Burn the most fat at this exercise intensity

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FatMax training cycling

Do you want to know your FatMax because you want to lose weight or because you are an endurance athlete? Then read this article! Here’s how to get to know your personal FatMax training intensity (via this calculator). Don’t forget to continue reading, and learn why your FatMax could be interesting.

FatMax calculator

What is FatMax

FatMax is the training intensity at which you burn the most fat. You can express the intensity in power (watt) or heart rate. Contrary to what many people think, FatMax does not occur at very low intensities. It is true that relative to carbohydrates, more fat is burned at low exercise intensities. It is also true that relative to carbohydrates, less fat is burned at high intensities.

Relative amount of fat and carbohydrates burned
Relative to carbohydrates (CHO), more fat is burned at low exercise intensity

That however does not mean you burn more fat at low intensities. That is because at low intensities you do not burn a lot of energy at all. In other words: you are better of burning 50% fat of 100 kcal (= 50kcal) than 100% fat of 30 kcal.

FatMax depends on exercise intensity
FatMax occurs at a moderate intensity (x-axis), but differs per person
FatMax is expressed in kcal/h (y-axis), the amount differs per person

FatMax and weight loss

Knowing your FatMax is interesting when you want to lose weight and when you are an endurance athlete. When wanting to lose weight, FatMax tells you at which intensity you burn the most fat and it tells you how much fat you burn (kcal per hours) at this intensity.

Keep in mind though that burning fat does not per se equal weight loss. For example when you still consume more energy (kcal) via food, than you burn during exercise.

FatMax training for cyclists, runners and other endurance athletes

For endurance athletes your FatMax is interesting because a high FatMax means you can go fast without using too much carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important to keep a high pace, but you don’t have an infinite amount of them. Therefore, saving carbohydrates until the end of your ride means having more energy to finish strong. Increasing your FatMax is therefore one of the most important aspects of endurance training.

Your personal FatMax intensity

The intensity at which you burn the most fat is highly individual because there is a large variation between individuals. FatMax can easily range between 50% of maximal heart rate and 80% of maximal heart rate. If you truly want to burn as much fat as possible, you should get to know your personal FatMax. You can get to know your FatMax by performing a lab test or by simply performing the recently launched INSCYD test, which you can do anywhere you’d like if you have access to a smart trainer or power meter (cycling) or GPS watch (running). I did both the lab test and the at home INSCYD test, and got similar results.

In collaboration with INSCYD, Molab helps you perform the FatMax test for ‎€179,- via our shop.

Once you’ve done the test, you know how much fat you are able to burn per hour and at which intensity (heart rate and power) you burn the most fat. Below this video you’ll read 3 tips INSCYD provides us, that will increase the amount of fat burned.

The importance of your FatMax intensity – video

3 tips to increase calories burned from fat

1. Avoid high intensity efforts when your goal is to burn fat

During a high intensity effort, you’ll produce lactate. Lactate is a fuel just like fat. Lactate is used when intensity decreases after a high intensity effort. Therefore, the amount of fat burned in the resting phase after high intensity efforts is low. Even when the intensity is at FatMax. Your body will first clear the lactate. In other words: as long as there is lactate in your blood, you will not burn as much fat as possible. So, avoid any high intensity efforts in your fat burning ride.

2. Lower carbohydrate intake before your workout

Maybe you’ve heard of fasted training. For example: not eating breakfast before you exercise. The main idea here is to lower carbohydrate intake before you exercise. A lowered carbohydrate intake can decrease the possibility to burn carbohydrates. In doing so, fat combustion will be elevated. This leads to an immediate elevation in the percentage of fat combustion. It also is a way to train your body to (always) burn more fat.

3. Increase your VO2max

A higher VO2max will lead to better fat combustion. This is because it enables your body (mitochondria, blood flow, capillary density) to do high intensity effort aerobically instead of anaerobically. As burning fat requires more oxygen compared to burning carbohydrates, an increase in VO2max will always result in an improved capacity for burning fat. Although high intensity efforts do not make you burn fat at short-term, it can increase your VO2max, and therefore enable you to burn more fat at long-term.

Want to know more about the INSCYD Power-Performance Decoder test? Read our review here, or buy the test!

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