What Is The Fat Burning Zone

Fitness, Nutrition • September 17, 2021

In exercise ads, weight loss promotions, and even on treadmills telling you about this magical fat-burning zone that solves all of your problems.

This magical zone they refer to is when you walk or do any low-intensity exercise that does not elevate your heart rate above ~60%, then you are burning mostly fat as fuel. When you start to increase your heart rate great than 60% then you start to burn carbohydrates as fuel.  So you should walk to lose fat, Right?

Not so fast. There are a couple of different ways you can look at this fat-burning zone. 

  1. First, this is not a magic zone will you will immediately burn off all the fat. Yes you will be using fat as a fuel source, but this does not mean you stop storing fat as you eat.
  2. Walking is a great, underrated, low impact exercise that I believe everyone should incorporate into ones routine for basic physical activity. But walking can take longer to burn X amount of calories. A mile can take anywhere from 15min – 40min to walk depending on speed, in which you may burn 100 calories. But if you ran the 1 mile, then you could burn those 100 calories in 10-20 min instead. A bang for your buck concept, but if you can’t run then you should walk for physical activity.
  3. Walking builds endurance and heart health but not muscle. Walking in not a muscle building activity in nature. Yes, it may build some calf muscles but it will not “tone” your body as a whole. This would require strength training. Having more muscle naturally burns more calories throughout the day. This may be more advantageous than walking.

So what are you to take away with this information? 


  • Low intensity exercise uses fat as fuel.
  • But burning this fat does not mean losing fat, if maintenance or surplus calories are being consumed.
  • Walking is a great low, impact exercise.
  • Walking is great for endurance and heart health.
  • Strength training can be paired with walking to add muscle.

I hope this clarifies what the FAT BURNING ZONE is and is not. I hate that there is no magic zone, but now you know what those ads actually refer too (and not waste your money!)

Happy walking!

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