Due to their metabolic characteristics, some people burn more fat “naturally”, while this mechanism is less optimal in others. However, being in good physical shape helps to accentuate the process.

The basal metabolism rate differs among individuals. It corresponds to the incompressible energy needs necessary for the basic functioning of the body (heart, brain, breathing, body temperature, etc.). This basic metabolism varies according to sex, age, height or weight, and it is supplemented by two other types of metabolism: post-meal metabolism (the caloric expenditure following a meal: eating consumes energy) and exercise metabolism (the caloric expenditure resulting from physical or mental exertion).

Physical activity + balanced diet

Another factor comes into play: the percentage of body fat and muscle mass, since at equal weight, fats consume less energy than muscles. This helps explain that regular physical activity increases basal metabolism, and also emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet.

In this context, a British team (University of Bath) evaluated fat burning in people in general good health, aged 20 to 60 years. The researchers looked at lifestyle parameters and biological factors, and then put the participants to stationary bike tests. Samples of fat and muscle tissue were used to analyze a series of molecular processes involved in metabolism (including the action of certain proteins).

Help with weight loss

The most important lesson to take away from this study is that the more you are in good shape (associated with regular physical activity), the more the body burns fat during an effort, and this observation is even more marked in women. This is consistent with the results of other work, which has shown that regular exercise increases basal metabolism, and therefore energy consumption (calories). As an extension, we can therefore assume that these processes contribute to weight management, even if the fundamental criterion in this regard is that in order not to gain weight (or to lose weight), caloric intakes must be equivalent (or lower) to the expense.

And beware of drastic weight loss diets: the body then goes on “starvation alert”, with a drop in basal metabolism as a survival reaction. Then, when you stop the diet, it takes a long time for the metabolism to rise again, which explains the frequent weight gain after a strenuous diet (the yo-yo effect). Priority therefore should be given to a thoughtful diet, sufficiently abundant but with less caloric products (fat, sugar…), supplemented by regular physical activity.

Elena Mars

Born in London, England and raised in Orlando, FL, Elena graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelors' degree in Health Sciences. She later received her masters' in Creative Writing  from Drexel University. She writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and focuses mostly on health related issues.