Wellness Centre

Focussing on low Glycaemic Load foods to metabolise body fat for energy.


Miniseries: Burning body fat to deliver our energy needs (3 of 5)

‘Metabolised energy’ is created when the body breaks down its own stored ‘energy’ in the form of subcutaneous body fat, glycogen in the muscle and liver, and in extreme circumstances through the process of catabolism. 

Catabolism is the production of energy; usually in a state of starvation or stress when the body breaks down proteins derived from healthy tissues. It’s also known as muscle wasting and needless to say, catabolism is NOT a healthy process. A balanced diet and the well-spaced consumption of calories throughout the day will not allow this destructive process to occur. 

Due to the high caloric value of the modern diet the human body very rarely has the need to metabolise stored energy in the form of fat. Certain types of activity and systems of exercise can increase how effectively this happens, if we want to burn fat. Intense resistance-based exercise performed for 30-40 minutes, two to three times a week is a great way of stimulating the body to utilise fat stores as a source of energy. This can also be combined with cardiovascular exercise and more gentle exercise such as walking. 

One of the most effective ways of metabolising stored energy, or fat, is by manipulating your macro-nutrient intake to optimise blood sugar levels. This typically involves avoiding simple ‘white carbohydrates’ such as bread (wholemeal too!), white potato, pasta and rice, which are all medium to high glycaemic load (GL) foods. It goes without saying that ‘simple sugar’ foods such as sweets, chocolate and desserts are a no-go! The result is the body begins to metabolise, or burn, stored fat to elevate blood sugar levels, rather than storing ingested calories as fat to lower them.

Although a gross oversimplification, this ensures that blood sugar never elevates to the point that much insulin secretion is needed. So long as your calorie intake does not exceed your daily caloric needs the process of ‘storing energy’ by fat production doesn’t occur. Switching the foods listed above to high-quality sources of protein, healthy fats such as olives, nuts, seeds and avocado, and having more vegetables will ensure that you meet the daily calorie needs of your body to provide optimal levels of energy.

The best way to begin is by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the minimum number of calories your body needs to function each day. From here you can calculate the amounts of different foods that add up to your calorie needs, ensuring you have an effective balance of macronutrients. If you’re actively looking to lose weight, then create a sensible calorie deficit which factors in any calories burned through exercise. If you are of a stable weight and body fat percentage ensure you’re eating enough calories to maintain these values without depriving your body of energy sources through your diet.