Eight Reasons You Need To Become A Good Fat Burner
Becoming metabolically flexible so that your body is easily able to burn body fat is one of the most important things you can do if you want to maintain a lean body composition. Known as metabolic flexibility, the ability to readily burn body fat has a number benefits that will set you ahead of your sugar burning peers, including better health, improved brain function, and greater productivity.
This article will give you eight reasons to become a good fat burner and explain why it’s the missing link in many fat loss programs.
Reason #1: Easier Time Losing Body Fat
The natural state for humans is to be exceptional fat burners. We evolved to endure long periods without food by being able to sustain energy through the oxidation of body fat stores.
However, when you eat a large portion of your diet from carbohydrates, you burn primarily glucose (or sugar) for energy. By eating carbs every few hours you continuously spike insulin and never allow the body to shift into hardcore fat burning mode.
This state of metabolic inflexibility will make it very hard to lose body fat because as soon as blood sugar drops, you’ll experience food cravings and be compelled to chow down. It will be hard to stick to caloric restrictions, making an energy deficit nearly impossible to achieve.
On the other hand, if you limit carbohydrates in your diet in favour of fat and protein, you can force your body to burn fat for energy. Short periods of fasting, or simply avoiding snacks during the day, can also improve the body’s ability to burn fat. Being metabolically flexible allows you to avoid food cravings and be better able to achieve an energy deficit, making fat loss easier.
Reason #2: Better Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping through the night, it’s possible that an inability to burn body fat is to blame. If you’re metabolically flexible, after dinner, blood sugar and insulin will drop and the hormone leptin will be released, which suppresses appetite and causes the release of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormone raises body temperature to keep you warm over night and it shifts the body into fat burning mode. Levels of the hormone melatonin are raised getting you ready to sleep. Once you go to sleep, prolactin and growth hormone are elevated to burn fat for overnight energy. These hormones are also involved in eradicating inflammation and repairing neurons in the brain.
On the other hand, people with poor metabolic flexibility tend to have trouble sleeping through the night due to low blood sugar and altered circadian rhythms. Low blood sugar will literally wake you up and make you hungry at night. If you follow these hunger pangs with a high-carb snack, the nighttime hormone cascade of leptin, melatonin, thyroid hormone and so on will be disordered.
Reason #3: Better Elimination/Detoxification
The elimination of foreign compounds from the body is essential for health and leanness and being able to metabolize fat efficiently plays a primary role in this process.
There are two kinds of “toxic” compounds that the body needs to eliminate for peak health: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Water-soluble compounds are easily eliminated via the kidneys, but fat-soluble compounds get stored in fat tissue and are harder for the body to eliminate. These include man-made chemicals like pesticides, preservatives, plastics, and other environmental chemicals such as estrogenic compounds.
If your fat burning machinery is not up to par, elimination of these foreign chemicals will be reduced and your “toxic” load will be greater. Over time it can build up and cause cancer, neuropathies, fatigue and other health problems that are all way more trouble than they’re worth.
Reason #4: Slower Aging & Longer Life
The process by which the body burns fat for energy is a “cleaner” process than carbohydrates, generating fewer free radicals that bounce around and cause oxidative stress and aging.
You may recall from elementary biology that mitochondria in the cell turn energy from glucose into ATP to provide energy for cells to fuel activity. The byproduct of this process is free radicals, which can damage genes, DNA, and cellular health. When the body burns fatty acids instead of glucose, fewer free radicals are generated and oxidative stress that causes inflammation is reduced, having an anti-aging effect.
Reason #5: Improved Cognition
Fat burning has a neuroprotective effect on the brain that can improve cognition and brain function.
You’ve probably heard that “the brain requires at least 130 grams of carbs a day” and that’s why low-carb diets don’t work. This statement is only valid when you’re living on carbs and have poor metabolic flexibility.
When you restrict carb intake, liver glycogen (carbs stored in the liver) provides glucose for the brain. But, liver glycogen stores are small and once it’s depleted ketone bodies kick in. The liver produces ketones when the body starts burning fat and they can be used as fuel for the brain. One of the scientists who developed the ketogenic diet program at Johns Hopkins wrote that “ketones are a more efficient energy source for the brain” than carbohydrates.
