2 important things to know about catabolsim and and what we think of as ‘burning’ fat and the food we eat
1. When food is digested and broken down, it is not burned. It is simply broken down into smaller substances that can then be burned . If these smaller substances are not used by the body for energy, they will be converted to fat and stored on your body.
2. Our goal as dieters is to adjust our diets so that both occur as often as possible. We want to keep our bodies breaking down body fat and the food we eat, but we also want what has been broken down to be used for energy and not converted to fat.
I want to take you into the catabolism of body fat so that I paint a clear and relevant picture. Our body fat is stored as something called a triglyceride. It is basically the same substance as the oils we use for frying. The liquid is stored on our body in fat cells. The tryglicerides are constantly being released from those cells and broken down to its smaller substances (3 fatty acids and 1 glycerol). This is catabolism and is carried out by a catalyst, called an enzyme.
Catabolism of body fat (triglycerides) is ongoing until something we eat slows or stops it, and I will cover more of that in the science of diets section. Well, if you have kept your food and calorie consumtion low enough, your body will decide it needs to get energy from this broken down fat. So those 3 fatty acids are then further broken down by entering cycles where it is eventually used for energy. This is called oxidation. Then, by our standards, the body would have been ‘burned’ the fat. Similarly, the carbohydrates that we eat are broken down to glucose, which can like fatty acids can be further broken down and oxidized for energy if the body senses that it needs it.
Hint: Catabolism of body fat is an ongoing process that is slowed or stopped by the release of insulin. This is why controlling/limiting carbs is important to weight loss!
Catabolism is the breaking down of more complex substances ( the food we consume and body fat) into simpler substances. Those substance can either used by the body for energy, which is called oxidation, or if the body does not use them for energy, can form them into fat stored in our fat cells.