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Runners : MAF training and Fat Burning

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Hi folks, I've been using the MAF method, which suggests that your train to a Heart Rate based upon the formula 180-YourAge as the MAXIMUM (N.B these is a modification to this HR based upon your Health and fitness level - see his site for specific details).

It's TOUGH to run that slowly at first (mostly walking) because, he suggests that we have been training the wrong part of our Aerobic .vs. Anaerobic system.

Anyway, I've been using this method for a couple of months now and it has improved my fitness.

To meet our body’s continuous energy demand, we burn calories all day and night. More specifically, our metabolism converts both sugar and fat into ATP, primary source of energy. Those individuals who burn more fat calories, and fewer sugar calories, are healthier with less injuries and illness, and have higher physical energy. They also have less stored body fat, and usually are close to their optimal weight. For athletes, burning more body fat is the secret to improved performance.

There are two primary factors that influence our ability to increase fat burning: Eating healthy, unrefined foods, and working out easier rather than harder.


There's loads of great information on his site. This guy is the real deal and not an Interweb 'Expert'!!! (http://philmaffetone.com/fat-burning-journal)

Replies

  • DavPul
    DavPul Posts: 61,406 Member
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    Meanwhile, when I'm watching professional athletics, the ones that spend the greater percentage of their time in the anaerobic threshold have the lowest bodyfat and greater amounts of LBM. It also seems to fly in the face of pure math. Running burns more calories than walking by a ton. Someone that burns more calories is going to be leaner regardless of which energy system they primarily use while exercising, all other things being equal.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    Thanks for taking part ...

    It's interesting ... that we can't seem to come up with a Unified Theory or sort and nutrition ..... maybe we will eventually, I guess it's still early days for this science.

    The way I look at it at the moment is that it's great that there are so many 'Experts' trying multiple different training plans and gathering LOADS of data, so that we can eventually move towards (I hope) a consensus .. who knows (?).

    Since I've started doing MAF (admittedly a short period of time to date).. I know that I'm running slower BUT I'm staying out for longer periods of time .. SO, I think (hope) that I'm increasing the total amount of work/energy and thus 'fat' that I'm burning.

    Anyway, I'm happy to continue at the moment and think that I'm seeing net benefits (I'll know more next month when I run my first proper race of the season).


    Oh, the other issue about looking to Elite athletes is that it sort of depends what their sport is .. I'm looking more towards Endurance athletes and yeap they tend to have lower % Body Fats... but I'm not sure yet what camps they train in .. Aerobic .vs. Anaerobic

    Cheers
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    Here's a podcast that has an interview with Dr Phil Maffatone....

    http://media.podshow.com/media/2245/episodes/336965/zentriathlon-336965-02-27-2014_pshow_485568.mp3
  • DavPul
    DavPul Posts: 61,406 Member
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    I appreciate what you're saying but I don't think any sort of consensus on the "best" method is needed. There are many ways to get in shape and people would be best served if they picked the protocol that is most interesting to them. Instead of best burn or highest burn they should be looking into most appealing way to spend their time.
  • froeschli
    froeschli Posts: 1,292 Member
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    Other than that 180- age is hopelessly inaccurate, there are many plans that have you build an aerobic base through running slowly. Look at Arthur Lydiard for example.

    Having said that, I am not planning on being a world class athlete. So yes, I may read up on proper running form, nutrition, even how to lace my shoes, but I don't have to follow any (training) advice I don't enjoy.

    Besides, world class athletes have been at it for years, probably since they were kids, so, unless you are in the same league, comparing yourself to them is moot.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    I appreciate what you're saying but I don't think any sort of consensus on the "best" method is needed. There are many ways to get in shape and people would be best served if they picked the protocol that is most interesting to them. Instead of best burn or highest burn they should be looking into most appealing way to spend their time.

    fair point - thanks.

    Then mine would be a nice slow 'run' with a lovely blond lass ........ followed by a really fast run .... from my wife with a big stick :-)
  • vivaldirules
    vivaldirules Posts: 169 Member
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    I find this interesting. As with everything else in the world (but particularly those related to health and fitness), I see this is contentious. I've been running and pushing my heart rate above what they tell me should be my max but a stress test suggested that would be okay for me. I've lost a lot of weight but that includes a fair amount of muscle mass. Would I have lost a healthier muscle-to-fat ratio had I done it differently? Is it okay to just add strength training to my regimen to regain that muscle mass instead? Are there advantages and/or disadvantages to exercising my heart near the "maximum" rate or at the much lower rate suggested by this MAF method or somewhere in between or maybe at different rates over time? I'm interested but am also cynical with the view that all possible opinions are expressed as fact by someone, mostly by those pushing their new book.
  • Azdak
    Azdak Posts: 8,281 Member
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    Maffetone weaves science, philosophy, anecdotal evidence, personal opinion, etc, into his approach. He seems to like to use the word "natural" a lot, which is always a red flag that someone is trying to yank your wankie.

