Does the Fat Burning Zone Really Work?

Find out about the latest research on the fat burning zone, get three tips on how to make fat burning more efficient, and learn how to find your personal fat burning zone today.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #213

In the episode What Is the Fat Burning Zone?, you learned about the mysterious fat burning zone, which I define with the following example:

“For example, if you burn 200 calories per hour while walking, and burn 60% fat, then you burn 120 fat calories per hour. But if you burn 600 calories per hour while jogging, and only burn 40% fat during that time, you still burn 240 calories of fat per hour, twice as much as when you were walking. Using this concept, the point at which fat burning peaks during exercise is referred to as 'the fat burning zone'.”

Read or listen to that episode to learn more about how to find your own personal fat burning zone, how to burn fat fast, and how to use the fat burning zone in your workout. It’s Get-Fit Guy episode #015.

Does The Fat Burning Zone Really Work?

So if I covered everything about the fat burning zone in that episode, why am I doing a follow-up today? Because of the results of a recent study. The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis that 10 weeks of supervised exercise training at the maximal fat oxidation intensity (aka, the fat burning zone) would decrease body fat and increase fat burning – even if calories weren’t restricted and participants weren’t on any kind of special diet..

The results are hardly shocking. It turns out that when performing 5-hour-long aerobic sessions in the fat burning zone each week for 10 weeks, the study participants experienced significant decreases in total body weight, body mass index, body fat percentages, and abdominal fat mass. They also had favorable changes in their concentrations of triglycerides, serum leptin, and blood glucose. As a matter of fact, although many personal trainers and exercise gurus preach the message that aerobic cardio training in the fat burning zone will not work at all, these study participants shed 8% body fat with this strategy, with zero dieting whatsoever.

Now, here’s the rub: There was no comparison in this study to any other form of exercise, such as high intensity interval training or weight training. This is important to know because when it comes to optimizing fat loss and body composition, along with maintaining youthful muscles and hormones, both of these forms of exercise have repeatedly been shown to be superior to steady state, low intensity aerobic training.

You should also know that the study subjects were obese – and often if you are obese, you’re going to lose weight no matter what form of exercise you do simply because you are forced to move more mass, period!

But let’s say that you want to try this “aerobic only” approach to lose fat. Here are 3 quick and dirty tips to make your aerobic exercise in the fat burning zone even more efficient:


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.