Is Fat an Important Energy Source During a Low Intensity Workout?
Depending on the intensity of your workout, your body can use either carbohydrates or fat as fuel. When you’re participating in low-intensity exercise, your body is using fat to fuel your working tissues. Despite this, if you’re looking to lose fat and lower your body-fat percentage, high-intensity workouts are more effective because they burn an overall higher number of calories.
Those just starting to exercise often begin their workout regimen with exercise of lower intensity. According to MayoClinic.com, an exercise that is considered low intensity is one that requires your heart rate to work at 40 to 50 percent of its maximum rate. Find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Activities like walking, beginning yoga, yard work, household cleaning and swimming at a slow pace are examples of low-intensity exercise.
Fat as Fuel
According to Montana State University, when you’re at rest and participating in low-intensity exercise, fat is the predominant fuel. It takes the body longer to prepare fat to be used as fuel, but when you’re exercising at a low intensity, your body is working at a rate that your fat metabolic process can keep up with. The fat is broken down and then transported to your working muscles through your blood stream. As your workout intensity increases, however, your body is forced to use a greater percentage of carbohydrates, which are limited in supply but can quickly provide fuel.
Importance of Intensity
While low-intensity exercise will increase the number of calories you burn, the American Council on Exercise recommends a moderate- to high-intensity workout for cardiovascular benefits. Working out in your target heart rate zone, which they state is 50 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, means you’re exercising at an intensity that is safe and effective. At this intensity, both fat and carbohydrates are used as fuel.
Losing Body Fat
If you’re goal is to lose body fat, higher-intensity exercise is more effective. Although you won’t be using fat as fuel during your workouts, you’ll be burning a greater number of calories. Fat loss occurs whenever you burn more calories than you consume. The harder you’re working, the more calories you burn. In addition, during low-intensity exercise, your period of elevated metabolic rate is over. But, during high-intensity exercise, your body burns more calories for two to four hours after you finish working out.
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