    But what you are describing is the classic endurance training approach that became popular back in the 1970s (partially as a reaction to the overuse if HIIT training in the 1960s, BTW. Plus la change..........). It's popularity peaked in the mid 1990s with the success of Covert Bailey's "Fit or Fat" book and is, essentially, the "fat burning zone" theory of exercise and weight loss.

    One of the reasons it "worked" back then, is the same reason it can "work" right now for some people: if you lower your intensity and significantly increase duration, you will burn a lot more calories. Over time, we tend to "absorb" those extra calories in our overall eating and activity patterns, but in the beginning there is often a very noticeable effect. And the lower intensity exercise doesn't beat you up as much, so it can often be done more frequently.

    There is a lot still to be said for that approach --not the "fat burning" part, but the use of lower-intensity endurance exercise--and it can be beneficial for some people.

    However, the idea that by preferentially training your body to "burn fat", you can increase weight (fat) loss independently of what you would lose by maintaining a calorie deficit is not supported by science--at least not any of the science I have read (admittedly, I haven't read it all). And, at least in terms of the effects of exercise, it has been shown that, even if you DO train in a way that increases your "fat burning" ability during exercise, the body adjusts it's rate of fat burning at rest so that after 24 hrs there is no difference between someone who did a "fat burning" workout, and someone who didn't.

    For general fitness training, there are benefits IMO to endurance training that have been drowned out by the current HIIT-mania, but these are more specific to fitness training than to weight loss. For many recreational exercisers, training their aerobic system more extensively will improve their exercise performance, including their ability to perform HIIT workouts.

    So, again, if you like the approach and the workouts, by all means go for it. There is nothing inherently wrong with it-it's as valid approach as any. It's just not a superior approach.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    I find this interesting.

    Yeap so do I .. But this is not a new training concept so I'll give it a while longer ans see where it takes me.

    As for training to the MAX - well his argument against that is that it tends to increase the risk of injury and for me that a valid concern (as a more mature runner - I can't afford to be injured and certainly not for extended periods).

    My oft used (over-used?) quote on this and other sites is "FOLLOW THE MONEY" - but this has not cost me anything other than time... and time will tell.

    Cheers
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    So, again, if you like the approach and the workouts, by all means go for it. There is nothing inherently wrong with it-it's as valid approach as any. It's just not a superior approach.

    Thanks for your input .. I'm a pinch of salt person too .... but it 'seem's to be working for me. I'm nicely over 50 so never going to see a 40 minute 10Km ever again but If I can pull off a nice sub 60 (55 would be great ... amazing. but gratefully received)
  • vivaldirules
    vivaldirules Posts: 169 Member
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    As for training to the MAX - well his argument against that is that it tends to increase the risk of injury and for me that a valid concern (as a more mature runner - I can't afford to be injured and certainly not for extended periods).

    I completely understand, especially as an oldster myself who has had several running injuries (thankfully, none severe yet nor related to my speed that I know of). I've read about LSD (long slow distance running) and find that equally interesting and then I think about the lack of fun of running for hours at a slow pace and I go back to turning up my pace. I have no patience, I guess.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    As for training to the MAX - well his argument against that is that it tends to increase the risk of injury and for me that a valid concern (as a more mature runner - I can't afford to be injured and certainly not for extended periods).

    I completely understand, especially as an oldster myself who has had several running injuries (thankfully, none severe yet nor related to my speed that I know of). I've read about LSD (long slow distance running) and find that equally interesting and then I think about the lack of fun of running for hours at a slow pace and I go back to turning up my pace. I have no patience, I guess.

    cheers mate .. take it easy
  • Azdak
    Azdak Posts: 8,281 Member
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    As for training to the MAX - well his argument against that is that it tends to increase the risk of injury and for me that a valid concern (as a more mature runner - I can't afford to be injured and certainly not for extended periods).

    I completely understand, especially as an oldster myself who has had several running injuries (thankfully, none severe yet nor related to my speed that I know of). I've read about LSD (long slow distance running) and find that equally interesting and then I think about the lack of fun of running for hours at a slow pace and I go back to turning up my pace. I have no patience, I guess.

    I prefer not to use personal anecdotes, but this was interesting and might even be germane.

