There are many misconceptions about losing weight and how to do so. One phrase I hear often is “I am cutting carbs to lose weight.” This phrase puzzles me because in order to effectively burn fat you must consume some carbs in your diet. The thought that carbohydrates are bad for fat burning is a myth. In this article, I am going to discuss with you why carbs are essential to your diet if you are trying to lose weight. Yes, you read that correctly, carbohydrates are crucial to long term fat burning despite popular belief. Many people are confused about this concept and believe that in order to lose weight, cutting out carbohydrates is the quickest and most effective way to do it but it is NOT. Sure, if eaten in abundance they can lead to weight gain, but this is the case with any food. Cutting out carbs will only provide short term weight loss but healthy carbs and exercise will do the opposite. Why is this the case? Allow me to explain.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. During exercise our body uses carbs from muscle glycogen, and blood glucose in order to make ATP. ATP is energy and is required for our bodies to do work. There are three systems that produce ATP within our bodies during exercise. The first is the phosphagen system and it is responsible for the production of ATP initially during exercise. This system is quick and immediate but doesn’t produce a large capacity of ATP. The phosphagen system works for approximately 14 seconds of exercise then it begins to decline. After the phospagen system is used up, Glycolysis then takes control. Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose and release of ATP and pyruvic acid. In the presence of oxygen pyruvic acid enters into the energy yielding cycle (Krebs Cycle) with fat in the mitochondria. Fat powers the energy yielding cycle (Krebs Cycle) but if you don’t have enough glucose available, glycolysis slows down. Without pyruvate, the krebs cycle goes slower and your metabolism declines. A slow metabolism = slow weight loss.
To sum things up, carbohydrates are needed to provide glucose to our body as a fuel source. This fuel source allows us to make energy and workout. During our workout our body metabolizes the carbohydrates and in this process fats are broken down and utilized as well. In exercise physiology this is phrased “Fats burn in the flame of carbohydrates.” So don’t fear carbohydrates when you are attempting to lose weight. Eat them in moderation and choose complex carbs over simple carbs. This is your energy source that will allow you to burn your fat.