Exercise is when you burn calories – Not necessarily when you burn FATS!
It doesn’t matter if you workout is an easy, aerobic workout or a more moderately intense workout – you are burning calories. Unfortunately one of the biggest problem for a lot of people who have hit a plateau or sticking point is that they assume they are burning fats when they workout. Instead a lot of them are burning calories from the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins (lean muscle).
When you exercise, your metabolism will burn calories in order to produce energy to get through your workout, your day, even your sleep. What people get confused on is thinking burning calories is the same as burning FATS! It’s not!
Your metabolism is designed to produce energy by burning or breaking down calories from carbohydrates, fats and or proteins (lean muscle). Those are the ONLY 3 options or fuel sources your body has in producing energy. The last thing you want to do when you workout is burn lean muscle – but I see it all too often. Can you say cellulite!
The Intensity of Your Workout Matters
Not to get to much into biochemistry, but as the intensity of your workout increases, the more your body will depend on burning carbs and proteins, not fats for energy! The problem for a lot of people who do a moderate to intense workout, which are great, but if you don’t have enough glucose (carbs) stored-up in your body – your body will go to the next available option or source of energy, which is LEAN MUSCLE (proteins). So, don’t get confused in thinking that burning calories is the same as burning fats. If you’ve hit a plateau or sticking point and can’t figure it out, maybe you need to look at your workout intensity and make sure that isn’t the problem.
Burning Lean Muscle is a common problem for a lot of people who are following a low carb diets and or people who like to workout first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Whatever the case, the person could be dealing with low blood sugar issues. I’m not talking about a medical condition, but rather the simple fact they haven’t eaten anything in a while or haven’t ingested many carbs in their body. If that’s you, you are more than likely dealing with a small reserve of energy to call upon during your moderate to intense workout.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against working out in the morning or working out hard, I do it all the time. But it is the intensity of my workout that will determine if I need to first get some carbs in my body so I can get through my intense workout without burning lean muscle.
If you are doing an easy, low intensity workout, something you can do for hours, usually something boring – your metabolism should be able to tap into that reserve of unwanted fat you want to get rid of. But if your workout is moderate to intense – bio-chemistry teaches us that your body will first burn through any and all the carbs you have stored up as glucose and once that is emptied, your metabolism will begin to breakdown lean muscle.
Let me put it another way, if your workout is moderate to intense and you don’t have Enough glucose readily available – you could easily burn through whatever glucose you have in the first 10, 20 or 30 minutes of your workout. The remaining 10, 20 or 30 minutes of your workout will be fueled by the breakdown of proteins (Lean Muscle – Not Fats)!
So, if your workout is going to be moderately intense and you are following a low carb diet, and I’m a fan of low carb diets. Or you like working out first thing in the morning. Make sure you have enough carbs to get you through your workout so you don’t eat away all the muscle you are trying to develop. A simple solution to fuel your body before a moderately intense workout is try a couple of spoons of raw honey, or a dozen or so grapes, strawberries, a plum, kiwi, etc. These carbs will digest quickly, usually 20-40 minutes The simple goal is to give your body enough carbs to get you through your workout, so you don’t burn lean muscle.
It’s about Eating Right and Training Smart – for your current level of health and fitness.
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