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Does Sprinting Burn More Fat?

by
author image Nick Ng
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.
Does Sprinting Burn More Fat?
Female sprinter in starting position Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Sprinting is running as fast as you can over a short period of time or distance. Although sprinting burns a lot of calories, there is not enough time for your body to use fat as a fuel source during a sprint. Many people who wish to lose weight often get confused about what type of exercise is the best to increase fat reduction. According to Robert dos Remedios, director of speed, strength and conditioning at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, the best way to burn fat is to perform high-intensity exercises.

Long-Term Energy

Aerobic exercise is any type of exercise that you can sustain over a long period time at a steady pace, such as jogging and walking. Your body uses oxygen, glucose and fat in aerobic metabolism to produce energy. Sprinting does not use the aerobic metabolic pathway to function, but the after-effect of sprinting does.

Intense Energy

Anaerobic exercise does not require you to use oxygen to perform. Your body's primary source of fuel comes from high-energy compounds called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, that is stored and recycled in your muscles. Since your body has a finite amount of ATP storage, you will not be able to do high-intensity exercise for longer than 10 seconds. According to Vern Gambetta, director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Florida, your body uses the stored ATP and some glucose for energy during sprinting. For longer sprints or any high-intensity exercise, you body uses glucose as an energy source to make more ATP.

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EPOC: The After-Burner

After a bout of sprinting, your body's metabolism increases to recover the lack of oxygen and to recover to its resting state. This process is called excessive post-exercise consumption, or EPOC, where your body burns a higher number of calories after strenuous exercise. While your body repairs muscle tissues and replenish cell nutrients, it uses fat as the main fuel source for energy in EPOC. In 1994, Dr. Angelo Trembblay, an exercise physiologist at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, conducted a study on EPOC with two groups of people. One group did high-intensity exercise at several intervals, while the second group did steady-pace aerobics. The first group burned three times more body fat than the second group. Therefore, sprinting causes your body to undergo EPOC, which uses fat for energy to recover.

Be a Better Burner

Many people believe that doing low-intensity exercise for a long period of time burns of the most amount of fat. Although your body uses about 50 percent of your calories from fat during low-intensity exercise, the number of calories you burn is much lower than that of high-intensity exercise, which uses about 90 percent of its energy from glucose. According to Gambetta, the effects of EPOC from doing sprinting and other high-intensity exercise will help you burn fat after exercising.

Best of Both Worlds

The frequency and duration of your exercise sessions has a profound effect on how much fat you burn over time. Long-duration endurance exercise can be just as effective as sprinting if it is performed on a consistent basis. While sprinting burns more calories in a single bout, the duration of a single sprint is mere seconds compared to minutes or hours of endurance exercise. Interspersing sprints between longer bouts of endurance exercise, a technique called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT will result in both aerobic and anaerobic benefits for fat metabolism.

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