Fat burning exercises are not equal in terms of effectiveness and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. Since a long time I wanted to post about that and finally it’s done 🙂
Here it is finally: a list of physical activities compared in terms of energy expenditure, in other words, a MET table.
Let me rewind a bit to give you the full picture.
In order to lose weight, you have to increase your energy expenditure in the best possible way.
If you want to choose the best fat burning exercises, you have to compare them.
But it’s not easy. Burning calories depends on various factors such as:
- weight and body composition (lean muscle mass)
- activity type (global/localized, anabolic/catabolic etc)
- duration and intensity
That’s exactly where METs help us: by definition, the Metabolic Equivalent of Task measure the number of calories burnt per kilogram and per hour. You can then easily compare sports and other physical activities.
Example: “Yoga, Hatha” is 2,5 METs. It means that you will burn 2,5 calories per kg per hour. Yes, it’s not a lot 🙂
If you want to burn twice more fat in the same time, turn to “Elliptical trainer, moderate effort” which is 5 METs. Easy, isn’t it?
The key point is to choose the right activity for you. Hopefully the next section will help you 🙂
6 Takeaways from Comparing Fat Burning Exercises
1) You will notice that METs are heavily correlated to muscle mass. In other words, sports that use more muscles burn more calories. Well, it’s seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating it 🙂 A good goal is to target sports that mobilize 2/3 of your muscle mass.
2) This one may be less obvious: sports where your weight is supported by your legs burn more calories. That’s why running burns more fat in the same time than bicycling.
3) Another less known aspect: mobility is very important. It’s the case for “segments” only (legs, arms) or for the whole body but all in all, you will burn more with a higher mobility.
4) Intensity and high METs are linked but not in a linear way: a small increase at high intensity will result in a higher increase of burnt calories.
5) The problem is that we can’t sustain high intensity for a long period. That’s why High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is so effective: you maximize the time spent at very high intensity, thanks to short breaks. But it’s very demanding, especially if you have some pounds to lose. The alternative is to find cardio exercises that have good MET scores and that you can practice for one hour (typically at 60-70 percent of your max heart rate). See all my posts about running for more information.
6) Finally, weather conditions play a big role. We already knew the fat burn effects of cold (see my post about brown fat). It’s also the case for heat: your body works harder to maintain a constant temperature. Be careful though: no ephedra or ephedrine if you plan to exercise in warm places (inside or outside).
With that in mind, it’s up to you now 🙂
Any comment or question, just get in touch, I’d be glad to help.
Let me know how it goes for you.