How to Determine Your Optimal Fat Burning Zone (and does it even matter?) – BioTrust Radio #17
Ever wonder how to figure out your fat burning zone for exercise? Does it even matter? Ever wonder why there are so many supplements out there or how to choose which are BEST for you? Thinking about trying intermittent fasting or wondering if it really works as well as some proclaim? Trying to figure out what you need in your diet to combat activity-related muscle and joint discomfort?
If so, you’re going to want to tune into this health Q&A episode of BioTrust Radio where Shawn and Tim tackle several listener questions, cover all these burning topics, and much, much more. Enjoy!
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Transcript – How to Determine Your Optimal Fat Burning Zone (and does it even matter?)
Tim: Your other host.
Shawn: Your other host. Yes, exactly. We, together, make two amazing hosts for BioTrust Radio and we wanted to roll in today into some customer Q&A. Where do those come from, Tim?
Tim: We’re getting questions from folks on the blog, BioTrust.com/blog; also from our Facebook VIP group, our private group. Just head over to Facebook and search “BioTrust VIP,” and we’ll add you to it. Those are the main two places that we’re getting these questions from. So let’s jump right in, and I think you’re a perfect candidate to answer this first one from Mr. Ernie Hill. Ernie Hill says, “Why are there so many different supplements? Couldn’t these be combined together to make one complete supplement?”
Shawn: Ah, that’s an interesting question. One, I would say that would get super expensive. A lot of people need certain things and not everything. There isn’t like a one size fits all. We have different bodies, different diets, and different demands on us. So, IC-5 may be a great supplement for some people, but not for necessarily everyone. And there’s cost associated with that. We use the best ingredients. We tackle a number of mechanisms of action for each product, so that we can make them complete, so to speak, on that need, be it Joint 33X or IC-5, or LeptiBurn or something else; it’s tackling that certain need that someone may have, but not everyone may need. So, yes, I think all of our products certainly wouldn’t hurt you. They would help you, if everyone took most of our products, but it would get very expensive to do it right. So I think we allow you the freedom to choose what you need and get the best quality.
Yes, you could probably go get something that addresses each of these needs for $10 at Walmart, but it’s not going to do a great job. Our products are the best ingredients at the scientific doses, in the correct forms. So, that’s the reason.
Tim: Yeah. One thing that you brought up a couple times there, Shawn, which I think is really important to point out is “need.” And when we talk about supplements, I think it’s important to go through like a needs-based analysis. Really, if you boiled it down to maybe two categories of supplements, you’d have ones that I would consider essential or they provide essential nutrients. So this would be vitamins, minerals, fish oil, proteins, essential fats, and things like that.
Shawn: Probiotics maybe.
Tim: Those are trying to fill a nutritional gap, so to speak. Something that you’re not getting through your diet, you’re trying to get with the supplement. So you have those, and that’s going to vary from person-to-person. For instance, a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish might benefit from an omega-3 fatty acid. Most people will. So maybe that’s not the best example. But based on your dietary choices, your essential needs may vary from one person to another. And then on the other hand, we have more goal‑specific products that providing non-essential nutrients; herbs come to mind. So like an IC-5 or LeptiBurn. You don’t need those ingredients, necessarily, to survive. They’re not essential from that standpoint. However, they can help you if you want to lose weight or if you want to improve your glycemic control, respectively.
So, not everyone has the same goals or the same needs, like you said. So I think it’s that’s always important to come back to the question, “why supplement?” And to your question, Ernie, not everyone’s going to have the same needs or the goals as you.
Shawn: And not everyone wants to take 30 capsules a day.
Shawn: So, onto the next one, from RB on the blog. He says, “I’m 57 years old. I was blessed athletically. I played Division 1 football many moons ago, of course. Six foot three, 230 lbs. I need to lose about 10 pounds of belly fat. I can’t work out like I used to with my knee, shoulder operations, etc. I’ve tried intermittent fasting for about two weeks. How long does it normally take to see any improvement, and does it simply work for some people?”
Tim: Good questions, RB.
Shawn: Yeah, you want to jump in on that?
Tim: Yeah, I’ll take a stab at it. Okay maybe starting and you can jump in at any point. I think the first part of that is saying that you’ve only been at it for about two weeks. So, you kind of have to stick with something for at least a period of at least four weeks, I would say, before you can really assess how it’s working for you. That being said, I think it’s also important to better gauge how are you assessing your improvement? Are you just looking at a number on a scale? Are you talking about how you’re feeling? What are your objective and subjective outcomes that you’re looking at to assess whether or not this thing is working for you? So that’s one thing that that I would take into consideration. And if you’re not seeing progress after four weeks, say that your metric is weight loss, then it’s probably time to make some changes. And maybe that’s increasing your physical activity and/or decreasing your caloric intake, because ultimately if weight loss is the goal then it’s going to come down to the energy balance at some point.
