The science behind fat loss

Fat loss is always a hot topic in the media with coverage on a daily basis and is a constant consideration for those trying to be healthy or get into shape. Many diet companies focus on this topic and play on the concerns of the public to sell their latest products. However, there is a science behind fat loss which will determine above all else how much fat is stored in your body. Here we explain how fat is burnt in the body, how our body stores fat and how fat is used.

When the topic of fat loss is brought up, the conversation usually turns to talk of your metabolism. People use metabolism as an explanation for fat loss or a lack of. So let us explain how your metabolism works. Your body burns fat in three different ways: resting burn, digestive burn and through exercise or general movement.

Basal (resting) burn

Your basic metabolic rate accounts for around 60-70% of your overall metabolism. This fat burn happens when you’re essentially doing nothing. So when you’re just sitting in bed watching Netflix, your body is working hard to fuel its functions.

Digestive burning

Digesting food typically burns 10-15% of your daily calories. Digesting proteins burns more calories than other food groups, on average 25 per 100 consumed. Carbohydrates and fats burn between 10-15 calories for every 100 consumed. For those who enjoy eating, it’s great to have the knowledge that your body burns fat when you’re pigging out on your favourite food.

Exercise and movement

This is pretty obvious for most people but exercise does play a part in your metabolic burn. This includes workouts at the gym but also any fun activities that get you on your feet and moving. Exercise only targets 15-30% of your overall fat burn so although it is important, other factors have an impact on your overall fat loss.

How is fat stored in the body?

Fat is used to keep your body warm and therefore, a small amount of fat is essential for the body. Your body stores fat in cells until it is required for energy. Fat is stored throughout the body in fat cells known as adipocytes. The number of adipocytes an individual has is usually determined during teens years and will rarely change as you move into adulthood. However, fat cells don’t multiply, they just expand depending on the amount of fat in the body. If the body stores more fat then it uses, the fat cells will expand causing weight gain. A human can have anywhere between 50-200 billion fat cells distributed around the body, however, the higher end of the spectrum is obviously not as healthy.

What else impacts fat loss?

Your resting burn will have an impact on your overall fat loss. There are several factors which determine your resting burn including your body size, your gender and your age. Therefore, not everyone will burn fat at the same rate. However, once your body has determined the amount of energy needed for basic functions, your burn rate will remain fairly consistent. Your fat burn can also be impacted by your sleep, physical activities and stress levels, so it’s important to look after yourself.

To burn fat and for healthy weight loss, your body needs to burn more calories than what it consumes. This is called creating an energy deficit. However, it’s important to remember that fat is not the enemy. Although saturated fats are bad for you if you consume too many, good fats can actually help lower cholesterol. These include foods such as avocados and nuts. To burn fat, it’s important to consider all of these factors and to create a healthy lifestyle balance. That’s the science behind fat loss.