A new study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases has shown that the best heart rate for burning fat varies between individuals and may not correspond to the ‘fat burning zone’ on many commercial exercise machines.
The study included 26 adult participants who completed a test to measure the exercise intensity and heart rate at which they reached their highest rate of fat burning. The heart rates at which they burned maximal fat were then compared to the general heart rate recommendations for the “fat-burning zone,” which are often featured on commercial exercise machines.
The results showed that the heart rate at which participants burned maximum fat varied widely and did not align with the generally recommended “fat-burning zone.” On average, there was a difference of 23 beats per minute between the general recommendation and the actual maximum fat burning zone. The authors recommend using clinical exercise testing to determine maximal fat burning zones rather than relying on general recommendations.
Fat burning and weight loss are goals for many individuals, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key to heart health according to the American Heart Association. However, the “fat-burning zones” on exercise machines are typically not well tested. The authors of the study noted that this work may inspire health professionals, personal trainers, and individuals to use clinical exercise tests to develop personal training and exercise plans. In the future, the authors plan to study whether individuals who receive a personal exercise plan demonstrate more weight loss, more fat loss, or more improvement of metabolic health markers than those who are given a general training regimen.