In the previous column, I explained how to lose fat without necessarily losing scale weight, which is actually quite a different process. When you apply Zone 2 level training and push your body, you’re most likely to lose body fat and get stronger and leaner. Besides, you will also of course get all the other health benefits I mentioned in my last column. There are some strategies though that can help you optimize fat oxidation during Zone 2 training.
First, you can try training on an empty stomach. Exercising in the morning before breakfast can increase fat oxidation, as glycogen stores are relatively low after an overnight fast.
You can also build an aerobic base by consistently training in Zone 2. Over time, this will improve your body’s ability to utilize fat as an energy source. As your aerobic capacity increases, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat during exercise.
You can gradually Increase your training duration, as longer training sessions in Zone 2 provide more opportunities for the body to utilize fat as an energy source. Gradually increasing the duration of your Zone 2 workouts can help improve your body’s ability to burn fat efficiently. Don’t increase too much at once though, small increases such as adding just five to ten minutes at a time are ideal.
You can periodize your training, as balancing Zone 2 training with higher-intensity workouts and strength training will help you achieve a well-rounded exercise program. This variety allows for continued improvements in aerobic capacity and overall fitness, further enhancing your body’s ability to burn fat during Zone 2 sessions.
And of course you can also maintain a balanced diet, because consuming a diet rich in healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates can support fat oxidation during exercise. A rough guide would be to aim to obtain around 20% to 35% of your daily caloric intake from healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. IN other words, like any other fat loss tool, Zone 2 training is not a magical answer to everything, you still need to watch what you eat and drink!
By incorporating these strategies into your fitness routine you can optimize fat oxidation during Zone 2 training, which in turn will lead to improved endurance performance and more efficient energy utilization.
Zone 2 training offers a multitude of benefits for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, particularly in developing aerobic efficiency and preventing injuries. By understanding the science behind this training approach and incorporating it into your routine, you can unlock the power of aerobic endurance and optimize your performance. You can choose pretty much any type of fitness, although do make sure that you are training at the correct heart rate for your age. Age plays a significant role in determining your individual heart rate zones and aerobic capacity. As we age, our maximum heart rate (HRmax) typically decreases, leading to adjusted training zones. You can find your approximate maximum heart rate using the simple formula
220 minus your age = HRmax
Zone 2 then is going to be around 60% to 70% of your HRmax.
If you don’t measure your heart rate then just make sure you are feeling the exercise — it should be not too hard, but also not too easy.
In part 3 of this series I will cover several supplements and foods that can potentially enhance endurance performance, fat oxidation, or energy levels during Zone 2 training. As always, make sure that you’re healthy enough to start doing any types of exercise. If you are not sure, please consult with your physician.