I’ve started a new journey recently and my goals include shedding some extra fat, building lean muscle mass, and improving my 5K time. I started by seeing a nutritionist and have been recording in a food log for a couple weeks. I also use MyFitnessPal to track food, and my nutritionist can modify the carbs/fats/proteins/sugar amounts for my goals. I find sugar the hardest to control, trying to eat 30 grams or less in a day seems easy, but sugar is in everything! More on that in a different post..
This post I want to talk about a tool to burn fat: aerobic heart rate runs. We’ve all seen that poster at the gym or heard that your “fat burning zone” is a lower heart rate and in this zone you can burn more fat and calories than the same amount of time in a different zone. In practice, I had never figured out what that zone is, and decided if my workout wasn’t hard/fast/miserable then I wasn’t truly working out. My mindset has begun to change..
I like this article about a young man wanting to do better on his Air Force physical fitness test, so he runs slower in his fat burning zone to get faster. He also lost fat in the process, that’s a win-win if you ask me. Taking an idea from the article, I will be recording my mile time at my aerobic threshold of 155 bmp, and hopefully see it decrease over time. Right now, its around a 13:00 min/mile pace (yikes!)
There are a couple ways of determining your Aerobic Threshold Heart Rate. One way is to take 180-your age. For me that’s 155 beats per minute. Another way to find your aerobic zone is to aim for 60%-80% of your maximum Heart Rate (HR). Max HR can be found by taking 220-your age. For me, my max HR is 195, and my fat burning zone is around 117-156 beats per minute (bpm). Work above this zone and you are now in the anaerobic zone, work below this and you’re burning very few calories. *I’m not an expert by any means, just sharing what I’ve found online and through lots of reading and talking with my nutritionist.*
Now the challenge is to actually run in this zone (it also helps to have a HR monitor). The first week I tried this it was painfully slow. So slow, I thought it was a waste of my time, although the dog appreciated the more frequent jog/walks. I would jog for 0.1 of a mile, then walk as my HR was climbing to 160 bpm. But now after two weeks, I am jogging more and walking less. I am able to go a little faster and still keep my HR at the right level. I know this will take time, perhaps months before I’ve trained my body to work more efficiently. Another bonus, less prone to injury at this pace!
So I challenge you to think differently about your workouts. I realize that going “easy” isn’t a defeat, it is good for my body to recover and burn fat. I also enjoy a high heart rate workout and appreciate the feeling of sore muscles and sweat dripping from my face. Now, it is more about the balance of the two and proper nutrition to help me meet my goals. See ya in a month!