By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Two studies found this to be the case among women.
There’s no shortage of workouts that vow to burn fat, but recent research shows that you’ll burn more of it if you get in shape first. This was particularly the case for women.
Researchers from the University of Bath in England found that females who are healthy and fit are likey to burn more fat during exercise than men.
The new research, which came from a team of sports nutritionists, was announced in a Tuesday press release from the University of Bath.
The team analyzed two recent studies led by the University of Bath’s Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism for factors that made the greatest impact on individuals’ ability to burn body fat while participating in endurance sports.
For the first study, 73 healthy adults ages 19-63 were involved. It included 41 men and 32 women. The study requested participants take a cycling test and measured key indicators. This allowed researchers to evaluate the lifestyle and biological factors for optimal fat burning.
Researchers found that females and physically fitter participants burned fat more efficiently when exercising. This was the case across age ranges.
Researchers published their findings in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Medicine.
Meanwhile, the second study reviewed the molecular factors in muscles and fat tissue that determine the way we burn fat.
The results showed that muscle proteins involved in breaking down stored fat into smaller fatty acids were consistently associated with a greater ability to burn fat. This was also the case for proteins involved in transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, which is the cell powerhouse, in the muscle. However, this method was unable to explain why females burned more fat than males.
“Our study found that females typically have a greater reliance upon fat as a fuel source during exercise than males,” said the two papers’ lead author, Ollie Chrzanowski-Smith of Bath’s department for health. “Understanding the mechanisms behind these sex differences in fuel use may help explain why being female seems to confer a metabolic advantage for insulin sensitivity, an important marker of metabolic health.”
Researchers warned that the body’s ability to burn fat should not be considered the same as the ability to lose weight.
“Weight management is mainly about energy balance, so to lose weight we need to eat fewer calories than we expend through our resting metabolism and physical activity,” said the Unversity of Bath associate professor Dr. Javier Gonzalez. “However, people with a higher ability to burn fat as a fuel seem to be somewhat protected against future weight gain, which might be related to how fat burning affects food intake and energy expenditure.
“Ultimately, a greater capacity to burn fat as a fuel has potential benefits for endurance athletes, by delaying the time point when they run out of precious carbohydrate stores,” he added.