When the heart is beating in its lower zones, fat is being burned because the body uses it as the primary fuel source. Because the lower zones require less fuel overall, only a modest amount of calories will be burned. When the heartrate increases toward the higher zones, the body stops using fat and switches to burning carbohydrates. Also, a greater quantity of calories will be burned because the body is working harder overall.
The distinction between burning fat vs carbs is more important for women because it plays a bigger role in the absence of testosterone. When testosterone is abundant, the body will put on more muscle mass, regardless of heart rate zone and type of energy used. When testosterone is not present in high levels, the trend toward muscle mass dissipates, and so the heart rate zone attained and type of energy used is more important.
Fitness in the age of customization
Maybe you have been struggling to get the results you want with your fitness regime. Solving the problem might be more straightforward than you think. Suppose you have a body type that is not really overweight or obese, but you have some significant fat deposits in certain areas. You read an article one day that says you should focus on strength training to burn off the fat. You do this for six weeks and don’t notice much of a change and so you buy a smartwatch to track your activity. It turns out that when doing the strength training, your heartrate is unusually high. This is common in people with a weak or underdeveloped core. When this happens, the muscles that are supposed to be balancing and stabilizing things when you lift are failing, which puts significant strain on the rest of the body – including the heart. Because the heartrate remains elevated, the body is forced to burn carbohydrates instead of fat and the desired results do not happen.
One solution would be to put away the weights and try Pilates. This will strengthen your core and keep your heartrate low, which is exactly what is needed to melt away the fat deposits. Without access to a device that can give accurate heartrate readings during each activity, you would have never pinpointed the problem of elevated heart rate during strength training. It is very easy to strain, or even damage, the cardiovascular system when using weights. The more knowledge you have about your body in general, the more likely you are to get the results you want. Buying a smartwatch is a good investment.