3 Tips for higher fat combustion
HOW TO INCREASE MAXIMUM FAT COMBUSTION
1. Avoid lactate accumulation
2. Lower carbohydrate intake
3. Increase VO2max
1. AVOID HIGH INTENSITY EFFORTS DURING TRAINING IN THE
Lets say your athlete is performing an intense interval training. During the
high intensity effort, lactate will accumulate. In the resting phase, their
intensity may be at the level where lots of fat would usually be combusted.
However, in the recovery phase between or after high intensity intervals,
fat combustion is low. Instead, the preferred fuel for muscles in this period
is the accumulated lactate.
Intuitively, you know this already. You would not prescribe high intensity
interval training and ask your athlete to rest completely and not move in
between efforts. The low intensity phases are needed to combust lactate
and recover faster.
The same is true during training intended for “fat burning”. Any time
lactate is accumulating during the exercise, fat will be pushed out of the
aerobic metabolism. Until muscular lactate levels decrease again, fat
combustion will stay lower.
All of this means that it is of utmost importance to avoid short, high
intensity bouts which cause high lactate levels during training which is
meant to be in the Fat Max zone.
2. TRAINING IN A LOW CARBOHYDRATE STATE CAN ELEVATE
Low carbohydrate diets, and training in low carbohydrate state, have
become more and more popular in endurance sports. This idea is based
on findings that a state of low carbohydrate availability can increase
adaptation to training in terms of mitochondrial biogenesis.
A lowered carbohydrate intake due to an altered diet can decrease the
capacity of carbohydrate metabolism. In doing so, fat combustion will be
elevated. The result of this is not just an immediate elevation in the
percentage of fat combustion, but also an increase in the capacity of the
enzymes involved in fat combustion. This can lead to a prolonging of the
higher capacity to combust fat. Bear in mind that after your athlete’s diet is
back to a higher carbohydrate content, the effect previously described can
easily be reversed. The activity of enzymes involved in the carbohydrate
metabolism will go back to a normal state.
During a period of lowered carbohydrate intake, it is crucial to minimise
high intensity workouts in which carbohydrate combustion is high. This is
because, during high such efforts, the body needs to use carbohydrates as
3. A HIGHER VO2max = BETTER AEROBIC METABOLISM = IMPROVED CAPACITY TO BURN FAT.
A higher VO2max will lead to better fat combustion in your athlete. This is
because it creates more mitochondria, improved blood flow due to higher
capillary density, and a shift from high glycolytic muscle fibre types to
“endurance” types (slow twitch fibres). All of this means a better aerobic
metabolism, which then pushes back the involvement of the glycolytic
This results in an improved ability to burn fat. As combusting fat requires
more oxygen for the same energy spend compared to combusting
carbohydrates, an increase in VO2max will always result in an improved
capacity for burning fat. This is true whether accomplished with many
hours of low intensity training, or with very hard interval workouts.