Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise: How to burn the most Fat and Carbohydrates

By Rebecca Haight


When we exercise, our body burns off energy in the form of calories. Those calories are burned off from fat and carbohydrate reserves.

Just as the number of calories burned depends on your level of activity, the relative number of fat and carbs burned varies by activity as well. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises burn fat and carbs at different rates.

Whether an exercise is considered aerobic or anaerobic depends on the energy system your body is utilizing to fuel it.

Anaerobic exercise calls upon immediate energy reserves to fuel your body for short bursts of high intensity activity, while aerobic exercise needs to utilize multiple energy sources to keep your body fueled for longer durations of moderately intense activity.


Carbs vs. Fat

In any given workout, you’re burning a combination of fat and carbs. It takes longer to convert fat into energy than it does carbs.

Carbs only have 4 calories worth of energy per gram, whereas fat has 9 calories per gram. As you run out of energy from carbs, you start utilizing fat reserves.

So, the proportion of carbs vs. fat you’ll burn during a workout depends on how hard you’re working. Since high-intensity anaerobic exercise utilizes fast energy, you’ll burn a greater proportion of carbs for fuel.

Lower-intensity, aerobic exercise burns a greater percentage of fat for fuel. But don’t be fooled – this concept can lead to a large misconception.


The so Called Fat Burning Zone…

There is a common myth known as the “fat burning zone” used to explain the theory that doing aerobic workouts at a low intensity will help you burn more body fat.

It is true that aerobic exercise calls upon more energy sources, and therefore burns up more fat in order to provide that extra energy.

And aerobic workouts do burn a higher percentage of fat than carbs. That being said, high-intensity anaerobic exercises burn more total calories and therefore burn more total fat.


Here’s another way to break it down – about 60 percent of calories burned during aerobic exercise comes from fat. This is compared to about 35 percent of calories burned from fat during anaerobic exercise. However, the increased intensity of anaerobic exercise makes up for its lack of calories from fat percentage.

For example, if you perform 30 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise and burn 200 total calories, about 120 of those (60%) will come from fat. Exercising for the same amount of time at a high intensity will burn approximately 400 total calories and 140 of those (35%) will come from fat.

Even though fewer calories come from fat during anaerobic exercise, more total calories were burned at the high intensity and more overall fat was actually burned.

So if you’re looking to burn a high amount of fat in a shorter period of time, anaerobic exercise is the most efficient.

But still, it’s good to mix up your workout…a good mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercise will ensure you’re burning calories from both carbs and fat.



Hobson, Katherine. “The 'Fat-Burning Zone': A Fitness Myth Debunked.” U.S. News, 3 Mar. 2009,

Kelliher, Steven. “Aerobic Versus Anaerobic Fat Burning.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 11 Jan. 2014,

Tremblay, MSc Sylvie. “Fat Burning Vs. Carbohydrate Burning.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 18 July 2017,



Calories: Why your exercise choice matters more than you think

By Rebecca Haight


A calorie is a measure of energy. The number of calories you burn while completing any given activity roughly reflects how much energy you exert while doing that activity.

The amount of calories burned during an activity, however, can vary from person to person. For instance, a heavier person will burn more calories than a lighter weight person while doing the same activity for the same amount of time.

The number of calories burned also varies drastically depending on the type of activity. Different exercises or daily tasks call upon different energy systems, each responsible for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is extracted from the food you eat and is required for the reactions that take place during any muscle contraction.


Energy Systems

There are three basic energy systems:  the phosphagen system, the glycolytic energy system, and mitochondrial respiration.

The phosphagen system, also referred to as the immediate energy system, is active during all-out exercise that lasts 5 to 10 seconds. This includes activities like the 100-meter dash, diving, jumping, lifting a heavy weight, or anything else that requires maximum, short bursts of power.


This system is responsible for the production of immediate energy, and calls upon the other sources of energy for assistance in any max intensity exercise lasting longer than 10 seconds.

The glycolytic system, commonly known as the anaerobic system, is used during moderate to high intensity exercise lasting about one to two minutes. Resistance training is a commonly used example of anaerobic exercise.

Anaerobic glycolysis takes place when oxygen demands exceed oxygen supply and the molecule pyruvate (created during the partial breakdown of glucose) is converted to lactate. This is also known as “fast” glycolysis.

However, when there is enough oxygen supply to meet oxygen demands, the molecule pyruvate calls upon additional energy via aerobic processes. This brings us to the mitochondrial respiration, or aerobic system – or “slow” glycolysis.

The aerobic system is used during prolonged light to moderate intensity exercise. Common aerobic exercises include running, swimming, cross-country skiing and low intensity group fitness classes.


You can most easily recognize the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise by measuring your heart rate. The transition from aerobic to anaerobic is often marked by substantial increases in heart rate, muscle fatigue and deep breathing.

If you are truly partaking in anaerobic exercise, you won’t be able to sustain the intensity of the exercise for longer than about one to two minutes. If you’re able to sustain your energy for longer than that, you are most likely partaking in aerobic exercise.

But, of course, as you become more fit, you’ll be able to perform at high intensity for longer durations of time.


Which exercises burn the most calories?

