The Truth About Fat Burning

Think you know the fat-burning zone? Think again.

By Su Reid-St. John

You'll find it on virtually every cardio machine at the gym: instructions on how to hit your fat-burning zone. You get to work out slower (exercise too hard and you can kiss the fat-burning zone goodbye) and blast off unwanted fat in the process.

Sound too good to be true? It is.

Here's the reality: "Slow cardio will not burn more fat," says NASM Elite Trainer Audrey Quick. "At a slower pace, a greater percentage of calories burned will be from fat, but the total calories, and total fat calories, will be lower than exercise at a more intense pace."

Working out harder, then, is still your best bet. But that doesn't mean you have to spend your entire workout out of breath. "One easy way to increase the amount of fat you're burning is to add intervals," says Sharecare fitness expert Wendy Batts. "Simply vary the speed of your favorite cardio by alternating 2 minutes at a moderate pace with 2 minutes at a faster pace." (If you're a beginner, do 30 seconds at higher intensity, then go longer as you get stronger.)

Take our Workout Intensity quiz

And remember, fat burning isn't all about the cardio, so hit the resistance machines, too. "A good total body strength training program will help to increase lean muscle mass," says Sharecare fitness expert Kristy Lee Wilson. And the more lean muscle you have, the more fat your body naturally burns all day long.

You can work out your whole body with these six moves from NASM: push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and squats.

Try this super-efficient workout from Elite Trainer Joel Harper

This workout hits virtually every muscle in your body in just four moves-no equipment required.

Farewell, fat! We won't miss you.

Su Reid-St. John is a writer for Sharecare.

Get More Health Tips from Sharecare:

Reverse Aging Now with the Free RealAge Test

20 Ways to Lose Weight

Relieve Joint Pain With These Tips and Tools

Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

Tone Your Arms With This Workout Plan