The most effective way to burn calories is to exercise aerobically. Aerobic training is the only form of exercise that uses two sources of energy (carbohydrates and fat) and burns the maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. You are exercising aerobically when your heart and lungs are able to supply enough oxygen to the working muscles to continue constant contractions and a constant oxygen uptake for 20 minutes or longer.
The simple formula for finding your aerobic zone is to take your age, subtract that from the maximum heart rate of a human being (220), then take 70 to 85 percent of that total. We will use a 40-year-old as an example.
HOW TO FIND YOUR AEROBIC ZONE
Age = 40
220 – 40 = 180
180 x .70 = 126
180 x .85 = 153
*This person’s aerobic zone is 126 – 153 beats per minute*
***If you are out of shape start at 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 - age).*** As you get in better shape, you can increase your percentages.
The Surgeon General advises us that, to be healthy, we need to exercise at least three to four times a week, in an aerobic zone, for 20-30 minutes. That standard is to simply keep a healthy ticker, not to lose body fat by burning calories. We could not tell you how many people have we have heard say, “I exercise three times a week for 20 minutes and I’m not losing weight.” This is why.
When you exercise, your body’s first source of energy is carbohydrates (blood sugar). All carbohydrates (except fiber), whether they are in the form of potatoes (complex carbohydrates) or a candy (simple carbohydrates), turn into glucose (blood sugar) once they enter the bloodstream. The body doesn't discriminate - - sugar is sugar.
Insulin, (which controls where blood sugar is stored) is a hormone whose task is to convert glucose to glycogen (the stored form of sugar), which is stored in the liver and muscles. At a later time, the glycogen can be converted back to glucose, and used as energy.
800 calories of glycogen is the maximum amount the body stores for later use. That's the max! Most of us aren't carbo-loaded, so we have far fewer stored. As the body begins to run low on this first source of energy it turns to its second.
Your body’s second source of energy is stored fat. Fat is the stored calories we are trying to burn. For the first twenty minutes of exercise you burn about 80 percent carbohydrates and about 20 percent fat. Remember, when the body needs energy it turns to its most readily available source (carbs). When you stop exercising at this point you have barely burned any stored fat. From 20 minutes until 40 minutes of aerobic exercise your body is burning off that first source of energy (carbs) and starts drawing from your second source (fat) and your percentages change to 50 percent carbohydrates and 50 percent fat. Much better! Now if you continue to aerobically exercise at this same rate from 40 to 60 minutes +, your first source (carbs) is running low and your percentages go to 20 percent carbohydrates and 80 PRECENT FAT. Now you’re cookin’!
AEROBIC ZONE EXERCISE
(Energy expenditure percentages)
In this aerobic zone you can expect to burn around 200 calories per 20 minutes. There are two things that should become quite clear now. One, the longer you stay in your aerobic zone the more calories you will burn. Two, the longer you stay in this zone the more efficient you become at burning away that “hard to get to” stored fat.
AEROBIC ZONE CALORIES BURNED
The question may come to you, “How do I know when I am in my aerobic zone?” There are two ways. One, check your pulse. Count your pulse for ten seconds multiply it by six and that will give you your heartbeats per minute.
(22 beats in 10 seconds) x 6 = 132
A less technical way to find your aerobic zone is to monitor your breathing. If you are exercising and you can hold a normal conversation you are not aerobic. If you can hold a conversation but occasionally you have to take a deep breath, you are aerobic. If you cannot hold a conversation at all because your breathing is too heavy, you have passed out of your aerobic zone and have entered your anaerobic zone.
What is your anaerobic zone? In our example of a 40-year-old woman it is when her heart rate gets above 153 beats per minute. At this point she is no longer burning fat and carbs at efficient percentages. The body begins to burn carbs exclusively. No fat is being burned. The by-product of burning carbohydrates is called lactic acid. The amount of lactic acid being produced by the working muscle is too much for your heart and lungs wash out with freshly oxygenated blood. At this point you begin to feel an acute burning in the muscles you are exercising. This will make you stop.
You know that guy you see huffing and puffing as he’s running. Is he getting in shape? Yes! He is expanding what is called his VO2 Max. The volume of oxygen the muscles can can use during exercise. This is a must for a performance athlete. But, is he burning calories efficiently? No! You are probably not out to break any world records. You are trying to reduce body fat and if you get to this point in your exercise, you are not burning calories efficiently. You might not have a lot of extra time in your day. So if reducing body fat is your goal, get the most from your time by staying aerobic.
What is the best aerobic exercise? Whatever gets you exercising. When fatburn.com co-founder, Tom Williams finished his 18 years as a competitive swimmer he was at a complete loss as to what to do for exercise. The very last thing he wanted to do was continue to swim. He was waterlogged enough. He hates to run, except during court games (which aren’t aerobic) and those crazy gym machines seemed ridiculous to him. He spent four years in this funk, gaining weight, until he found rollerblading. He loves it! He looks forward to his daily skate. Our suggestion to you is to find something that you have fun with. It can be anything that you can keep doing at a constant pace with a constant oxygen uptake and your heart is beating constantly in its aerobic zone for twenty minutes or longer. Running, biking, walking, rowing, jumping rope, swimming … whatever it is, it's always easier if it is something you enjoy.
If you want to know how many calories you are burning in almost any form of exercise go to fatburn.com, register and check out the calorie counter found on the Activities page. This will give you an accurate caloric burn for your age, gender and weight.