The Best Intensity for Losing Belly Fat

By: Jordan Robertson

What intensity of exercise is best for burning fat? Have you spending countless hours on the cardio machine and not seeing any results?

Your present lack of results could be due to the intensity of your work outs. It is often assumed that the intensity of exercise must be kept very low to burn fat as a fuel. It is true that at low exercise intensities a high percentage of the total energy expenditure during exercise is derived from fat [1]. It follows that as the exercise intensity increases, the percentage of fat used as fuel decreases [1]. However, a key point to think about is that the total rate of fat oxidation during exercise is typically greatest at higher exercise intensities that are below the lactate threshold. V02 max or maximal oxygen uptake is the maximum amount of oxygen the body is able to consume. During exercise at 20% of V02 max, it is estimated that about 60% of the total energy expended would come from fat. By comparison, during exercise at 50% of V02 max, about 40% of the total energy expended would be obtained from fat. Nonetheless, because the total rate of energy expenditure is 2.5 times greater at 50% V02 max compared to 20% V02 max, the absolute amount of fat metabolized is 33% higher during exercise at 50% V02 max [1].

What's the best cardio program for optimal fat loss? The best cardio program to optimize fat loss is cardiovascular interval training. Set the first interval level at 3 to 4 mph for 60 seconds, which is a fast walk. The second interval level should be set at 5 to 6.5 for 60 seconds, which is a light to medium paced jog. Obviously, depending on your fitness level these numbers should be adjusted. Also, as your fitness level increases you should be increasing the speed to stay in the optimal fat burning range, which is 20% to 50%, V02 max. Depending on your fitness training program you can either add 15-20 minutes of cardio interval training on at the end of your work out or do cardio on a separate day for 30-40 minutes.a

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1) Reference: Powers, S.C. Howley, E.T.(2007) Exercise Physiology, Theory and Application To Fitness and Performance 6th EDN.

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