Therefore, burning ketones is beneficial for brain function because it keeps cognition stable rather than allowing it to become hyperactive—a state that leads brain neurons to die. It also protects against brain injury with seizures, Alzheimer’s, and related disorders.
For example, in a study of older adults with mild cognitive impairment, those who ate a very low-carb diet that led to the production of ketones performed better on memory tests than those on a standard high-carb diet. Ketone levels positively correlated with memory performance.
Reason #6: Fewer Food Cravings & Stable Mood
Food cravings tend to be the result of either low blood sugar or excessive stress. If you are a good fat burner, when blood sugar drops, your body will switch over from burning glucose to burning ketones from fat. You might feel a little hungry after a while, but uncontrollable, distracting hunger isn’t a problem.
On the other hand, if you have never developed the metabolic machinery necessary to burn body fat, your energy and mood will plummet if you don’t eat carbs every few hours. You basically become a slave to the sugar rush from carbs to keep energy up and avoid getting cranky.
Reason #7: Better Stamina
Fat is an excellent fuel source for long-lasting endurance sports because we can store so much of it on our bodies. In contrast, the only form of carbs we store is glycogen in the muscles and liver, but glycogen only makes up about 5 percent of our fuel stores—there’s not even enough of it to power a 2-hour marathon. Body fat stores provide you with a nearly limitless energy source that can keep you going for days.
Granted, fat burning requires lower intensity physical activity than can be achieved from the maximal intensity that comes when burning carbs. But, life is not lived at an all-out pace. Rather, most of our everyday activity is at the perfect intensity for fat burning. Our cells actually thrive when we burn body fat, going through a regeneration process.
In addition, if you are metabolically flexible you will experience greater glycogen sparing during the earlier stages of an endurance event than someone who burns through their glycogen all at once. This will leave you with extra glycogen in the latter stages of a long-duration event once fatigue sets in.
Reason #8: Better Insulin Sensitivity & Fewer Metabolic Problems
Adapting the body to burn fat has a number of positive metabolic side effects including the restoration of insulin sensitivity and improvements in metabolic health markers. For example, when fat burning increases, you will have lower levels of dangerous triglycerides in your blood that cause plaque buildup in the arteries.
Additionally, fat burning is very beneficial for cellular health. Our bodies undergo a genetic response in which important cellular repair processes occur. Called autophagy, this repair process is best known for occurring when food intake is restricted and we rely on our fat stores, but it can also kick in when on a lower-carb ketogenic diet that requires metabolic flexibility.
So, what can you do to get your body fat adapted?
This article gives you the whole run down on ways to improve fat burning, but here are a few quick tips to get you started.
#1: Eat a higher protein, higher fat, lower carb diet. One review recommends that for athletes who want to limit carbs, eating 15 to 25 percent protein, 60 to 50 percent fat, and the rest from carbs can enhance fat burning in the body. Electrolyte and sodium supplementation may be necessary.
#2: Consume “healthy” fat before bedtime. If you suffer from low blood sugar and poor fat burning overnight, consuming “healthy” fat such as coconut oil can help. This approach will avoid spiking insulin or negatively altering leptin release, while simultaneously upregulating your body’s ability to burn fat all night long.
#3: Exercise gets the body into fat burning mode. In one study of obese men, those who did 10 days of aerobic exercise increased fat burning, whereas just eating a high-fat low-carb diet did not. Researchers believe exercise is a catalyst for the overweight to become more metabolically flexible.
#4: Do high-intensity training with sprints or weights. Studies show that high-intensity intermittent training modes can further enhance fat burning in both lean and overweight subjects. Pairing diet with training may help you get fully fat adapted for optimal leanness and health.
#5: Choose a time-restricted eating model. Eating only within an 8- to 12-hour window daily can improve fat burning and lead to body fat loss. This method requires “fasting” outside of the “eating window,” which allows for greater fat burning. Additionally, avoid eating frequent small meals containing carbs because this will keep the body out of fat burning mode. If you do prefer a high meal frequency, opt for high-protein, high-fat meals during the day.