You Don’t Lose Fat in the Gym

Can we please stop focussing on the calorie burn at the gym? Or stop caring about how sore, tired or sweaty we are after a workout?

The truth is, you aren’t actually losing any fat during a workout (unless it’s a pretty long one like a triathlon, then you are losing a bit). All loses during a training session are glycogen and water.

And this is just fine because we shouldn’t be focused on our workouts as fat burning sessions anyways – it’s everything OUTSIDE of the workout that causes the magic to happen.

Bodyfat – what is it?

From Wikipedia:

Body fat, or adipose tissue’s main role is to store energy in the form of lipids, although it also cushions and insulates the body. Far from being hormonally inert, adipose tissue has, in recent years, been recognized as a major endocrine organ, as it produces hormones such as leptin, estrogen, resistin, and the cytokine TNFα. 

When it comes to burning away fat, we are concerned about the lipids, or the actual fat cells which we want to burn away.

First, let’s look at the hormones that our fat cells produce, and why it makes carrying extra body fat even more harmful and stressful on our body.

Fat’s Hormone Production

Leptin tells us that we are full – so the more fat we have, the more leptin we are producing to TELL our brain that we are full. Obviously, we choose to ignore these signals.

Estrogen, the female sex hormone, is found in higher levels in more obese people, men and women alike. Not good for our manly men…

Resistin increases the amount of LDL, thus increasing the risk for heart disease and heart attack by accelerating the LDL accumulation in our arteries.

Lastly, Cytokine TNF (tumor necrosis factor) a is a pro-inflammatory that helps prevent tumor growth (good!) but does it by increasing fever, inflammation and overall body stress (not good).

All around, the more of these hormones we have in our body, the worse off we are.

Back to Lipids

Lipids are made up of Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen.

When our fat is oxidized (burned) – how do we actually lose it??

These compounds are broken down in our cells and turned into CO2 and H2O.

We breathe out CO2 and we pee out H2O – and this is how we actually lose fat.

But what really causes this fat oxidation? If not working out, then what is it?

How to burn fat.

Training stimulates muscle damage and uses up glycogen during training.

When we finish training, our muscles are damaged and our body begins the repair process. Cell signaling happens, and our body increases responses to repair the muscle thus increasing metabolism, and yes, drawing on fat cells for SOME energy. BUT – even this isn’t that much!

The largest chunk of fat burning is happening right now. As you read this your metabolism is working. Always doing things inside your body, you are burning calories right now, and 24/7.

Fatty acid oxidation is an important process of our metabolism, and it is slightly increased after training, and especially when we sleep (why sleep is so important) – as this is when our body’s are trying to repair and rebuild everything that we broke down at the gym.

Our basil metabolic rate is the largest contributor to our calorie burn, and it always will be. 

Stop focussing on the calorie burn of workouts, start focussing on the quality or your workouts – did you improve? Did you get faster? Stronger? (or was it a recovery workout?) – this is what training is for. When you start focussing on “gaining” in the gym, you will start losing outside of the gym.

Nothing fancy – crush weights in the gym, find a caloric deficit, listen to the hormones that tell you that you are full, and go to bed a little hungry every night, and I promise you will start losing some fat.

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Stay healthy my friends,