    I have always enjoyed working out at the higher end of the intensity spectrum. Not all-out max interval training, but more sustained tempo workouts. Whether I was running, the cross trainer, stairmaster --didn't make any difference. Even 45-60 min workouts often turn(ed) into time trials.

    4 years ago I was in really good shape (for my age). A new trainer at my current facility had one of those metabolic carts and wanted to start selling that service at our club. So she tested some of the staff. During exercise, you can get a sense of what mixture of fuel is being used by measuring expired gases and calculating something called the RQ. Basically, if your RQ is at 0.70 you are burning almost all fat and at 1.00 or above, you are burning almost all carbs. At lower intensities of exercise, the body burns a higher percentage of fats, so you see RQs of like 0.8. As intensity increases, so does the percentage of carbs and thus the RQ. I think the "threshold" of leaving the "fat burning" zone was something like 0.9.

    The average person crosses that 0.9 RQ threshold somewhere around 62%-68% of VO2 max. When I was tested (and the other trainers), we all hit that mark at less that 40% VO2max. Why? Because we all liked to exercise, and we all liked to exercise hard, and thus we had trained our bodies to function metabolically to use the higher-rate pathways (and to clear lactate buildup). For me, that meant I could sustain an "anerobic threshold", if you will, for sometimes 45-60 min.

    I had always thought my "easy" days were easy, but they really weren't -- or weren't easy enough.

    As an experiment, I went on a "workout diet" of nothing but low-intensity endurance exercise for a month. 5-6 days a week, 60 minutes, stay between 50%-55% of VO2max.

    Unfortunately, the trainer with the metabolic cart was playing some games with the paperwork and was fired, so I never got my retest. But, after that month, when I started to reintroduce some interval workouts, that I had improved my ability to recover from the intervals. I went to a 60-sec work, 120-sec recovery protocol, with the work being 85-90% and recovery back to the 55-60%. I found that my top speed had not decreased that much. In fact, I was able to handle the work so well that I violated the first cardinal rule of training -- forgetting that your cardio system can handle a greater increase at first than your tendons and soft tissue. I sustained a nasty case of achilles tendonitis that basically destroyed my workout program ( I can still work out, but I am probably at 60% of what I was back then).

    But the point is that a lot of this talk about "Fat burning" and training the body to burn fats is relevant, but it is relevant primarily to exercise training, not necessarily for weight loss. Again, going back to the fact that some people achieve success through low-intensity training, not because of the "fat burning" but because it allows them to significantly increase the volume of training, and thus total calories burned.
  • vivaldirules
    vivaldirules Posts: 169 Member
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    That was very interesting. Thanks for posting it and to Shropshire195 for starting the thread. I find I'm thinking about this topic more often this week and may want to hunt for some references that have more data.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
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    I'm very sceptical about one type of training being better for fat burning - I'm more of the view that it's a function of the calories burned overall. So you need to take into account length of training, intensity and any after burn.
    So I don't buy into training exclusively in either the HIIT style that is the prevalent fashion currently or the long, slow distance approach.
    So yes HIIT will have a higher burn rate and a higher after burn but the volume possible is much smaller than low HR zone training.
    In the end the fat burn is in relation to your calorie balance over a period of time.

    Both training methods have their proper place in a program that is focussed on your training goals. I'm mostly a cyclist these days so most of my training is endurance based but even within this I need to be able to work efficiently at the high HR zones as well. The fitness needs of cycling on the flat for several hours versus a hill climb of 2km with a 15% max gradient are completely different.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    .........

    But the point is that a lot of this talk about "Fat burning" and training the body to burn fats is relevant, but it is relevant primarily to exercise training, not necessarily for weight loss. Again, going back to the fact that some people achieve success through low-intensity training, not because of the "fat burning" but because it allows them to significantly increase the volume of training, and thus total calories burned.

    Nice post - thanks.
  • Shropshire1959
    Shropshire1959 Posts: 982 Member
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    Both training methods have their proper place in a program that is focussed on your training goals....

    I'd put money on that you're right...... Would be interested to try different ratios.

    I stay clear of (what I consider) intense training - because I do not want to be out with an injury (takes ages to recover as one um .... matures!!) .. AND .. I'm never going to be a Pro or Elite athlete - I just want to stay fit and healthy for as long as I can .. and pick up some Bling from 1/2, Marathons and one day .. Ultras.

    Cheers everyone,
    Tony
  • aCountryVegan
    aCountryVegan Posts: 23 Member
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    I just want to stay fit and healthy for as long as I can .. and pick up some Bling from 1/2, Marathons and one day .. Ultras.
    Was searching posts for MAF training and came across your post and was wondering if you had continued with the training. I have been at it for about 500 miles so far and have seen some interesting changes. Hope you are still running.