By a show of hands:
Who finds the topic surrounding energy and weight loss to be incredibly complicated and confusing?
I know there’s so much information, scientific jargon and many contradicting opinions, that getting to the root of it all can feel impossible.
I did find one straightforward way of looking at the body’s energy systems and its ability to burn fat. And this is what I can’t wait to share with you today.
A Metaphor That We’ve Known For a Long Time
As far back as the 1960s, people coined with an interesting metaphor for the human body:
The incredible machine.
In the most basic of meaning, this refers to the human body’s many similarities to an intricate machine. I absolutely love this metaphor but it’s become less popular recent years. We won’t argue about its validity, because that’s not the goal of this post.
Today, I want to share this analogy to help anyone who has a bank account to better comprehend the mechanics of weight gain and weight loss. Being incredibly straightforward, it helps understand the basics of our energy systems and how our body gains and loses weight.
Your Body Works Like a Bank Account
This might sound like an impossible analogy, but read on. Let’s start at the top:
Besides primal life energy force, oxygen and water, food is something we use to build and maintain our body. We’ll be looking at one nutrient more specifically in this case; carbohydrates.
Now consider each meal you consume as a small deposit in to your bank account. And, as with our finances in the real world, our net balance depends on the amount that comes in versus what goes out.
Your Checking Account
After consuming a meal, your body breaks down the carbs (complex sugars) into simple sugars – glucose. First, that glucose increases your blood sugar level, boosting insulin levels that keep the blood sugar level within a specific range.
Blood sugar works much like a checking account because the glucose molecules in the blood sugar will be readily available as soon as you need them. Like in prehistoric times when we were spotted by a bear and had to run for our life.
This ‘glucose-credit’ in the form of blood sugars are the first to be depleted. And only when they are completely depleted, does the body dig into further resources.
The next stop for glucose is the savings account. Once the blood sugar levels are saturated, the body stores the remaining glucose in the form of glycogen inside the liver for later use.
When we perform intense mental and physical activities, and the blood sugar levels become depleted, the body taps into that glycogen reserve stored in the liver.
And it’s only when this savings account is depleted, that the body starts extracting energy from the next source of energy.
Our highest amount of energy is safely stocked within our body fat tissue. This is only tapped into after the body has already depleted the blood sugar and the livers’ glucose reserve.
This is the last stop. So for our bodies to start burning body fat, we need to ‘spend’ more caloric energy than we consume, creating an overall caloric energy deficit.
Now if you’ve ever tried traditional diets, it probably had you counting calories. The thing is, not all calories are equal.
Protein for example, requires more calories to process than carbohydrates and fats do. Meaning that replacing part of your carb intake by protein will help create a caloric deficit without you having to cut down on your overall caloric intake. How cool is that?
On top of that, protein actually doesn’t contribute to the checking account, the savings account or the vault mentioned above.
Neither do healthy fats. A fat ‘overdose’ could simply pass through your digestive system. The healthy fats at least. But that’s an entire different topic, so I’ll save that for next time.