Fit and healthy women tend to burn more fat when exercising than men, according to new research by a team of sports nutrition experts.
The research, which consisted of two new studies by academics led by the Center for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath, analyzed the factors that significantly affected individuals’ ability to burn body fat when doing endurance sports.
How the body burns fat is important to all of us for good metabolic health, insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But for endurance competitions, such as running or cycling, how the body burns fat can make the difference between success and failure.
Previous research from the same team showed how for endurance athletes competing in distance competitions, the body’s carbohydrate stores rapidly weaken when exercising. This means that athletes’ ability to utilize their lipid reserves to provide them with energy becomes essential to their performance.
The first study was published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Medicine, Included 73 healthy adults aged 19-63 (41 men and 32 women). She tested lifestyle and biological factors for optimal fat burning by asking participants to take part in a cycling fitness test and measure key indicators.
Their results found that females and those who are physically fit, across age groups, burn fat more efficiently when they exercise.
The second related paper, published in the journal Experimental PhysiologyWe took this a step further, exploring the molecular factors in our muscles and adipose tissue that determine how fat is burned. This experiment involved researchers taking fat and muscle biopsies from participants to analyze how differences in proteins in adipose and muscle tissues affected their ability to burn fat.
It found that proteins in muscle that are involved in breaking down stored fats into smaller fatty acids, and proteins involved in transporting those fatty acids into muscle mitochondria (cell strength) are consistently associated with a greater ability to burn fat. . However, the explored molecular factors did not explain why females burn more fat than males.
“Our study found that females tend to rely on fats as a source of energy during exercise more than men do. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these gender differences in fuel use may help explain why you are female. It appears to confer a metabolic advantage for insulin sensitivity, which is an important marker of metabolic health. ”
Researchers note that the ability to burn fat as fuel appears to protect against future weight gain, ensuring good weight management. However, they caution that the body’s ability to burn fat should not be equivalent to the ability to lose weight. Weight loss mainly results from lack of energy (that is, we consume fewer calories than we spend). For weight loss, and especially when individuals are overweight, they stress the importance of diet and exercise.
Dr Javier Gonzalez, from the Department of Health at the University of Bath, added: “Weight management is mainly about energy balance, so to lose weight we need to eat fewer calories than we spend through metabolism during rest and physical activity. With a higher ability to burn fat as a fuel they are somewhat protected from future weight gain, which may be related to how fat burning affects food intake and energy expenditure.
“Ultimately, the greater ability to burn fat as fuel has potential benefits for endurance athletes, by delaying the time point when their precious carbohydrate stores run out.”
To access studies funded by the University of Bath, see:
Determinants of peak lipid oxidation rates during cycling in healthy men and women,
– Resting skeletal muscle ATGL and CPT1b are associated with higher rates of lipid oxidation in men and women but does not explain the observed sex?
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