‘Net Calorie’ calculations should use 50% calories out from exercise

ZenNut Net Calorie Synthetic Metric for Weight Management Programs:

Net Calories = (Calories In) – 0.5(Calories Out)

When you begin any new fitness regimen, it’s important to track a ‘net calories’ calculation for weight management. Very often, we hear of people who start running or working out, complain that their weight starts to trend up. There are several reasons why that happens. Two of the most common ones are: People feel more hungry since the body craves quick energy sources (like carbs and sugars), and they tend to assume that because they worked out really hard, they can now afford to eat more.

Exercise burns a lot of calories, but only 50% of the those calories should be considered as coming from burning food for fuel. The rest of the calories come from other sources (like the oxygen we breath in), needed to actually ‘burn’ the energy stores. The process also leaves behind residual matter in the form or carbon dioxide, water and citrates.

The metabolic process shown below explains this in a bit more detail. There are 3 main processes to the ‘burning food for energy’ cycle:

Metabolic Cycle

  1. The Electron Transport Chain – is like a cascading waterfall of electrons that actually produce the energy to create muscle movement (as well as every other bodily function). The electrons that feed the electron chain come from 2 processes – Glycolysis and the Citric Acid Cycle
  2. Glycolysis – is the process for burning the readily available stores of glucose, available within our muscles as Glycogen. However, Glycolysis DOES NOT convert all the Glycogen to energy. At the end of the Glycolysis cycle, a certain amount of leftover material is available as Acetyl-CoA. This Acetyl-CoA get stored by the body as fat cells. If the body needs more energy than can be produced by the Glycolysis cycle, The body turns to the Citric Acid Cycle (also known as the Kreb’s Cycle)
  3. Citric Acid Cycle – is the follow on process for converting the Acetyl-CoA from Glycolysis (as well as from the body’s fat stores) into energy needed by the body. This cycle further releases the necessary electron transport mechanisms that join the electron transport chain. The chemical reactions within the Citric Acid Cycle, once again needs oxygen and hydrogen, leaving behind carbon-dioxide and citrates.

The net effect of the metabolic process, therefore, is that the energy we expend during a workout ‘burns’ about half the food calories, while the rest comes from oxygen needed to run the chemical process.

In the next post we’ll use this metabolic process map to explain why fats and proteins are better than carbs and sugars as sources of food.

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