The top New Year’s resolution of 2017 was to get healthy and most people include losing a few pounds as part of their plan. To lose weight, one must obviously consume less calories than we eat. Simply losing weight doesn’t lead to good health however as losing our muscle can lead to lower weight but a less healthy body. To specifically target fat loss, other factors must be taken into consideration. The body has four sources of energy from which it feeds: blood glucose (or sugar), glycogen (stored glucose), muscle, and fat.
It draws on these sources in a particular order; first burning the glucose in the blood, and next the glycogen reserve. Once the glycogen is exhausted, it turns to the muscle and fat compartments. If we replenish the glycogen stores, fat burning stops until it is once again depleted.
Most diets will result in weight loss, and most popular programs are based on a “balanced diet.” (approximately 60% of calories derived from carbohydrates, 25% from protein, and 15% from healthy fat) but cut the total calories. This approach will lead to weight loss and people are happy with the results. The problem with this approach is that if we keep replenishing glycogen by adding carbohydrate, fat burning will stop until the body has used up the sugar. As blood sugar drops the body will burn fat but will also break down muscle. As we lose muscle, our metabolism slows. (Since our muscles are the power houses of our body). In addition, muscle tone and strength may decrease.
Most importantly, a successful weight transformation program should have continuation or a maintenance phase after the loss is achieved. This will ensure goals that are continued and long term health.