. When our glycogen tank gets depleted it must be replenished or everything comes to a dead stop.

High-intensity exercise burns more calories per minute than low intensity exercise. The total amount of fat you burn is similar to that of light and moderate exercise plus you are depleting the carbohydrate stores in your body which means you will burn more fat post-workout.

The harder you exercise the more glycogen you burn. The more glycogen you burn, the more fat you will lose. It is easy to incorporate interval or high intensity exercise into your workout. If you like to walk for exercise try walking faster or go up and down hills for 25% of your workout. When you weight-train get off of the machines and do bodyweight exercises. Add multi-exercise complexes with reduced rest intervals or superset your lifts with a sprint interval on the bike.

Boot Camp workouts are ideally designed to maximize fat loss with their combination of short duration cardio intervals combined with resistance training.

Just remember, the type of exercise you do won’t help you lose fat if you consume an overabundance of calories.

Fast fat loss requires fast exercise. Give it a try.


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