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Can You Burn Fat and Not Carbs For Fuel?

Have you ever heard people saying that you need to learn how to burn fat instead of carbs for fuel? Is that even possible? That is what Dr. Mike Israetel decided to talk about recently in one of his videos.

Dr. Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community. He doesn’t only talk about workouts and fitness tips, he often dives deep into health and nutrition.

And that is what he shared his expertise on recently – on whether people can learn how to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.

volumetrics diet

Can You Burn Fat and Not Carbs for Fuel?

After all, if a lot of people say you can do it, it must happen, right? To burn fat and not carbs for fuel? According to Israetel, that is very much wrong.

Although it might sound cool that your body can adapt to burning fat as fuel if you simply consume less carbs consistently, Israetel says that fat is a terrible source of fuel for high-energy activity.

“Anything harder than a slow jog is reliant on carbs for fuel.”

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That is not to say that your body won’t actually learn to burn fats better if you eat less carbs, but you will be teaching your body to use a less effective fuel. As Isratel puts it, “you can redesign a race car engine to burn regular gasoline, but it will slow it down.”

And what about burning fat for fat loss? If you reduce any amount of calories, your body burns the same amount of fat, whether you’re adapted to fat burning or not.

What burns the most calories is the BMR (basal metabolic rate), that time of calorie-burning when you’re not actually exercising, and your body primarily burns fat when you’re not exercising anyway.

So it might be best to learn how to increase your metabolism instead of simply eating a low-carb diet if you are trying to lose fat.

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Check out the video below for Israetel’s full explanation of why you shouldn’t rely on burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.

It’s important to note that most forms of exercise involve a combination of carbohydrate and fat metabolism. The proportion of each fuel source used depends on factors such as exercise intensity, duration, and individual fitness level. For shorter, high-intensity activities, carbohydrates play a crucial role, while fat becomes increasingly important during longer, moderate-intensity exercises.

Individual preferences, training goals, and specific athletic events can influence whether someone chooses to prioritize carbohydrate or fat intake in their fitness routine. Consulting with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist can provide personalized guidance based on individual needs and goals.

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Nutrition plays a critical role in achieving and maintaining fitness. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Fuel for the body: Proper nutrition provides the fuel your body needs to power through workouts and other physical activities.
  2. Muscle growth and repair: Adequate protein intake is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. Consuming the right types and amounts of protein can help promote muscle growth and aid in recovery after workouts.
  3. Energy balance: Maintaining a healthy balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting physical activity.
  4. Nutrient absorption: Consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help ensure that your body is able to absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly.
  5. Overall health: A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of whole foods can help prevent chronic diseases and support overall health, which is essential for optimal fitness.

In summary, proper nutrition is essential for achieving and maintaining fitness goals, as it provides the fuel, nutrients, and energy needed to support physical activity and overall health.

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Maintaining a healthy body fat percentage can have several benefits for your overall health and well-being. Here are some potential benefits of having a low body fat percentage:

  1. Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Research suggests that having a low body fat percentage may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  2. Improved cardiovascular health: Lower body fat can be associated with improved cardiovascular health, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  3. Improved physical performance: Having a lower body fat percentage can improve athletic performance by increasing strength, speed, and endurance.
  4. Reduced strain on joints: Carrying excess body fat can put additional strain on joints, leading to joint pain and increased risk of injury. Maintaining a lower body fat percentage can reduce this strain and protect joint health.
  5. Improved self-esteem and body image: For some individuals, maintaining a low body fat percentage can improve self-esteem and body image, leading to better mental health and well-being.

It’s important to note that there can be negative consequences to having a body fat percentage that is too low, such as hormonal imbalances, decreased immune function, and decreased bone density. It’s important to aim for a healthy body fat percentage rather than trying to achieve an extremely low percentage. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine what a healthy body fat percentage is for you.

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