The two primary fuel sources of our body are fats and carbohydrates. During resting and exercise we utilize a mixture of the two in order to power our movement (working muscles) and our organs (processes to sustain life). Our body has a nearly infinite capacity of storing fat (~30,000 kcal in the form of fat), but very limited capacity of storing carbs (~2,000 kcal in the form of carbs). As a result, when we ingest excessive amounts of carbohydrates our body shuts off fat burn because it needs to remove all the excess carbs it can’t store due to its limited carbohydrate storing capacity. On the contrary, when we remove carbohydrates from our diet, our body shifts to fat burn since fat become the only available fuel. Apart from removing carbs from our diet, choosing the right exercise is another powerful way of igniting fat burn. Training at the right zone(s) can teach our body to burn more fat during exercise and any daily activity
Aerobic & Anaerobic Capacity
Our body utilizes two main mechanisms to generate power: a) Aerobic metabolism and b) Anaerobic metabolism. Aerobic metabolism uses primarily our body’s fat reserves and doesn’t cause our muscles to wear out. It takes however time to “kick in” and cannot generate great amounts of power. It is the energy mechanism we use when exercising at a constant pace (i.e. running or cycling). Anaerobic metabolism, on the contrary, can kick in instantly and can generate great amounts of power. However, it creates fatigue and causes our muscles to wear out. Anaerobic metabolism uses primarily our body’s carbohydrate reserves as well as other “fast burning” fuels such as phosphocreatine. Make sure to train both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity through targeted training, a well rounded physique has a balance of both.
Aerobic stamina refers to our body’s ability to perform physical work through its aerobic metabolism for a prolonged period of time at a moderate to high intensity. The more fit we become we increase our ability to perform physical work at high intensities through aerobic metabolism and as a result our ability to burn a lot of calories for prolonged periods of time.
Metabolic conditioning refers to our body’s ability to utilize fat as a primary fuel source during resting and exercise conditions. The more “metabolically fit” we become the more our body learns to utilize fat during our workout and throughout our day. We can become metabolically fit through specific combinations of workout routines that include low intensity training in the fat-max zone as well as high intensity training in the aerobic capacity zone.
VO2peak is a the gold standard metric for assessing the maximum power you aerobic system can generate. In other words it is a metric of how “big” your aerobic system is. VO2peak, or our maximal aerobic capacity is an excellent metric for evaluating our aerobic capacity, our overall fitness level and cardiovascular health.
VO2 Rise Time
VO2 rise time is the gold standard metric for measuring our body’s ability to initiate aerobic metabolism during physical exercise. As mentioned in section Aerobic & Anaerobic Capacity, in the beginning of every workout, during the first minutes of exercise the mechanical power requirements -i.e. the power required to move our muscles- are covered through our anaerobic metabolism which causes fatigue. However, as we continue to workout at a steady pace, our aerobic metabolism starts to cover a greater portion of the mechanical power requirements and eventually ends up covering nearly all of them. When that happens, aerobic metabolism becomes the primary energy source, a fact that leads to very little fatigue accumulation and to our ability to exercise for a long period of time. The process of this gradual increase in aerobic metabolism is measured by the increase in VO2 while the time at which aerobic metabolism becomes the primary fuel source is signaled by the stabilization of “flattening” of the VO2 curve. As a result, the more rapidly our VO2 can stabilize, the less anaerobic metabolism we engage and the less fatigue our body accumulates. As we become more fit, our VO2 will be able to increase more rapidly when starting a workout, allowing us to incur less fatigue and workout for a longer period of time.
The Fat-max zone is the exercise intensity level where your body utilizes the greatest amount of fat. Exercising in the Fat-max zone, allows your body to become a better fat burner during exercise as well as during your everyday life.
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