The journey of calories: from food and drinks to absorption and transportation to fat cells, to burning and conversion into carbon dioxide and water.
Look for a service that provides biometric screening, body composition scanning (DEXA, BOD POD, SECA tests), metabolism (RMR test) or aerobic capacity test (VO2 Max) and other tests that will give you a comprehensive analysis of your health. They will guide you towards the right lifestyle decisions and actions that will lead to a prolonged healthy life.
Approximately 70% of adults in the US are either overweight or obese. Over 35% of adults in the US have a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m2 and above; hence, they are categorized as obese individuals. Several factors can result in obesity, and these factors include; genetic composition, metabolism, cultural activities, behavior, and stress. However, the most significant contributing factors to obesity are excessive food consumption and lack of physical exercise. Incorporating smaller amounts of a low-calorie diet and consistent exercises into your daily routine increases your metabolic rate and allows your body to convert and expel excess body fat as carbon dioxide and water.
Many “self-proclaimed” fitness experts in showbiz will tell you that it is easy to lose a lot of weight quickly using a regular aerobic exercise routine that they prescribe: This is usually not entirely true. Regular aerobic exercises have a minimal effect on the process of burning body fat and reducing weight. However, there are high-intensity intermittent exercises that are more effective in burning fat in the subcutaneous and abdominal areas.
However, it’s possible to go from being overweight or obese to being a slender fox. Several celebrities have also engaged in lifestyle changes and significantly reduced their body fat. These celebrities have proved that being overweight is a challenge that you can overcome. Some celebrities include Missy Eliot, Mariah Carrey, Janet Jackson, and Adele (who lost 100 pounds in just a few months).
To know how to lose weight more effectively, you must first understand the process of losing weight on a much deeper scale. So, let us learn what happens in your body as you burn fat.
How the body absorbs and stores fat
When you consume high-calorie foods, the body breaks down the calories to obtain energy (metabolism). Metabolism is a chemical process that requires oxygen and enzymes to break down foods and drinks to energy and building and repairing the body.
The primary fat-storing organs
A portion of the calories is absorbed and metabolized into energy, while the excess is stored as lipids in a significant endocrine organ called the adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is the loose connective tissue, most of which is found under the skin and around the organs. There are two types of adipose tissues; the White Adipose Tissue (WAT) and the Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT).
Most of us are usually very uncomfortable with the extra layers of fat found around the waist and thighs, and those are the regions where WAT is common. Brown Adipose Tissue is found around the front and the back of the neck and supraclavicular regions. WAT performs the following three primary functions:
- A source of energy
- A mechanical cushion
- A heat insulator
BAT mainly acts like a heat generator for non-shivering thermogenesis and diet-induced thermogenesis; that is why you start to sweat when you consume excess food. Diet-induced thermogenesis is the BAT method of dealing with excessive calorie intake. The BAT’s mitochondria are densely packed, rich in iron, and highly vascularized, a combination that results in its brown color.
The process of storing fat
For fat to be absorbed and stored in the body, lipogenesis must occur. Lipogenesis is a process that involves the adipose tissues and the liver through which the proteins and the carbohydrates (carbs) in the food you have eaten are converted into fat. The carbohydrates are broken down and converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver and the muscles. Since the liver is too small to store the carbs we consume, the glycogen is further broken down by the liver and transported to the adipose tissue and stored as a triglyceride.
Different people have different anatomical locations of adipose tissue. For example, an apple distribution of adipose tissue is a distribution pattern common in men and is characterized by large portions of adipose tissue on the upper body. In women, the pear distribution pattern of adipose tissue is when large portions of adipose tissue are located on the lower body. However, studies on the fat distribution among family members of the same genders have proven that genetic factors also play a primary role in fat distribution and atomic location. Other factors that affect fat distribution include hormonal activity; an increase or decrease in hormonal activity (lipoprotein lipase) leads to fat distribution changes.