With intermittent fasting, really there’s a few different types of intermittent fasting. You have your time restricted feeding, which basically you’re condensing your feeding window.
Shawn: It varies. 16 and 8 or 20 and 4, or something like that.
Tim: Exactly. So really, with any of these restrictive intermittent fasting protocols, the reason that they’re effective from a weight-loss standpoint is because they can lower caloric intake. Now, are there other benefits? Most likely. But from a weight loss standpoint, they’re probably having a benefit because of a reduced caloric intake. We still have to pay respect to that, so we want to look more into what’s does your food intake look, RB? How is how is all that adding up? So maybe starting to track your intake on MyFitnessPal or something like that. You don’t have to do that indefinitely, but just maybe for a short period of time to see where you’re at, so you can get a baseline.
And is it possible that intermittent fasting doesn’t work for everyone? Yes. I mean, it’s not a perfect one-size-fits-all approach and there’s certain people that are better candidates than others. For instance, I wouldn’t tell a pregnant mother to be on intermittent fasting or someone who maybe struggles with blood sugar management, at least initially, to go on a protocol like that.
So it’s not for everyone. You still have to assess and evaluate to see how something’s working for you.
Shawn: Right, exactly. And we don’t know all the specifics here about how he’s executing on this intermittent fast. Maybe the first few weeks when you’re fasting, you’re just so incredibly hungry that you’re overeating initially. But at some point, usually everything settles in and you eat less, like you were saying. Like the calories-in calories‑out kind of scenario. So, I think if you if you do stick with it, RB, I think you’ll see results. You will, in time, have a decreased appetite. That usually does happen. So, stick with it. I think like Tim said, track what you’re doing, at least initially, so you have an understanding of not only the foods you’re eating and the amounts, but it’s nice to track what’s happening, specifically around your eating. Like are you with certain people? Are you at a certain place? Sometimes we have triggers for eating and maybe potentially for overeating, or for eating the wrong foods. So, all that’s good to know, at least initially, so you can say, “Okay, I know what’s going on here in my life.”
But let’s move on to the next one from Cassie Patton on the blog. “How does a 47 year old woman find out what her target fat-burning heart rate is?” Tim this is a great trainer question.
Tim: Yeah, I really like this question. I’m going to answer it, but there’s going to be some caveats thrown in there.
Shawn: Oh, no.
Tim: Yeah. So, let’s assume that Cassie’s asking this question because she’s interested in burning fat or losing fat. There’s other reasons that someone might ask this question, for instance, maybe they’re interested in endurance performance or long-distance endurance. But let’s assume that Cassie’s asking this because she wants to lose weight, lose fat. So, the actual equation to determine target heart rate for fat-burning, the first thing you have to do is estimate your max heart rate. And typically, most people are using an age-predicted equation, which is 220 minus your age. So let’s see how good my math is there 220 minus 47 is going to be 173. So 173 would be Cassie’s age-predicted max heart rate. Then the “fat burning zone” is typically defined as 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. So you’d multiply 173 by 60 to 70% to get that that range. And that would be your predicted fat burning zone. So, off the top of my head, I don’t know the answer to or don’t know what that range is, but you could figure.
Shawn: Yeah, makes sense.
Tim: So that would be it, Cassie. Now there’s some issues with that. So first of all, the age predicted 220 minus your age -predicted max heart rate, that’s not really a reliable equation. There’s some others that you could potentially use. But here’s a problem, if you use that and let’s say that the age-predicted equation comes out to be that your max heart rate is actually lower than what’s predicted, you’re going to end up exercising in a much higher intensity than you want to and you’re going to get fatigued a lot faster. Now, on the other hand, if your max heart rate is actually higher than what’s predicted, then you’re going to be exercising at a much lower intensity. So that has applications for maybe more of an athlete, I guess.
But going back to the fat-burning zone, these ranges come from studies on a group of fasted people, and so basically what is kind of defining as the fat burning zone is take a step back. You’re always burning a combination of fat and carbohydrate, or under most circumstances you’re burning a combination of fat and carbohydrate. And at very low intensities, for instance as Shawn and I are sitting here under fasted conditions, we’d be burning a high proportion of fat, because our body uses fat very effectively when we have a lot of oxygen available to us and we can meet our energy needs that way. So as we increase our exercise intensity, we shift more towards burning glucose under normal circumstances. So as intensity increases above that 70% and so on up to 100%, you’re going to burn a higher proportion of carbohydrate.
