Blog Weight Loss Calories Burned By Heart Rate

Calories Burned By Heart Rate

On the surface, it may seem like a workout that leaves your heart racing, blood pumping, and sweat pouring is the ultimate measure of an effective exercise session. However, when it comes to understanding the intensity of your workout and how many calories you’re burning, the story gets more complex.


You’ve probably heard of heart rate monitoring as a reliable method to gauge exercise intensity. Apparently, this approach not only helps identify your individual cardiovascular fitness level but also gives a more accurate estimate of calories burned.

But should you use your heart rate to determine how much weight you’re losing? Is it a reliable indicator of your workout’s intensity and effectiveness? If so, how should you go about it? Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Calculate Calories From Heart Rate?

Calculating the exact number of calories burned from heart rate alone isn’t straightforward because it depends on other factors like age, gender, weight, and fitness level. However, your heart rate can give you an indication of how intense your workout is, which in turn can help estimate the amount of calories burned.

When you exercise, your heart rate increases to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. This increased activity requires energy, which your body gets by burning calories. The harder your heart works, the more calories you burn (1).

Imagine you’re on a hike. As you start climbing, your heart begins to beat faster, just like the drummer in a band speeds up the rhythm when the music gets more exciting. This is your heart’s way of keeping up with the demands of your body as you exercise. It’s pumping blood – which carries all-important oxygen – around your body at a quicker rate to keep your muscles working.

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To calculate the exact number of calories burned, you can use a fitness tracker or other tracking device that provides this information based on your age, gender, weight, and workout duration. It’s much more accurate and simpler than computing using a calories burned by heart rate formula. You may also use an online calculator that takes into account your heart rate and other factors.

Now, let’s talk about something called the fat burning heart rate zone. This is like the sweet spot on the hike where you’re not going too fast or too slow, but just right. When you’re in this zone, your heart is beating at a particular speed that makes your body burn more fat for energy. It’s like using logs instead of twigs to keep a fire going – it lasts longer and burns brighter.

According to experts, when working out at moderate intensity, your heart rate should be between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (6). This is determined by subtracting your age from 220 (5).

For example, if you’re a 30-year-old woman, your maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute (220 – 30). Your target heart rate for exercise at moderate intensity would then be between 95 and 133 beats per minute (190 x 0.5 and 190 x 0.7).

Further, when you’re exercising at higher intensity, your heart rate should be between 70 and 85 percent of your max. In our example, that would be 133 to 161.5 beats per minute (190 x 0.7–0.85).

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Therefore, the target heart rate for fat burn is usually between 50 to 70 percent of your max, and for vigorous exercise, it should be from 70 to 85 percent (6). 

There are no exact figures, only percentages because as we mentioned earlier there are quite a number of unique, individual factors that change the outcome. So ideally your fat burning heart rate zone will be a range and not a fixed figure.

calories burned by heart rate formula

If weight loss is your goal, you might be wondering what the best heart rate for weight loss is. Research into High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has shown that doing vigorous exercise over short bursts can be more effective at burning fat as moderate intensity exercise (3). This means you don’t have to stay in the fat burning heart rate zone if your goal is to lose weight – intermittent intense bursts of activity work too.

Since HIIT falls under vigorous intensity, you should aim for a heart rate between 70 and 85 percent of your max.

After you finish exercising, your heart rate should start to slow down. This is your normal heart rate after exercise. It’s a good idea to be aware of this number too, as it can help you decide what the best intensity for your next workout should be.

Read more: Calories Burned in Sauna – Separating Facts from Fiction.

Do You Burn More Calories With a Higher Heart Rate?

Certainly, a higher heart rate during exercise means that you’re burning more calories. Here’s why:

When you exercise, your heart pumps faster to deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. The more intense the exercise, the harder your heart needs to work and the more oxygen your muscles require. As a result, your body burns more calories to meet this increased energy demand.

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However, the relationship between heart rate and calorie burn is not linear, meaning it doesn’t increase at the same rate all the time. This is because your body uses different energy systems and burns different types of fuel (like fats and carbohydrates) depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise.

