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The "fat burning zone" is a myth. Or rather, it is an incorrect
interpretation. At lower efforts, you burn mostly fat. At higher efforts,
you burn the more fat than at lower efforts, but you also burn glycogen
(sugar) that is stored in the muscles and liver. For example, at 140
bpm you may burn 400 cal/hr fat and 200 cal/hr of glycogen, while at
170 bpm you'd burn 450 cal/hr of fat and 300 of glycogen (number for
illustration only). There's a lower precentage of fat at the higher
intensity, but you're still burning more calories then.

But then after you are done riding, you need to replenesh those glycogen
stores. If you don't load up on on carbohydrates right after your ride,
you rebuild those stores from body fat. So either way, you are burning
fat.

What is true is that at lower intensities you can ride for much
longer. Even though you burn fewer calories/hr at lower intensity, you
still burn way more than you would sitting on the couch. So for weight
loss, riding at an endurance pace and doing longer rides works better
than more intense, but short, rides.
 
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