Burning fat is an essential part of most people's fitness regimes at one point or another. This is especially true if you are trying to cut fat to show more muscle or lose weight in general. It's a part of fitness, and it's essential to know the facts. Fat burning does generally occur at any elevated heart rate if you burn enough calories, but looking at different heart rates does show us a few different things.

How your heart rate affects fat

Before we go into too much detail, it's a good idea to look at how your heart rate affects fat loss. Fat is lost when your body needs to use fuel that it doesn't have from food to keep going. Things get slightly more complicated when we look at the exact mechanics of this.

If you are eating a calorie surplus, for example, you can exercise as much as you like, but you are going to be increasing your mass. A calorie surplus means more calories than you would typically use in a day. Although the increase in mass is usually fatty tissue, this won't always be the case, especially if you are weight training to build muscle.

Creating a deficit, or less than you use, is where real fat burning happens. This is one of the fundamentals of weight loss.But it is vital to remember that being too low on calories will have a negative impact.

Even on top of the difference in your caloric intake, your heart rate has different effects on fat loss. The more you move, the more calories you are burning. This is the big thing to remember though: calories do not mean fat. How much fat you burn per calorie is where we need to be looking, which is why we have detailed different types of exercises below.

HIIT

woman exercising with battle ropes

High-intensity interval training is one of the most efficient exercises that you can be doing in the long run. It usually takes around 20 minutes and can burn more calories than a 40-minute typical cardio workout could do. That's awesome for weight loss and cardiovascular health in general. It involves your heart rate being at around 85-90% of your maximum heart rate.

When your heart rate is this high, that's when you are starting to burn serious calories. The only issue is that keeping this going for a prolonged period is hard. Hence the shorter workouts. Ultimately though, your heart rate being this high is an excellent way for you to start to implement a calorie deficit alongside a diet. If you are creating a deficit on your caloric needs by 300-500 calories a day as well, you'll be burning fat for fuel. Awesome!

LISS

people running on the treadmill

Low-intensity steady state cardio, as the name suggests, is quite the opposite. Exercises like walking, hiking, light jogging or gentle cycling get your heart rate up to around 65% of your maximum heart rate. That's where you need to be for LISS.

But things get interesting with LISS when you really break it down. Because of where your heart rate is and how that is affecting your breathing, all the exercise you are doing means you're using aerobic respiration. That means breathing steadily and taking in enough oxygen to exercise continuously. This increase of oxygen also means that per calorie burner, you are burning more fat than you are in pretty much any other type of exercise. The catch? You need to exercise for longer to burn the same number of calories.

Moderate exercise

Moderate exercise is what is recommended by most health bodies when they suggest exercising weekly to keep fit. It's usually around 150 minutes, which is very doable depending on how you choose to do it. Of course, you need more time using LISS and less time using HIIT. Moderate exercise is where your heart rate is between 70 and 80% of your maximum heart rate.

This is more of a middle ground between the two types of training, and fat burning is affected in the same kind of compromise. If you can still create a calorie deficit using this, you'll still likely be losing weight and burning fat on a good level!

Overall

So now that we know what kind of exercise results in what type of fat loss, it's time for you to decide what will work best for you. If you are increasing that heart rate, you'll have different levels of fat burn per calorie.

If you're just trying to cut your body fat percentage to show off your built-up muscle and get lean, then LISS is a good call. When you're trying to lose a lot of weight, you're better off trying HIIT. No matter what you do though, you're going to be burning fat as long as you have a balanced diet, so find what works best for you, and what kind of exercise you enjoy the most!

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.