The myth of the fat burning heart rate zone

Fat Burning Heart Rate

Myths Under the Microscope is a new feature of the blog which reviews some of the more well-known theories, assumptions and misconceptions about health and dieting. I’ll be looking at these ideas objectively, seeking out the evidence and sharing my conclusions on whether they are good or bad advice – and providing you with the sources I’ve used so you can verify for yourself.

This week: the fat burning heart rate zone

You may have heard about heart rate zones while exercising, and saw the colorful posters splashed around every gym showing which zone you need to optimize your workout.  I’m sure you’ve heard one or two of these statements before too:

  • “You should be in the ‘fat burning’ zone to get the most effective workout for weight loss”
  • “You’re just burning the food in your stomach if you work too hard, you need to slow down to start burning fat”
  • “Lower intensity is the way to go to lose weight, higher intensity just wastes your muscles away”

So you’re telling me, that I can do easier workouts and lose MORE fat?  Sounds too good to be true, right?  But, what does the “fat burning heart rate zone” mean?  And is it true?

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