The terms “feel the burn”, “melting fat”, and “getting shredded” are often used to describe using stored and dietary fat as energy. To study how the fat actually gets into the working muscle to be converted to energy is important if we are wanting to lose excess stored fat for weight loss, or it might be that you are an endurance athlete and being well fat adapted allows you to go for longer without having to rely on high intakes of carbohydrates along the way.
Understanding exercise is important as we use either carbohydrates that break down into glucose or we use fat which breaks down to ketones for energy. The body uses glucose much more easily a bit like a fire will burn quickly if lighter fluid is added. Once it runs out, the fire must latch onto using another fuel source such as coal or wood. For a roaring fire, or springing into action, you might need a fast burner such as glucose, but this may mean you tire quickly. When it burns down and just glows away peacefully, it is likened to the body using fat.
It all sounds great, but if you keep eating carbohydrates at every meal and as snacks, your body will not get a chance to engage any stored fat for your working muscles. And if you exercise loaded with carbohydrates from a high carb meal, fat storage will not get a look in. Carbs trigger insulin and insulin shuts down lipolysis.
Glucose (carbohydrates) and fat are mostly used for energy and protein is almost only used by the body for growth and repair. Dietary glucose can go immediately to muscle cells; fat goes to the liver where your bodies energy needs decide if fat is required or put into storage. High fat diets just do not stack up in the science of long-term successful weight loss despite their popularity.
Have you ever thought how fat leaves the body? It’s a question not often considered but it might come as a surprise to know that it leaves the body as carbon dioxide via the lungs and a little as heat. That does not mean you can hyperventilate to increase breathing. You do need to get the blood circulating and the heart pumping which also over time increases muscle density and more little muscle conversion chambers in the mitochondria of the cells.
Lipolysis is the term given to breaking down or splitting of fats into free fatty acids (FFA) which bind up with protein and travel to the cells to be used as energy. Stored and dietary fats need to be converted into FFA’s before they can be burned as fuel in the muscles and require L-carnitine and vitamin B2.
Weight loss supplements rarely stack up in rigorous scientific studies with the most effective diet being a healthy balance and within your ideal calorie range along with exercise. Albeit caffeine has shown to increase the rate of lipolysis by working with adrenaline to increase lipolysis and promote fatty acid oxidation and is frequently taken before sports to boost performance.
There is great appeal for exploring exercise, nutrients, herbs, and botanicals which have shown to increase lipolysis through preparing the cells for energy production and promoting fat oxidation to energy, but tapping into fat through diet is the first step.
The critical aspects to consider here are that
- insulin needs to be scarce to promote lipolysis
- high levels of antioxidant’s increase signaling such as CoQ10, quercetin, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid
- L-carnitine acts as a shuttle
- muscle density increases the capacity for burning fat as more powerhouses
- exercise increases the demand for energy and circulates more oxygen(VO2) which produces more carbon-dioxide(VCO2).
L-carnitine is a popular over the counter supplement promoted for fat loss as it acts as a transporter molecule binding ft and taking it to the cell. Shirali et al found L-carnitine was not a great fat loss agent by itself, but when combined with caffeine, green tea, and exercise, can help speed things along. How much and at what time should it be taken is debatable as the quality of supplements differs.
Chromium and cinnamon are two of the most rigorously studied nutrients for increasing cellular uptake of glucose and aid weight loss. Glucomannan is a fibre that swells to increase fullness and to keep the bowels moving and detoxing. A broad-spectrum Probiotic is also associted with keeping the bacteria species firmicutes under control which are highest in people with obesity and have shown to influence fat metabolism.