Lose Weight by Increasing Fat Burning Capacity through Exercise

How to  Increase Fat Burning Capacity For Weight Loss 

Long Distance Runner Photographed by Marco Welt


By Kim Miller, Guest Blogger and ACE Certified Personal Trainer

How can we burn a maximum amount of calories in a minimum amount of time? 

A comment from a reader who writes, “You should check the latest research on fat burning. You suggest that long slow distance (LSD) is the way to go for newbies. But that’s not what the new information says.” Well, the reader is correct, but….. read on. 

 Why Not Skip LSD Training and Get Right to the Best Calorie Burns?

If you are new to fitness, or have not been doing cardiovascular exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, elliptical training, biking etc., then the suggested long slow distance training with minimal emphasis on heart rate intensity is used to build a base of endurance for furthering harder intensity calorie burning zones. Think of this slow long training as a necessary “evil” for furthering fat burning ability. A long slow distance base of training aids in the formation of new life changing habits, primes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as the cardiovascular system for a lifetime of increased fat burning ability and a speedier anti aging higher metabolism by reducing the occurrence of injuries, as well as the occurrence of premature overzealous training which often leads to failure. 

Fat Burning Zone Explained in Brief 

In order for a muscle to function it needs energy. There are three options that a muscle has to use fuel: 

1 Carbohydrates
2. Fat
3. Protein- only used by muscles under depleted circumstances. Consider carbohydrates and fats as the two main sources. 

When using energy our muscles use a mix of carbohydrates and fats, this is based on a number of factors, one of them being intensity and duration of activity. Fats require more oxygen than carbohydrates to burn. As a result, as exercise intensity increases and less oxygen is available, the body shifts from a fat burning zone to using carbohydrates for energy in order to maintain the activity. This doesn’t however mean that less fat is burned. In low intensity exercise the fat being used is coming from the blood stream and this was traditionally called the fat burning zone. In order to understand the whole picture though, we must look at where the source of the fat being used is coming from. 

Energy Source Paramount in Increasing Fat Burn Ability 

With increased intensity and duration of an activity, the muscles need more oxygen and energy, so our hearts beat faster to get blood to the muscles quicker. In medium intensity long duration activities the blood stream gets overloaded with work, including the job of providing an energy source to the working muscles. When looking to increase our fat metabolism, it’s necessary to get to this point of overloading our bloodstream’s energy sources. By doing this, the overloaded blood stream must turn to its own body’s muscle fat – namely the primary muscle mover’s fat (triglycerides) and glycogen (sugar) stores- which provide energy to the working body. Obtaining a state of moderate intensity training, where the body is working harder and the heart rate is being taxed at a perceived exertion of 6 out of a 10 point scale is when fat burning is amplified beyond just a simple calorie burn. To translate this into a target heart rate, achieve a heart rate of approximately 80% of your maximum heart rate and continue for duration of 20 minutes and preferably 30 – 60 minutes continuously.

How to Figure Target Heart Rate at 80 Percent 

-Take 220 minus your age.
-Multiply this number by .80.
-Your number is your THR for an increased and more efficient fat burning zone 

Fat burning can be optimized further with high intensity interval training. It’s what all the fitness magazines are writing about.  The secret lies in what is called the after-burn. It breaks all the rules applied here, but you’ll see why it’s absolutely necessary in obtaining a lean more muscular look that includes the difficult to diminish waistline. You can do it! Stay tuned and I’ll help you out. 

Kim Miller 

Kim earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Cleveland State University. Kim is a certified personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  She is also certified as a wellness coach with Wellcoaches. 

Photograph Courtesy of Marco Welt

Last edited on April 18, 2010

One Reply to “Lose Weight by Increasing Fat Burning Capacity through Exercise”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s