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Fat Or Muscle... Which Does The Body Burn First?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

So my sister and I have had this debate for a while now.

I have always maintained that our body burns fat first, muscle next.

So I have done research to either support my claim or kill it. I have read a LOT of health and nutrition stuff throughout my lifetime, as well as have had personal trainers in the past and had plenty of health conscience athletic friends. And by athletic I mean...REALLY athletic. Like it's been their way of life FOREVER, have never been fat or struggled, EVER!

That being said, I wanted to be sure I was at least a little bit right.

So it turns out that I am not entirely wrong. emoticon

HOWEVER....our body doesn't burn fat first....it actually burns PROTEIN first. WHY?? basically because protein can't really be stored in our bodies. Proteins from alcohol go first followed by all others.

emoticon That SO explains a lot!
Like why we should be eating a high amount of protein in the morning and why it satiates the appetite and why we should eat protein high foods after a workout! Basically your body can never really have too much protein.

Gotta say...THAT was a cool
An Oprah Aha moment for me to learn.
I am a HUGE believer in eating protein.
And while I am on THAT subject...seriously...
Eating lots of protein WILL NOT kill your kidneys, people!
This is one of those crazy myths that came from a really lame study done back in the Atkins days. If you are really worried about your kidneys...stop eating the sugar and starches...they are far worse for your kidneys, not to mention your overall health! Can you say DIABETES, people!

OK...I am done...moving right along...

So after our body uses its protein supply, it STILL doesn't go after the fat...can you guess what it goes after next...if you guessed muscle...you are WRONG... emoticon

It goes after carbs...both kinds, simple and complex.
Glycogen is the main form it goes for. For those of you unaware, glycogen is sugar that is stored mostly in our liver and pretty much controls our blood sugar levels. Once glycogen has been used, our body moves on to muscle....NOT!!! emoticon

Next, it starts to burn FAT! It breaks it down into smaller units so it can be absorbed in the blood stream.

Once it is done with fat, you guessed it...NOW it goes after muscle.

So the answer to the question which does the body burn first...FAT!!!

So stop worrying about muscle loss when you are obese.
It's not gonna happen!

For those of you who are wondering why it has been thought that muscle is before fat or at the same time AS fat, it is of value to know that glycogen is also stored in muscles...but our body still only burns IT and not the muscle.

Think about this...
If muscle burned first why would we need to build it and tone it to burn our fat faster..wouldn't there be no need for building muscle if in fact muscle was burned first?
Just sayin' ....


So quit worrying about burning muscle first. Eat well and get your exercise. You'll get the results you are looking for.
Building muscle simply SPEEDS up the process.

Later Sparkers!

CCIDICANE2 left a comment that I would like to address.
She is absolutely correct about 'fueling' the body properly. And perhaps I wasn't clear.
The blog was written in the mindset that you ARE eating well. After all, isn't that why we are here? I am not talking about our PRE Spark eating habits.

THAT is why I say at the end that if you are eating well and exercising you will not burn muscle first.
When you are not nourishing your body, absolutely.... muscle is where is can go.
But if you are eating properly, protein is first, followed by carbs and glycogen THEN muscles.
I have read LOTS of information on this and have asked several 'professionals'. If you ate absolutely no carbs or protein or fat EVER...then you are right, muscle would go first, because it would be your body's only source of fuel.

Also, I am not saying DON'T build muscle because you don't need to. I am saying that even if you never did strength training, (which for the record I think ALL people should be doing in some form) it is highly unlikely that you are losing crazy amounts of muscle. That is why I say not to worry about it if you are obese. Seriously, focus on eating well.

when CCINDICANE says if you aren't fueling your body properly it will go after your muscles because protein is stored there...well actually it isn't the muscle itself it is going after...it's the protein, because remember, it burns protein first.

Protein, Carbs and fat are all fuel sources...muscle is NOT....if your body is looking at muscle as a fuel source, you are not fueling your body properly. PERIOD!

So read this blog keeping in mind I am talking about this from a properly fueled body approach.

Thanks, for the comment CCINDICANE2...it was greatly appreciated!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD11589047
    Good job on your research and sharing this information! I appreciate the info!
    3097 days ago
    I so appreciate that you took the time to research this and cite where you got it in general. There is so much misinformation and DIS-information around weight loss that I sometimes don't know what or who to believe. And granted, if the science were all that factored in, we would have an easier time of it, wouldn't we? I happen to think it's a very complex formula, and that it changes as our bodies, our eating habits and our exercise change. But it's never a bad idea to know what we can about the science, to help us analyze what's going on in our particular case.

    3098 days ago
    Hm... So this still confuses me.. If it takes protein and then carbs and then glycogen, shouldn't we eat less protein and carbs so it will get the fat off sooner? Oh dear.. my son is outside screaming. What NOW?? TTYL! ;)

    3098 days ago
  • no profile photo CURVYELVIESAYS
    You have a good arguement. I learned a lot...thank you guru! emoticon
    3098 days ago
    Keep researching. There is one very important fact you left out: If you are not fueling your body properly, your body will attack your muscle before your fat. If you are not giving your body the protein it needs, it will attack your muscles because that is where the protein is.

    Also, you say "So stop worrying about muscle loss when you are obese.
    It's not gonna happen!"

    You are wrong. There is quite a bit of muscle loss when you lose weight. Quite a percentage of muscle loss actually. I am not going to quote percentages because I don't know them off the top of my head, but you will lose muscle. If you aren't doing strength training, even if you are but that is a different point. If you are not doing strength training, you will lose more muscle then you have to and THAT is why so many people gain back the weight they lose and then some.

    If you do strength training, you will still lose a portion of muscle because your body simply doesn't need the same amount of muscle to carry around 150 lbs as opposed to 250 lbs. The less you weigh, the less muscle you need so you will lose some muscle because of that as that as well.

    So you are still wrong. Your body can and will attack muscle first in proper conditions. So it is very important to build muscle while you lose weight, not only to prevent weight gain later on, but because you are losing muscle mass throughout the process.

    3098 days ago
    Great research. Thanks for the info,
    3098 days ago
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