How Does the Body Process and Eliminate Fat? - Apple Cider Vinegar for Health and Beauty: Recipes for Weight Loss, Clear Skin, Superior Health, and Much More—the Natural Way (2015)

Apple Cider Vinegar for Health and Beauty: Recipes for Weight Loss, Clear Skin, Superior Health, and Much More—the Natural Way (2015)

How Does the Body Process and Eliminate Fat?

There are many different mechanisms at work in the body that determine how much fat the body uses. It is very difficult to lose fat or stay slim if even one of our mechanisms is not functioning properly. Our metabolism, the overall rate of activity in our bodies, is one of the most important mechanisms. It is affected by our genetic makeup, our weight, the amount of exercise we do, our body fat percentage, our body temperature, how much sleep we are getting, how well our thyroid is functioning, what we eat, our age, and our gender.

In terms of our genetic makeup it seems that some people’s bodies tend to store fat more readily than others. The theory some have put forward is that there is a “thrifty gene” in some people. This “thrifty gene” is what would have allowed some of our ancestors to survive cyclical harsher winters. They would have stored more fat than most other people, so when a particularly barren winter or other natural disaster occurred, the individuals with this gene would have stood a better chance of survival.

Our weight, or our lean body mass, is another factor that affects how much fat we burn. The more muscle mass an individual has the higher the energy requirements to “run” the body (big cars use more fuel). Thus, tall, larger framed people’s bodies require more energy to keep going day to day than small, slightly built people.

People who exercise for long periods or who have a lot of muscle mass will burn off the food they take in relatively quickly and the body then turns to its fat stores for energy. Bodybuilders eat six to eight meals a day to maintain their size and provide their bodies with enough resources. This is so they don’t burn muscle mass when their fat stores are depleted. Long-distance runners and professional cyclists need to take in food when competing. This is because their body fat percentages are already so low.

People with a high body fat percentage more than likely lead a sedentary lifestyle. Their bodies will more than likely get all their energy requirements from the food they eat and still have some leftover to store as fat. There are, however, other factors that have an effect on body fat. The “set point theory” concept is that your body has a stable quantity of fat cells by the time you are an adult. The more weight you carried in your childhood and your teenage years, the more fat cells you will have as an adult. These fat cells then become “fuller” or “thinner” as you gain and lose weight as an adult. The set point is the trigger in these cells that will send a message to your brain saying that your fat cells are getting too thin and that you must eat more. Different people’s fat cells will have different set points, and the strength of the message is affected by the number of cells. Thus a person with lots of fat cells and a high set point will battle with cravings for food when dieting.

The set point in the cells is affected by their sensitivity to insulin. The byproduct of the breakdown of most of the foods we eat is a simple sugar called glucose. As the level of glucose in your blood rises, your pancreas needs to start secreting more insulin to unlock your cells, so that they can use it for energy. If your blood sugar is constantly high from over-eating and not enough exercise, your insulin levels will also be high. This can lead to a condition known as insulin insensitivity. When this happens your cells don’t react to the insulin in your blood and therefore don’t allow the glucose into your cells to be burnt as energy along with the fat. It is very hard to lose fat with this condition. This is one of the main causes of adult diabetes.

When the insulin in our blood reaches the receptors in the fat cells, it tells them to allow glucose in. When the glucose enters the fat cells, it reacts with the fat and oxygen from our blood to give off energy that our bodies can use. Heat is a byproduct of this reaction and the faster the rate of the reaction, the more heat is given off. This is called thermogenesis. People with a high rate of reaction are therefore burning more fat than those with a low rate of reaction. The rate of thermogenesis will naturally vary from person to person, but a low rate can also be caused by insulin insensitivity. Again, dietary health and a lack of exercise play a role.

Diets high in fats and refined carbohydrates combined with a lack of exercise wreak havoc on our body’s blood sugar regulating mechanisms. These factors lead to insulin insensitivity and eventually diabetes. When a person becomes obese from over-eating, their blood glucose will be high and this leads to diabetes. Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to burn glucose and fat, which leads to obesity.

There are ways to counteract insulin insensitivity and improve thermogenesis and thereby reduce the amount of fat we carry. The pillars of this are diet and exercise. So called slow release carbohydrates, such as vegetables and fresh fruit along with legumes and whole grains, are good sources of soluble fiber and release glucose into the bloodstream more gradually than refined foods. Exercise helps reduce the glucose level in the blood by thermogenesis and the rate of thermogenesis will improve as the fat cells become more sensitive to insulin. Exercise will therefore improve the effectiveness of a good diet, and the more you exercise, the better the results will be from doing it.

How much sleep we get and a regular sleeping pattern can also play a role in fat loss. The pituitary gland releases a growth hormone which is a protein-based peptide hormone. This hormone stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and regeneration in humans. These functions require energy and thus a healthy release of this hormone has a secondary benefit of burning energy while we sleep. Nearly 50 percent of the human growth hormone release occurs during the third and fourth REM sleep stages. Studies have shown that a healthy diet and a regular sleeping pattern aid the amount and consistency of human growth hormone release.

There is a reason why we crave sweets and starches when we diet. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is released into the brain when we eat. While the brain is receiving regular doses of tryptophan it determines that we are getting enough to eat. If the levels of tryptophan become low, the brain thinks starvation might be imminent and stimulates the urge (craving) to eat. We crave carbohydrates because they provide a quick energy release and a quick release of tryptophan. Constant dieting or fasting can create an imbalance in tryptophan and eventually lead to binging.

Having a good source of fiber in your diet will also help you regulate your weight. As well as improving your insulin sensitivity, fiber helps you feel fuller and reduces the number of calories your body will absorb. An example of a water-soluble fiber is pectin. Anybody who has made jam or jelly at home knows how pectin congeals when mixed with water. This has a positive effect on weight loss because the same thing happens with water and pectin in your stomach. It therefore makes you feel full for longer. Apples have a high level of pectin and can improve your chances of effective weight loss by helping to curb your appetite.

High-fat-content meals generally leave you feeling full for longer because fats are most often among the last nutrients to be absorbed in the digestion process. It is important, as I’ve said before, to eat the right kinds of fats in the correct ratios. There is also a smart time to eat your fats. If you tend to battle with cravings in the afternoon or just before bed, try having more fats with your lunch. Adding some walnuts or having an avocado with your meals will help curb those cravings and keep them under control. If you can’t climb into bed without raiding the refrigerator, try having a large salad with olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing with your dinner.

Diets high in salt can lead to water retention, and although being overweight is primarily as a result of carrying too much fat, water retention can also leave you feeling bloated and lethargic. If you ingest too much salt or your diet lacks potassium it can lead to similar symptoms. Potassium acts in the opposite way to sodium in our bodies. Where sodium helps our cells retain water, potassium helps them eliminate it. Thus, adding substances with a high potassium content, such as apple cider vinegar, can help balance the amount of water in our cells. Lowering your salt intake along with this is still the best course of action for optimal results.