A Primer on Body Fat Metabolism: Fuel Usage…

As a continuation from previous posts to document best practice of fat loss training and nutrition we always feel it is best to educate first so people who train with us understand the principles of fat metabolism. To understand how to burn fat it is important to understand how it is stored. Fat cells are very well suited to energy storage though their role in their body is more extensive than commonly reported. They are not inert but perform a number of vital functions- body fat in fact is not necessarily bad in fact it plays a number of roles.

After absorption in to the blood stream dietary fat is broken down and packaged in to a structure called a chylomicron. Here it is absorbed in to the lymphatic system appearing in the blood stream around three hours after consumption. Some of this will be used for energy while some will be stored. This will be dictated by energy demands influenced in part by hormonal activity- simple so far!

 Fat cells are made up of a molecule of glycerol (a molecule of carbohydrate) combined with three fatty acids storing them as a triglyceride. When stored triglycerides are broken down it releases the three fatty acids and the glycerol in to the blood stream. 

Glycerol can be converted back to glucose(carbohydrate) in the liver and hence can be re-used by the body as a carbohydrate energy source. Glycerol comes from dietary carbohydrate or in periods where this is unavailable the body will convert other fuels (pyruvate, lactate and the amino acids (proteins) leucine and alanine).

What it is important to understand is that firstly the body will always find a fuel to use if it’s primary sources are not available. Secondly, the usage of these fuels is in a state of constant flux meaning that you don’t just burn fat or carbohydrates or even proteins- they are all used concurrently in different amounts. And thirdly, energy utilization is dictated by activity, current dietry practices (short and long term) as well as in part hormonal regulation.

In the next post I will describe the types of body fat we have and why certain body fat types are vital for our survival.

3 Proven Supplements for FAST Fat Loss Results…

Supplements are a contentious issue when it comes to fat loss. Many products suggest rapid results and a fat burning effect but what really works? A lot of the time science and research is used to back up a lot of the claims of supplements. However a lot of these studies are animal based. Unsuprisingly rats do not have the same internal workings as a human though it has not stopped sports supplements companies marketing their products on patchy science.

What follows are supplements that have been shown clinically to have a net increase in metabolism and thus potentially enhance fat burning potential.

1. Caffeine- Yes, caffeine stimulates fat breakdown. How? Well, it stimulates catecholamine production which in turn increases the breakdown of fat cells. This in turn increases the availability of circulating fatty acids. These will be reabsorbed by the body if not burnt- if active though you can mobilize them for energy. This is what happens initially when we become active, caffeine gives us a shunt in the right direction a bit like exercise. One word of caution though you can become tolerant to the effects of caffeine as the receptors that are stimulated to break down fat by the catecholamines become less receptive with over stimulation (yet another reason that activity does not always denote increased fat burning… but that is another post). None the less if not overused it is a useful pre training supplement to help enhance training intensity.

2. Fish Oils- specifically Omega 3. If you consider the range of benefits of enhanced Omega 3 intake then I feel that they pretty much could acheive world peace within 6 weeks. In regard to studies clinically proven the metabolic enhancing effect of fish oils then  a study by Eric Noreen at the 2003 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference indicated that in individuals who supplemented with different fat sources. The fish oil groups saw daily resting metabolic rate increases of 141 to 448 calories, whereas the safflower group’s decreased (Safflower is predominantly Omega 6- common in most vegetable based cooking fats). As an added bonus, the fish oil group also lost a little bit of fat mass while gaining some lean body mas- it appears that all fats are not made equal. In relation to fat loss this clearly means taking fish oils and sensible fat intake may be all the difference in your nutrition and training programme.

