I've certainly left my own trail of complicated and sophisticated articles on very specific components of dieting and peaking, but here I want to go back to the beginning and show how your body can truly burn body fat most effectively.
How To Burn Fat More Effectively
Registered dieticians for years cried, "A calorie is just a calorie! Off with the heads of those heretics who claim that anything other than just lowering your calories is necessary!" Isolcaloric studies have now shown that, as we all knew, they're wrong. Study groups on the same amount of calories have been divided by different ratios of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Some groups lost weight twice as fast on one "diet" as others just based on manipulating these ratios, not by dropping calories lower than any of the other groups. I'll give you the punch line right now so you don't have to wait until the end of the article: Those on lower carbs lost twice as fast. Now, before you skip to the next article, don't assume that those on the lowest carbs were the most successful.
The human body is in a constant energy production flux using a combination of carbohydrates (glucose) and fat (fatty acids.) Some protein (amino acids) can and are used for energy as well, but if you're careful, you can minimize this and spare your precious muscle. Every cell in the body uses glucose, but fat is harder to use, so your body prefers glucose.
As a matter of fact, your brain, which is running the whole show, can't store energy, doesn't use fat (except in severe dieting when it uses ketone bodies), and has to rely on glucose for energy. So, your brain is hypersensitive to low blood sugar changes. Energy production is monitored to keep blood sugar normal for all of your body's needs, but especially your brain.
The mother of all hormones in your body when it comes to energy production is glucagon. It is responsible for bringing blood sugar back up when it gets low. Here's the scenario: You ate a "normal" meal with some protein and carbs. Your body used the carbs for energy first as they were digested, absorbed, and caused glucose elevations in your blood stream. This is just the normal way your body always uses carbs first for energy.
As blood glucose decreases, your body has to start creating more if you're not going to provide it. Your brain tells your pancreas to produce glucagon and it screams to every cell in your body, "MOBILIZE! RELEASE! WE NEED ENERGY!" Body fat cells release fatty acids into the blood stream, some get used directly as energy, and some go through the liver to be converted to glucose. So, fat is broken down and converted to glucose to be used as energy. Voila! We lose body fat! Your brain successfully self-preserved itself to live another day by creating it's own energy (glucose).
You pass by the cookie jar and eat "just one." The carbohydrates hit your stomach, glucose enters your blood stream and now your brain has more glucose than it needs (depending on the amount you eat.)
Now, with the opposite environment, the brain has to switch gears. When glucose levels were low, the brain had to create and retrieve it's own. With too much, the brain has to tell the pancreas to release its storage hormone, insulin.
Insulin screams to all the cells in the body, "STORE!" As excess glucose floats by body fat cells, the hormone adipsin, as directed by insulin, sucks it in and converts it to body fat. The first action of insulin, released in amounts correlating to the amounts of carbs we eat, is to stop the production of glucagon, thus taking us out of a fat-burning mode.
The next independent action of insulin is to get the excessive blood sugar down by storing it. Some actually gets stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen if we're low such as in dieting states, but some gets converted to fat. The bottom line is when carbs are controlled in amounts lower than the body needs, you spend more time with glucagon as the dominant hormone versus insulin, therefore, over time you lose more body fat.
So, if a lower carbohydrate intake increases glucagon and suppresses insulin, why not eliminate all the carbs and put the pedal to the metal? Actually, this it the way to lose fat the fastest, no question. But, you also lose carbohydrates as the buffer against muscle loss. Carbs do more to spare muscle protein than even dietary protein does. Worse is that on too low of a carbohydrate intake for only a matter of weeks and the hormone Adipsin, that regulates carbs being converted to fat, has been studied to become unbelievably hypersensitive to storing fat.
In short, too low of a carb intake and you'll lose muscle and set yourself up to gain fat back until your metabolic rate catches up.
So How Do I Burn Fat & Keep Muscle?
The answer... A lower carbohydrate intake, but not too low. You want to eat as much carbohydrates as you can, but still be able to lose fat. Cycling your carbs can also be effective, but you have to be careful not to overdo it on the higher days.
I use various methods with clients depending on metabolic rates, contest goals, etc..., but three to five days of moderately low carbohydrates followed by one day of 25-50% more can keep the metabolism cranked to full-throttle without regaining fat back. If you binge or go too high, too often on carbs, you refill your liver and muscle with glycogen, restore some carbs as fat, take yourself out of the maximum levels of body fat burning, and lose precious time.
Use carbs for energy, to spare muscle, and to keep your metabolic rate high, but don't waffle back-and-forth if you expect to lose weight consistently and maximally. You have to control them; don't let them control you. Make a game plan and stick to it long enough to evaluate its effectiveness. If you understand and integrate them properly, carbohydrates can be the tool that allows you to be master and commander of your metabolism!
About The Author
Dr. Joe Klemczewski is a WNBF Pro and has graduate degrees in health and nutrition. From his office in Evansville, Indiana he works with clients all over the country, including top WNBF Pros, using his online consulting program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Metabolism Mystery Uncovered!