The body can store fat either as subcutaneous fat or as visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is stored under the skin and in the right quantities it is harmless and can help prevent against some diseases. Subcutaneous fat also serves the purpose of the body’s cushion. Visceral fat is the excessive fat that is stored inside and around the abdominal organs. Visceral fat produce hormones and inflammatory substances. Visceral fat, also known as belly fat, has been known to aid in the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.
Body fat percentage differs for men and women since women require a higher body fat percentage than men. The essential body fat percentage for men ranges from 2% – 5%, while for women, it ranges between 10% – 13%. However, that body fat percentage will still not be able to promote your health effectively. The healthy range of body fat is 17% – 25% for men and 22% – 30% for women which is characterized by a lean body mass.
How the body burns stored fats
Many people are not aware of precisely what happens when the body burns fat. Some might go ahead and assume that since the adipose cells store fat, the cells are digested and broken down to release the fat inside, but that is not the case. The fatty cells called adipocytes remain intact during burning fat and do not move or get broken down.
When the body requires extra energy, the adipocytes are stimulated through hormonal/enzymatic pathways and release the fat (which is stored in the form of triglyceride) into the bloodstream as free fatty acids. Each of the triacylglycerol molecules is broken down into three fatty acids through lipolysis. Lipolysis is a metabolic process that is catalyzed by hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). After lipolysis, the free fatty acids are released and carried through the bloodstream to the muscles. They get into the muscle’s mitochondria through a lipoprotein lipase activity (LPL) and get burned to produce energy.
Ever wondered why you breathe so hard and sweat so much when you engage in physical exercises or other activities such as climbing stairs and chasing your kids? Increasing the need for more oxygen through exercise increases your respiration rate, which increases your rate of blood circulation and leads to more free fatty acids being delivered to your active muscles to be burned and to facilitate the production of energy. After the fatty acids provide the muscles’ energy, most of the fat is then released through the lungs as CO2 (Carbon dioxide). Simultaneously, the remaining portion is converted into water, released into circulation, and expelled as urine or sweat (the real reason why a weight loss routine includes drinking water in ounces.
Therefore, every time you breathe, you are burning a certain number of calories that is determined by what you are doing. Even when the body is at rest and you are asleep, your body continues to burn calories. This is because your body requires energy for basic bodily functions such as blood circulation and breathing. The rate at which you burn calories while at rest or while sleeping is known as Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and can be calculated using a number of factors such as; gender, age, height, and weight.
People who are overweight are characterized by features such as fat layers that hinder muscles’ visibility. After releasing the free fatty acids, the blood adipocytes undergo a shrinking process resulting in a leaner body mass as the muscles become more and more visible. Using that same principle, consuming many high-calorie foods without engaging in physical activities means that the fat cells under the skin and around the internal body organs will continue to absorb more fats (in the form of triglycerides). Apart from exercise, other fat burners include, supplements, antioxidants, caffeine, and green tea.
Unlike what some people believe, the process of burning fat is not a one-way traffic. To burn fat, you must also cover a caloric deficit which means that you need to also continue eating. Burning fat means that you eat less calories than you burn. If you decide to stop eating for over 3 days, your body goes into starvation mode (adoptive thermogenesis) to prevent further weight loss by reducing metabolic rate. While in starvation mode, you are at a slight risk of adding more weight even though there is a caloric deficit.
Therefore, as several researchers conclude, the process of burning fat does not lead to the loosing of fat cells but instead involves the emptying of adipocytes. If you want to reduce weight, low-calorie food consumption combined with specific exercises increase your body’s metabolism and enhance the process of burning body fat. Remember that too much or too little fat in the adipocytes is dangerous to the body and increases chronic diseases’ risks. The key to weight optimization is maintaining healthy eating habits combined with suitable physical activities and healthier lifestyle choices.
Look for a service that provides biometric screening, body composition scanning (DEXA, BOD POD, SECA tests), metabolism (RMR test) or aerobic capacity test (VO2 Max) and other tests that will give you a comprehensive analysis of your health.They will guide you towards the right lifestyle decisions and actions that will lead to a prolonged healthy life.