Despite the widespread interest in weight loss and various diet plans, very few people can explain how one kilo of fat magically disappears.
It may surprise you to know that even many seasoned fitness instructors, nutritionists, and medical practitioners are just as ignorant as the average Joe.
One of the most widespread false beliefs is that fat can be used as a source of energy.
Is that silence I hear?
The main issue with this theory is that it contradicts the sacrosanct law of conservation of matter, that every single chemical reaction has to comply with.
One other misconception is that fat is converted into skeletal muscle, while yet another inaccurate school of thought is that fat leaves the body through the colon.
In light of all these incorrect assumptions about the metabolism of fat, the obvious question is, where does all the fat go after regular fat burning workouts?
In this post, we will answer this question as well as explain the importance of fat in the body and the connection between metabolism and fat burning.
What Happens To Body Fat When We Exercise?
The simple answer to this question is that fat is oxidized, producing carbon dioxide and water.
The carbon dioxide is exhaled while the water circulates in the body until it is lost as either sweat or urine.
If you burn about 22.04 Ib (10 kg) of fat during your regular workout, as much as 18.51 Ib (8.4 kg) will be expelled via your lungs while the remaining 3.53 Ib (1.6 kg) will be converted to water.
To put it plainly, almost all of the calories we burn each day are expelled when we breathe out.
Almost everything we eat is broken down and exhaled through our lungs, which is a FACT that may surprise most people.
All the carbohydrates and almost all the fats you eat are turned into carbon dioxide and water. The same applies to alcohol.
Except for a negligible amount that is converted into urea and other solids, all protein ends up in your urine and is eventually excreted.
In the case of dietary fiber, it passes through your digestive system with nutrients absorbed by your vital organs through your bloodstream before while the digested food is excreted when nature calls.
The Connection Between Metabolism And Fat Burning
Your metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food into the energy fuel needed by your body.
Most people point at the slow rate of their metabolism as the reason behind their excessive weight gain issues.
But could something else be at play?
While your rate of metabolism can influence your weight, it is not a sure bet that a sluggish metabolism would lead to you gaining weight.
The amount of energy required by your body is not necessarily determined by your metabolism. But on the other hand, the amount of food and liquid you consume, in addition to the amount of physical activity you engage in will greatly influence your weight.
What we eat or drink is broken down through the process of metabolism and converted into energy fuel for the body. During the metabolic process, the calories in the food and drinks consumed will combine with oxygen in the bloodstream to produce the energy fuel your body requires to function at an optimal level.
Your body still uses energy even when you are inactive. Even while in a state of rest, your body is still active, as you need energy for respiration, blood circulation, hormone regulation, cellular growth and repair.
Your basal metabolism or basal metabolic rate (BMR), is the total number of calories expended by your body each day while at rest.
Your skeletal muscle mass is the primary determinant of your BMR.
In addition to this, there are other factors that determine your BMR, these include:
- Your body composition and size: The more skeletal muscles you have or the larger you are, the more calories you will likely burn even while you are in a state of rest.
- Gender: Men of comparable weight and age to women tend to have more muscle mass and less body fat. This means that men obviously have a higher metabolic rate.
- Age: Muscle mass declines with age. Having a higher percentage of fat in the body makes it less efficient at burning calories.
- Your daily calorie expenditure: Note that your daily calorie expenditure is determined by three factors, namely; your basal metabolic rate, your level of physical activity, and your diet.
- How nutrients are absorbed and utilized by your body: Calories are used up in the processes of eating, digesting, absorbing, moving as well as storing food. As a matter of fact, digestion and absorption account for about 10% of your total caloric intake and little can be done to alter this.
- Your level of physical activity: The remaining calories that you burn daily come from any activity you engage in. This could be as intense as playing lawn tennis or as easy going as taking a walk to your local grocery store.
- Nonexercise activity thermogenesis: Any day to day activity that is not classified as an exercise falls under the category of nonexercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT for short. This may involve going for a stroll inside or outside your home. It may also involve house chores like cleaning and even gardening. It is estimated that the average person burns between 100 to 800 calories per day through NEAT.
- Weight and metabolic rate: Slow metabolism and weight gain could be the result of a medical condition. However, it is unusual for a medical condition to significantly slow the metabolism, leading to significant weight gain. Some medical conditions, such as Cushing syndrome and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland), can lead to unintentional weight gain. But fear not, as these medical conditions are very rare.
