Burning Fats or Burning Calories When You Exercise

Burning Calories or Burning Fats when you Exercise

Are you burning calories or burning FATS when you exercise?  There are 2 questions you need to ask yourself before your next workout

  1. What fuel will I burn?
  2. Do I have enough of that fuel to burn?

The last thing you want to do when you exercise is burn lean muscle (protein) for energy, but it happens all the time.

Just because you work-out and exercise, doesn’t automatically mean you are burning calories from FATS.  One of the most common problems for those who exercise in hopes of losing some of the fat and flab is they are burning the wrong fuel – they’re burning lean muscle!

Your metabolism is designed to burn carbohydrates, proteins or fats for energy.  Those are the only 3 options.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize they are Burning Lean Muscle for energy, NOT FATS when they exercise. burning fats or burning calories

Yes, you are burning calories when you exercise…it doesn’t matter if it is low intensity, high intensity, long duration or short duration – the thing you don’t want to do when you exercise is burn lean muscle (proteins).


Your Heart Rate Matters

What determines if you are going to burn fats or sugars (carbohydrates and proteins) for energy is the intensity of your workout – more specifically the intensity you are pushing Your Body.  How high is your heart rate beating when you walk, jog, bike, dance, swim, hike, do a group class, etcetera?

As the intensity of your workout increases, your heart rate increases and can go above what is called your aerobic threshold, your fat-burning zone, your max VO2.  The reason your aerobic threshold is also referred to as your ‘fat-burning’ zone is because when your heart rate is below it – you can burn fats for energy.  That’s what a lot of people are hoping they are doing.

But when you exercise and keep your heart rate above Your aerobic threshold, your metabolism switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, which only allows your metabolism to burn calories from Sugars (carbs and proteins) – Not FATS!  Keep in mind that proteins are your body’s second-best choice for quick energy, after carbohydrates.


Are You Doing Aerobic or Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic means – without oxygen!  Aerobic means with oxygen!  When your heart rate goes above your aerobic threshold – you can still keep working out, you’re burning calories, but you’re not burning FATS for energy!

If you have no oxygen available, because you are huffing and puffing and gasping for air as you exercise – that’s a sign your body is using ‘anaerobic’ respiration to fuel itself.  Simply stated, your metabolism is NOT burning FATs for fuel.Find my aerobic threshold

So, don’t assume that when you exercise you automatically burn fat.  This is what Training Smart is all about!  You may be doing what is commonly thought of as an aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, biking, dancing etc…) but the pace you are exercising at is making it an anaerobic, which means you are not burn fats.  That’s OK, the second question you need to ask before your next workout is, do you have enough fuel (carbs) to get through your workout?  If not, you could be hitting the double whammy.


The Double Whammy

The double whammy commonly occurs to those who aren’t training properly and don’t have enough carbs to get them through their workout because they are….

  • Following a low carb diet (I’m a fan of low carb diets)
  • Skipped a meal or haven’t eaten in a while
  • Just woke up and started working out

Let me explain, if you’re training above your aerobic threshold (fat burning zone), and you’re Not burning Fats for energy, what fuel source are you going to burn?

a heart rate monitor is the best way to measure how intense your workout is and if you are going above your aerobic threshold (fat-burning zone).  Click here to checkout our DIY Fitness Test.

heart rate monitors for aerobic training

You’re going to Burn Sugars!  Carbohydrates and Proteins.  The question is do you have enough carbs to get through your whole workout, before your body starts burning away all that nice lean muscle (protein) you are hoping to build or at least keep.

This is why so many people hit sticking points and plateaus, and why it is important to Eat Right and Train Smart.  Burning calories is easy, burning calories from stored body fat – takes a little bit more effort and planning, especially when you consider all the other variables that come into play such as stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances and the list goes on.

You can check out our DIY Fitness Test at www.DrLenLopez.com

DIY Fitness Test for Fat Burning

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