As a general rule, aerobic exercises burn the most calories. This makes sense when you consider the fact that aerobic exercises call upon the most energy systems. And the more energy you exert, the more calories you burn.

That being said, anaerobic exercise can be extremely effective in building muscle mass or overall body strength. And its important to remember that muscle tissue is extremely metabolically active, meaning it uses up a lot of energy (or calories) to maintain its proper function

Note from Luke:  One thing you might be asking yourself is, "but, if aerobic exercise burns more calories per minute than anaerobic exercise, why are so many coaches pushing anaerobic activities like lifting, running hills, pushing a sled and doing KB swings?". One often overlooked aspect of exercise is what happens after. Because anaerobic exercise (specifically lifting weights) causes so much muscle damage and demands so much recovery AND growth, it requires more calories to recover from.  Even though you wont burn as many calories per hour lifting weights as you would running, your calorie demand stays elevated from weightlifting for hours and sometimes days following exercise, whereas running would go back to baseline very quickly.  When we look at our energy demand OUTSIDE of the exercise window, we can see anaerobic exercise as a key part of any fat loss program.

Below is a comprehensive chart breaking down the average calories burned during one hour of several common activities. Notice the different body weights shown; as we said before, body weight impacts calories burned.



This chart was adapted from: Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values – a scientific study.

Next weeks blog post will go even more in depth on aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise, specifically analyzing the percent of fat and carbs burned during different exercises – stay tuned!



“Calculating Your Calories Burned.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Nov. 2014.

“Energy Usage During Exercise: How It Affects Your Workouts.” Energy Usage During Exercise: How It Affects Your Workouts | Precor., Inc. “Calories Burned Calculator.” HealthStatus.

Wayne, Jake. “Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic Fitness.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 6 July 2015.



What You Need to Know About Saturated Fat

Rebecca Haight



Too often today, the relative “healthiness” of fats is defined too narrowly.

Mono and polyunsaturated fats are most often considered “good,” while saturated fats are met with a big old “BAD” label quickly and aggressively.

What many people don’t realize is that saturated fat can provide several health benefits. Yes, you heard that right – saturated fats can actually be good for you.


What is Saturated Fat?

Saturated fats are simply fat molecules with no double bonds between carbon molecules. They’re typically solid at room temperature.

The majority of saturated fat comes from animal sources, including meat and dairy. Common examples of foods containing saturated fat include:

·         Beef

·         Lamb

·         Pork

·         Poultry with skin

·         Lard and cream

·         Butter

·         Cheese

·         Dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk


Cholesterol and Heart Disease


Saturated fats have a bad reputation for raising cholesterol levels. But interestingly, cholesterol is another word that people wrongly associate with negativity. In reality your body needs cholesterol to function properly. Every cell membrane in our body uses cholesterol and its essential to the creation hormones like cortisol and testosterone.

Consuming saturated fat is often seen as a risk factor for heart disease, as it raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. However, new data shows there are subtypes of LDL: small dense LDL that can easily penetrate the arterial wall and large LDL that are not associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Saturated fats actually raise the large LDL, the benign subtype of LDL. Therefore, heart disease is not as large of a factor as many sources might tell you.

In addition, a commonly unknown fact is that saturated fats also raise HDL cholesterol, or the so-called “good” cholesterol, specifically known for lowering your chance of developing heart disease.

A large review article published in 2010 looked at the data from 21 different studies across a total of 347,747 individuals and found no association between saturated fat and the risk of heart disease. 

The media and health professionals alike have blindly accepted the common notion that consuming saturated fats increases your risk of heart disease, but in reality, the link has never been proven.


Brain, Bones and Body

Interestingly, the majority of your brain is made up of fat and cholesterol – and the majority of that fat is saturated fat! So basically, consuming saturated fat is essential to the growth, regeneration and overall health of your brain.

Saturated fat is also necessary for calcium to be incorporated into your bones. The fat is important in creating a high bone density that can help decrease your risk of degeneration and injury.


The presence of saturated fat is also important within your white blood cells. These blood cells need saturated fat in order to properly recognize and destroy foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria.


Bonus Fun Fact:

When you’re cooking something at a high heat, saturated fats like butter are a better option because they are much less likely than unsaturated fats to react with oxygen. Unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated in particular, contain double bonds that make them prone to oxidation, and the risk of forming toxic byproducts.


Skip the Propaganda

Many healthy foods are naturally rich in saturated fat. Meats, eggs and high-fat dairy products, in particular, are highly nutritious and contain an abundance of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, E and K2.

Don’t fall victim to the misconception. Buying into the notion that saturated fat is inherently bad for you can lead to an avoidance of a fat that’s essential to your health.

Next time you hear the propaganda telling you something is “good” or “bad” for you, make sure to go a step further - towards a better understanding of what your body truly needs. Rather than mislabeling something, first take a look at how it can actually benefit your health.




“8 Reasons Why Saturated Fats Are Not That Bad.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25 Feb. 2013,

“Benefits Of Saturated Fat (Yep, You Read That Right!).” The Model Health Show, 23 July 2014,

“Saturated Fat.” American Heart Association,




What you need to know about unsaturated fats

by: Rebecca Haight


Fat is a constantly misunderstood nutrient. It gets a bad rep for being bad for you, but fat is actually essential for your body – we can’t live without it. Fat is a major source of energy. It also helps you absorb fats and minerals and build cell membrane.

