Have you heard of the terms ‘burning fat’ and ‘burning carbs’? Do you know what the difference between these two is? Fear not, because we are going to explain everything in this post and advise you on how to track your body’s burn rate, as well as which exercises, and foods, promote both fat burning and carb-burning.
What do fat burning and carb-burning mean?
Fat burning refers to your body using fat for its energy source, either from the fat you have consumed or the stored fat in your body. If you imagine bodyfat to be like a savings account (your lbs to be pounds, if you will), when you eat more calories than you need your body converts excess energy into fat and stores it for later. When demand for energy is put on the body, either through dieting or exercising, it draws down on its saved supply. That makes sense, right?
What, then, does burning carbs mean? Carb energy can come from raised blood sugar levels or stored glycogen. Going back to the back account analogy, if stored fat is like a pound in a bank account, think of stored glycogen as being a separate account filled with a different currency. Stored carbs exist in a euro or a dollar account. It is all still money, in terms of it is all still excess body mass, but how you use it will depend on the circumstances.
Why does your body store glycogen separately? Because it is a special type of energy source. It is great for meeting sudden energy demands because it is stored in a ready-to-use state. Fat, by comparison, needs to be converted by the body – a bit like exchanging pounds for euros when buying something from abroad.
How can you track which one you are burning?
Luckily, there is an easy way to know which one you are burning, thanks to Lumen. This piece of health tech tells you whether you are burning fat or carbs by measuring the CO2 concentration in your breath. All you have to do is breathe into it, then it will send your metabolism score straight to your phone. Lumen uses an easy 1-5 scale to plot your energy-burning, with 1-2 being predominantly fat and 4-5 being predominantly carbs.
Used alongside a training regime and diet plan, Lumen will enable you to learn more about your body’s unique reaction to exercises and foods. From this, you will be able to more easily switch between fat burning and carb-burning to support your fitness goals. Knowledge is power, as they say!
How to promote fat burning and carb-burning
If you want to promote fat burning, then you will need to look at your diet and control the number of carbs you eat. Because carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, whenever you eat them, your body will process them first. The keto diet aims to promote fat burning by drastically reducing carb intake, so your body is forced to burn fat from food and your energy stores. This is achieved by loading your plate with high-protein and high-fat foods, like lean meats, avocados, eggs, nuts, and dairy products…all the good stuff!
You can also promote fat-burning by engaging in low-intensity endurance exercises too. You can measure this by keeping an eye on your heart rate while exercising. By maintaining a lower rate, your body will reach for stored fat to power your session. This is typically easier to achieve through cardio exercise.
Carb burning, on the other hand, can be stimulated through high-intensity exercise. This can be in the form of HIIT, strength training, or cardio exercise. If it is hard, you will burn carbs! As already mentioned, carbs and glycogen are your body’s preferred means of meeting sudden energy demands because it is an immediate fuel source, unlike fat which takes longer to convert into a useable substance. It is, therefore, easier to burn carbs than it is to burn fat because your body naturally favours carb energy over fat energy.
Why does this matter?
Why does it matter if you are burning fat or carbs, as long as you are burning calories? While it is true that weight loss cannot be gamed – you need to burn more than you take in, no ifs or buts about it – monitoring your fat and carb-burning will enable you to identify which exercises and foods have the greatest effect on your metabolic rate, thus making your weight loss more efficient and, dare we say it, easier.