If you really want to lose weight by playing sports, you must first know your body and the exercises that suit you best. And the key is in your “fat burning zone”, in other words the level of effort that allows you to work on your figure most effectively.
But how can we identify this precious “zone”? Forget the generic charts found in gyms, because all bodies are different and these diagrams are too standard. Instead, there are practical tips for learning how to maximize weight loss during your workouts.
You must first keep in mind that these are the gentlest exercises which require more fat as fuel, and less carbohydrates or what you have just consumed, for example. According to an article by Gretchen Reynolds, a leading fitness expert in the Washington Post, light exercise is the key to your “fat-burning zone.”
Then, to identify your own ideal pace, you can consider one of three methods:
- Consult a specialized laboratory: For precise measurements, you can visit a physiology laboratory for exercise and metabolic tests. Some fitness centers offer such tests for a fee, sometimes covered by insurance if your doctor recommends them.
- Use a heart monitor and do the math: Another option is to estimate your fat burning zone yourself by walking or running on a treadmill while wearing a heart monitor or smartwatch. Start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the speed every three to five minutes until you reach a very vigorous effort level, where your heart rate stabilizes. This will correspond to your maximum heart rate (or something very close to it). Then calculate 60% of that and aim to train close to that heart rate.
- Exercise at a light intensity: You can also choose to let your body guide you to your fat-burning zone. According to numerous studies, people asked to walk at a pace they felt they could maintain for at least 45 minutes typically stabilized in their fat-burning zone. This pace is often slower than many people think, around 4 to 5 kilometers per hour for most people.
Scientists define the “burn zone” during exercise as the level of effort that keeps your heart rate around an ideal rate for burning the most fat. Generally, if your main goal is to lose some body fat, exercises that are much gentler than you think may be enough.
Regardless of which method you choose to find your fat burning zone, it’s important to monitor your diet after exercise so you don’t immediately replace the fat you just burned. Some research indicates that you could be very effective during a simple walk in the late afternoon.