Optimizing Fat Burning


Today’s “Ask the Nutrition Consultant” question comes from Morgan!

Q: Last week you shared how burned body fat is released via carbon dioxide and water. I have some excess body fat I would like to lose. Are there things I can do to optimize fat burning? 

A: Thank you for your follow-up question Morgan!

Fat metabolism requires ample oxygen, nearly three times the fat you lose, so breathing properly is extremely important in order to complete this metabolic process. To completely lose 10 kilograms of body fat (~22lbs) around 30 kilograms (~66lbs) of oxygen must be inhaled to oxidize fat to carbon dioxide! 

Many of us take frequent shallow breaths which does not allow us to exchange and release carbon dioxide with oxygen well which causes hypoxia or low oxygen levels. The ideal breath rate is around six to seven breaths per minute, and the average person takes roughly 18 breaths per minute (Nestor, 2020)! 

It is also important to breath through your nose. This helps your lungs be more efficient in absorbing oxygen – you get 20% more oxygen breathing through your nose than you do from equivalent breaths through your mouth (Nestor, 2020).

Exercise is another integral part of fat loss since your body disposes of fat through sweat, urine and exhaled air. There is a sweet spot or a fat-burning heart rate zone that you can work in to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. Your fat-burning heart rate is about 70% of your maximum heart rate. 

Your maximum heart rate is the maximum number of times your heart should beat during activity. To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

For example, a 40-year-old’s maximum heart rate is 220 minus 40, or 180 beats per minute. To enter the fat-burning zone this person would want their heart rate to be 70% of 180, which is about 126 beats per minute. *Please note these are just general recommendations and if you are on any medications such as blood pressure medications, or just starting out on a fitness journey we may need to adjust these numbers. 

There are a variety of tools you can use to measure your heart rate. You can go the cheap and traditional way – pause during exercise and place your finger over a pulse point on your neck or wrist and count your heartbeats for 60 seconds. There are also a variety of smart watches with and without chest strap monitors. 

As a holistic nutrition consultant and certified personal trainer I can help clients plan meals and a movement plan to help them achieve their goals. Call or e-mail me today to schedule your complimentary Nourish to Flourish Strategy Session!

If you would like to learn more about the importance of proper breathing, I highly recommend checking out Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. Mr Nestor has a variety of information information on his website you can check out as well (link in references). 


Nestor, J. (2020). Breath. Penguin Life. 


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