Glycogen is something I’m sure you have heard of, but you may not know what it really is. It is becoming more popular now a days for people to deplete their glycogen levels in hopes to burn fat, usually in the form of a low carb diet. This is complicated process and if you’re looking to do this it’s something you should learn more about. Glycogen is the main way the body stores glucose for later use. It is a large molecule produced in the liver, although it is also stored in the muscle and fat cells. Once a carbohydrate is consumed, more glycogen is produced and then released as blood glucose levels fall.
All body processes require energy in order to function properly, when the body is expending more energy than it is consuming, likely in the form of exercise or diet, the body’s cells rely on stored energy sourced, the first of which is glycogen. When glycogen is nearly depleted the body begins lipolysis, which is the mobilization of fat stores for energy. In that process, fats are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids.
When your body is low on glycogen then your body will have no choice but to burn more fat for energy and this is the main reason why you burn more fat when you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast because your body is low on glycogen at that time. When you don’t eat enough carbs your body isn’t going to be able to replenish its supply of glycogen for energy so that means each time you work out while on a low carb diet you’re going to gradually burn a higher percentage of fat each time you work out as your body’s supply of glycogen gets lower. Knowing what glycogen is and how your body uses it will certainly help you maximize your cardio sessions to burn the maximum amount of fat, but this is not the only factor that comes into play when trying to lose fat.
Although, this is a way in which you can lose weight it isn’t suggested that it be done over a long period of time. Going on a low carb diet long term is not a permanent weight loss strategy unless you’re someone who can realistically stay on a low carb diet for a long time without serious cravings for carbs. Working out while glycogen depleted (or on a low carb diet) gives you less energy, making it harder for you to workout at a high intensity to burn more total calories plus. Also, lifting heavier weights or doing more reps to build muscle fast becomes harder while on a low carb diet.
Benefits of a dietary fiber, complex carbohydrate depleting diet for Weight Loss
September 13, 2013
The Science of Carbohydrate Loading