Question: Is it true that to burn the most fat I should exercise at a slower pace? I’ve seen treadmills that indicate a slower pace for “fat-burning” and a faster speed for cardiovascular fitness.
Answer: Not necessarily. The widespread belief that slow exercise burns more fat is a misinterpretation of the research. It is true that of all the calories burned during exercise, a greater proportion comes from fat during low-intensity exercise than during higher-intensity activity. To burn the greatest amount of total fat, however, it is more effective to increase the intensity or duration of exercise. Although a smaller proportion of the calories burned comes from fat when exercising at a higher intensity, its ability to burn significantly more calories overall means that a larger total amount of fat is burned. Therefore, if you hit a plateau in your exercise program, and want to bump up your pace, you don’t have to choose between weight control and heart health. Low-intensity exercise can still play an essential role in your workout, as a warm-up and cool-down, and as the only safe way to begin an exercise program. If you don’t want to work out at a higher intensity, don’t push yourself. Just by making the change from a sedentary lifestyle to a regular program of low-intensity exercise like walking, you can make the most important step for weight control and overall health.