To lose fat you need to eat less. Right? … Wrong. Well, surely to lose fat you need to eat less fat. Right? … Wrong. Really?! OK, but to lose fat you surely have to exercise more. Right? … Wrong again. Surprised? You think I’m nuts? Perfect! ;) Let’s take a closer look together.
Every second that we are alive, trillions of biochemical reactions take place. The energy currency is adenosine triphosphate, ATP. Mitochondria produce ATP primarily using glucose or fatty acids. Fatty acids produce a lot more, but glucose is much easier to use. Both are used but one always dominates. In general, if there is glucose to be used, fatty acids are not. For fat loss, we want to promote fat burning for ATP production to fuel cellular activity.
How could losing body fat not have to do with eating less? Well, to be perfectly honest, it does and it doesn’t. It does in the sense that losing body fat actually means using up energy reserves stored in fat cells. And it doesn’t in the sense that eating significantly less will lower body temperature and slow down our metabolism in order to preserve these energy reserves so that we can survive longer.
Alright then. How could losing body fat not have to do with eating less fat? Here again, it does and it doesn’t. It does because the total amount of calories we eat does, in fact, have an effect on the speed at which we can lose or gain body fat. But it doesn’t because it’s not neither the amount of food or fat that we eat that determines how much body fat we can lose.
And what about exercise? It must be related in some way? I mean, there are no fat high level athletes, right? They’re all muscular and super lean. Of course. But here’s the thing: In exactly the same way as for the previous two points, exercising does and doesn’t have an effect on fat loss. It does in the sense that everything we do with our body and in particular how and how much we move does affect how it runs, how it uses energy, and how it burns fat. But it doesn’t in the sense that it’s not the burning of calories during exercise that makes a difference. It’s actually the metabolic effects of exercising that do.
Do you think I’m beating around the bush? I’m really not. What I’m trying to do is dispel the most common misunderstands about fat loss. Here’s what’s most important to understand:
Basically everything about fat loss has to do with insulin because insulin regulates fat storage and fat burning.
G. Belanger, PhD — Kalibra Co-Founder and CSO