The Worst Weight-Loss Advice I’ve Ever Received

3. Exercise in a “fat-burning” zone

Woman exercising

The “fat-burning” zone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. | iStock.com/undrey

One of the worst pieces of weight loss advice that I hear repeated over and over, even by many personal trainers, is that people trying to lose weight should exercise at a “fat-burning” zone.

If someone has hours to exercise, very uncommon, then the fat-burning zone can be very effective to help them lose weight. But when time to exercise is the limiting factor, as it is in most cases, the most efficient and effective way to lose fat is to exercise using high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which takes less time, about 30 minutes, and burns nearly twice the total calories.

I advocate HIIT in most of my books, including The Secret of Vigor, because in addition to burning more calories in less time, HIIT helps reduce cortisol levels, which then reduces both appetite and cravings for carbs.

The HIIT walking regimen that I use encompasses a total of 28 minutes (see below) and burns 408 calories, on average in one of our studies, while the same 28 minutes of walking in a fat-burning zone burns only 189 calories.

5 minute warm-up

1 minute easy (can talk) – 1 minute hard (breathless)

2 minutes easy – 2 minutes hard

3 minutes easy – 3 minutes hard

2 minutes easy – 2 minutes hard

1 minute easy – 1 minute hard

5-minute cool-down

Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., nutritional biochemist, and author

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