For instance, during low to moderate intensity exercise, your body tends to burn a higher proportion of fat relative to carbohydrates. As exercise intensity increases, the proportion of energy derived from carbohydrates also increases, although the total number of calories burned is higher.

Additionally, other factors like your age, weight, muscle mass, fitness level, and even the type of exercise you’re doing can influence how many calories you burn at different heart rates.

So, while a higher heart rate usually equates to more calories burned, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. You must consider the overall intensity and duration of your workout, as well as your personal fitness goals. 

For example, if your goal is to improve cardiovascular fitness, incorporating higher intensity workouts could be beneficial. But for weight loss, it’s the total caloric expenditure, not necessarily the intensity of the workout, that matters most.

If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!

Is Heart Rate A Reliable Measure Of Exercise Intensity?

Yes, for the most part. According to studies, resting heart rate and maximum heart rate are both reliable indicators of your cardiorespiratory fitness (4).

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However, since the correlation between heart rate and exercise intensity isn’t exact, it’s still important to take into account other factors like experience with similar types of exercises, as well as your preferences (how you feel during a particular workout).

In addition, different activities have different requirements, so it’s important to adjust your heart rate accordingly. For instance, a jogger won’t have the same target heart rate as someone doing weightlifting exercises or a HIIT workout.

calories burned by heart rate body fat

What Are The Benefits Of Heart Rate Monitoring?

The main benefit of using your heart rate to monitor exercise intensity is that it allows you to gauge how hard you’re working and adjust accordingly. This helps you to get the most out of your workouts without pushing yourself too hard.

In addition, tracking your heart rate can help you avoid overtraining or undertraining. When exercising at a moderate intensity, for instance, if your heart rate is lower than expected it could be an indication that you need to increase the intensity of your workout.

Read more: Elliptical Calories Burned: Craft a Balanced Approach to Fitness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Calories Does 100 Bpm Burn?

It’s not possible to determine the exact number of calories burned solely based on a heart rate of 100 beats per minute (bpm). Calorie burn depends on several factors, including your age, gender, weight, fitness level, and the intensity of the activity you’re doing.

Is a Heart Rate of 200 During Exercise Bad? 

A heart rate of 200 bpm during exercise could be high depending on your age. The general rule for maximum heart rate during exercise is 220 minus your age (5). 

If your heart rate exceeds this, it might be too strenuous. However, everyone is different, and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional.

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Does a Higher Heart Rate Mean Faster Metabolism? 

Not necessarily. While your heart rate can be a reflection of your metabolic rate during exercise, resting heart rate isn’t a reliable indicator of your metabolic rate. Metabolism is influenced by many factors, including body composition, age, sex, physical activity level, and genetics (2).

At What Heart Rate Do You Burn the Most Calories? 

You burn the most calories at your high-intensity heart rate zone. However, it’s important to note that exercising at this intensity should be done sparingly and with proper recovery as it puts a significant strain on the body.

Is It Bad to Exercise at Peak Heart Rate? 

Regularly exercising at your peak heart rate for extended periods of time can put unnecessary stress on your heart and increase the risk of injuries. It’s generally recommended to aim for a target heart rate zone of around 60-85% of your maximum heart rate during most of your workouts.

Is 150 a Good Heart Rate for Exercise? 

Whether a heart rate of 150 bpm is good for exercise depends on your age and fitness level. To find your target heart rate zone for moderate to vigorous exercise, subtract your age from 220 and then take 60-85% of that number. If 150 falls within this range, then it’s a good heart rate for you during exercise.

The Bottom Line

Your heart rate can be a useful indicator of exercise intensity, but it should not be the only factor you use to track your workouts. It’s not an exact science and other factors need to be taken into consideration when calculating calories burned.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Effects of Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health (2019,
  2. Factors Affecting Energy Expenditure and Requirements (2023,
  3. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss (2011,
  4. Resting heart rate is a population-level biomarker of cardiorespiratory fitness: The Fenland Study (2023,
  5. Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate (2022,
  6. Target Heart Rates Chart (2021,
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