As we have learnt in a previous post that energy is created by calories being burnt. Now what do we need energy for? We require energy for everything we do from exercise to our daily activities including breathing, eating, digestion of food and every other bodily function.
Let’s look at exercise for example; where do we get the energy to perform this task? We get the energy from the food that we eat which is converted into glucose or Fat. The carbohydrates in food is converted into glucose and the fat from foods gets stored directly as fat as they have a similar molecular structure.
The glucose is transported by the blood stream to the muscles and the Liver where it is stored as glycogen for use when required and the surplus glucose will be stored as adipose tissue (Fat). The stored glycogen is primarily used for short bursts of energy like weight training (anaerobic exercises), muscle exertion is created and immediate energy is required and the quickest way to get this energy is from the glycogen stored in the muscle that is being exerted. This energy pathway is known as the Glycolytic pathway.
When performing aerobic exercise (cardiovascular exercise) the energy required comes primarily from fat through what is known as the Oxidative Pathway. This pathway comes into play when exercise is performed continuously for longer periods (2 minutes and longer) where your breathing is excelerated and oxygen intake increased. The oxygen moves into the blood stream via the lungs and breaks down fat in the blood stream to produce glycogen which is used for Energy.
It is said that 70% of the energy comes from fat when performing aerobic exercises but when aerobic intensity is increased then more carbohydrates is used for energy. Which means with increased intensity your aerobic exercise now turns into anaerobic exercise.
The reverse is also true, if your anaerobic exercise (weight training) intensity increases then the primary source of energy will come from fat via the Oxidative Pathway. This can be done in many ways like reducing rest period during sets and increasing repetitions. This will keep your breathing excelerated and turning your weight workout into a fat burning workout.
A lot of professional athletes and fitness models that are not fans of aerobic workouts use this technique to shed body fat, get lean and competition ready or photo shoot ready.
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