Best Way to Lose Weight: Fat Burning Zone or High Calorie Burn?

| Fitness

Can you handle the truth about the Fat Burning Zone? The truth is that although being in the Fat Burning Zone will burn the most fat, it does not necessarily mean you will burn the most calories, and according to Brian Durbin Med, CSCS, and owner of Fitness Together in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, fat loss and weight loss really has more to do with burning more calories than worrying about just burning fat.


Although Dr. Brian admits that while “exercising in the fat-burn zone, you do indeed burn the biggest percentage of fat per unit time," he doesn’t believe that this will help you accomplish your goal. He believes that the best way to burn fat is to interval train. He asserts, “with the right combination of exercise duration and interval intensities, you can see continuous caloric burn for up to two hours after exercise has ended. This is where the real benefit of intervals shows up. Imagine burning extra calories as you drive home from the gym. That is the way to reshape your physique and shed body fat.”

He urges his clients to “stop worrying about your 'zone' and start worrying about how they can burn the most calories in any given chunk of time. This involves a delicate balance between exercise intensity and duration.”

Although some fitness professionals, and every elliptical trainer I have ever stepped foot on, might disagree with him, Dr. Brian maintains that although fat is the primary energy source at lower exercise intensities, it is still the total amount of calories consumed during and after exercise that is responsible for real fat loss. "With all else equal, if you are burning off more calories than you are taking in, you will lose weight and fat.”

His recommendation for fat loss is to focus on High Intensity Interval Training (HITT). “HITT is ideal for burning a tremendous amount of calories not only during the workout, but after the workout as well. This vaults up the total caloric consumption and can accelerate fat loss overall. When you push the intensity of work to maximum amounts (greater than 95% HHR) for short bursts during exercise, you can ramp up the total caloric consumption of the exercise session. Even better, your body must recover from the intense intervals, which creates a substantial caloric demand even after exercise has ceased.”


There have always been varying beliefs on effective ways to lose weight and keep it off. Some opinions align with Dr. Brian's and others reflect more of a fat burning zone theory. What do you think? Do you believe fat loss is better achieved by burning more calories overall or burn less calories but have those calories burned from fat?