An abundance of factors contribute to weight gain and some of these factors include; lifestyle choices, diet, hormones and genetics. The lifestyle choices you make, such as; how much sleep you get, how often you exercise, and how you deal with stress can all significantly affect your weight. Ultimately, an excessive caloric intake or insufficient energy expenditure will lead to weight gain.
Even though it may appear that some people have an easier time losing weight than others. But if you burn more calories than you take in, you are sure to lose weight.
Simply put, your caloric intake has a massive effect on your weight. To reduce body fat, you must either consume fewer calories and/or burn your excessive calories through exercise.
Analyzing the Relationship Between Exercise and Metabolism
Generally speaking, your calorie expenditure will increase in direct proportion to your level of activity.
However, the number of calories you burn through exercise is entirely within your control. The reality is that some people who appear to have a fast metabolism are likely just more active than average.
The following are some suggestions from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for increasing calorie expenditure:
- Aerobic exercise: Maintaining a daily routine of 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise is recommended. It’s possible that increasing your exercise time will help you achieve your weight loss, maintenance, and fitness objectives. Moderate aerobic exercise consists of things like brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, and even mowing the lawn. Running, heavy yard work, and aerobic dancing are all examples of vigorous aerobic exercise.
- Conditioning your muscles: At least twice weekly, you should perform strength training exercises targeting all of your major muscle groups. Exercises that build muscle can be as varied as lifting weights or using your own body weight, carrying heavy bags, using resistance tubing or paddles in the water, or even rock climbing are all great ways of conditioning your muscles.
Importance Of Fats In Our Body
Dietary data is absolutely crucial to your dietary needs and in fact it is one of three basic macronutrients, the other two being carbohydrates and protein.
A balanced diet needs to include all three macronutrients in sufficient amounts and consuming a healthy balance of each macronutrient will go a long way in keeping you healthy.
But you may be wondering what exactly is the importance of fat to your body?
Well, the calories per gram of fat are quite high. Fat has as much as nine calories per gram and in comparison to the other two macronutrients, fat offers a much greater energy source. As a bodybuilder, you will gain skeletal muscle mass if you maintain a caloric surplus diet even as you adhere to your regular workout regime.
Fat also serves multiple purposes in the body. We all know that cells are the fundamental unit of the body, but did you know that cell membranes are primarily made of fat?
Inadequate cell membrane function would be a serious issue because it would make it impossible to control what goes into cells and what stays out.
Furthermore, fat acts as an insulator, keeping the body at a comfortable temperature and protecting you against cold. Additionally, fat acts as a cushion, keeping vital organs safe from injury.
The brain is one vital organ that relies in part on fatty acids from the food we eat to form its working surface. The myelin sheath that protects the nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord also contains these fatty acids. Lower rates of depression have also been linked to higher fat consumption.
The term “fat-soluble” is also probably familiar to you. This describes substances that are indigestible without fat in the digestive tract, such as; vitamins K, E, D and A.
Have you ever pondered why so many vitamin and supplement bottles recommend taking the item with food? It’s important to have some fat in your diet so that your body can absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals you need.
Fat also provides a great service by keeping hormone levels in check and regulating blood glucose levels and the insulin response.
And as a final note, fat is scrumptious! Fat is a great source of succulent flavor.
Calories To Burn To Shed Excess Fat
A deficit of 500 calories per day should result in a loss of one pound per week, as predicted by the 3,500-calorie hypothesis. However, there is evidence to suggest that this rule greatly exaggerates the amount of weight one can expect to lose.
Initially, you might be able to reduce your weight by as much as a pound per week. However, as your metabolic rate and body composition change, your weight loss may also slow down.
The changes in your metabolism that accompany weight loss are ignored by the standard 3,500-calorie deficit calculation. As your efforts progress, you might need an even larger calorie deficit to see weight loss.
This explains why people who try to shed pounds by exercising more eventually hit a point where their efforts yield no further results. The body’s fat level can be maintained by a combination of metabolic, behavioral, neuroendocrine, and subconscious mechanisms. “Adaptive thermogenesis” is the term used to describe how this theory facilitates weight gain.
Physical activity, in addition to a healthy, balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods, is likely the best way to raise your heart rate and oxygen intake, both of which can aid in fat loss. Never forget that a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you take in) is necessary for weight loss.
Metabolism, or the rate at which your body burns energy, is boosted by physical activity including fat loss exercises and NEAT. Physical activities that double your metabolic rate, such as brisk walking or light jogging, are highly recommended if you want to burn more fat.