So the fat-burning zone is kind of that sweet spot where you’re burning a lot of calories, because you’re going to be burning more calories at that 60-70% than you would be just sitting down. So it’s that sweet spot of where you’re burning a good amount of calories, and the majority of that fuel is supposedly coming from fat. However, that fuel substrate with the utilization of the fuel during exercise can vary dramatically, based on what you’ve eaten before your meal or your overall diet. For instance, if you’ve eaten carbs within 4 to 6 hours, or maybe even 8 hours before exercise, there’s going to be enough insulin present to subdue fat-burning and shift you predominantly to glucose utilization. Let’s say, if you’re a keto, you’re going to be burning a much higher percentage of fat because your body is fat adapted.
So, there’s a lot of things there to consider. There’s some holes there. The other thing that I like to point out, too, is that exercise really is only about maybe 30 minutes for some people, or maybe 60 minutes. So the fuel that you’re burning during exercise is a very small percentage of what you’re burning over the course of the day. So if all you look at is exercise, you may be missing out on the big picture. The moral of the story, the take-home point there is that it’s probably not necessary for someone who’s just interested in weight loss to get too caught up in what fuel you’re using during exercise. More probably a matter of just trying to burn off as many calories as you can. Like we talked about a while back, maybe an interval training protocol is a more efficient way to get there for a lot of people.
Shawn: I think a lot of people just get caught up in it because of the marketing on the treadmills and whatnot, that they put a lot of value in that, and I don’t think there is a ton of value in that. Maybe if you are an elite athlete, there’s more value, but I think Tim’s right-on there.
This next one, this may be from my mom, which is interesting, and I didn’t even know that. But my mom is a BioTrust person as well, and she gets on the blog. She says, “As an older person—72—I would like baby steps to good healthy aging. Please give us a list of things to begin our new journey. Is it overwhelming to go from sedentary to active?”
So this kind of reminds me of like the couch to 5k kind of like thing that very popular now. And certainly this is someone who is older, at 72, but not necessarily “old.” I like to think of my mom as a healthy person with a young mind and young heart. But she wants to get more active and it can seem overwhelming, especially when you see like all these people on magazines that are ripped. And like now we’re even seeing like these guys that are 80 years old and they’re jacked then they they’re doing testosterone replacement, GH and all this stuff.
Tim: Easy CrossFit work.
Shawn: Yeah, stuff like that, and that’s kind of marketing. But the reality is start where you’re at, really, and it’s kind of like the “how do I get down the street?” You put one foot in front of the other. You just start moving. And I would, say start doing something that you can maintain and make part of your lifestyle. Maybe you can’t get in a gym quite yet and you can’t afford a trainer quite yet, but you can start taking walks in the morning and the evening. You can use your lunch break, if you’re still working, to take a walk. Then maybe once you’re consistent with taking a walk you can carry two cans of soup or something in your hands, or get hand weights or whatever, wherever your budget is.
Or you can throw on a backpack. You can do something like that. Then while you’re sitting there watching TV, you can you can stretch. You can do some leg lifts. You can get a dumbbell and just do some bicep curls. Or again, if you can’t afford a dumbbell, get your cans of soup or your milk jug, or something, and just move your body. A body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest. It is true. If you’re not using your body, you do lose it. And I think we need to find ways to not only be active, but use a number of the things that we may get away from as we get older. We stop crawling, like Kelly Starrett talks about that. Find ways to just crawl around or sit on the ground and put your shoes on versus sitting in a chair. There’s some things like that that I think we lose some mobility as we stop getting in these positions.
Tim: Absolutely. As you know, I have a 17 month old daughter and I spend a lot more time on the floor now and it really opens my eyes to mobility issues that I didn’t realize were there because I hadn’t really spent much time on the floor before. So I think, like you said, something as simple as if you’re going to sit down and watch TV, maybe sit on the floor. Because the other thing is like sitting on the floor is not as comfortable as a couch, so you move more.
Shawn: You move more, yeah, exactly.
Tim: There’s different levels of movement. Movement is like this big umbrella and underneath that umbrella you have physical activity, which is a bit more structured. And then even more structure would be exercise. So any one of those things is important, but just moving more is really healthy. I mean like as we’re sitting here, we’re fidgeting a little bit, we’re moving around, shifting in our chairs. And all that movement is important, because every time we move, those little cells in our body are moving as well, and all that’s really important.
