Can Diet Affect Your Target Heart Rate?

Athletic woman pouring water on her head

When you're looking to get into shape either by trimming down or bulking up, your diet is almost as important as your exercise routine. Keeping track of your heart rate can help you determine your rate of exertion during exercises. Although your diet can affect your resting heart rate, it will not affect your target heart rate, which is a value based on your maximum heart rate.

Target Heart Rate

The American Heart Association defines your target heart rate as an ideal exercise zone to stay in during longer workouts. Generally, it is recommended to stay in a target heart rate zone between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. A man can estimate his maximum heart rate by subtracting his age from 220, while a woman can subtract 88 percent of her age from 206. Since the target heart rate is a range based on your maximum heart rate, diet cannot have any affect on it.

Diet and Heart Rate

Although your diet won't affect your target heart rate, it can affect your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is a good way to measure your overall health and level of fitness. If you exercise regularly, eat healthily and get enough sleep, your heart rate will be lower than a sedentary individual. The average resting heart rate for most people lies between 60 and 80 beats per minute. Unhealthy diets high in salt and caffeine will raise your heart rate.

Positive and Negative Foods

Alcohol from beer, wine and liquor in addition to caffeine found in coffee, tea and some soft drinks can shoot your resting heart rate up considerably. Conversely, low-calorie and vegetarian diets and along with those low in salt and sugar will lead to lower, safer heart rates. The higher your resting heart rate, the faster you'll reach your target heart rate during a workout, limiting what you can do without stressing your heart.

Heart Rate During Exercise

Your rate of exertion is the main factor that affects your heart rate during exercise, along with environmental factors and your overall level of fitness. It's unclear exactly how much your diet affects your heart rate when you work out, but a poor diet can lead to a lower level of physical fitness, increasing your heart rate during exercise. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Sao Paulo found that lower-calorie diets improved heart rate recovery in obese children, but had no affect on their heart rate during exercise.