Katrina Hodgson, NASM CPT, BS Health Science, has helped thousands reach their goals by designing fitness programs with her workout videos and her website ToneItUp.com. As one of Diet.coms featured personal trainers she hopes to share her passion for fitness and continue to make a positive impact for the Diet.com community.

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Fitness Expert Katrina

by Katrina Hodgson, Diet.com Fitness Expert

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In order to lose the MOST amount of fat you must work yourself into the “Fat Burning Zone!”


This elusive and mysterious fat-burning zone is the crazy myth that just keeps on coming back in magazines, videos and books! It is a myth! The fat-burning zone, if you haven’t heard, is supposedly the intensity level at which the body burns the highest percentage of fat! Whoo hoo!

NOTE: You can watch my video on this myth by simply clicking below. But be sure to read this entire blog though for the complete story.

But guess what zone burns almost 100% of fat!? REST! So to lose the most amount of weight should we just stay still all day? The entire concept is based on rest. It states that if you work out at a lower percentage of your max heart rate, then you will burn a higher percentage of fat. This part is TRUE!

The truth is that at a lower-intensity, your workout leaves you with less calories burnt and far less fat calories lost than if you work out more intensely.

Clients always come to me and ask if they should be working out in the fat-burning zone because most exercise machines still display the fat burning zone on them at the gym. I first explain to them how weight loss works.

It’s very simple actually.

The Law of Thermodynamics states that in order to lose weight you must take in less energy than you expend. During your workouts you want to burn as many calories as you can based on your goals in order to create a deficit in your calories per day. Whether the calories are from fat, carbohydrates or protein, all that matters at the end of the day is if you take in less energy than you expend if your goal is to lose FAT!

After understanding this I explain that during your workout if you were to jog or slowly walk to keep your heart rate at 60% of your max heart rate, like the ‘Fat Burning Zone” states, you will burn a higher percentage of fat out of the TOTAL amount of calories you would burn. If you were to exercise at 80% of your max heart rate or interval train in that range you will burn a lesser percentage of calories from fat, but the overall calories outweigh your lower intense workout!

It's somewhat tough to fathom, I know. See the example below to see the numbers.

Moderate Intensity
55-70% max heart rate
Total calories burned = 200
Fat calories burned at 75%
Total fat calories burned = 150

High Intensity!
70-85% max heart rate
Total calories burned = 375
Fat calories burned at 50%
Total fat calories burned = 187.5

Proving that working out at a higher intensity burns more calories from fat is one thing. Realizing it burns way more calories overall, which is the key to losing weight, is the best way to grasp how to reach your fat burning goals!

For your target heart rate zone click here.

Don’t let anyone make an April fool out of you. Now that you know how to lose fat you are ready to tackle fat burning!

Push your body! It’s good for your health too! Try interval training, cardio circuits, strength training super sets, boot camp classes, dance classes and anything that brings your heart rate up! This will guarantee strength, endurance and calorie burning improvements!

Click here to see some of my fitness programs and videos.

@ 10:53am ET on March 28, 2008
Hi Katrina, what is the deficit you should create for maximum weight loss as far as daily calories go?

@ 9:31pm ET on March 28, 2008
ooooh i like your new photo Kat! :)

I was about to ask you what Shan just did. :)

@ 10:02pm ET on March 28, 2008
Thanks Chefsy! How is everything going?

So ladies, here is the deal on losing fat... Depending on your weight loss goals you want to reduce your calorie intake and also factor in how many calories you are burning during exercise. One pound of fat has how many calories in it? That's right! 3500 ;) I knew you remembered from my past blogs!

For example...

If you want to lose a pound of fat every week you could deduct your calories by 350 calories each day/ 5 days a week (having your glass of wine and extra goodies on the weekend) and burn 350 calories working out 5 days a week (at the gym, at home, walking outside, roller blading, playing indoor tennis, walking around the mall and doing an exercise video!) Anything you can do! This equals 700 calories/ 5 days a week and this will be a 3500 deficit over a week! Do the calculation. Figure out what works best for you!

Katrina ;)

@ 12:46am ET on March 29, 2008
Is this a deficit from our RMR or the figure of say 1300 calories that I am eating per day?

I have seen on the internet that you take your RMR (mine is supposed to be 1573 calories per day according to their calculator) then you add how many cals you burn off in exercise so say 400

Would you then go 1973 - 700 cal deficit which would mean I should eat 1273 calories per day?

LOL Im confused!

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