So to your point, I think start where you’re at is excellent advice. Just recognize where you are. And sure, maybe you have an idea of where you want to be, but you have to take little steps to get there. If you really want to pick up a structured exercise program and you’re not doing anything right now, maybe you just start with dedicating five or ten minutes a day to exercise. And maybe it’s a walk, maybe it’s just moving around the house, or maybe it’s doing some yard work or something like that. Maybe you have grandkids, and it’s just like you said, get on the floor and play with them. So I think from an exercise standpoint, it’s starting small.
We’ve talked about the value of strength training, especially as we get older. And if you’re not doing any kind of resistance training, then just moving your body is going to be a step in the right direction.
Shawn: Getting a dog. There’s data on the people that own dogs are more active because they play with them, they walk them to keep them healthy, and that in fact keeps you healthy.
Tim: There’s mental health benefits as well. And just real quick on the nutrition side of things, it’s the same idea. Start where you’re at. You don’t need to necessarily go jump on a new diet right away, but just maybe start by focusing on one meal. Maybe you just want to eat a better lunch on Wednesdays.
Shawn: Or one thing that you think you’re addicted to. If you have six diet sodas a day, or six real sodas or whatever, can you cut it down to three? Just stuff like that that might help you and is maintainable. That’s the most important thing. Is it maintainable? Can you do something? Don’t go from like six to zero. Just do something, “Can I do this?” Okay, and go from there. So, moving on.
Tim: We’ll jump into Nina Ellison’s question. Nina Ellison on the blog asked, “What am I needing in my diet? I’m getting stiffer and I exercise. My knees are bad. Shawn, what do I need in my diet?”
Shawn: Well, let’s see. There’s a lot of things. One of the things I would recommend here is our product, Joint 33X.
Shawn: Which is excellent. And it has a special form of collagen, in UC-II. But I would say that getting things in your diet that are anti-inflammatory, potentially getting on a ketogenic diet, which is shown to be anti-inflammatory. I think eating more vegetables is anti‑inflammatory. And getting away from things that are pro-inflammatory like sugar, like alcohol, like omega-6 fatty acids in that ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. I would say have more things like fish oil, olive oil, things like that. Cut down your alcohol and sugar content, if those are in your diet. I would say take something like Joint 33X. Maybe take collagen during the day. If you want to go get that supplement, it’s pretty reasonable, like $7 for a tub. Those are some things that come to mind. Having more water in your diet would obviously help. Having hydrated cells is going to help in those scenarios.
And then as far as exercise, there’s some really good stuff there too. You want to cover that?
Tim: Yeah, I do have one more supplement plug, Ageless Body. Ageless Body has the curcumin, which is a form of turmeric extract with a high concentration of curcumin. And it’s the most bioavailable form of curcumin. Most people are familiar with curcumin and turmeric as being very friendly on the joints.
Exercise-wise, I think it depends on the person a bit. But even getting in the water and doing some things in the water. It’s not just water aerobics. The USA Olympic swim team does weight training in the water. There’s all kinds of different things, depending on what level you’re at. That would be one thing to consider. Certainly strengthening other areas. I would actually ask if you’re using a personal trainer right now, because technique is going to play a significant role. A lot of people that have knee problems tend to be more knee-dominant with their movements, instead of being more hip-dominant. We’re not trying to get too complex, but learning how to use your butt muscles more right and how to use your hamstrings, and strengthening all the muscles around your hips.
Shawn: That goes back to the baby thing that you were talking about. Your kid can sit in a squat for hours, right. Like an amazing squat, like butt to the floor squat.
Tim: Heels on the ground and everything.
Shawn: Yeah, and we stop having the ability to do that because we stop squatting, and we sit in chairs and we become inactive. Then we not only sit in chairs, but we flop down into stuff. We don’t even lower ourselves down into the couch or into the chair.
Tim: Exactly. Wow, we’ve checked off maybe 5-6 questions here, Shawn. Maybe it’s time for a break in the action today. We’ll come back to this next time. It seems like it’s pretty popular with the guests. But if you have questions for Shawn and myself, just head over to the BioTrust blog and share a question on one of the podcast pages that are up, or head over to the Facebook group. And again, that’s BioTrust VIP, and just ask one of your questions. If we do answer it on the air, we’ll actually give you a free product to boot.
Shawn: That’s a really good deal. All right, well we appreciate your questions, and hopefully you appreciate our answers. We’ll be back soon. Thanks everyone.