Both mono and polyunsaturated fats are extremely effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the blood when eaten instead of saturated fat and trans fat. This helps lower the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.


Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats are comprised of a chain of carbon with one pair of carbon molecules joined by a double bond. The more double bonds there are, the more solid the fat will be; but monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and turn slightly solid when chilled.

Monounsaturated fats help regulate your heart rhythm and reduce inflammation.


Eating monounsaturated fats is also beneficial in regulating your insulin levels, which is good for everyone but particularly healthy for people with diabetes.

Plus, monounsaturated fats are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of. And it’s beneficial in helping to maintain and develop cells in the body.

The primary sources of monounsaturated fats are liquid oils such as olive, canola, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils. Other good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, and a handful of seeds and nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.


Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms. They are more solid than monounsaturated fats but less solid than saturated fats. Therefore, polyunsaturated fats are also liquid at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential in building cell membranes. They’re also needed for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation.

There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial to your heart because of their effectiveness in protecting you against high blood pressure. Omega-3’s can also help reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes.


Walnuts and flax seed are a great source of polyunsaturated fat, as well as soybean, corn and flax oil. Fatty fish are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes salmon, mackerel and trout.


The Good Fats

Mono and polyunsaturated fats are typically known as the “healthy fats” whereas saturated and trans fats are “unhealthy.”

As you’ve seen, the unsaturated fats  have many health benefits. But what about saturated fats? Are they really that bad? –Check out next week’s post to find out!



Coila, Bridget. “Monounsaturated Fat Vs. Polyunsaturated Fat.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 16 Apr. 2015,

“Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association,

“Monounsaturated Fat Vs. Polyunsaturated Fat.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate,

“Polyunsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association,

Publications, Harvard Health. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-Between.” Harvard Health,




The Negative Effects of a Poor Night’s Sleep

By Rebecca Haight


We’ve all been there – a poor night’s sleep leaves us feeling exhausted the next day. Whether by mistake or on purpose, we all skimp on adequate rest every now and again…some more than others.

But getting a poor night’s sleep can have much worse consequences than simply feeling tired throughout the day.

Your body does a lot of hard work while you sleep: restoring chemical balances, creating brain connections and forging immune defenses. Losing out on these important processes can inhibit your body from functioning properly.


Cognitive Function

Sleep is essential for memory retention. While you sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in your brain in order to help you remember information that you’ve learned. When you deprive yourself of sleep, your brain becomes exhausted and it can’t perform these tasks properly.

Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. It can even make you more susceptible to “suggested” memories. In other words, you may have trouble recalling the true source of your memories – like mistaking something you read somewhere for a first-hand experience. In fact, research has shown that just 24 hours worth of sleeplessness breaks down cognitive function so much that you’re actually 4.5 times more likely to sign a false confession (yikes!).

Lack of sleep can also cause the signals your body sends to your brain to come at a delay, negatively affecting your coordination skills and making your more prone to accidents.

In fact, studies have shown that going just one night without proper sleep impairs your physical movements and mental focus so much that you are comparable to someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent. This means if you haven’t slept, your impairment is similar to someone who is legally drunk.


Mood and Behavior

Of course, we’re all familiar with the emotional consequences of a lack of sleep. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a certain crankiness or irritability as a result of sleep deprivation.

Fatigue compromises the brains ability to regulate emotions, so crankiness, anxiety and unwarranted emotional outbursts are a commonplace amongst sleep-deprived individuals. 


Immune System

While you sleep your immune system produces cytokines – protective substances that help fight off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Lack of sleep prevents your body from using cytokines to fight off foreign invaders, meaning you can get sick much easier and it can take a lot longer to recover from illness.


Appetite Regulation

Sleep affects the levels of two important hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for telling your brain that you’ve had enough to eat – causing that feeling of satiety or fullness. However, a lack of sleep reduces your body’s production of leptin and increases production of ghrelin – an appetite stimulant. So not sleeping can actually make you feel much more hungry, causing you to overeat. (Familiar with late night munchies? – excessive ghrelin production may be why!)

Sleep deprivation also prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat. These higher levels of insulin promote fat storage, raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

For these reasons, sleep deprivation is a huge risk factor for obesity and weight gain.


Other Negative Effects

Consistently loosing sleep can increase cortisol, a stress hormone that breaks down collagen. Collagen is important for keeping your skin smooth, so loosing out on sleep can lead to premature wrinkling or sagging of the skin.

Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to some serious health complications like heart disease, stoke, bone loss and depression.

Even though it may not always be easy, making sleep a priority is essential for the proper functioning of your body. Do yourself a favor and catch some zzz’s! 





Aratoon, Kelly. “How Losing Sleep Affects Your Body and Mind.” Sleep.Org. 24 Oct. 2016.

“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body.” Heathline, Healthline Media, 5 June 201.

“12 Health Issues That May Be Caused by Your Lack of Sleep.”