New research emphasizes burning body fat for energy, health and fitness — like our early ancestors.
A newly published research paper brings to light the growing acceptance and credibility of a heart-rate training program that stresses lower-intensity aerobic exercise and accessing excess body fat as the primary fuel.
“Maximum aerobic function: clinical relevance, physiological underpinnings and practical application” was published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology by researchers Philip Maffetone and Paul Laursen. It describes the process of developing maximum aerobic function, MAF, through exercise at a personalized heart rate and eating like our ancestors. The research also emphasizes the importance of burning more body fat to improve many aspects of both health and fitness, including better athletic performance.
In his 40-plus years of clinical research, Dr. Maffetone developed a personalized exercise heart rate (HR) that is low to moderate intensity, and obtained without laboratory testing. His work also emphasizes the importance of a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet to improve fat-burning and slow aging, while reducing the risk of disease and injury.
His MAF Method is a holistic approach that helps individuals personalize and manage their own health and fitness by improving lifestyle.
“Forty years ago it was heresy to suggest lower-intensity training, or low-carbohydrate eating,” said Dr. Maffetone, who has trained many world champions in virtually all sports.
These authors previously published research showing that 91 percent of American adults, with similar numbers globally, have excess body fat, a condition called overfat. They emphasized this pandemic has evolved despite the increasing prevalence of exercise, and is due to the consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates, which can negate many exercise benefits. Excess body fat indicates poor metabolism that can be corrected through a lifestyle that maximizes the performance of the human aerobic system.
The MAF 180 Formula, also developed by Dr. Maffetone, helps people personalize their exercise MAF HR. Combined with a healthy diet, individuals also get faster or generate more power at the same HR over time, leading to improved performance. The formula is highlighted below.
The use of a heart-rate monitor guides users to optimize intensity. Referred to as the “father of heart-rate training,” Dr. Maffetone says that, “The 180 Formula replaces the old 220 Formula because it more precisely personalizes an exercise HR to promote more fat-burning and weight-loss, reduces stress, and improves overall health, fitness and performance.”
Instructions for determining the MAF HR using the 180-Formula
- Subtract your age from 180.
- Modify this number by choosing one category below that best applies to you:
- If you have or are recovering from a major illness (including any operation or hospital stay), are in rehabilitation, have been prescribed any regular medication, or are chronically overtrained, subtract an additional 10.
- If you are injured, have regressed or not improved in training (such as poor MAF Tests) or competition, get more than two colds, flu or other infections per year, have seasonal allergies or asthma, are overfat, are acutely overtraining, or if you have been inconsistent, just beginning or returning to exercise, subtract an additional 5.
- If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems mentioned in a) or b), no modification is necessary (use 180 minus age as your MAF HR).
- If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, have made measurable progress, and have improved competitively, add 5.
The resulting HR is the high end of the HR range with the low being 10 beats below. For example, a 40-year old in category b) would have an exercise range of 125-135 bpm. Users can self-select any intensity within this range.