3. Protein Supplementation. Now I include this here as still most people consider protein powder as a “supplement” whereas in truth it is a processed dairy product. Increased protein intake upregulates your metabolism increasing protein turnover and therefore enhancing metabolic rate. Now rather than suggesting increasing your protein intake this can be done with shakes or normal food). I want to question the quality of a lot of protein powders. Commonly, they are processed- not a bad thing all the time. Often though they contain a large amount of unnatural sweetners which can have as much as an insulin stimulating effect as normal sugar, not what you necessarily signed up for if you didn’t need the excessive insulin stimulation which can drive fat gain. The quality of the protein is another major question. A recent study found heavy metal contamination in a number of off the shelf protein powders. Again not what you signed up for. Quality though is a contentious issue when you are using a whey based protein powder as it is a dairy product- with a large number of people experiencing issues with lactose it may not always be the best choice escpecially if the source of the product has not been ideal. Vegeterian protein powders can be useful- hemp, pea and rice protein all contain amino acids- blends of them may be best though to get your full protein profile. In turn though if you want to focus purely on quality there are gluten and additive free whey proteins which are organically sourced which may be the  best option if your main issue is quality of the protein source that you are consuming.

All in all these supplements stand up in the research- that is in human research not rats!

Fast Snack for People in a Hurry!

Just a quick post this week. A lot of the people I work with tend to be time poor, often people are structured with their training but find that they struggle with organising their diet and preparing food. The following is a recipe for turkey meatballs which is high in quality protein, moderate levels of carbohydrate with a good fat content that can provide a staple for most meals or even a snack. They are easy to store and can be kept for a couple of days so are a good food to prepare at the weekend for the week ahead.

Let me know what you think as all ways!

Turkey Meatballs…

Ingredients:

1lbs Turkey- Minced (ideally organic or as good as quality as possible).

1 Cup of Rolled Oats. 

3 Eggs Seperated.

1tsp Ground Garlic.

1/2 Chopped Red Onion.

1/2 tbsp Dried Parsley.

3/4 tbsp Honey.

Olive Oil.

 

Here’s How to Make Them… Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Form in to balls- the size depends on how many you want, this should stretch to about 20 golf balls. You can place them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or flatten them and grill evenly on both sides. You should get about 3 meatballs a serving.

For the guys interested in calories… This comes to about 170 to 200 calories. With 15-20g of protein, 13- 18g of carbohydrates and 5-10g of fat dependant upon serving size. 

When to eat? This can make a perfect snack food post training or with a plate full of vegetables as a lunch or evening meal. For those of you who need a bit of a “kick” chilli flakes can be added to the main mix.

 

3 Proven Fat Loss Tips…

Fat and weight loss is often a lot of our clients main goal at Results Fast. With the volume of misinformation in the media it is hard to find information that is factually correct.

 

These three strategies are backed up in research as having a positive correlation with fat loss. Now this does not mean they are the causitive factor- it means these three things are associated with getting a positive result.

 

Strategy 1- Eat more nuts. Nuts get a bit of a bad rap because they are high calorifically, however in research nut consumption has a positive corelation with weight reduction. The calorie theory of weight loss in the sense of “what goes out has to be more than what comes in” is useful as a guide. The fact is though that nuts are packed with quality fats which have a hunger satieting effect and makes them a useful addition to most nutrition plans as a snack food in small quantitites. So take Mr T’s advice and get some nuts!

 

Strategy 2- Drink Green Tea. The metabolism enhancing benefits of green tea are again well documented. Green tea consumption is a good replacement for calorie containing beverages which may be unnecessaery when trying to burn body fat. There are a variety of mechanisms for green tea’s metabolism enhancing effect, but often it is a case that it may be better than an additive field soft drink or a sugar laden juice drink which may promote fat storage.

 

Strategy 3- Positive Social Support.  This is probably the most important and is where we excel at Results FAST. Getting the support of your friends and family is vital for getting a great result in your health, training and nutrition. Being in the right environment is a great thing for acheiving your goals and getting motivation not just from a trainer but also your training colleagues. So if you are not getting the support you need ask yourself is your training environemnt conclusive to acheiving your goals and is your trainer giving you the positive support you need.

 

Barefoot Training and Trainer Choice: Part 1.

Two months ago I had ankle surgery which after two years of nursing an ankle instability issue gave me an even greater interest in understanding the foot and ankle complex. Trainers are something that I spend about 90% of my life wearing so it is important for me to get my footwear choices right- especially when looking to get my own training back on track and rehab an injury.

