What Pace to Run to Burn Fat

Misunderstandings about how we burn fat and calories have caused confusion among consumers who believe that so-called “fat burning” workouts do more than they really do. Lower-intensity “fat-burning” exercises actually burn less fat than higher-intensity workouts, which burn less fat as a percentage of calories burned. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. No matter what shape you’re in, you can find the right pace to burn the maximum calories and fat to help you lose weight.

Fat-Burning Definition

Many fitness websites, books and other materials refer to the “fat-burning zone” as exercise that causes you to burn more fat than glycogen. This occurs at lower heart rates than aerobic or sprint training workouts. When you work harder, you use more glycogen to fuel you muscles. At higher intensities, however, you burn more calories, and thereby more total fat calories than lower-intensity fat-burning workouts. This is why some fitness experts call aerobic exercise fat-burning; because it burns the most fat. The pace at which you run determines whether you burn more fat as a percentage of calories, or more fat calories overall.

Running

It’s a good idea to differentiate between walking, power walking, jogging, running and sprinting. If you are looking to create a fat-burning pace that burns more fat than glycogen, running at any speed is too fast. If you consider aerobic exercise fat-burning, then jogging or running at a pace that doesn’t tire you after a short while is the pace you need to set.

Heart Rates

For a non-aerobic fat-burning workout, aim for a heart rate between 50 percent and 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is comparable to walking briskly. To create a traditional aerobic workout, jog or run at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Speeds

If you plan on burning fat on a treadmill, a speed of 2 mph to 3.5 mph will get you into your fat-burning zone if you’re a beginner. To get into your aerobic heart rate range and burn more calories, jog or run between 3.5 mph and 5 mph. An exercise chart at the website of MayoClinic.com estimates that a 160-pound person walking at 2 mph will burn 183 calories per hour. Raising that 3.5 mph, he will burn 277 calories per hour. A 5 mph jog will cause him to burn 584 calorie per hour. Running at 8 mph, he’ll burn close to 1,000 calories per hour.

Bottom Line

If you want to burn the maximum amount of calories and fat, you should walk, jog or run at the maximum pace you can sustain for the longest time possible. If you are a beginner, raise your metabolism so you’re breathing hard, adding more minutes or distance to your power walk each week. Increase your workout times for the first few weeks, rather than trying to raise your intensity before you have built stamina and endurance. During an aerobic jog, make sure you can talk, or you will be running too hard and may have to stop.

 Additional Resources

BellaOnline: The Fat Burning Zone & Weightloss

Mayo Clinic: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour

MyTreadmillTrainer.com: Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

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