By Mark Mayes Cert. Health Fitness Specialist
What is the best way to burn fat low intensity for a long time or high intensity for a shorter time?
This has been an area of controversy and misconception for a long time. Mainly because the two concepts are not fully explained.
Lets start at the beginning as to why these concepts are used. The human body is a very complex machine and just like any other machine it needs fuel to perform activities. The types of fuel the body uses are fat, carbohydrates and proteins. The body uses each fuel differently and each one is an important part for proper function of the body. Fat is not as bad as it is made out to be, it is needed by many systems of the body and it is a high-octane fuel source. Fat gives the body the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to energy production. Fat is a slow burning fuel that produces large amounts of energy, where as carbohydrates and proteins are faster burning fuels with less energy produced.
The problem is when the fuel intake is not equal to the fuel used. Therefore, the body starts to store the excess fuel; all three-fuel sources over time can be converted to body fat.
When a person wants to lose weight (excess fuel) they must produce a large amount of energy, this energy is measured by calories. Fat requires the most calories (9 cal.), Carbohydrates and Protein (4 cal.). This is where the controversy starts in order for a person to decrease body weight, most research shows that a large number of calories need to be burned per day. And where the calories come from does not matter. If a person only wants to burn fat calories it takes a long time (duration) at a lower intensity so as not to use as many calories from any other fuel sources. So after an hour a person 1 may burn 500 calories, 80% of the calories coming from fat. This sounds good 80% fat production.
Now lets say person 2 works at a higher intensity for 45 minutes and this person burns 900 calories and 60% of those calories are from fat. The higher intensity method does not sound as impressive until you do the math. The higher intensity workout may not use as many calories from fat as far as the percentage, but the over all calorie expenditure is more. Most research to date in the area of weight loss supports the higher intensity for weight loss.
The next question is “How do I determine the right intensity for burning the most calories”.
The easiest way to determine the intensity (Target Training Zone) is to use the following formula:
Target Training Zone (TTZ)
– 220 minus your age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
-Multiply .65% times MHR = low end of TTZ
-Multiply .85% time MHR = top end of TTZ
In order to burn the most calories it is best to keep ones heart rate in the target training zone for twenty minutes, building on the time as you get in better shape.
To summarize a person burns more calories from fat at lower intensity; in fact you are burning more fat than carbohydrates as you read this. But at a higher intensity one will burn more calories and more of those calories will come from fat even if the percentage is lower.
I came to Fitness Resources overweight and without an athletic bone in my body. I needed the personal attention and motivation of a personal trainer to get me started.
Mark pushed when I needed pushed, and he let off when I had had too much. Fitness Resources was also not a big, intimidating gym with a thousand people all the time; it was a nice, comfortable environment for me to get started and then progress. In 2012, I lost 70 pounds through the personal training sessions with Mark, the kettlebell classes offered and the use of all the cardio equipment. In 2013, I look forward to more success and reaching new fitness goals, and I will always be thankful to Mark and Fitness Resources for getting me started!
Individual results may vary based on a variety of factors.
Mark Mayes, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologists®
Owner, Fitness Resources
A long-time veteran of the fitness industry, Mark Mayes began his career 30 years ago working for the Jack LaLanne health club in San
After moving back to Ohio, Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and adult fitness at The Ohio State University. As a competitive swimmer and triathlete, he went on to coach stroke mechanics for swimmers and triathletes.
He began working as an intern at the Central Ohio YMCA but quickly became a full-time staff member. When he decided to strike out on his own, Mark was serving as the physical director at the downtown YMCA. He launched Fitness Resources in 1991, and since then, he and his staff have offered personal training to individual clients and have managed fitness programs at private clubs, physician offices and corporate fitness centers. The demand for personal- and group-training programs fueled Fitness Resources’ growth, Fitness Resources went on to manage fitness programs in physician offices, corporate fitness centers and public gyms.
After helping develop Harrison Rec Center in April 2008, he opened a Fitness Resources location in the Harrison Park Condos Community Center in Harrison West, part of Columbus’ Short North area. He now also manages the condo association’s fitness center.
Mark is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council of Exercise and the YMCA. He has received from the ACSM additional certification that focuses on exercise and older adults. Mark is also a certified practitioner of polarity therapy, a system that restores mind-body harmony through complementary therapeutic methods including bodywork techniques, guidance in polarity exercises and stretches, self-help techniques and energy balancing. He is certified by Schwinn to conduct spinning and RiPP classes.
Mark served as an advisory board member for The Wellness Forum Foundation and was a founding member of the International Fitness Institute. He has also been a member of the elite International Systematic TOUCH training team and is currently serving on the faculty of the World Instructor Training Schools. Mark currently serves on the advisory board of Heritage College.
Mark’s professional philosophy is to educate, motivate and provide direction to individuals of all ages to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. His areas of expertise are general fitness training, strength training, swimming, running and cycling programs.
His goal for his clients is that they develop the confidence and knowledge to take personal responsibility for their fitness regimens. Mark specializes in designing fitness programs tailored to a diverse clientele—from athletes and busy professionals to senior citizens—and their wide range of fitness experience and goals.
Other Information about Mark
• writes fitness columns for several employee newsletters and publications
• lectures on flexibility, strength training and the facets of operating a successful fitness company
• consults with large corporations on how best to encourage their employees to improve their health and fitness
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