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Walk on By: How to Prime Your Body to Resist the Accumulation of Fat

Updated: May 3

It's no secret that exercise is essential for our physical and mental health. But for many of us, in our fast-paced, overscheduled lives, finding the time and energy to work out can feel like an impossible task. Between long work hours, family responsibilities, and the general stresses of modern living, the idea of adding another commitment to our packed schedules can seem daunting. However, even a small amount of physical activity each day can make a big difference. Many of us can begin by just walking more. The key is to start small and be kind to yourself. Every little bit counts, and over time, those small steps can add up to significant improvements in your health and happiness.

Here is an interesting fact about our bodies to keep in mind. Exercise plays a crucial role in determining how our body utilizes nutrients, particularly in the hours following a meal. Exercise of any kind predisposes the body to use ingested nutrients to maintain and build muscles, while a sedentary lifestyle predisposes the body to store nutrients as fat deposits.

The muscles in our bodies serve as one of the primary reservoirs for the energy that fuels them. Makes sense from an efficiency perspective, right?! Much of our stored fuels, in the form of glycogen (from glucose) and triglycerides (from fats) are stored directly in our muscle fibers.There are two primary types of muscle fibers: slow-twitch (type I) and fast-twitch (type II). Slow-twitch fibers are designed for endurance activities and rely primarily on aerobic metabolism (oxygen required) to generate energy from both glycogen and fat. Fast-twitch fibers are used for powerful, explosive movements and rely more on anaerobic glycolysis for energy production from glycogen stores.

After we have begun to regularly exercise and we begin to actually feel the benefits, many of us want more. Whereas mild and moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, pickleball, swimming, and cycling are great for our health and wellbeing, resistance training is often left out of the exercise routines of most of us. Resistance training is a form of exercise that involves a more powerful, explosive lifting or pulling to strengthen and tone muscles. This type of training uses various forms of resistance, such as dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or our body weight, to challenge the muscles and promote muscle growth and endurance.

Examples of resistance training exercises include squats, push-ups, lunges, bicep curls, and shoulder presses. These exercises target type II muscle fibers and help improve strength, muscle tone, and overall fitness. Resistance training is not only beneficial for building muscle and improving body composition, but also plays a crucial role in enhancing bone density, metabolic rate, and overall health. Incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine can have long-term benefits, such as reducing the risk of age-related muscle loss, osteoporosis, mitigating damage from falls, and protecting heart tissue, while also providing short-term benefits like stress relief, improved sleep quality, and enhanced mood.

Exercise and Nutrient Utilization

When you exercise regularly, your body becomes more efficient at using nutrients for muscle growth and repair. This is because exercise stimulates the body to increase muscle protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body builds new muscle tissue. This is achieved through several mechanisms, referred to as anabolic signals:

  1. Increased Blood Flow: Exercise increases blood flow to the muscles, allowing more nutrients to reach the muscle cells.

  2. Activation of mTOR Pathway: Resistance exercise activates the mTOR pathway, a key regulator of muscle protein synthesis.

  3. Increased Amino Acid Uptake: Exercise enhances the muscle cells' ability to transport amino acids from the bloodstream into the muscle fibers, providing the building blocks for protein synthesis.

  4. Increased Satellite Cell Activity: Exercise stimulates the activation and proliferation of satellite cells, which are muscle stem cells responsible for the growth and repair of muscle fibers.

Moderate, sustained exercise (staying within about 40 to 75% VO2 max/you can carry-on a conversation, but with some difficulty) is typically best for burning our fat reserves and growing our type I muscle fibers. Exercises such as sprints and challenging resistance training are typically best for growing larger, stronger type II muscle fibers and burning energy more from our glucose reserves.

Nutrient Timing and Protein Intake

If you have a goal of building muscles and improving their efficiency and power, you can maximize muscle growth after exercise by consuming adequate amounts of high-quality protein and carbohydrates in the hours following your workout. This protein intake provides the necessary amino acids to support the increased demand for muscle protein synthesis. Stay well hydrated by drinking fluids during and after the workout. Get adequate sleep, which is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Allow a day of rest between intense workouts to enable full recovery. Consider massage, foam rolling, or stretching to reduce soreness and improve range of motion after workouts.

Try to work up to a routine of exercising at least 3 times per week. The nutrients from typical healthy whole food meals you eat during the week will be primed to move first to your muscle tissues, where they will be used both for immediate restoration of muscle tissue and also stored in the muscles, ready for the next time you use them.

Sedentary Lifestyle and Nutrient Storage

On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle, where you engage in little to no significant physical activity, can lead to the body storing nutrients as fat deposits. In the absence of exercise-induced anabolic signals, ingested nutrients are more likely to be stored as fat, particularly in the presence of excess caloric intake.

Key Takeaways

  • Exercise primes the body to utilize nutrients specifically for muscle growth and repair in the hours following a meal.

  • A sedentary lifestyle favors the storage of nutrients as fat deposits.

  • Consuming adequate amounts of high-quality protein after a workout can maximize muscle growth. When we balance our fuel intake (calories from the food we eat) with our fuel usage, our body systems work as they were designed. However, when day after day, we over-consume and under-burn, problems will inevitably occur. Many leading health experts now designate daily exercise as the most important lifestyle habit we can develop to ensure wellbeing into our golden years. When coupled with exercise, a healthy dietary approach can improve metabolic health and prevent chronic diseases.

So when you walk to the refrigerator tomorrow, just walk on by and keep walking a bit farther!! And when you do return to eat, make it something healthy, and know that by exercising, you have primed your body to use these nutrients for muscle restoration and not the accumulation of fat.

By incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle, both endurance and strength training, and by consuming adequate amounts of high-quality protein after your workouts, you can optimize nutrient utilization for muscle growth and overall metabolic health.

At Fasting and Thriving Retreats we strive to bring you relevant information regarding a holistic approach to healthy living. A Fasting Lifestyle will help jump start your journey into health.  Take this opportunity to learn more. For an individual, free assessment use the QR Code below and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

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