BURNING FAT & BUILDING MUSCLE
All Calories Are Not Created Equal
You would think that a calorie is a calorie right? Unfortunately, nutrition is not always that simple! The truth is that the body treats calories differently, according to their source. There are basically four nutrients that the body can use as fuel: fat, carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol. As a general rule, fat provides 9 calories per gram, carbohydrates and protein offer 4 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.
Although this looks good in theory, in actual practice, these numbers are somewhat misleading.
Your body is more efficient at storing energy from fat than it is in storing energy from protein. For example, 97% of the calories provided from fat are actually available to the body. In contrast, your body can use only about 75% of the calories that protein provides. Although it is not exactly understood why this occurs, it may have something to do with differences in the amount of energy needed for metabolism. At 97% efficiency, only about 3% of the energy from fat is lost as heat. This means that out of 100 calories of fat consumed, only 3 calories are lost as heat, while 97 calories are available for energy and storage.
The body has an almost unlimited capacity to store calories as fat (no kidding), but it can only store about 4,000 carbohydrate calories in the liver and muscle tissue. Once these storage areas are full, our body can store excess carbohydrate calories in our adipose tissue (our fat cells!). Research has shown that the body will naturally burn carbohydrate calories first during exercise; turning to fat when additional energy is needed.
An excess of ingested carbohydrate calories will provide a ready source of energy, preventing the body from accessing stored fat energy. This is bad news for those of us addicted to fat or carbohydrates and wanting to get rid of unwanted pounds.
It is important to note that we need carbohydrates in our daily nutrition plan. Fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are important factors in a well balanced diet. It is the high glycemic (high sugar) carbohydrates that you need to be concerned with - things like white bread, white rice, donuts, soda, alcohol and candy. These types of carbohydrates are high in sugar, calories and low in nutrients.
The good news is that you can enhance your body's ability to burn fat through cardiovascular exercise, (like walking, cycling, hiking, and aerobics) and resistance training. Over time, your body develops enhanced blood supply to tissues and produces higher levels of enzymes involved in fat metabolism. With this in mind and a willingness to take time to read labels, plan your meals and eat for function instead of pleasure, you will position your body to get the most out of its natural tendency to burn fat the natural and healthy way.
Note: Muscle is metabolically active one pound can burn up to 35 calories in a 24-hour period, while one pound of fat only burns 2 calories per 24-hour.