Food for thought about how to live healthy!

Fat Burning 101

Biologically, burning fat is one of the easiest things to do. Your body’s muscles LOVE burning fat. It the primary source of energy for your body.

But the way we go about burning that fat determines how much weight we lose or gain. In order to understand the best ways to lose that extra weight, there has to be an understanding of how your muscles use energy.

Muscle cells, in particular, have three energy spending phases.

Phase One is Aerobic Respiration. Your body is in phase one most of the time. In this phase, your cells use oxygen to convert sugar, in the form of Glucose, into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is main form of energy used in the body. Even doing something as little as lifting a finger requires ATP. In Aerobic Respiration, oxygen is available so it’s very efficient for your body to use energy. But lets say you start running on a treadmill. Your muscles are being forced to work harder with less oxygen. Your muscles can still run on Phase One, but only for a minute or two until you run out of oxygen. This is when your body transitions into Phase Two.

Phase Two is known as the Phosphagen System. This system only lasts for about 10 seconds, but it’s also the period of time when your body spends the most extreme amounts of energy. In the Phosphagen System, your body lacks oxygen so it needs to find a different source of energy. Your body uses an enzyme, a catalyst that converts one molecule into a different molecule, known as Creatine Kinase to take a phosphate molecule from Creatine Phosphate, a high energy-storing chemical, in order to make ATP. It’s like a shortcut for the body. However, as a result the body creates a waste product known Creatine that can be toxic to certain organs. That’s why your body can only use so much Creatine Phosphate, and is forced to go into Phase Three.

Phase Three is known as Anaerobic Respiration. After you’ve run on the treadmill for about 3 or 4 minutes, you’ve most likely entered Anaerobic Respiration. This is when your body begins converting glucose without the use of oxygen. This process is known as Glycolysis. The body is able to burn energy, but not nearly as efficiently as Phase One. One molecule of glucose only makes two molecules of ATP in this phase. Your body also produces Lactic Acid, which can build up in your muscles and cause them to cramp. Certain people, specifically long distance runners, have trained their muscles to operate on Anaerobic Respiration for long periods of time.

So how do the 3 phases fit into fat burning? It depends what kind of fat burning you’re into.

If you want to shed a few extra pounds and just be more in shape, you want to lots of Endurance and Cardio exercises. These exercises keep your body running in Phase 3, and allows your body to become more adjusted to Anaerobic Respiration. Elliptical machines, treadmills, dance classes, anything that keeps you active and going for a consistent amount of time is a great way to improve the efficiency of your muscles.

If you’re looking into losing replacing fat with muscle in certain areas of your body, weight lifting and core training is what’s best. You want to burn as much energy as possible, and that requires taking advantage of Phase Two, the Phosphagen System. Doing multiple reps of weight lifting will keep your body in the Phase Two without having to resort to Phase 3. Just make sure you take breaks in between reps. Try 5 reps of 20 bicep curls, then switch to triceps, then shoulders, then cycle back to biceps. These exercises increase the power of your muscles.

If you’re looking to try and do both, good look. Muscles are very particular in the way they function. They either want to become efficient or big. It explains why super slim track stars can run 20 miles a day, and why ridiculously huge body builders can only lift cars for 10 seconds at a time.

Personally, I’ll take efficiency over power any day. When there’s a zombie apocalypse and you’re facing a horde of brainless flesh-addicts, I think it’s more useful to be able to run away quickly than it would to able to lift a sofa and throw it at a zombie. At least for you bodybuilders, before the zombies take over, your body will admired by hot girls and envied by coworkers who eat pancakes for breakfast every day.

That’s the apple for the day.

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