Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fat Burns in a Carbohydrate Fire

This is the funniest fitness picture I just found online.  It has nothing to do with this article, but I'd say it's an ice breaker.  I just hope none of these women are gassy.  I'm glad the class is outside.  Remind me to take my Beano before yoga class next time.  Now that I have your attention we can move on.

Early on in my career as a personal trainer I heard another trainer with more training and experience say that "Fat burns in a carbohydrate fire.  Fat is the wood, but carbs are the kindling.  You can't build much of a fire without kindling."

I have always accepted this as the truth, but I never really had a scientific, physiological explanation for it until now.  This is a direct excerpt from the Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Manual from the American Council on Exercise:

"'Fat burns in the flame of glucose,' meaning that fat can only enter the mitochondrial energy pathways when there is enough of the end-product of glucose catabolism--pyruvic acid--along with oxygen, also present in the muscle cell.  One of the key physiological adaptations of improved aerobic fitness is an enhanced capacity to utilize stored fat for ATP production.  Functionally it means that the lactate threshold is not reached until a much higher absolute intensity (caloric expenditure) is reached.  This allows for more intense, as well as longer duration, aerobic exercise.  Thus more total calories can be expended during each exercise session."

While low-carb diets may be trendy, they are not necessarily heart healthy and may throw the body into a state of ketosis.  A no-carb diet is probably not feasible to maintain as a lifestyle change, and will not give you the proper fuel to workout and gain/maintain lean muscle mass.  No one wants to lose muscle.  It helps your basal metabolism.  If you are trying to lose fat then you still need carbs.  The ratios of the total calories you take in should be 40-60% Carbohydrates,  30% Protein, and 10-30% Fat. 

Carbohydrates are not just breads, cereals, sweets, and junk food.  There are some great carbs that should never be eliminated from your diet like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  Also, carbohydrates are essential to your recovery post-workout.  Research shows the perfect recovery ratio is 4:1 carbs to protein.  My recovery drink of choice is chocolate milk. Click on the link for why:

Got Chocolate Milk?

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