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4 Fat-burning myths busted

When it comes to the best ways to burn body fat, misinformation abounds. Instead of being misled or downright discouraged about torching it, here are the facts on the most common fat-burning myths, along with tips for fitting into those skinny jeans in no time.

Happy woman working out

Myth #1:

When doing cardio, you should stay within the fat-burning zone.


Treadmills and other cardio equipment display colorful charts indicating various zones, one of which indicates a “fat-burning” zone. These zones refer to the percentage of fat burned, not the total calories. You burn the highest percentage of fat while you’re sleeping. But you’re also burning the least number of calories, which is what counts towards body fat loss. Instead, look for ways to burn a greater number of calories over all and the weight—and fat—will drop off.

Myth #2:

Long cardio sessions work best.

Even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible or feasible to exercise for 60 minutes or longer at one time. And if you’re looking to drop pounds, it’s also not the most efficient way. Instead, try intervals, which involves alternating bouts of intense exercise with less-intense recovery periods. Short, intense exercise bursts burn more calories than working out at the same intensity for the same length of time, according to the American Collegeof Sports Medicine (ACSM). The active recovery periods allow for greater intensity during the work intervals and, subsequently, more calories are burned overall. Try the pre-programmed interval training programs on cardio equipment, or do it yourself by alternating 30 to 60 seconds of vigorous activity with the same amount of easy exertion.

Myth #3:

For weight loss, skip the weights and stick with only cardio.

Cardiovascular fitness helps lower body fat by burning more calories while you’re exercising, but weight training helps burn more fat and calories even when you’re relaxing. Research done at John Hopkins University showed an increase in fat burning for up to two hours after a weight training workout ended. Naturally, the intensity of the workout determines how many additional calories you’ll burn. The harder the workout, the longer the after-burn effect.

Myth #4:

I don’t have time!

If scheduling cardio and weight training seems like too much time and effort, try combining the two. The combination of cardio and weight training not only burns calories but saves time as well. This technique called circuit training focuses on resistance training intervals along with intervals of cardio. You can create workout “stations,” each featuring a different weight training exercise for a muscle or muscle group. Do each station with a maximum rest period of 30 seconds in between each exercise to keep calorie-burning at its max.

Now go forth and burn fat!

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