Again this weekend was another successful personal training certification, this time in Fort Collins CO. It is always great to see new energy and enthusiasm in the industry! Like most of my previous certifications, the question of fat bruning is a hot topic. Here is what I have concluded from my years of research and experimentation:
Back when I was in graduate school, two graphs from my Exercise Physiology Test stayed in my mind that help describe this delimma. Here they are:[
This graph shows how a low intensity workout where fat burning is the goal. Low intensity workouts burn predominately fat during the workout, (exercise intensity is low enough that glucose is not needed) and then during EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption), or recovery, glucose is utilized. This EPOC takes about 4 to 6 hours to complete, during which, your metabolism is elevated and burning additional calories above and beyond the exercise bout. Great!
Fat to exercise – Glucose to recover
This graph shows the opposite, a high intensity exercise bout where glucose has to be used for enengy, due to the intensity level being so great that fat cannot be converted fast enough to be used as energy. Because of the intensity levels, the body is depleted of energy, particulary glucose, and therefore, during EPOC, fat has to be utilized. Since fat has to be converted into glucose to be used for energy for recovery, it can take anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, maybe longer, to do. Again, the best part, additional calories burned, and this time, predominately from fat!
Glucose to exercise – Fat to recover
The real winner in fat burning? High intensity! Just look at a sprinter vs a marathon runner. Sprinters are more ripped than marathoners, and their workouts are interval (alternating high and low intensity) in nature.
So if you want to be ripped, you are going to have to start incorporating high intensity into your workouts.
Remember, high intensity is relative. Beginners high intensity is a lot different that a seasoned person’s. Work to what fits you.