A question also that we often get asked by our training clients is “What trainer should I buy to train in?” This is often followed by a look down at our footwear- followed by “Should I buy those or should I buy a running shoe?”

A bit of a back story is necessary here to set the scene. Running trainers with support, motion control technology; special fabrics etc. may not necessarily be the best thing to wear when training. A lot of these technologies block movement at the ankle joint. Effectively shutting down range of motion and not allowing the foot to adapt naturally to movement. For a more in relation to running this website provides a great reference: http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/index.html

The question posed is that mid-foot to forefoot striking may be more desirable from a joint health perspective then to heel striking or absorbing force with your heel initially. What does this mean? Well, a lot of trainers have an elevated heel lift which causes heel contact ahead of mid-foot or forefoot strike when someone’s natural running style is unsuited to this method of movement.

This is twinned with another issue from structured running shoes. If we have a lot of medial support (typically in the mid foot area as a harder material or bar) it effectively blocks prontation (the movement of the foot inwards that happens directly after ground contact). So if we need support against pronation it is a good thing, how many people need extra support though? I have been lucky enough to work with dynamic gait analysis with pressure pads and excessive pronation can be an issue. However, the question is why do individuals have excessive pronation and what are the measures that we can counter against this apparent weakness? Well the recommendation that you go straight in to a support shoe is not always right. This again is about treating the cause rather than the effect. If the foot excessively prontates then often it is a question of stability and strength at the ankle. A point to note also is that in the case of shoe shops with “gait” analysis the instant reaction is “You are a pronator- you need a shoe that supports against pronation.” Most of these tests are performed visually or in static (on a pressure pad). Most people who “pronate” will pronate on contact before is transferred to the lateral foot before rolling back out through the toe. This is often the case as well if someone has flat feet- the assumption is that their foot will fall in on ground contact. Dynamically often though the arch of the foot may lift and the forces will display closer to a foot with a natural arch. Simply putting someone in a trainer and saying “off you go” is poor advice- similar to putting a new wheel on the car but only attaching one bolt to keep the tyre on.

Barefoot training and minimal shoe training is the smart move if you want to build up to running distance. This does not mean go out and wear flats all day every day and run barefoot. It means that building barefoot training and wearing minimal footwear can help build strength and stability at the ankle and lower limbs before running. In this sense the ankle has to remain stable in to prontation meaning the ankle is stronger at its initial contact point. Is barefoot running therefore recommended for everyone?

Well no- a lot of people will run without suitable strength not just at the ankle but through the knee, hip and lower back. Making sure that someone is structurally strong is important otherwise a minimal shoe may decrease the base of support further for the individual possibly leading to injury. This means that if someone is not proactive about building a better base to their strength levels then supported trainers will become effectively a “crutch” to lean against. After developing suitable structural strength then introducing a minimally supported shoe would be a good progression. This works brilliantly for single leg work such as lunge variations and single leg deadlifts. In these exercises the foot will try to grip with the big toe which will lift your foot arch in turn developing stability at the ankle on ground contact.

Barefoot movement drills such as shuffles and sidesteps can then be added to training, the key with these is learning to absorb force at the mid and forefoot. This can be quite harsh on your plantar fascia (the base of your foot) initially though rolling your foot on a tennis ball can help relieve tension.

Barefoot running is the next step; consider the fact that for year’s sprinters spikes and middle distance athletes have been using a minimally supported shoe. This does not validify their use but there has been no change in injury occurrences in the lower limb due to structured support trainers as discussed in the Harvard research cited. Either way if you are considering a minimal shoe to run in then I am presuming that you will be pretty switched on to having suitable postural balance, taking adequate measures to develop your strength levels and have a structured running programme with variations in intensities and volumes allowing you to introduce minimal shoe training sessions steadily without excessive volume. If you are looking for a gym shoe that will give good carryover to more effective training then you may also be interested in purchasing a minimal training shoe

So what are the options? I’ll review some of the contenders in my next post….