When is fat burning actually happening? When exactly is that magic moment? What role insulin plays in it?
Let’s quickly review how energy balance relates to fat gain and loss
Energy balance refers to the amount of energy you burn every day versus the amount you give your body via food.
If you give your body a bit more energy than it burns every day, a portion of the excess energy is stored as body fat, and thus you gain weight slowly
If you give your body a bit less energy than it burns every day, it will tap into fat stores to get the additional energy it needs, and thus you lose weight slowly.
After every meal, your body is in a ‘fat storage mode’. It does not matter what you eat – carbs, fat or protein or the combination – hormon insulin rises every time after meal and causes fat storage (it is not bad, by the way, it is a normal, natural process, this is how our body functions)
Once the body has finished absorbing the glucose and other nutrients from the food (amino acids and fatty acids), it then enters the ‘fat burning mode’, turning fat to energy.
Your body flips between ‘fat storage’ and ‘fat burning’ states every day, storing fat from food you eat, and then burning it once there’s nothing left to use from the meals.
The green portions are the periods where your body has excess energy due to food having been eaten. The blue portions are the periods when the body has no energy left from food and thus has to burn fat to stay alive.
Only if you eat more calories than you burn, the green areas overpower blue areas and you store fat. It does not matter which proportion of fat, protein and carbs those calories consist of. It does not matter when and how much you exercise – of course, physical activity helps to burn calories and resistance training helps to speed metabolism up, but exercise does not burn fat, it is the energy deficit that burns fat.
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.