Myth: Fat burning and fat metabolism:

What slow running is really good for

Things to consider for the ideal training

Have you ever heard a so-called expert tell you that you need to train at the "optimal fat-burning heart rate" to lose weight? Forget it. On the path to your ideal figure, a mix of faster and slower runs with strength training is better.

For years, many experts have been preaching weight loss through slow running - so many, in fact, that their theories have become established as popular beliefs. But the belief in optimal weight loss at a very slow pace is not scientifically tenable. On the contrary: the right mix of endurance, strength, flexibility and coordination training, in combination with optimal nutrition, melts fat deposits the fastest.

There is no special fat-burning pulse that guarantees maximum fat loss. Rather, fat consumption through physical training is always the result of energy consumption per unit of time and training duration. Long and low-intensity training is in principle neither more effective nor less effective in terms of fat loss than shorter, high-intensity training. The absolute calorie consumption is decisive.

If you want to get to grips with your body fat with long, slow endurance runs, you have to run for a particularly long time. After two hours, the total calorie consumption is high despite a low pace. At higher running speeds, the percentage of fat burned decreases, while carbohydrate utilization increases. However, the absolute energy consumption increases disproportionately at a faster pace, so that the absolute amount of fat burned can be higher than during a run at a very low heart rate, which is so often praised as training for fat burning.

If you want to lose weight in the form of fat, you can reach your goal faster with high-intensity training than by exercising in the so-called fat-burning zone. In the end, only the absolute energy consumption counts for losing weight. And this must be higher than the amount of calories consumed with food.

Athletically active people not only consume more energy during their activities. They are also rewarded with an increased metabolic rate after training. Depending on the type of training, this can last up to 48 hours. The effect is particularly intense with strength training. As the percentage of fat burning is particularly high in the resting phase after exercise compared to carbohydrate utilization, the afterburn effect is of considerable importance with regard to fat and weight reduction.

In addition, regular strength training leads to an increase in muscle mass. And this is associated with a permanent increase in calorie consumption. Muscles have a significantly higher energy requirement than fat tissue when at rest. Every kilogramme of muscle mass increases the daily basal metabolic rate by up to 50 kilocalories.

Nevertheless, long, quiet endurance runs are of course a very important component of training. The background: carbohydrate reserves are limited. Even well-trained athletes can only draw on their glycogen stores for a few hours. Human fat reserves, on the other hand, are almost inexhaustible. In order to gain more energy from them, however, the body needs a lot of oxygen.

Under stress, your organism always draws on both types of fuel. However, the intensity of exertion (or the availability of oxygen) determines how high the proportion of carbohydrates and how high the proportion of fat is. The more intense your exertion, the more carbohydrates are tapped and the faster this supply is used up.

Your goal should therefore be to use your valuable carbohydrate reserves as efficiently as possible. You can achieve this by running very slowly. But who wants to do that in a race when you are up against the clock? The good news is that if you do a lot of long training runs at low intensity, your body will learn over the time to draw most of its energy from fat metabolism, even at higher heart rates.