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How Your Body Uses Food To Lose Weight

Sep 5, 2008
This is going to be very basic information because an in-depth explanation of metabolism would take an entire book, but you should be able to get the gist of the concept through this article. Let's begin.

The first thing you need to understand is that there are three basic food groups that the body uses. These three are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are not all the same thing and each has a special job in the world of digestion and nutrition.

Carbohydrates (carbs) are built from molecules that are very easily broken down by the body and used for fuel, much like someone would take wood or paper and throw it into a fireplace or furnace. What happens when this occurs? Energy is released and used by the body. So, consider the carbs you eat as the "fuel" for creating energy that your body uses every second of every minute of every day. Without energy, we would die because it takes energy to move, to think and for your heart and other organs to work. The simple act of moving your eyes takes energy and the carbs are the fuel that allows this to happen. Carbs are used immediately, as soon as they're brought into the body and into the system through digestion. This is why they are called the "immediate fuel supply."

Also understand this about carbs. The body can only burn so many. If there are 100 carbs lying around in the body and the body only needs 50 of them to use for fuel, it will not burn more than those 50. What happens to the remaining 50 carbs? The body stores them for future use. That's right, it stores them but first it converts them into fats. Then it stores them in your butt, your hips, your belly and in other areas of the body. Much of it floats around in your blood vessels.

Fats are used to actually create necessary padding and cushions in the body as one of its jobs. It also helps vitamins and minerals work appropriately in the body. Some of the nerve coatings are made of fats. Fats also are used for fuel but only after they are broken down by the body into a form that can be burned for energy. They are taken into the body cells and broken down into that form and utilized to create that all needed energy. When and if the body runs out of immediate carb energy supplies, it turns to the stored fats and uses them ONLY when the carbs run out. Until then, they go to the storage warehouse and they stay there until they are used. If they are not used and more fats come into the system and are stored, the fat storage warehouse grows larger and larger. It doesn't just go away.

Proteins are the last group to be used as fuel. They are not designed to be used as fuel because we have carbs and fats for that purpose. Proteins are designed to be used to build our tissues, organs and systems. They are known as the "building blocks" of the body. Your heart, your lungs, your brain and your skin are all made of proteins in different forms. The body knows how to build itself and repair itself, which it does with these proteins. Proteins can be used for fuel if absolutely necessary and only as a last resort like if you're starving to death. You do not want to be burning proteins because it means that you're tearing down parts of your body to use for fuel. Can you imagine taking a piece of your heart or liver and actually burning it for fuel? That's what happens when you go into starvation mode.

Now that we understand how the three different food groups work, let's look at why we get fat and what we can do about it by controlling our daily diets.

When we eat something that contains lots of carbohydrates our body responds by using as much of those carbs as it can. In order for it to burn those carbs efficiently and use as many of them as possible, it needs your help. It needs for you to use lots of energy. The more you move around, think or actively exercise, the more fuel is burnt. If you provide more energy than the amount of carbs available for immediate use, the body simply calls your fat warehouse and orders some fat to be broken down into fuel and it burns as much as is needed.

If, however, you don't cooperate with the body and just sit around or lie around and burn very little energy, the body just puts those extra carbs back into the warehouse.

Now, let's provide a little nomenclature so that you understand what people are talking about when they discuss diets in more scientific terms.

You already know what carbs, fats and proteins are. The term used to describe the amount of energy you use is "calorie." One calorie is the minimal unit of energy used by the body. So, if you see something that says you'll burn 100 calories an hour by doing a certain exercise, you can use this information to determine how long and how intense you need to make your workout routine. If you know that you need to burn X amount of calories an hour in order to reach a certain level of weight, you'll know what you need to do to get there by using the calorie count.

Insulin is another term you need to understand. Most of us know and understand that insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is necessary to avoid diabetes. Once the pancreas stops producing enough insulin, you acquire diabetes and you have to watch your carbohydrate intake very carefully and you also have to take either medication to stimulate your pancreas to create more insulin or, if that doesn't work, you have to take insulin injections.

What most people do NOT understand about insulin is that this is the material that actually causes the body to store all that fat. It is the warehouse manager. When you don't use carbs, it's insulin that takes those carbs and stores them in the warehouse. When we eat too many carbohydrates there is insulin saturating our entire body, just working around the clock, storing fat. That's what junk food does for you. It calls out the warehouse managers and they do their job very well, 24 hours a day.

Glucagon is yet another hormone but it is used very little as long as there are so many carbs running around in the body. However, if and when the carbs run low and the body cannot find enough of them to burn for fuel, it is the glucagon that runs the insulin away and begins to go get that lazy stored fat and put it to use as fuel. This is a good condition for the body to be in, using the stored fat. When this happens, you start to lose weight because you're not putting a bunch of extra carbs into storage. Instead, you're burning those stored up fats and with each fat used for fuel, you burn so many calories and after so many are burned, you lose so much weight. If you keep this up for a decent period of time, you'll lose a lot of weight.

So, in summary, if the body takes in less carbohydrates and you exercise regularly and drink lots of water, you will lose weight. That doesn't mean you have to stop taking in ALL carbohydrates but the less you take in, the more you'll lose weight. Sounds simple, huh? It is. The difficult part is actually doing it but it can be done if you are determined to lose that weight correctly.
About the Author
Gary Vaughn is a Master RN with many valuable years of experience. Marketing health care and dieting products is one of his specialties. His website can be located at
Repair My Weight Loss.com
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