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Today many people are overwhelmed when it comes to dieting. The general behavior, when you want to lose weight, is still to reduce the amount of food we eat so that, undoubtedly, we lose weight. Be it muscle or fat. On the other hand, other people do care about macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates. However, many people make the mistake of reducing certain types too much, and more specifically, they are often afraid of fat. Well, it is believed that this is the main cause of the accumulation of adipose tissue and therefore it tends to eliminate or, failing that, to reduce considerably.
Thus, one of the questions that still come to me and that cause doubts in the world of diets is whether it is necessary to eat fat to burn fat. This is surprising at first given that doctors continually recommend the consumption of saturated fats (of these less), polyunsaturated fats, and omega 3.
In principle, this might not make much sense. Eat fat to burn fat? You freak out. We are what we eat, so if we eat fat, we will get fat. It is logical. But the logic, however, does not apply on this occasion. Because in the real world, human logic fails more times than it succeeds.
So, if we stop to think – something that I highly recommend and even more so in this world where there are so many experts – then eliminating fat from the diet could be similar to removing the wheels from a car and going on a trip.
The body is an adaptable organism that regulates itself based on the food we eat. If you eat carbohydrates throughout the day, your body will put in place the machinery necessary to be able to burn those carbohydrates efficiently and the rest will be stored (even if this means storing it as fat). If you eat only protein, then the body will become efficient at breaking down protein chains into energy fractions, and if you eat only fat then well, you can imagine.
As an example of eating fat to burn fat, we have the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil (MCT).
We can find them in great abundance in this fruit and they are, in some way, false carbohydrates that are assimilated quickly but with the great advantage that they do not cause negative effects on the body. That is, coconut oil can be used to lose weight so that instead of eating carbohydrates and making them turn into glycogen, we use stored fats for energy.
These little guys are pure saturated fat, but with a surprising property: many of the fats we eat take 2-3 hours before the body can use them for energy or, failing that, store them. However, MCTs are absorbed quickly and are an almost immediate source of energy. So when the body can access fat immediately, it burns it.
LPL – HSL
Carbs, as we already know, increase insulin levels, and if there is one thing insulin does incredibly well it is to grow body tissue. If that tissue is a muscle, then great. But many times, however, it is fat. And something not so incredible is that insulin can do this through several mechanisms, but two of the most important are the regulation of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and the regulation of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).
Think of LPL as the equivalent of glucose transporter (GLC). The LPL would be responsible for transporting sugar to both fat cells and muscle tissue, either to be used for energy or to be stored as fat. Like tGLUC, LPL is also regulated by insulin, but only in fat cells. So when insulin levels rise, the concentration of LPL in cells skyrockets, allowing them to release large amounts of fat that will ultimately be stored.
However, insulin causes the opposite effect when LPL is present in muscle tissue. When insulin levels increase, the concentration of LPL in the muscle decreases, which has a direct consequence: and that is that the muscles literally cannot burn the fat that floats in the bloodstream. So they are forced to rely on carbohydrates.
But then if we can’t eat carbohydrates, what about diets that are based exclusively on eating protein? Eating nothing but protein, by many points of view, is considered the Holy Grail of diets, but the truth is that it is not at all. Although a large number of studies support that high-protein (extremely high) diets help preserve muscular and accelerate fat loss, only based the results on the obese population. If you want to get in shape, this becomes a problem, as there are more factors at play, and one of them is the hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL).
HSL is responsible for moving fat out of cells by breaking down triglycerides into fatty acids. In this way, these will be able to move out of the fat cells and will be used as fuel elsewhere. But why release fat from cells if the muscles can’t burn it? The explanation is simple. And is that the amino acids themselves can slow down the effectiveness of HSL; And with all this and the inactive HSL, it is difficult for the body to burn fat.