When it comes to cardio and fat burn, and the differences between the two things, distinguishing between what they mean and represent can be super confusing…
Everyone seems to have a say on what the difference between fat burn and cardio is, from fitness models to self-proclaimed fitness gurus, meaning that there’s a whole load of information floating about, making it all somewhat unclear.
But don’t fret! Here at LBL, we have you covered with our easy-to-understand breakdown on the whole fat burn Vs. cardio debate! In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of heart rate for both fat burn and cardio as well as what factors separate the cardio zone from the fat burning zone.
It’s All About Your Heart Rate
Ever jumped on a treadmill or machine at the gym and seen graphics labelled “fat burn zone” and ‘cardio zone” and had absolutely no clue on what they meant? If you have then here’s a breakdown of what they mean in the simplest of terms.
When debating the difference between these 2 zones, it all comes down to your heart rate!
Our heart rate is a measure of how hard our heart is working- enabling it to be an indication of the intensity level of a certain workout or training session. The fat burning zone is an intensity whereby your heart is working between 55%-65% of its maximum output and for the cardio zone it’s between 75%-85%.
A heart rate between 55% and 80% is can be determined as a heart-rate zone that improves cardiovascular fitness. Though it may sound about right that more stored fat is blitzed at the top end of this range, a greater amount of calories are actually burned from stored fat at the lower end of the cardio zone. Overall, from a total calorie point of view, a higher heart rate does indeed burn more total calories- making it a key factor for those working towards weight loss.
Cardio is essentially a form of exercise that elevates your heart and breathing rates and challenges your cardiovascular system. In a similar way to how a leg workout would test your leg muscles, a cardio workout will challenge your heart on how effectively it can pump blood and oxygen around your body whilst engaging in physical activity.
Cardio exercises like running and HIIT workouts will certainly have you out of breath and looking like a sweaty mess, but…they will also have you on your way to burning maximum calories! For this reason, cardio is great for those who are aiming to lose weight.
Cardio as part of our fitness routine is a necessity, not only does it strengthen the heart, but it also strengthens and works the lungs as well as improves blood circulation. Furthermore, cardio also helps with boosting our immune system and also helps with the control and reduction of cholesterol levels!
Fat Burn 101
The fat burning zone defines the workout intensity at which your body primarily burns fat for fuel. At lower training intensities, the body actually relies more on stored fat as its primary fuel source as opposed to carbs!
This may translate to many people as suggesting that you burn more fat when working at a lower intensity, but the matter of fact is that more calories are torched the more you pick up the pace.
The fat burning zone does also come with benefits- working at a lower intensity can be used as a positive factor as you may actually be able to work out for longer, and in doing so burn calories over a longer time period. With this in mind, the fat burning zone’s intensity can be great for building endurance!
Fat Burn Zone Vs. Cardio Zone – The Bottom Line
Basically, it’s all to do with your heart rate and how this rate indicates the intensity of your workout. Though the term “fat burning zone” may suggest that this intensity is superior when it comes to weight loss, it mainly burns stored fat for energy and blitzes less calories overall in comparison to the cardio zone. However, it’s great for building endurance and can help you in burning a tonne of calories over a longer period training session!
Cardio sessions and working at the top end of the cardio zone is not only great for your workout but also massively beneficial for your overall health and body function. Cardio is important for a healthy and balanced lifestyle, be sure not to neglect it!