Fat burning is usually synonymous with terms like exercise, workout, diet and so on but more often than not people tend to forget that heart rate plays an equal if not a more important role in weight loss. As a matter of fact, every vital system in your body is directly or indirectly dependent on your heart rate in order to function properly. But keeping things in perspective to weight loss and fat burn, what is the best fat burning heart rate and BPM (beats per minute) that you should aim for? Read on to find out:
Maximum Heart Rate
But before we talk about the actual heart rate to burn fat, it’s important to note about the max heart rate of a person which has to be calculated before going for a certain amount of beats per minute when working out.
Your maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
Yeah. It really is that simple. So, if you’re a 25 year old, subtracting that from 220 gives you a maximum heart rate of 195 beats per minute. Keep in mind thought that this is just an estimate and your maximum heart rate may be lower or higher than that depending on many other factors about your body.
Fat Burning Heart Rate
While studies have suggested that you start to burn fat on a moderate workout intensity which usually lies within 50 to 65% of your maximum heart rate, it won’t hurt to take things up a notch by aiming for a current heart rate that is upwards of 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Moderate workout intensity will improve your aerobic fitness and is considered as the ‘fat burning zone’ but going beyond that burns calories too. Furthermore, it builds strength and cardiovascular fitness and going for anything beyond that is solely used for improving performance speed and is not actually recommended for those just looking to torch some fat.
In fact, when you hit higher level of intensity your body is most likely burning off the short-term stores of sugar and carbohydrates you took in during your last meal. (This explains why you’re so hungry after an intense workout!).
This is the reason why most experts recommend to do a single exercise with a lower intensity over a very long period of time or either go for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)- something that’s quite intensive at first but is followed by a long period of the same exercise with lower intensity.
The actual ‘behind the scenes’ about this fat burning heart rate lies in your very cellular system. At a slower but consistent heart rate, energy is provided to your body by aerobic means.
This happens in your mitochondria (yes, the powerhouse of the cell that almost every one of us knows by now) but since the intensity is quite low, your body doesn’t warrant the need of burning any immediate sources of energy and rather prefers on a more slow and controlled manner to make it happen – which is where it burns fat.
It’s a little bit like emptying a water bottle by letting it trickle – you get water slowly but for a long period of time.
Should You Avoid A Higher Heart Rate?
After the previous explanation most people wouldn’t even think twice about going for anything other than the 50-65% heartrate, but we still strongly suggest going for it. Yes, at higher heart rate your body will prefer glycogen (carbs) as it’s energy source but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for weight loss.
Research shows that you burn a significant amount of calories when you workout at higher intensities, which means that even though you won’t lose weight, you’re losing calories as well as fat calories and that’s a good, good thing.
Secondly, the amount of calories burned when exercising at higher heart rate is followed by a small but a consistent amount of calorie burn after you’ve worked out. This is a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or the afterburn effect for short.
In some cases, the amount of time your body burns calories due to boosted metabolism can go for as far as 10 hours! So, knowing all of this, we strongly suggest alternating between the two to get the best of both worlds!
If You’ve Just Started
While it might seem appealing to many people to head to the gym and begin working out hard and reaching that particular heart rate, experts suggest to take it slow.
As a beginner, you body isn’t accustomed to the strain of an increased heart rate, meaning there’s a chance of a health complication if you start out heavy.
The solution is quite simple: consistency. The American Heart Association suggests those just starting to exercise should aim for 50 percent of their heart rate max and slowly, over a few weeks, increase that rate.
Best Fat Burning Heart Rate And BPM Tips!
Though heart rate for fat burning isn’t necessarily a very complicated matter, we have a few tips laid out that will make it easier and better for you:
- Visit your doc: It’s the bitter truth, but people suffering from certain conditions cannot be recommended exercises that increase heart rate. Even if you’re sure that you’re not suffering from a condition of that sort, it can’t hurt to pay them a visit and know for sure (better safe than sorry, after all).
- Equipment: Though having a device that calculates your heartrate isn’t mandatory for increasing it’s intensity for fat burn, it certainly does help to see what your current heartrate is and if you should increase it by increasing the intensity of the workout or not. Things like a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) is good but in some cases even your treadmill is equipped with one of these.
- Try Different Cardio Exercises: Though these aren’t very necessary when it comes to increasing heart rate in particular, but people who have just started out with fitness may find the monotony a bit overwhelming. In that cases, there are many cardio exercises that can be fun and fat burning at the same time! Some examples include but are not limited to swimming, cycling,