There are many arguments, especially those based on Paleo diets, as to why fat is the best fuel for the body over glucose.
So, what is the difference between fat and glucose when it comes to our body’s fuel and energy levels? Do our bodies prefer one over the other?
Our body’s fuel takes on three forms:
The body can also store some fuels in a form that offers our muscles an immediate supply of energy.
What is glucose
Glucose comes from carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch and is the bodies principal source of energy. Glucose is used as fuel for the body and stored as glycogen. The body’s liver can convert the glycogen back into glucose as well. Glucose maintain’s the bodies blood sugar level also known as blood glucose levels.
How Glucose is used
When you are exercising, your muscles pick up a portion of the glucose and use it as energy in addition to their glycogen stores. Blood glucose is also the most significant source of fuel for the body’s brain, both while exercising and when at rest. The body requires less oxygen to burn energy from glucose compared to energy from fat. Your body is constantly using glucose and working to replenish your glycogen stores. Both, the number of carbohydrates you consume and the amount of physical activity you endure, affect the size of your glycogen stores.
At approximately 1,800 to 2,000 carbohydrates or roughly 90-120 minutes of vigorous physical activity. As you exercise, your reserve continues to deplete and your body relies more on blood glucose to meet your body’s energy needs.
Fat for fuel
While glucose is the principal source of energy for our body, fat is the most concentrated source of energy and supplies more than twice the amount of energy of carbohydrates (glucose) and protein. As you exercise stored fat is broken down into fatty acids. which are then transferred through the blood to the muscles to be used as fuel.
During the process, fat stored within the muscles where it can be easily accessed during vigorous activity. Unlike the limited storage of glycogen, fat has a virtually unlimited supply of energy. Fat Fuel is the best reliable fuel for your body.
Fat Compared to Carboydrates
It is also a more efficient fuel in comparison to carbohydrates. If our bodies were to the same amount of fuel from carbohydrates as it does fuel from fat, we would be double our body weight. This is due to the added weight of the water needed to store the carbohydrates. Thus leaving glucose as an unrealistic source of all our bodies energy supply.
The body also continuously converts and stores excess calories from all of the named energy sources as body fat that we, in turn, burn off as an energy source. Fat provides a much more concentrated amount of energy in comparison to glucose. It also aids in endurance by preserving glycogen reserves within the body.
Protein used for energy within our bodies
As for protein, it doesn’t stand much of a chance in this argument. Our bodies do not maintain official reserves of protein for later use as energy. Protein builds and maintains the body tissue. While synthesizing certain hormones and enzymes.
Typically, protein only meets 5% of the body’s energy needs. When glycogen is depleted within the body muscle is broken down and used as energy.
Why fat is the most substantial source of energy
- Though glucose is the body’s principal source of energy, it is not the most substantial. Glycogen stores can burn out easily, leaving you depleted and low on energy during highly vigorous activity.
- Fat is also, the most concentrated form of energy for our bodies. Fat supplies us with more than double the amount of energy supplied by carbohydrates and protein. Thus, allowing your body to withstand more vigorous activity for longer periods of time.
- Fat is a far more efficient source of energy. This is due to the water storage needed to store glycogen. Fat is virtually an unlimited supply of energy for our bodies. It has no limit on its storage capacity within the body.
- Though too much fat can be a bad thing, leading to obesity. It is also, extremely beneficial to the body’s source of energy. Since the body can continuously store fat, you also need to continuously burn fat in the form of energy.
Why fat is the best fuel
In conclusion, our bodies need both fat and glucose in order to function properly. Both supply our body with different energy sources, of which we need. In the long run, they work together. Fat helps to reserve the glucose stores within our body. This is what supplies our brains with an adequate amount of oxygen. Which otherwise, would quickly deplete when solely depending on glucose as a source.
Based on the ratio of our entire bodies energy supply. Fat can be stored in much easier quantities and doesn’t deplete in the same sense as glucose. Thus providing us with a longer lasting supply of energy. Fat is a concentrated form of energy. Ultimately providing your body with the energy needs for longer periods of activity.